Is living in Israel an obligatory mitzvah? Rav Avraham Shapira and Rav Moshe Feinstein's opinions and Ben-Gvir: I no longer share Rabbi Kahane's views and Netanyahu urges Biden to keep Iran strike on the table
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
The Three are Rabbi Yehuda Glick, famous temple mount activist, and former Israel Mk, and then Robert Weinger, the world's greatest shofar blower and seller of Shofars, and myself after we had gone to the 12 gates of the Temple Mount in 2020 to blow the shofar to ask G-d to heal the world from the Pandemic. It was a highlight to my experience in living in Israel and I put it on my blog each day to remember.
The articles that I include each day are those that I find interesting, so I feel you will find them interesting as well. I don't always agree with all the points of each article but found them interesting or important to share with you, my readers, and friends. It is cathartic for me to share my thoughts and frustrations with you about life in general and in Israel. As a Rabbi, I try to teach and share the Torah of the G-d of Israel as a modern Orthodox Rabbi. I never intend to offend anyone but sometimes people are offended and I apologize in advance for any mistakes. The most important psychological principle I have learned is that once someone's mind is made up, they don't want to be bothered with the facts, so, like Rabbi Akiva, I drip water (Torah is compared to water) on their made-up minds and hope that some of what I have share sinks in. Love Rabbi Yehuda Lave.
Ben-Gvir: I no longer share Rabbi Kahane's views
MK Itamar Ben-Gvir told Yisrael Hayom that, "I am not sorry I was part of the 'Kach' movement, but I no longer share their views'.
Itamar Ben Gvir Aryeh Leib Avramos/Flash90
In an extensive interview that will be published in full tomorrow, Otzma Yehudit chairman, MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, told Yisrael Hayom that: "I am not ashamed to have taken part in the 'Kach' movement, but I no longer share in their views."
Asked what he meant when he said that, "enemy Arabs should be encouraged to leave", Ben-Gvir replied: "People like Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi, Walid Taha - I think they should be sent to Syria. Not all Arabs - those who oppose the State of Israel, who support the elimination of the State of Israel, should be expelled".
Ben-Gvir also said he has difficulty understanding the conduct of the haredi parties towards him.
"The haredi parties are shooting themselves in the foot," he insisted. Maybe they are afraid that if we gain more support, we will prevent a Benny Gantz-led government. I pray to G-d that Gafni listens to his supporters. The last thing they want is for him to go with Ganz. If you ask me, there is no such option as this would constitute a left-wing government. "
Asked if he trusts Gafni, he replied, "Unfortunately, Gafni is not where his voters are. Sources within United Torah Judaism constantly bring up Gantz and Lapid. I would not have invited Lapid to my family's wedding. They should put more focus on mending ties with the Right."
Is living in Israel an obligatory mitzvah? Rav Avraham Shapira and Rav Moshe Feinstein's opinions
Can living in Eretz Yisrael be compared to wearing tzitzit, obligatory only for someone wearing a 4 cornered garment?
Rabbis Feinstein, Shapira, Eliayu Tzvi Fishman
Among the reasons many people cite for not coming on aliyah is the halakhic response of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, of blessed memory, one of the most foremost Torah authorities of the last generation in America. Rabbi Feinstein, who lived in New York, was asked if aliyah to Eretz Yisrael was an obligatory mitzvah of the Torah, as stated by the Ramban, or a mitzvah that isn't obligatory in our times, as a Tosefot in the name of R. Haim HaCohen implies (Ketubot 110, considered to have been recorded by a mistaken student).
Rabbi Feinstein answered that indeed it is a mitzvah from the Torah, as the Ramban wrote, and about which most Torah authorities, both Rishonim and Achronim, agree (See the Pitchei Tshuva to the Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, Section 75:6), but that it is, in his opinion, a voluntary mitzvah which isn't obligatory (Igrot Moshe, Even HaEzer, 102). He compared it to the Torah commandment of tzitzit, which requires putting tzitzit on a garment that you wear if it has four corners. But if you don't choose to wear such a garment, you don't have to perform the commandment of tzitzit. (Note: Rabbi Feinstein wrote this when there was more danger to living in Eretz Yisrael than there is today, Baruch Hashem, and almost no obvious antisemitism in the USA).
This question is explored in a wonderful translation by Rabbi Moshe Lichtman of Rabbi Tzvi Glatt's book "Rise From the Dust" ("M'Afar Kumi"). The book is an in-depth study of the mitzvah of aliyah and settling the Land of Israel. The main topic analyzed is this very question, whether the mitzvah of aliyah is obligatory in our times. Rabbi Glatt, may Hashem avenge his blood, was murdered by an Arab terrorist in Hevron. In his scholarly treatise, he clearly demonstrates that aliyah is indeed a Torah mitzvah beholden on every Jew at all times, as the Ramban and a long list of eminent Halakhic authorities confirm.
Included in the book, "Rise From the Dust" is a response written by Israel's former Chief Rabbi, the revered Rabbi Avraham Shapira, of blessed memory, Head of the High Rabbinical Court, and Rosh Yeshiva of the flagship Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He strongly disagrees with Rabbi Feinstein, questioning the whole idea of a "voluntary" mitzvah. (The two great Rabbanim had the greatest respect for one another, which has no connection with differences in halakhic decisions). Here are some excerpts of his halakhic essay which appear in Rabbi Glatt's book:
Rabbi Shapira writes:
"The implication of this new concept – a 'voluntary mitzvah' – is that one is not obligated to fulfill it, but if one does, he has performed a mitzvah. This seems self-contradictory. On a simple level, a Torah commandment, counted as one of the 613, is not dependent on man's desire – if he wants to fulfill it, he will, and if not, he won't. After all, this contradicts the whole idea of a mitzvah, which is a command from Hashem, may He be blessed.
"How can one say that G-d leaves the fulfillment of His decree to man's discretion? We assume that G-d did not give us the mitzvot in order to derive pleasure from them. Rashi explains in Tractate Rosh HaShanah (28a), 'Rather, they are a yoke upon man's neck, to fulfill Hashem's desire.' What kind of a yoke is it if one can decide whether to fulfill them or ignore them?
"This (the mitzvah of aliyah) is different from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein's example of] tzitzit, which is not an obligatory mitzvah, but one that depends on man's will. Tzitzit depends on a person's desire to wear a four-cornered garment, and the Torah does not obligate one to wear such a garment. However, once a person wears a four-cornered garment, he is obligated to place tzitzit on its corners, and that is not dependent on his desire at all. Once he wears a garment that the Torah speaks of, he cannot evade the mitzvah. Why, then, would we compare them and say that there is a mitzvah to make aliyah, but that it is up to man whether he wants to fulfill it or not? It appears that we do not find another mitzvah like this in the count of the 613 commandments….
"All this proves that none of the mitzvot, especially those included in the 613, depend on man's desire. Rather, we force him to do them. Only those that Scripture designate as being voluntary depends on a person's willingness [to perform them], for the verses teach us that these mitzvot are essentially not part of the 613. Instead, they are good practices, fitting to do, and good advice. All this is obvious, for it is illogical to say that the Torah establishes a mitzvah, and man is permitted to say, 'I am not interested….'
"Nevertheless, it is clear that when there is an explicit mitzvah in the Torah – one of the positive commandments included in the 613 – one cannot say that it depends on whether or not a person wants to [fulfill it]. Therefore, according to the Ramban, who holds that dwelling in Eretz Yisrael is a positive commandment counted as one of the 613, one cannot say that fulfilling it depends on man's desire. It is absolutely obligatory.
"The Meiri writes in Bava Kama (80), 'Every Jew is commanded to establish his dwelling in Eretz Yisrael.' In addition, the Ramban writes in Bava Batra (24) that the law of [designating open areas for the purpose of] beautifying a city applies only in Eretz Yisrael. Regarding Chutz LaAretz, however, he says, 'If only [those lands] would be despicable in the eyes of [the Jews] who dwell there!'
"Why, then, did the Gedolim (Torah Giants) of previous generations neglect this mitzvah? 'Teshuvot Maharam' and 'Terumat HaDeshen' (two leading Torah authorities) explain that [those generations] were under duress and unable to dwell in Eretz Yisrael because of difficult conditions, etc… I would add that this is not a regular case of compulsion, in the sense of 'The All-merciful exempts one who is forced [to sin].' Instead, the mitzvah itself is suspended when dwelling in the Land entails hardship. Similarly, we find that one who experiences discomfort sitting in a sukkah is exempt from the mitzvah, because of [the rule] "You shall sit [in the sukkah] as you dwell [in your home]." Chazal determined that the definition of "dwelling" is when one is comfortable and has space, not when one is in pain. Dwelling somewhere in pain is not considered a dwelling. The same applies to going up to live in Eretz Yisrael. One who finds his [new] accommodations distressful, relative to what he had in Chutz LaAretz, does not [fulfill] the mitzvah of You shall dwell therein (BeMidbar 33:53). Thus, any situation in which one would be exempt from sitting in a sukkah, one would also be exempt from dwelling in Eretz Yisrael….
"Now, if the definition of 'discomfort' [with respect to aliyah] is identical to its definition with respect to the sukkah, [we can deduce the following]. Obviously, dwelling in a sukkah, a temporary structure, is less comfortable than dwelling in a permanent home. Nonetheless, that certainly does not constitute 'pain.' One is exempt from the mitzvah of sukkah only when dwelling there is painful, relative to the type of dwelling it is, and this requires serious evaluation. [So too, one is not exempt from dwelling in Eretz Yisrael just because it is easier to live in Chutz LaAretz.]
"The great Torah Scholars of [previous] generations determined that it would be [genuinely] painful for them to dwell in the Land, and they were [therefore] exempt from doing so. Today, however, when the Land of Israel is [governed by] the State of Israel, and enjoys [modern] economic conditions, the level of 'discomfort' is very mild – especially for singles who are free from the yoke of the family – thus everyone is undoubtedly assumed to be obligated in the mitzvah. One would require the judgment of great Torah Scholars to determine that he is exempt from performing the mitzvah. In any event, it is clear that the concept of a mitzvah being dependent on each person's discretion – whether he obeys the mitzvah or chooses not to – this is incomprehensible."
Netanyahu urges Biden to keep Iran strike on the table
'Without a military option, we cannot deter Iran,' Netanyahu says during meeting with President Biden.
Netanyahu meets with Biden Raanan Cohen
Israeli Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Joe Biden Thursday afternoon.
The two leaders spoke for approximately twenty minutes.
In a briefing with reporters after the meeting, Netanyahu said that he had expressed his appreciation for Biden's support of Israel, highlighting the supplemental spending for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, which was included in last year's omnibus spending plan.
"I had a warm, wonderful meeting now with President Joe Biden. I thanked him for the deep personal friendship between us, and on his steadfast support for Israel, and also for the fact that when I asked for extra funding for the Iron Dome system during the last war in Gaza, he came through and did it. It wasn't easy."
Netanyahu also urged President Biden to keep the "military option" on the table vis-à-vis Iran's nuclear program, arguing that without the possibility of a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, Tehran will not be deterred from its plans to achieve a nuclear weapon capacity.
"Economic sanctions aren't enough, nor are military defense preparations against Iran. There must be an option for a military strike on Iran. I think that the [nuclear] deal is terrible, I told him so, but I think that without a reliable military option, it is not possible to deter Iran."