Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Tammuz 5760 - July 26, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Our Love for Eretz Yisroel

Eretz Yisroel is in danger. It is a time of flux, a time of change.

Hundreds of thousands thronged to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv a little over a week ago to express their concern and feeling for Eretz Yisroel. It was politics too, but there was an unmistakable concern for Eretz Yisroel itself.

We certainly share in this concern. Though it is no secret that we disagree with the Right on matters of principle about the balance between the love for the land and pikuach nefesh, the pain at the thought (and reality) of giving up pieces of the Holy Land and making them off-limits to Jewish people -- as has happened with large parts of the territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority -- is ours as much as anyone's.

Yet the deepest aspect of our love for Eretz Yisroel these days finds expression in our work in another area entirely: the observance of shmitta in the upcoming year 5761. Did not Moshe Rabbenu teach us that we should strive to fulfill the mitzvos of Eretz Yisroel and not just to enjoy its material pleasures? In particular the mitzva of shmitta is connected to our real, spiritual right to live here, and is among what makes it the Holy Land and not just "Palestine."

Exactly 13 years ago during that shmitta year, Maran HaRav Shach shlita summed up the critical points in his penetrating analysis. "I issue a heartfelt call to all those who care for the word of Hashem, the Chief Rabbis of the State of Israel" not to work against those who keep the laws of shmitta. "And even if there were geonim ztvk"l who entered a narrow breach in a time of extreme pressure when poverty was great and there was a real fear of true famine and they permitted [certain leniencies] by selling to a non-Jew with certain conditions, that is not the situation today, boruch Hashem, when millions and millions of dollars are spent on luxuries and all sorts of games, and there is no pressure (she'as hadechak) against importing produce of chutz la'aretz to our Holy Land. . . . I call upon you, have mercy upon your own souls and do not cause the masses -- some three million inhabitants of Eretz Yisroel -- to sin by dirtying them with forbidden foods. And because of the sin of Shevi'is exile is common."

According to the considered opinion of our leading halachic authorities, the approach adopted once again by the Chief Rabbinate of selling the entire Eretz Yisroel to a non-Jew cannot and must not be relied upon today, and this view, they say, is not a matter of dispute or communal affiliation but is the baseline of Torah observance for every Jew.

Those who instituted the "sale" a century ago stressed its temporary nature and the reliance of their ruling upon the particulars of the situation prevailing then, which have since changed considerably for the better.

Concern for the observance of the mitzvos of Eretz Yisroel is a true expression of feeling for the land itself and our gratitude at being privileged to live here. Those of us who moved here or who come here to visit, who did not just find themselves here but chose to come, must be especially sensitive to the mitzvos here and not look for ways around them since the easiest and best way "around" them is by staying away. We must take care to keep the laws ourselves, and do our best to influence others to do so.

May the heartfelt words of the rabbonim find their way to the hearts where they are needed, and in this zechus we hope to avoid all challenges to our right to live here and may we see a full geula very soon.

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