Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Shevat 5761 - January 31, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







The People Of The Book And The Promised Land: A Selection Of Recent Writings

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Next week is Tu Bishvat. The day marks the time that the new year begins for trees, so that shmittah restrictions begin to apply. With the emphasis on the produce of the Land of Israel, and the persistent news reports of offers in diplomatic negotiations that do not seem to be informed by a proper understanding of the true meaning and value of Eretz Yisroel, we present these selections. However, they should not be taken as carrying a political message, either hidden or explicit. We must recognize and feel the true meaning of Eretz Yisroel to the Jewish people, but nonetheless recognize that this is still a time of golus and our main concern is pikuach nefesh.

It is striking how fresh and relevant these selections seem, and emphasizes how all the "problems" of the present are just passing and only Yisroel, Oraisa and Kudsha Brich Hu continue eternal.

A large collection of articles and essays by Klal Yisroel's gedolim, thinkers and writers, has been assembled in the Eid Olom archive. The pieces describe their authors' attitudes towards Eretz Yisroel, their love for the Land and the mutual relationship between the chosen nation and its promised Land. The following articles are a very small sampling of the archive's contents. Our thanks to Rabbis Menachem Grilak and Moshe Levi.

HaRav Shach: Am Yisroel Exists In The Merit Of The Torah, Not Of Land Or Territories

Part of an Address that was Delivered at the Foundation Laying for a Kollel in Rechovot in 5739

"The fathers' deeds are a sign for their offspring" (Medrash Tanchuma Lech Lecho 9). The Torah tells that our holy forefathers dug wells, which are an allusion to Torah, for, "`Water' alludes only to Torah" (Avoda Zora 5). This teaches us that all the generations, from the days of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov until the present, have only existed in the merit of those wells, the Torah centers. There is no other merit or cause to which our nation can attribute its continued existence.

Am Yisroel is unlike the other nations, whose existence depends upon the convergence of a population upon a tract of land. A large population constitutes a large nation, and a meager population, a small one. With large expanses of land, a nation is large; when the area is small, so is the nation. However, without a country, without some territory constituting a clearly-defined center where the members of the population can live, nationhood is not possible.

This is not so in our case. We are the smallest of nations and, furthermore, except for a relatively brief period when we lived in Eretz Yisroel, most of our existence has been without any land of our own whatsoever. And neither was the land which we did possess, ever very large. There were always larger populations than ours, who inhabited bigger and more spacious countries. For the past two thousand years, we have been exiled and scattered and have owned nothing at all.

Even now, we are not all that independent. People speak about what we want and don't want but the truth is that we are still dependent upon the kindness of the nations. We cannot pride ourselves on the areas of land that we possess.

The truth is that in and of themselves, tracts of land make no difference. It doesn't matter to us whether the area is large or small. The important thing for us are the wells of water, the Torah centers -- " `Water' alludes only to Torah, as the posuk (Yeshayah 55:1) says, `Oh, let every thirsty man go to the water . . . '"

How has our nation managed to survive until today? In what merit? We have undergone terrible suffering during the past two thousand years: religious and physical persecution and butchering. They murdered six million in our very own time. Anyone with a brain in his head must ask himself, "What gives us the strength to continue?"

There have been other nations in the world's history. Some were murdered and others were murderers yet both types have vanished without a trace. We are "the smallest of all the nations."

Who holds onto us and continues to support us? And what can account for our unity, despite our dispersal to the four corners of the earth? How have Jews maintained their connection with other Jews, wherever they have found themselves?

The answer is, the eighteen things which Chazal decreed (Shabbos 13): [forbidding] the bread of non-Jews because of their wine and their wine because of their daughters . . . so that we wouldn't intermarry and go lost among them. We didn't mix with the other nations. We maintained our uniqueness. How? Who or what kept us distinct from them?

Only our holy Torah. Those who studied it and occupied themselves with it were our protective wall. Our entire history teaches us that it was so. We were exiled to Babylon, to Germany and to other places, yet wherever there was a concentration of those who observed Torah and mitzvos and who occupied themselves with Torah study, the community maintained a firm footing. It was they who were the core of the nation. And where the botei medrash lapsed and closed, the community ultimately assimilated, R'l.

As we said, "The fathers' deeds are a sign for their offspring." The Torah has four levels of interpretation: peshat, remez, derush and sod.

The peshat, the simple meaning of the parshah of the wells, is that they were wells of water. On the level of remez, they allude to Torah: "Oh, let every thirsty man go to the -- Torah's -- water." The remez of the last well dug by Yitzchok's servants is that there can be no Rechovos, no [declaration that] "for now Hashem has broadened us and made us fruitful in the land," unless there are centers of Torah study, for they are our wells.

Our nation cannot become great by winning praises for our exceptional wisdom, for our above average abilities or for the fact that we have more capable scientists. Talented men of science are not a sign of our distinction [to us]. That field of wisdom belongs to the nations.

Our wisdom and our culture is solely Torah. That alone constitutes our greatness. If we therefore merit to occupy ourselves with the true means of ensuring our survival, if we are blessed with Torah centers and groups of Torah scholars, we need not pay any attention to territories, to whether we are left with a little or with a lot. We just need to keep our sights focused upon the foundation of our existence.

And our holy Torah is not just the foundation of one particular circle or group -- but of the nation as a whole. This is the only guarantee [of our survival] in existence. If there is Torah among Yisroel then there is a nation. Otherwise, we are chas vesholom liable to be just like a band of Yugoslavs or Turks, but certainly not a group of Jews. Without Torah chas vesholom, we are not the Jewish nation, even if we are living in our own land. We might even have an independent state but not a Jewish state.

Anyone who loves Jews and the Jewish nation, must devote himself to increasing Torah and glorifying it. The building of a Torah center is also the building of the land, and even more than that: it is the building of the nation.

We therefore rejoice today in the celebration of the city of Rechovot, which has boruch Hashem become a dwelling place for Torah. Besides the kollel, there are also a yeshiva ketanoh, a yeshiva gedoloh, a cheder that is run in purity and holiness, in our fathers' way, and also the Torah institutions of Chinuch Atzmai, through which the city has truly become worthy of the name Rechovos, a well of living water. The existence of Torah is the realization of, "for now Hashem has broadened us and made us fruitful in the land."

Shamed By The Land

By Dr. Nosson Birnbaum

When Dr. Birnbaum, one of the early leaders of Agudas Yisroel and one of Orthodox Jewry's most important thinkers and writers in recent times, penned the following thoughts many years ago, it is unlikely that even he realized the extent to which they would one day be mirrored in reality. In the light of our present situation, his admonishing has an added thrust.

I believe in [the concept of] "Jewish Land," meaning that I believe with perfect faith that the land by whose border Moshe Rabbenu stood and over which he cast a last glance before dying; the land in which the prophets declared their burning and everlasting longings for the time of Moshiach; the land which the best of our nation left loaded with yearning and faith that we would yet return there as a holy nation and a purified people . . . I believe that we have the full right to call this land "The Land Of Israel."

However, I also know that once, or more correctly, twice in the past, we behaved improperly there and I see that we are about to behave improperly there for a third time. We are going there and are liable to flood the land with the spirit of European profanity, the cruelest and the most dangerous enemy of authentic Judaism.

Yes, I believe in the "Land" and in the "Jewish Land," and for this very reason I am terrified by the thought that the fire and brimstone of the European and American civilizations is about to alight upon Eretz Yisroel. There too, emptiness and vanity will reign supreme, and the Jews will be proud of it. It terrifies me to think of the spreading in Eretz Yisroel of the plagues of pursuit of financial gain, of swindling of the poor and the workers, of unchecked assimilation, of beauty and of art, of shameful abandon presented as glory, of simplistic ideas masquerading as world views, of the dictatorial regimes of uneducated, corrupt, cruel, hypocritical and flattering men.

It terrifies me to think that the holy city of Yerushalayim will be replanned as a suburb of New York, London, or Berlin, to the point where the Shechinoh will be in exile there as well, for tomorrow's Yerushalayim is liable to be even more corrupt than the one which the prophets saw before them - - and today we have no prophets.

I see therefore, just one way out. In one of the corners of the Jewish world, intense -- yet constructive -- feelings of shame must become aroused by themselves, shame over the amount of tumoh that they have suckled greedily, shame before Hashem yisborach, shame because of the exile and because of Eretz Yisroel. This feeling of shame will spread outwards and take control of the entire nation. It will not exist merely in the form of ideas and words. It will take concrete shape and develop into practical paths towards both individual and communal rectification.

The collective Jewish soul will thereby be rebuilt and refined, amid faithfulness to Hashem and to His Torah. It will then build its home with achievement inspiring faith and creative fervor, according to the Jewish way and the Creator's wish, in every place where Jews reside and in Eretz Yisroel in particular.

Let Hashem yisborach -- G-d, who has chosen us from other nations and given us His Torah, who has made us holy with His mitzvos and has promised us redemption in the end of days -- only help us in this respect, and we will not be forced to begin the work of settling Eretz Yisroel with the profanation of the Land and of His Name.

They regard Eretz Yisroel as a city of refuge, to which, having extinguished Judaism's soul -- not, perhaps, unintentionally -- they can flee in order to seek protection. For them, it is nothing more than a new land which, one fine day, they proclaimed as their "birthplace." They seek to order life within its borders in the same manner that other nations do in their own birthplaces: with an abundance of light, in the form of brilliantly illuminated cinemas and dance halls, with civil strife that leads to murder and all without a grain of Judaism, without Hashem and without His holy Torah.

We do not regard Eretz Yisroel as a new land, only remembered when there is nowhere else to run to. We have never forgotten it. We have never ceased loving it and longing for it. We aspire to fulfill the mitzvoh of settling in Eretz Yisroel with all our strength and devotion, in purity and holiness, founded upon the sanctification of Hashem's Name, not its desecration.

When they want to, they approach us with the sweetness dripping from their lips and their blatant lies, their evil impulse working at full strength, in order to make us over in the European image and give us the appearance of "civilized people." They seek a way to reach the hearts of our children and persuade them to stop following us. They uproot them from our vicinity, from our Torah and from our Yiddishkeit, to their "torahs" and their world of unbridled abandon. Could any harsher or more dangerous kind of golus than this be imagined?

With the issue of the famous Balfour Declaration, and the Holy Land's immediate absorption into European and American style cultural and political life, Torah observant Jewry was presented with its most sublime test and the hardest task in its history.

For centuries, the longing gaze of the Jewish Diaspora towards Hashem's sanctuary united all who were bound to the hope of redemption, as they poured out their hearts every midnight, lamenting the fate of the Jews and the exile of the Shechinoh. Their very longing however, also served as a sure guarantee of the substance of Hashem's rule over the world and thereby, of the direction of world events in general.

At a time when humanity has begun to retreat, dissatisfied with the rationalism of science and the one-sided admiration of intellectualism, and has started, in myriad ways, to express its longing for what lies outside the natural order, which serves as a respite from the rush of generational development -- at precisely this time, the Holy Land has been swept into the current of modern cultural development.

Frederick the Great's priest once remarked to his master, after being asked to furnish a proof for the existence of the Creator, "Your excellency, the Jews!" At that time he was able to add, "The Jews and the ruins of Jerusalem."

The ruins have now been rebuilt. The steam engine, that testimony to human intellect which reigns supreme in the world, races across the plains of Eretz Yisroel. Economic and cultural life sprout and blossom from beneath the ruins, reaching greater heights than all the testimony of the past. At the same time however, they may eclipse the testimony, for until now, it was those very ruins which declared that the realization of Hashem's will through the life on this piece of land, this holy Land, is a precondition for conducting a full national life.

Therefore, rabbosai, since an edifice is in the process of being erected, with giant strides, on the soil of the Holy Land, according to other conditions, can we hope to conquer that life in Eretz Yisroel for our G-d and His Torah, that has already been conquered by European culture?

The most important goal in this battle is clear: the establishment of clear boundaries and defenses against the bankruptcy of the ideals of Judaism and their exchange with the fake ideas of secular Zionism, which proffers the three point message of "Language, Nationality and Land," which are nothing more than outer forms, lacking content.

Only when we have drawn up absolutely clear boundaries, only when we protect ourselves from affording indirect entry to Zionist ideas, in exchange for the ideas of age old Judaism, [only] if we know how to draw the spiritual motivation for settling Eretz Yisroel from the pure sources of our tradition alone, and to wage the battle solely in the name of G-d's laws, only then will we strengthen our forces in every struggle and achieve victory -- victory within as well as without.

The Chofetz Chaim Zt'l: Eretz Yisroel Without Torah Is Like A Body Without A Soul

The Chofetz Chaim (on parshas Bo), writes that the Torah and Eretz Yisroel, which are among the things that Chazal have singled out as Hashem's particular acquisitions in this world, are related to one another in the same way as the soul and the body. The soul corresponds to the Torah, while the body corresponds to Eretz Yisroel. The soul cannot survive on its own. It needs the body. However, the body is no more than a clod of earth. It needs the soul in order to live.

The soul of Klal Yisroel is the holy Torah. Its body is Eretz Yisroel. The soul cannot survive without the body. The land dependant mitzvos cannot be fulfilled without Eretz Yisroel. In exile, our nation has no standing. In one place, we are forbidden to settle; in another, we are forbidden to engage in trade. Elsewhere we are attacked and in another place, we are falsely accused. Ultimately however, we survive, though with difficulty.

Eretz Yisroel without Torah however, is like a clod of earth, a body without a soul. Only when the body and soul are together is it good, as the prophet Yeshayah (42:5) said, " . . . He spreads out the land and its offshoots; He puts a soul into the people who are [dwelling] upon it . . . "

The following is related in Ma'asai Lamelech: An article was once read to the Chofetz Chaim, in which a maskil expressed his hopes that Eretz Yisroel would at last become independent, in the same way that the state of Bulgaria had arisen upon the ruins of the Turkish Empire.

When he heard this, the Chofetz Chaim burst out crying and said, "Is it possible? For eighteen centuries, we have been suffering and our blood has been spilled like water. We have prayed endlessly and beseeched Hashem to lift the yoke of the exile from us. And now they are ready to make do with so little and forget all about our prophets' predictions and the Torah's promise? Why, not one word will remain unfulfilled!"

The Chofetz Chaim comments further, "See the Ramban's commentary to the Torah, on the episode about Sodom (Bereishis 19:5). This is what he writes, "And know, that the [severe] judgment [of annihilation, that was carried out] on Sodom was [due] according to the elevated level of Eretz Yisroel, which is part of Hashem's inheritance and which does not endure people who practice abomination. Just as it spewed out the entire [Canaanite] nation because of their abominations, it spewed out this people earlier, who were evil to Heaven and to other people. Heaven and earth were made desolate on their account . . . and the earth was laid waste, never to be cured, as Hashem saw that it would serve as a sign to rebellious sons, to Yisroel, who were to inherit it in the future, as He warned them, `Brimstone and salt scorched the whole land . . . like the overthrow of Sodom and Amoroh" (Devorim 29:22). For among the nations there exist very bad and sinful ones, yet He did not do this to them. It happened because of the exalted level of the Land, for there is Hashem's sanctuary."

Who is wise enough to understand how careful one must be in fulfilling the practical mitzvos in the holy Land, the palace of the King, as the posuk (Tehillim 105:44-5) says, "And He gave them the lands of nations that they would guard His laws and watch over His teachings." The gedolei Torah of the Holy Land, who protect those who learn Torah and those who fulfill its mitzvos with all their strength, they are the mighty ones, who uphold the entire yishuv.

Although We Need Eretz Yisroel, We Won't Exist As Jews Without The Torah

by HaRav Elchonon Wassermann Zt'l, Hy'd

Eretz Yisroel occupies a very central place in the Torah. Three of the sedorim of Shas are related to Eretz Yisroel: Zero'im, Kodshim and Taharos. A large proportion of the remaining three sedorim are also connected with Eretz Yisroel. In seder Mo'ed there are, Yoma, Shekolim, Chagigah, the last part of Pesochim and of Succah and maseches Taanis. In Noshim there are Nozir and Sotoh, while in Nezikin there are Sanhedrin, Makkos and Horiyos.

This reckoning shows that almost two thirds of Shas is dependant upon Eretz Yisroel and the proportion is the same in Chumash. Obviously then, Eretz Yisroel is of crucial importance to Yisroel. Besides, settling in Eretz Yisroel is a mitzvoh in its own right.

It is a fact however, that we have lived in chutz lo'oretz now for two thousand years, albeit in difficult and bitter conditions. Yet despite everything, we have neither disappeared nor died out, even without Eretz Yisroel.

The following question presents itself. Let us imagine that the Jews were left without Torah. Would they survive for two thousand years or not? It's clear that Klal Yisroel couldn't even survive for a hundred years without the Torah.

A horrendous situation confronts us in the land of the Reds. It is twenty years since the Yesvekim, those troublers of Yisroel, have begun uprooting every trace of Torah in their country, through heretical decrees, and Jewish memories have already been wiped out of the country. Only the older generation resemble Jews. The younger generation hasn't the slightest idea of what a Jew is. It is clear that without Torah, we cannot even exist for several decades, while we have existed without Eretz Yisroel for two thousand years.

Let us illustrate this with a parable: People need air to breathe and bread to eat. What should be done for a person who needs both things? Which should he be given first, air or bread? Obviously, without air, there will be nobody left to eat the bread!

The Jewish nation needs Eretz Yisroel but before we have it, Yisroel needs Torah. We are [currently] witness to a vision of the Torah's virtual expiry, because most of the younger generation is cut off from it. The above question therefore is left hanging: what should our first concern be, Torah or Eretz Yisroel?

We need Eretz Yisroel, but we cannot exist as Jews without Torah. Our first concern should therefore be Jews, and our second, providing Eretz Yisroel for them. [But] what are we doing? Reversing the order! We don't stop crying, "Tzion! Tzion!" instead of crying "Torah! Torah! What will become of Torah?"

Without Torah, we have no hope. With Torah, we can be the strongest in the world. This is no mere slogan; it's the truth, which has been confirmed by history. Ownership of Eretz Yisroel is not dependant on our will. "If Hashem doesn't build a house, then its builders have toiled in vain over it . . . " (Tehillim 127:1). But it is within our power to spread Torah. That is up to us, and "Whoever comes to purify himself receives help [from Heaven]."

Around fifteen years ago, when the Chofetz Chaim saw that a movement had begun among G-d fearing Jews to go up to Eretz Yisroel, he said, "Why are they looking for mitzvos? They should work for Torah. With Torah, all the mitzvos are mitzvos. Without Torah, everything is garbage."

We will cite examples in order to explain his holy words.

Living in Eretz Yisroel is a mitzvoh, however, settling groups of intentional apostates there is a terrible aveiroh, not a mitzvoh. That is not building the land but destroying it -- "These are not the guardians of the city but its destroyers." This destruction is worse and is more dangerous than all the destructions that the nations have brought upon Eretz Yisroel. Those destructions atoned for Klal Yisroel, but the one that comes through Jewish heretics is a harsh indictment of Klal Yisroel .. .

The Torah Was Not Given For The Sake Of Eretz Yisroel; Eretz Yisroel Was Given For The Sake Of The Torah

by HaRav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch zt'l

From time to time, Hashem allows His people to return to their land in order to test them, to see if they have matured sufficiently for the eternal Torah-state on the face of the earth, to see whether, during their years of exile, they have learned to recognize the futility of the idols that men make, to see whether all the miracles that they have experienced during their exile have taught them to dedicate themselves unreservedly to Torah alone and to continue their dedication even after having settled in their land in freedom and independence.

As of yet however, Yisroel have not demonstrated that they have attained this maturity. Although, while they are without a land they display great devotion to Hashem's Torah, with joy and trust, there is still a doubt that as soon as they feel that they are standing on their own firm ground, they will begin to exaggerate in their estimation of the importance of the Land, of national independence and of communal freedom, and they will distance themselves from Torah and its values. They will place the Torah inside a confined, enclosed chamber, and in the public arena they will give power to idolatrous values of the times, thereby repeating the same sin which brought about the destruction. (Be'ma'agal Hashonoh, cheilek IV, pg. 40).

Even when Klal Yisroel were all united in their own Land, they were not termed a nation (Volke) merely because of the Land through which they had found themselves a place among the community of nations. Yisroel is still called "a single nation in the land" ("goy echod bo'oretz -- Shabbos minchoh), even [when they exist in their own Land, as a nation] among other nations and lands. [They are thus called] on account of their heritage.

Ownership of the Land of their inheritance and the relevant national forms that govern it were not given it as an end but as a means through which the people can fulfill the duties of Yisroel with added power and added strength. "The Torah was not given for the sake of Eretz Yisroel. Eretz Yisroel was given for the sake of the Torah!" (Chorev p. 436).

An Eternal Covenant

by the Ponevezher Rov zt'l

There is a tranquility within us with regard to our Holy Land. Dangers lie in wait for us on all sides and in every corner. The future is unclear. Yisroel's basic historic right to its Land is under attack. Many are rising against us, yet not one of us is taking the actual danger seriously, to the breaking of the connection between Yisroel and their Land. One's heart swells over the mountain of difficulties and the stumbling blocks that they put in our way. Yet at the same time, one's heart is also convinced that it is "vanity and brokenness of spirit" (Koheles 1:14), that it is unreal and that any concrete danger to our right of ownership over the Land of the Torah and the prophets is impossible.

What is the source of this steadfast faith, this solid trust in a swift redemption and in our right to Eretz Yisroel? Many halochos are based upon the idea of, "May the Mikdosh be rebuilt speedily" (Beitzoh 6). On the seder night and in Ne'iloh on Yom Kippur, the entire nation declares, "Next Year in Yerushalayim!" Where does this trust come from?

If we think about it we will see that on the same day that wicked ambitions call the existence of the Jewish nation into question, the world's very creation is also called into question. An attack on the existence of Yisroel is like an attack upon the existence of the creation. Both are part of the natural order that cannot be altered.

On the one hand, [we face the prospect of] devastating destruction chas vesholom, and on the other hand [we know that we are] eternal Yisroel, who sees the fall of its enemies. This is truly "a great day," just as the day of creation was. At the height of the "time of trouble for Yaakov," the "day that is greater than all others" appears before all and all acknowledge this nation's eternal existence.

This is the source of the tranquility. Klal Yisroel's tranquility is transmitted to each individual, for each of them is attached to the whole. Klal Yisroel's peace of mind is shared by each and every member. One's heart grieves for the loss of individuals, but it is full of hope regarding the fate of the klal. This is our consolation.

It is the same with regard to Eretz Yisroel. It is nonsensical to speak about a break in the connection between Yisroel and its Land. That connection is unbreakable. "So that your days should multiply . . . on the Land that Hashem has promised your fathers . . . as the days of the Heaven over the earth" (Devorim 11:21). Is it possible to divide these two entities that have been joined together? No power on earth can deny Yisroel its Land.

Yisroel's ownership of its Land is only contingent upon guarding its holiness and its special nature. It depends upon nothing else. It is an everlasting covenant, a covenant of "salt." This is the source of the tranquility regarding our enemies' ambitions to destroy us and their attempts to sever the historical connection between Yisroel and Eretz Yisroel.

There Is An Obligation To Live In A Place From Whose Yeshivos Torah Goes Out, Even If It Isn't The Holy Land

by the Chazon Ish zt'l

In a letter written in 5673 (1913), which is printed in Kovetz Igros, #63, the Chazon Ish clearly spells out the obligation to dwell in a place of Torah:

I received your letter. I shall tell you my opinion, namely, that it would not be correct for you to travel to the Holy Land, for in our times, one should not leave Russia within whose borders the majority of Jews reside and which is [also] the Torah's main dwelling place. Living here is a greater mitzvoh than living in the Holy Land. Only here is it appropriate for a young man to develop in Torah and grow progressively greater.

In the Holy Land -- may Hashem return its captives speedily, omein -- there is no place that is suitable for this, as experience shows. The difficult conditions of life there may also be a reason for this. This was the reason why many gedolei Yisroel in chutz lo'oretz, throughout the generations -- and I think that the Maharit discusses this at length in a teshuvoh -- were of the opinion that there is a greater obligation to live in a land where there are holy yeshivos, from whence Torah issues, than there is to live in Eretz Yisroel. I think that he writes that [this] even [applies to] the land of Egypt, where many of the Rishonim are of the opinion that it is forbidden to live. Chazal say explicitly (Avodoh Zora 13), that a Cohen may become impure by going [from Eretz Yisroel] to chutz lo'oretz, in order to learn Torah from anyone. Russia is certainly in this category. Even if one were already in Eretz Yisroel, one would be allowed to go to chutz lo'oretz if one was involved in Torah learning and was leaving for that purpose.

I am telling you particularly, that as long as your learning has not attained a desirable level of proficiency, it would not be proper for you to go up to Eretz Yisroel, meaning to leave the land of our exile. There is also more possibility of increasing Torah in Yisroel here, than there is there and everybody is obligated to hope for this.

Let me know your decision on the matter.

In a different letter, the Chazon Ish writes, "For Poland -- where the yeshivos are settled, and where the pious Chofetz Chaim shlita, lives, and the other great men of Torah and yiras Shomayim -- has the status of Eretz Yisroel and the other countries are like chutz lo'oretz."

Editor's Note: Today the advice of the Chazon Ish would lead one to live in Eretz Yisroel, even if it were not Eretz Yisroel, since it is now the place of holy yeshivos and the biggest concentration of Torah in the world.

May One Now Continue Living In Eretz Yisroel?

by HaRav Yechezkel Abramsky zt'l

At a time when public chilul Shabbos was on the increase in Yerushalayim R'l, and members of the Jerusalem police force lashed out at chareidi Jews who felt the pain of the desecrated Shabbos, HaRav Abramsky was terribly distressed. It was then that he commented that, "I feel Reb Chaim's absence greatly at the moment! If Reb Chaim were alive, I would ask him, whether, according to Torah law, one may dwell in Eretz Yisroel in such a situation.

"According to halochoh, it is forbidden to live in a place of danger and when the holy Shabbos is profaned R'l, in such a way, and when R'l, Heaven's anger increases over the persecution and the beating of Jews who cry out about chilul Shabbos, who knows whether or not we are in the position of, "that the Land should not spew you out when you defile it" (Vayikro 18:28), in which case living here is to live in a place of danger. Reb Chaim is needed to rule on such a serious question -- whether one may now continue living in Eretz Yisroel!"

(Peninei Rabbenu Yechezkel)


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