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Answers About Israel You Always Wanted To Know (part 5 of 13)

The Land of The Mitzvos

46) The mitzvos a Jew performs in Israel is greater than those kept in Chutz LaAretz. Can one fulfill all the mitzvos in the USA? No. Can a Jew fulfill all the possible mitzvos in Israel? Yes.

Sifrei, Parshas Reeh 28

…Dwelling in Eretz Yisrael is equal to all the mitzvos of the Torah.

47) G-d intended his mitzvos to be kept exclusively in Eretz Yisrael. The Mitzvos are not intrinsically relevant in Chutz LaAretz. Why do we keep them outside the Land?

So that we do not forget how to do them when we return from exile or have the opportunity in our lifetime to make Aliyah.

Devarim 11:16-20

Take heed for yourselves…you will quickly perish from the good Land that Hashem gives you. You shall place the words of Mine upon your heart and upon your soul…upon your arm…between your eyes…on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates. 

Sifrei, Parshas Eikev 7

…”you will quickly perish”: even though G-d will exile you from the Land of Israel to Chutz LaAretz, be distinguishable through the mitzvos, so that they will not be new to you when you return…”My children, be distinguishable thought the mitzvos, so that they will not be new to you when your return…

48) How do we know that ALL mitzvos are greater when performed in Eretz Yisrael? Why does the Torah tell us to don tefilin and affix mezuzos after being warned about Galus in the Shema Prayer: “…you will quickly perish from the good land…”?

דברים יא:יז-יח, כ-כא

וְחָרָ֨ה אַף ה’ בָּכֶ֗ם וְעָצַ֤ר אֶת הַשָּׁמַ֨יִם֙ וְלֹאִֽ יהְיֶ֣ה מָטָ֔ר וְהָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה לֹ֥א תִתֵּ֖ן אֶת יְבוּלָ֑הּ וַֽאֲבַדְתֶּ֣ם מְהֵרָ֗ה מֵעַל֙ הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטֹּבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר֖ ה’ נֹתֵ֥ן לָכֶֽם: וְשַׂמְתֶּם֙ אֶת דְּבָרַ֣י אֵ֔לֶּה עַל לְבַבְכֶ֖ם וְעַל נַפְשְׁכֶ֑ם וּקְשַׁרְתֶּ֨ם אֹתָ֤ם לְאוֹת֙ עַל־יֶדְכֶ֔ם וְהָי֥וּ לְטֽוֹטָפֹ֖ת בֵּ֥ין עֵֽינֵיכֶֽם:… וּכְתַבְתָּ֛ם עַל מְזוּז֥וֹת בֵּיתֶ֖ךָ וּבִשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ: לְמַ֨עַן יִרְבּ֤וּ יְמֵיכֶם֙ וִימֵ֣י בְנֵיכֶ֔ם עַ֚ל הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֧ע ה’ לַֽאֲבֹֽתֵיכֶ֖ם לָתֵ֣ת לָהֶ֑ם כִּימֵ֥י הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם עַל הָאָֽרֶץ:

And the wrath of Hashem will be kindled against you, and He will close off the heavens, and there will be no rain, and The Land will not give its produce, and you will perish quickly from upon The good Land that Hashem gives you. And you shall set these words of Mine upon your heart and upon your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand and they shall be for ornaments between your eyes…And you shall inscribe them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates, in order that your days may increase and the days of your children, on The Land which Hashem swore to your forefathers to give them, as the days of heaven on The Land: (Devarim 11: 17-18, 19-21).

Rashi, Devarim 11:18

You shall place these words of mine – even after you are exiled, make yourselves distinguishable through mitzvos; don tefilin and make mezuzos, so that they will not be new to you when you return [to the LAND OF ISRAEL]…

49) Where is the place to primarily perform the mitzvos that G-d has instructed us?

Eretz Yisrael! Not the USA.

Ramban Devarim 11:18

You shall place these words of mine – “even after you are exiled, make yourselves distinguishable through mitzvos, don tefillin and make mezuzos, so that they will not be new to you when you return…But the main fulfillment of the mitzvos mentioned in the pasuk is in the Land of Israel…upon The Land [of Israel].

“האדמה”  means the Land of Israel and not as commonly translated in English “The Earth, or The ground – this is an intentional error to downplay the importance of Israel to the Jewish Nation -AP).

50)      Where can a Jew live today, even without the Beis HaMikdash, and thereby fulfill all of the 613 mitzvos of the Torah?

In Eretz Yisrael.

Ramban VaYikra 18:25

…for the main fulfillment of all the mitzvos is for those who dwell in G-d’s Land. Therefore the Sifrei states (Reeh 28) “You shall take possession of the Land and dwell therein and you shall be careful to do all the mitzvos (Devarim 11:31-32); implying that dwelling in the Land of Israel is equal to ALL the mitzvos of the Torah”. The same is found in the Tosefta of Tractate Avodah Zarah (5:2)…This is why Yakov Avinu commanded his household who were with him when they entered the Land: “Remove the foreign gods that are in our midst and cleanse yourselves (Bereishis 35:2)”…Rachel died along the way when they first entered the Land, for in her merit she did not die in Chutz LaAretz and in Yakov’s merit he did not live in the Land with two sisters…Yakov did not touch her [Rachel] in Eretz Yisrael at all…

51) Out forefathers אבות kept the mitzvos of the Torah, even though it was not obligated upon them. Then how did they violate some significant commandments? For example: Yakov was married to two sisters and erected a monument, Amram married his Aunt Yocheved, Moshe erected twelve monuments?

They chose to only keep the Torah meticulously only in Eretz Yisrael. Because we knew that this is where the Torah and mitzvos is meant to be kept.

Ramban Bereishis 26:4-5

…how did Yakov erect a monument and marry two sisters? And according to our Rabbis, he married four sisters (Bilha and Zilpa were daughters of Lavan). In addition, how did Amram marry his Aunt Yocheved? And Moshe Rabbeinu erected twelve monuments…Avraham Avinu kept it [the Torah] only in the Land of Israel. Yakov was married to two sisters only in Chutz LaAretz. The same is true of Amram. For the mitzvos are “the statutes of G-d of The Land” (Melachim II, 17:26)…משפת אלהי הארץ.

52) The Talmud (Kesuvos 110b) states that anyone who lives outside Eretz Yisrael [USA] is like one who has no G-d! Do we actually believe in this part of the Oral Law תורה שבעל פה  or do we reject it, because it sounds insulting to many upstanding Jews and Rabbis?

Responsa of the Rashba 1:134 שו”ת הרשבא א:קלד

Question: Explain the statement of our Sages that “Anyone who dwells outside the Land [Israel] is like one who has no G-d (Kesuvos 110b)?

Answer: The Land of Israel is called the inheritance of G-d…the Blessed One is called “The G-d of The Land,” and it is designated for Him alone, not the ministering Angels…the Torah calls idols “gods that are foreign to The Land” (Devarim 31:16). It also says, “The eyes of  the Lord your G-d are always upon it” (Devarim 11:12). Moreover, the main fulfillment of all the Torah’s mitzvoth is in the Land…

 Rabbeinu Bechaya, Devarim 11:18

Our Rabbis taught: Even after you are exiled, make yourselves distinguishable מצויינים through mitzvos, don tefillin and make mezuzos, so that they will not be new to you when you return. Accordingly, it says, Set markers ציונים   for yourself (Yirmiyahu 31:20). This means that even though we perform the mitzvos in Chutz LaAretz and they are personal obligations, to be kept everywhere, out Sages teach us that their main fulfillment is only in the Holy Land.

Beit Elokim, Shaar HaYesod, Chapter #32 (Mabit Rav Moshe ben Yosef of Tirani, 1505-1585 from Solonika to Yerushalayim. Rabbi of Tzefat. Taught alongside Rav Karo and Moshe Cordovero).

Behold, since the main fulfillment of the Torah and its mitzvos, even the commandments that are personal obligations, is in Eretz Yisrael…G-d was telling Yehoshua [in sefer Yehoshua 1:1-18] that  his success  in winning the war and conquering the Land depended mainly on studying the Torah and observing its mitzvos, since its main fulfillment is in Eretz Yisrael…In the merit of the Torah whose main fulfillment is in the Land, the Jews will conquer and inherit Eretz Yisrael…

The Torah itself תורה שבכתב tells us G-d is only ours when we serve Him in Israel.

Devarim 4:5

Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances חקים ומשפטים, as the Lord, my God, commanded me, to do so in the midst of the landהארץ to which you are coming to possess.

Ramban Devarim 4:5

…to warn the Jews about all of them…the main fulfillment of all the mitzvos is in the Land…

 Devarim 4:14

And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances, so that you should do them in the land בארץ to which you are crossing, to possess

Devarim 5:28

But as for you, stand here with Me, and I will speak to you all the commandmentsהמצוה, the statutesוהחקים, and the ordinancesוהמשפטים  which you will teach them, that they may do them in the landבארץ  which I give them to possess.

Devarim 6:1

This is the commandment, the statutes, and the ordinances that the Lord, your God, commanded to teach you, to perform in the land into which you are about to pass, to possess it. 

Yakov states that he can only demonstrate that G-d is his is by allowing him to return and live in Israel. It is clear, that the observance of mitzvos is the only way a person can show that Hashem is his G-d.

Bereishis 28:20-21

And Jacob uttered a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and He will guard me on this way, upon which I am going, and He will give me bread to eat and a garment to wear: And if I return in peace to my father’s house, and the Lord will be my God;

Midrash Pesikta Zutra, Bereishis 28:21

…for whoever dwells in Eretz Yisrael can fulfill the mitzvos…

So yes, we literally believe in the statements of Chazal in the Talmud that “whoever lives outside Eretz Yisrael [USA] is like one who has no G-d!” This is clear from the Torah and mitzvos themselves. It is obvious that a Jew only has a genuine connection with G-d in Israel. Whoever says otherwise, is clearly rejecting the Torah and the world if G-d Himself.

53) How do we demonstrate that we truly love G-d and not ourselves?

To live in Eretz Yisrael, despite the extra challenges here and keep all His mitzvos even when it’s difficult to do so.

שמות כ:ו

וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד לַֽאֲלָפִים לְאֹֽהֲבַי וּלְשֹֽׁמְרֵי מִצְוֹתָֽי:

and [I] perform loving kindness to thousands [of generations], to those who love Me and to those who keep My commandments. (Shemos 20:6)

Mechilta, Parshas Yisro, Mesechta DeBaChodesh 6

…Rav Natan says: “to those who love Me and keep My commandments” – these are the Jews who dwell in Eretz Yisrael and devote themselves to the mitzvos…

54) Why did Moshe want to enter Eretz Yisrael? (He was already the greatest Navi who ever lived).

Moshe Rabeinu wanted desperately to enter Israel in order to fulfill the mitzvos. Even though he reached the highest levels of Devikus to Hashem, he felt incomplete without the ability to perform the mitzvos in Israel. It’s amazing how many “frum” Jews, unlike Moshe, don’t  feel any spiritual/Torah or “Jewish” lacking in Chutz LaArtez.

Moshe is teaching us that the mitzvos are not meant to be fulfilled in Chutz LaAretz! He was begging to enter the Land of Eretz Yisrael, the place where the mitzvos are not just practiced, but actually fulfilled! He wanted to perform all of the mitzvos over again in Israel where they actually count and are not just for practice and familiarity.

Talmud Bavli, Sota 14a

Rabbi Simlai Taught: “Why did Moshe Rabeinu desire to enter the Land of Israel? Did he need to eat of its fruits? Or did he need to satiate himself with its goodness?”

Rather this is what Moshe said: “Israel was commanded many mitzvos, and they can be fulfilled only in Eretz Yisrael. I will enter the Land so that I can fulfill ALL of them.” The Holy One Blessed be He, said to him, “Are you not simply asking to receive reward? I will consider it as if you fulfilled them.”

55) How can a Jew in Chutz LaAretz merit to make Aliyah today? Why is this important or relevant now?

The main fulfillment of any/all of the mitzvos is ONLY in Eretz Yisrael. In the merit of learning Torah the Jewish population will increase in size. However, to merit the ability to make Aliyah one must be prepared to: leave the USA, willing to take a long plane ride, and be willing to enter Israel.

            דברים ח:א

כָּלהַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר אָֽנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם תִּשְׁמְרוּן לַֽעֲשׂוֹת, לְמַעַן תִּֽחְיוּן וּרְבִיתֶם וּבָאתֶם וִֽירִשְׁתֶּם אֶת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע ה’ לַֽאֲבֹֽתֵיכֶֽם:

Devarim 8:1

Every commandment that I command you this day you shall keep to do, so that you may live and multiply, and come and possess the Land [Eretz Yisrael] that Hashem swore to your forefathers.

Aderes Eliyahu (Vilna Gaon 1720-1797)

…It then says, “So that you may live” למען תחיון [and possess the Land], because the main fulfillment of the mitzvos depends on the Land. Nowadays, everyone is obligated to study the mitzvos and know how to do them, for he will need to do them when he returns to the Land…

This is why it says “so that you may live” meaning , in the merit of learning and reviewing  the low of the Torah in Chutz LaAretz, “you will multiply”…and “you will possess the Land in its merit”.

Now one needs to do three things in order to come to the Land [of Israel]” 1) prepare to leave Chutz LaAretz [USA], 2) go on the journey, and 4) enter Eretz Yisrael…

56) Where is the Land of the living? What is true Happiness?

Eretz Yisrael. Because, Israel is the only place a Jew can actually fulfill the Torah commandments and mitzvos. Happiness, is being able to serve G-d in Israel.

Derashos HaChasam Sofer (1762-1839 Hungary), Shabbos Shuvah

Had I not  believed that I would see the goodness of Hashem in the Land of the living (Tehillim 27:13), לולי האמתי לראות בטוב ה’ בארץ חיים …The meaning is based on the fact that the main fulfillment of the Torah and its mitzvos is only in the Land of the living, which is Eretz Yisrael. By virtue of fulfilling the Torah in the Land we merit seeing the anticipated goodness of Hashem…we would nonetheless be happy just being able to serve Hashem in Eretz Yisrael, even without the reward, for what is better than that?…Even if the truth is that I do not believe that I will see the goodness of Hashem in the World to Come,  I would nonetheless believe that  I will see, at least, the Holy Land of the Living[Israel], to fulfill Hashem’s commandments there, as He desires.

57)  Where does a Jew receive his reward for doing mitzvos? Why does the Torah emphasize to honor your father and mother so that your days will be lengthened in Eretz Yisrael?

The Netziv of Volozhin (Rav Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin) in his approbation to the sefer Ahavas Chesed by the Chafetz Chayim, notes the rewards for the mitzvos are greater in Israel.

The Netziv’s Haskama to Ahavas Chesed of the Chafetz Chaim

            …Honor your father and your mother, so that your days will be lengthened upon the Land that Hashem your G-d gives you (Shemos 20:12). This makes no sense; why did the Torah say specifically “upon the Land”?…clearly the pasuk is coming to teach us that even though honoring one’s parents is a rational mitzvah…The practical difference concerns the reward. For the laws of the Torah – even those that do not depend on the Land of Israel and apply even outside its borders – are more special in Eretz Yisrael. This is why the Torah is called the law of G-d of the Land תורת אלקי הארץ  (Melachim II 17:26)…Therefore, the reward is greater in the Land than it is anywhere else…honoring one’s parents…its reward is greater upon the Land…the nation of Hashem must follow it specifically according to the rules of the Torah, not according to Human intellect

58) What mitzvah is equal to all the mitzvos in the Torah? Where does a person chose to live, if he desires to actually fulfill all of G-d’s commandments possible today? Where are G-d’s commandments intended to be kept?

Living in Eretz Yisrael.

Torah Temimah (Rav Baruch Epstein, 1860-1940), Devarim 12, 114

…it is impossible to fulfill all the mitzvos of the Torah anywhere but in Eretz Yisrael…even the mitzvos that are personal obligations were given mainly and essentially to be kept in Eretz Yisrael…The reason we keep the mitzvos in the Diaspora is only so that we will not forget how to fulfill them when Israel [the Jews] return to the Land, as the Sifrei explains in Parshas Eikev (11:18)…be distinguishable through the mitzvos so that they will not be new to you when you return. Thus, it is inherently clear why the mitzvah of dwelling in Eretz Yisrael ישיבת אר”י , is equal to all the mitzvos of the Torah, for it is the foundation and basis for the fulfillment of all the mitzvos…

This explanation clarifies the words of the Ramban…the main reason for the mitzvah of dwelling in  Eretz Yisrael is for the purpose of fulfilling the mitzvos as they are written and as G-d intended them to be kept when He gave them…

…Behold, some Rishonim hold that the mitzvah of dwelling in the Land applies even nowadays…

59) How many of the 613 mitzvos can actually be kept only in Eretz Yisrael?

195 out of 613 mitzvos can only be fulfilled in Eretz Yisrael.

Eretz Yisrael Nachalas Am Yisrael (61), Rav Yechezkel Abramsky (1886-1976)

Of the 613 mitzvos, approximately 195 of them apply only in Eretz Yisrael and cannot possibly be fulfilled elsewhere. The fulfillment of around 78 of them actually depends on the Land…Of the 248 positive commandments only around 90 of them can be fulfilled everywhere.

60) According to the Satmar Rebbe ( Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum 1887-1979), where is the holiest place in the world to live? Are mitzvos performed in Eretz Yisrael greater that than those kept in Chutz LaAretz?

The holiest place to live is Israel. Yes, mitzvos performed here in Israel are must greater than those kept in the USA.

VaYoel Moshe, Ma’amar Yishuv Eretz Yisrael 133:1-2

It is a perfect privilege, beyond measure, for someone who is a perfect tzaddik and observes the entire Torah, not transgressing anything G-d forbid, to live in Eretz Yisrael. This is true even according to those poskim who hold that  there is not mitzvah nowadays in the actual act of dwelling in Eretz Yisrael. After all, every word of Torah that one learns and every mitzvah that one performs in Eretz Yisrael is much more significant – many times over- by virtue of the fact that he is in the holy place, Eretz Yisrael…This is why dwelling in Eretz Yisrael is equal to the entire Torah…everyone agrees with this…no one argues with this…it’s just that…ordinary people are not commanded to live there…May my portion be with those who serve HaShem earnestly in Eretz Yisrael…just as mitzvos are more significant in Eretz Yisrael, so too, sins are worse there…

61) The fact is that the actual mitzvos, such as tefilin are commanded to be kept in Israel. Does a traveler (who put tefillin on while in the airplane) who arrived in Israel (from the USA) during the day, need to put on tefilin a second time in Israel?

Rav Hutner would daven on the airplane on his way to Eretz Yisrael. He would put on his tefillin again upon arrival…

About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA , made aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. Received Rabbinical ordination in 1997. He is also a active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Currently practicing in Laniado Hospital in Netanya; speciaizing in the surgical care of all problems of the colon, rectum and anus.
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