Simcha Feuerman
Psychology, Torah and the Daf Yomi

Occupied Territories Nazir 65 Psychology of the Daf Yomi

Daf Our Gemara on Amud Aleph quotes a verse about Yaakov’s burial wishes as a proof text that requires a portion of the nearby earth to be taken along with a disinterred corpse, when it is being transferred to another grave (Bereishis 47:30):

וְשָֽׁכַבְתִּי֙ עִם־אֲבֹתַ֔י וּנְשָׂאתַ֙נִי֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם וּקְבַרְתַּ֖נִי בִּקְבֻרָתָ֑ם וַיֹּאמַ֕ר אָנֹכִ֖י אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֥ה כִדְבָרֶֽךָ׃

When I lie down with my ancestors, take me up from Egypt and bury me in their burial-place.” He replied, “I will do as you have spoken.”

There are various opinions about circumstances that permit disinterment, such as to be in a family plot or to relocate to Eretz Yisrael, as well as formulations of the potential prohibitions, with all the major poskim weighing in. ( שו”ת שרידי אש ב, סימן ק, שו”ת ציץ אליעזר י, סימן מ, וכן בקונטרס אבן יעקב סימן כח. מצדדים בקביעה10 שו”ת יביע אומר ז, יורה דעה, סימן לח, שו”ת אגרות משה א, יורה דעה, סימן רלז.)

One objection that is based on the Zohar, and therefore taken with greater weight of by the Chassidic poskim, is that if one brings a body from outside Eretz Yisrael they are also importing, substance of impurity, as the corpse brings with it some degree of indigenous earth, as we see from our Gemara. The Zohar (I:225b) raises this concern in regard to the permissibility of Yaakov being buried in Israel because it will automatically necessitate importing impure earth from Egypt. The Zohar answers that Yakov’s situation was different. Becaus he was a so holy, that the Shekhina went down with him to Egypt. As the verse states (Bereishis 44:4): “I shall go down with you to Egypt“, therefore, Yakov’s earth was as if it came from Eretz Yisrael.

The Shalah (Torah Shebiksav, Vayechi, Torah Ohr) quotes this Zohar, and then offers his own answer, with fascinating theological implications. Shalah says that the Land of Israel is a place which allows for something to happen which brings the divine presence, but it is not solely about the place, it is about the Jewish people. He asserts, any time the entirety of the Jewish people are in one location, they bring down the divine presence, as if it was the Holy Land. He says, this is why the Jews were allowed to offer sacrifices in the wilderness, even though it was not the land of Israel, nor was it a designated Temple area. In the case of Yaakov in Egypt, because the entirety of the Jewish people was there (the 70 souls), at least wherever Yaakov and the Jewish people were located, so too the Shekhina was located.

I must say, this is a fascinating idea that there could be a homeland for the Jewish people and the divine presence wherever they are, as long as they are all together.

About the Author
Rabbi, Psychotherapist with 30 years experience specializing in high conflict couples and families.
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