Arie E. Pelta

The Cherished Land (part 10b of 14)

Galil from Mizpeh Hussyan (personal photo of the author)

128) Was Rav Yehuda HaLevi a hypocrite for expressing his extensive praise and centrality of Eretz Yisrael and yet choosing to live in Spain?

Yes! When this was pointed out to him he was honest enough to recognize this inconsistency. He then made Aliyah. Unlike, USA Rabbis who preach Aliyah for decades and then chose to remain a leader of their Shul or community, falsely claiming that there is no one else fit for the job. The Kuzari calls our prayers and support of Israel meaningless “chirping of the birds”. If we truly support Israel and love G-d  – we will move to Israel.

Sefer HaKuzari, 2:23-24

  1. The Kuzari said: “If so then you are shirking the duty imposed by your Torah. You have not made Eretz Yisrael your goal, nor your place of living and dying…The Christians say…The Muslims believe…Everyone focuses upon and rejoices in Eretz Yisrael. I see that all your knee bending and bowing toward Eretz Yisrael is mere flattery or some insincere custom. Your forefathers chose to live in Eretz Yisrael rather than their birthplaces and they even preferred a life of wandering in Eretz Yisrael over a settled life in their homelands. And this was their choice…indeed; the Land at that time was teeming with immorality and idolatry. Nevertheless, their only desire was to dwell there…
  2. The Rabbi said: “You have shamed me, King of Khazaria. It is this very sin which prevented us from achieving that which G-d promised us for the second Beis HaMikdash …This means that the Shechina was prepared to dwell in the Second Beis HaMikdash…provided that the Jewish people would all agree to return to Eretz Yisrael eagerly. Instead, only some returned, while the majority – including the Gedolei HaDor – remained in Babylon. They preferred subservience in the Galus, so that they would not have to part from their homes and businesses.

Perhaps this is what Shlomo meant when he said “I am asleep but my heart is awake” ישנה וליבי ער(Shir HaShirim 5:2), likening Diaspora Jewry to one who is asleep… “A voice! My beloved knocks!” קול דודי דופק which refers to G-d’s beckoning call to return to Eretz Yisrael..sluggishness of the Jewish people to return…This is because the Shechina rests upon a person only in proportion to the person’s receptivity to it..And therefore our recitations of such phrases as “Bow down to the mount of his holiness (Tehillim 99:9) השתחוו להר קדשו,”Bow down to His footstool (Tehillim 99:5) והשתחוו להדום רגליו , “Blessed are You Who returns His Shechina to Zion [Shemoneh Esrei]המחזיר שכינתו לציון and the like are merely like the chirping of the warble, mynah and other birds כצפצוף הזרזיר והדומה; we do not thing about what we are saying when we say them and others like them…


129) Is it legitimate not live in Israel because it’s difficult to live here and because it’s a war zone?

No! This is the way it is supposed to be. It is our duty and obligation to fight wars against Amalek, this is how we restore G-d’s honor to the world.

Sefer Chareidim, Chapter 59

…Said Avraham “It is better to live in the deserts of Eretz Yisrael than to live in the palaces of Chutz LaAretz“…We, his descendants must take a lesson from him, for future generations, to yearn as he did to live in Eretz Yisrael, even though its residents suffer שיושביה בצער. We should live there with that in mind and accept our suffering/challenges with joy שמחין ביסורין.

This is why the section with dealing with the remembrance of Amalek is juxtaposed to Israel’s entry into Eretz Yisrael in Parshas KiSavo…Just as Amalek came to fight us during our first entry into the Land an Amalek will similarly come our way during the ingathering of the exiles…as we see in our times [Hamas, Hezbulla, Moslems, Arabs, Iran].


130) Where can a Jew cling close to Hashem and be forgiven for all their sins?

Eretz Yisrael.

Sefer Chareidim, Chapter 59

…one who lives in Eretz Yisrael clings דבק  to Hashem, and the opposite of one who dwells in Chutz LaAretz – that is, a Jew is likened to one who has no G-d…

The Ramban includes the mitzvah of dwelling in Eretz Yisrael in his count of the 613 mitzvos. A person fulfills this mitzvah every moment that he is in the Land [of Israel]…one who dwells in Eretz Yisrael must continuously rejoice over his constant and beloved mitzvah…The afflictions/challenges יסורין that one suffers in Eretz Yisrael, whether from the gentile nations or from illness are like an atoning altar…”…the people who dwell there are forgiven of sin” (Yeshayahu 33:24)…the hardships הצרות one suffers in Eretz Yisrael deduct from and diminish his sins and “the people there are forgiven of sin.”  It also says, “His Land will atone for His nation” (Devarim 32:43). But this is true only regarding minor sins, for which one repents and which one regrets doing. Then the afflictions יסורין of Eretz Yisrael cleanse him, and when he dies he will go straight to Gan Eden.


131) Israel is the Palace of the King. Can one behave in Israel as they do in the Diaspora?

No. Eretz Yisrael does not tolerate sexual immorality; this is nothing to be proud of – just the opposite. Certain behaviors are not tolerated here and these people will be expelled either in life or in death.

Sefer Chareidim, Chapter 59

However, those who come to Eretz Yisrael without realizing that they are in the King’s palace and they rebel and sin and spend much of their time feasting with friends and making merry – about them the verse says “You came and defiled my Land, making an inheritance into an abomination תועבה (Yirmiyahu 2:7)…Such people should not think that they will remain in Eretz Yisrael after their deaths. Rather, G-d will expel them like dogs, when they die. Pirkei DeRebbe Eliezer chapter 34 states: The souls of all the wicked ones in Eretz Yisrael will be cast out of the Land…in regard to illicit relations עריות…Nevertheless, the main fulfillment of all the mitzvos is for those who dwell in G-d’s Land. The Sifra (Kedoshim 11:14) similarly teaches: “Let not the Land vomit תקיא you out (VaYikra 18:28) – Eretz Yisrael is unlike other lands; it does not retain sinners.

132) Did Rav Nachman of Breslev (1772-1810) want people to live in Umman Ukraine or Eretz Yisrael? Did he want Israeli Jews to leave Israel and take trips to Umman?

No! He was clear the only place to live and visit was Eretz Yisrael. He is clear that the one only place to get close to Hashem is in Israel – not Umman.

Likutei Tefillos 1:84, 1:47

(84)…I and all of Israel should yearn, long, crave, and truly desire to go to Eretz Yisrael…I need to be in Eretz Yisrael, the Holy Land, because of the immense distance that exists between me and You…I need to be in Eretz Yisrael. There lies the root of the comprehensive holiness of Israel. It is the Land that HaShem chose for His chosen nation, Israel…the Land where all of the true tzaddikim yearned and pined to be…the holiest point of the entire world…

(47) Grant me the privilege to quickly swiftly and speedily go to and arrive in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Life, the Holy Land , to roll around in its dust, kiss its clods, inhale its holy air and find shelter in its shade.




133) Did the Chafetz Chaim try to make Aliyah?

Yes in 1925 he was supposed to move to Petach Tikva. Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld signed his entry permit on Chol HaMoed Succos. Never in his life had he written or signed anything on Chol HaMoed.

Michtavei HeChafetz Chayim p.76 (written by Rav Aryeh Leib son of Rav Yisrael Meir Kagen 1839-1933)

…I found there a pamphlet that had been sent from the house of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, shlita…he opposed the entire new settlement [of Eretz Yisrael]…He said, “Send them [Jews] to any land, just not to our Holy Land.” According to his words there, this Land was chosen only for the service of G-d…My father [The Chafetz Chaim]…took a Tanach in his hands and showed my Yechezkel 38:12…”This shows that our people will engage in buying and selling! The important thing is that they should act according to the ways of the Torah.”

My honorable father himself yearned his entire life to travel to Eretz Yisrael and he was already prepared to do so. He even sent his books and household items there [to Petach Tikvah]…but to everyone’s chagrin G-d in Heaven preventing him from making it there…I told him [that I was in Israel on a trip and returned to Europe, the Chafetz Chaim said] “You did foolishly! If you were already there, you should have settled there.


134) Which Kedusha lasted longer: the lands of Israel conquered by Yehoshua or Ezra?

The sanctification of the areas in Israel by Ezra are still Holy to this day. Whereas, the sanctifications by Yehoshua were annulled after the destruction of the First Beis HaMikdash.

Eretz Yisrael Nachalas Am Yisrael, Introduction (Rav Yechezkel Abramsky)

Ezra’s aliyah…left its mark on the Land from a halachic standpoint – for that generation and all future generations…through Chazakah חזקה, that is they took hold of it. Therefore, anyplace that the Jews who returned from Bavel took hold of, and was sanctified by Ezra’s second sanctification is still holy today…it is obligated in Sheviis and Ma’asros.

            …Only the sanctity קדושה of the Land that came about through “My spirit” ברוחי when Zerubavel ascended to the Land, that sanctity will never dissolve…


135) Are Jews who live in Eretz Yisrael on a higher spiritual level than Jews who live in the Galus?

Yes. Even the Torah studied here is more significant compared to Chutz LaAretz. Moshe was sensitive to this. However, at a significant point when meeting the daughters of Yisro he did not identify with being connected to Eretz Yisrael and this had an impact that he could never enter. Eretz Yisrael only accepts those who truly identify with it as a Ben Eretz Yisrael.

Sichot Mussar, Devarim 5733 (Rav Chaim Shmulevitz 1902-1979)

…Eretz Yisrael gives added significance to anyone who is found inside its borders. Such a person is privileged to experience great spiritual growth when he is in there…”there is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael” (VaYikra Rabbah 13:5). This shows that the Torah of those who study it in Eretz Yisrael is more exalted. Chazal say that prophecy is revealed only in Eretz Yisrael …

Behold, we should be astonished at ourselves. We live in Eretz Yisrael but do not properly sense the great elevation that we attain by being in the Land…

…[Moshe] All the excuses and explanations that he had for not acknowledging the Land did not help him…Rather, it is a fact: he who does not acknowledge the Land is not connected to the Land…the Land does not want him.

136) How does one get a portion of the Land of Israel?

The simple answer is to buy property. However, one has to want it and only speak good of the Land. In this way we are worthy to get the benefit from the Land as expressed in the “Shema” prayer.

Sichot Mussar, Devarim 5733

…In order to receive the abundance שפע  that flows from above upon the Land and its inhabitants…there is a condition, one must [appreciate] acknowledgeמודה  the Land. This feeling prepares a person to come under the influence השפעה  of the Land.

…the very act of buying a portion in the Land is tantamount to acquiring a portion in the World to Come.

…sin of the Spies מרגלים …they slandered the Land and did not want it, they perforce had no connection to the Land and were unfit to enter it.



137) What’s missing among many Torah Jews Today? How will this bring real peace to Israel?

The intense desire to live in Eretz Yisrael. If the USA Rabbis and Torah observant Jews would make aliyah to Israel, then the Jews would dwell in security from all of our enemies and we would live in a Torah based society. When travel and food was difficult many gedolim made aliyah and many others wanted to make aliyah. Now, it’s relatively simple and easy compared to the past generations – and the Jews are not coming from the USA in significant numbers. When most of the Torah Jews are living here than we will have real peace.

Sefer Eretz Yisrael 27:7 (Rav Tikochinsky)

…And what about today? How easy it is to travel to Eretz Yisrael! From America by plane…from Yaffo to Yerushalayim by car…there is no lack of water or any essential food item…The lord of the Land is the government of Israel. The gates of the Land are opened wide…

So what is missing today? That intense desire which burned in the hearts of faithful Jews who lived in the Diaspora in the past. Had the trip and the entry into Eretz Yisrael been so easy a hundred years ago, or of all faithful Jews in our times would yearn for our Holy Land and City with the same spiritual pull as in generations past, Eretz Yisrael would now be almost entirely inhabited by Jews who observe Torah and mitzvos…the laws of the Knesset would be based on the Torah of Israel…faithful Jews in the Diaspora…they themselves still love exile  living הישוב הגלותי, and some of them imagine that there is where their home will be in the future, as well…It is incumbent upon every observant Jew, especially our rabbis, to learn a lesson from the previous aliyah’s, when Jews ascended to Eretz Yisrael with self-sacrifice…When Hashem favors the ways of a man, even his enemies will make peace with him (Mishlei 16:7). That is , Israel would dwell securely from its external enemies…









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. He received his Rabbinical ordination in 1997. He is also an active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Dr. Pelta is currently a full time Senior Surgeon practicing in Laniado Hospital (Netanya); specializing in the surgical care of all colorectal diseases.
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