The REAL Story of Rus — Don’t Leave Eretz Yisrael

What is the connection between Megillas Rus, Dovid Hamelech, Moshiach and a case of incest which was considered a mitzva?

It all begins with Avraham

Jewish history begins with Avraham Avinu, in parshas Lech Lecha,  making aliyah to the land of Canaan (Eretz Yisrael).  Terach and Amasla’i had three sons: Avraham, Haran and Nachor.  His brother Haran had two daughters and a son: Milcah, Sarah and Lot.  Avraham married his niece, Sarah.

The story of Lot and his daughters

Lot was initially living with Avraham, later on he decided to move to Sdom with his wife Irit and their daughters.  After the destruction of Sdom, and the death of his wife who turned into a pillar of salt, Lot escaped to a cave with two of his remaining daughters.  Believing that the entire world was destroyed, and being the only survivors, Lot’s daughters felt they had the responsibility to repopulate the world.  To them, there was no other option other than to get their own father drunk and become pregnant from him; in order to perpetuate human race.  Their intention was to perform the ultimate mitzvah of peru u’revu (be fruitful and multiply the human population), even though this would entail transgressing the sin of incest.  This was the only permitted case of incest in the Torah.  They eventually became pregnant from their father Lot. The younger daughter gave birth to the founder of the nation of Amon, and the older daughter named her son Moav, who generations later begot Rus the Moabite.  Thus began the maternal beginnings of Moshiach.

…Rav Yitzchak commented : “I have found Dovid my servant, with my holy oil I have anointed him”. (Tehillim 89:21)

“מצאתי דוד עבדי, בשמן קדשי משחתיו”. (תהילים פט:כא)

Where did I find him? In Sdom.”

(Bereishis Rabbah 41:4)

 

בבא בתרא צא:

דכתיב: “מצאתי דוד עבדי”; וכתיב “שתי בנתיך הנמצאות”.

 

As it is written “ I found Dovid my servant”; and it is written: “your two daughters who are found with you (Bereishis 19:15)”

)Talmud Bava Basra 91b(

 

 

Thus, Lot had a permissible incest with his daughters, because of their holy intentions.  This enabled the eventual rise of the nations of Ammon and Moav.

בבא קמא לח:

אמר לו הקב”ה לא כשעלתה על דעתך עלתה על דעתי שתי פרידות טובות יש לי להוציא מהן רות המואביה ונעמה העמונית

 

The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to [Moshe]: Not that which has arisen in your thought has arisen in My thought. (I do not desire the destruction of Moav, nor of its sister nation, Ammon).  For there are two fine pigeons that I must first draw forth from them, Rus the Moabite, and Naamah the Ammonite. (Talmud Bava Kamma 38b)

Interestingly, we learn from the actions of Lot’s daughters the need to pursue mitzvos with zeal, and the concept of performing a mitzvah for the sake of Heaven זריזות.

בבא קמא לח:

לעולם יקדים אדם לדבר מצוה שבשביל לילה אחת שקדמה בכירה לצעירה קדמתה בכירה לצעירה קדמתה ארבע דורות לישראל עובד ישי דוד ושלמה

 

A person should always strive to be first in a mitzvah matter, for because of the one night by which [Lot’s] elder daughter preceded the younger [daughter] in cohabiting with her father, she preceded her by four generations in joining the nation of Israel.  (The Jewish descendents of the older daughter were) Oved, Yishai, Dovid, and Sholomo. (Talmud Bava Kamma 38b)

The Talmud makes it very clear that not only did the daughters of Lot not perform a cardinal sin, they are actually treated as righteous women.

נזיר כג.

הן שנתכוונו לשם מצוה וצדיקים ילכו בם

 

They [the daughters] who intended to fulfill a commandment, exemplify the verse “The righteous shall walk in them”

(Talmud Nazir 23a)

הושע יד:י

מי חכם ויבן אלה נבון וידעם כי ישרים דרכי ה’ וצדיקים ילכו בם ופשעים יכשלו בם.

 

Who is wise and will understand these things; [who is] understanding and will know them? For the roads of Hashem are straight; the righteous walk in them, while the transgressors stumble in them? (Hosea 14:10)

 

 

Yaakov Builds Bnei Yisrael

Avraham was separted from Lot and moved on.  He eventually had a son named Yitzchak.  He arranged his son to be married off to Rivka who was the granddaughter of Milcah (sister of Sarah) and the daughter of Besuel.  Yitzchak had two sons Esav and  Yaakov.  Eventually, Esav aspires to kill his brother forcing Rivka sent Yaakov away from Eretz Yisrael, to escape, and find himself a wife in his mother’s home town of Charan.

Meanwhile, back in Charan, Rivka’s father Besuel raised a conniving son named Lavan, who in turn has two daughters of his own named: Leah and Rachel.  With the story of Lavan the formation of the Jewish nation as twelve tribes begins.  It almost never occurred; it’s the first in a series of marriages which almost never came to be.

For this reason, at the at the bikurim (first fruits) ceremony in the Beis Hamikdash we express our thanks to Hashem from saving us from the first attempt of annihilation of the Jewish people:

דברים כו:ה

ארמי אבד אבי

An Aramean would have destroyed my father… (Devarim 26:5)

Rashi explains:

רש”י, דברים כו:ה

ארמי אובד אבי, לבן בקש לעקור את הכל כשרדף אחר יעקב…

Lavan the Aramean sought to eradicate everything when he chased after Yaakov. )Rashi, Devarim 26:5)

 

Thus, just as the Jewish nation was in its infancy it was almost destroyed.  However, Hashem protected Yaakov and thus saved us from utter destruction.  We recognize this recurring attempt by the nations of the world to harm the Jewish Nation in every generation, by repeating this story in the Pesach Haggadah.

 

The first time happiness “שמחה” was mentioned in the Torah was by Lavan.  So too the first fruits given in the Beis Hamikdash ביקורים”” were given with happiness.  The Midrash teaches (Yalkut Shimoni 2) that Hashem created the world for the mitzvah of bikurim.

 

בראשית לא כז

            למה נחבאת לברח ותגנב אתי, ולא הגדת לי ואלחך בשמחה ובשירים בתף ובכנור.

           

Why have you fled so stealthily and cheated me? Nor did you tell me – for I would have sent you off with happiness, with songs, with timbrel, and with lyre! (Bereishis 31:27)

 

According to the master plan, Lavan’s eldest daughter, Leah, was supposed to marry Yaakov’s brother Esav.  However, this never came to be, and Leah was surreptitiously married to Yaakov.  Later on Rachel was allowed to marry Yaakov as well.  Yaakov erroneously thought that he was destined to only build the Jewish nation though his primary wife, Rachel.  However, unbeknownst to him, Leah was the matriarch of none other than Moshiach ben Dovid. Leah’s fourth son was Yehuda, who was destined to be the paternal source of Moshiach.  Rachel is the mother of Moshiach ben Yosef for whom we are eagerly awaiting to come soon, to usher in the messianic age.

 

Yehuda the future King of the Jewish People – Peretz

Yehuda almost lost his opportunity to be King.  Both of his sons were married to Tamar and they subsequently died, childless.  Tamar, the daughter of Shem, the granddaughter of Noach, felt compelled to disguise herself as a prostitute and in this manner she became pregnant from Yehuda.  Not realizing that he was the source of Tamar’s pregnant status, Yehuda ordered Tamar to be burned to death for her crime of promiscuity.  However, at the last moment, Yehuda demonstrated his innate regal leadership quality, and admitted publicly that he was the father of Tamar’s unborn child, Peretz.

נזיר כג:

תמר זינתה יצאו ממנה מלכים ונביאים

 

Tamar engaged in immoral relations, (but because her intentions were noble), kings and prophets descended from her. (Talmud Nazir 23b)

 

The Talmud goes on to teach us that these seemingly promiscuous acts of Tamar and Lot’s daughters, were actually mitzvos. Likewise, this is the paradigm of how we are to perform and run after mitzvos to serve G-d properly לשמה.

 

נזיר כג:

גדולה עבירה לשמה ממצוה שלא לשמה

 

A transgression committed for the sake [of Heaven] is of greater merit than a mitzvah performed for ulterior motives. (Talmud Nazir 23b)

 

With this background, we can now start to understand the setting for the story of Rus.

 

 

 

Elimelech is a descendent from Yehuda

At the beginning of the Megillah we are introduced to the characters Elimelech, his wife Naomi and his sons Machlon and Kilyon.  Elimelech happends to be a wealthy man, living in Beis Lechem and the leader of the Jewish people.  Unfortunately, there is a shortage of food and Elimelech decides to leave Eretz Yisrael with his wife and sons and go to the land of Moav. Elimelech did not appreciate the Halacha, that a Jew is not supposed to leave the Land of Israel.

בבא בתרא צא.

אין יוצאין מארץ לחוץ לארץ

 

One may not leave the Land of Israel to go live outside the Land   (Talmud Bava Basra 91a)

 

Elimelech and his sons left Eretz Yisrael for Moav.  Even though there was a famine in the Land he was severely punished.  He and his sons died in Moav for this transgression. Elimelech perished in a plague that only struck the land of Moav. Had he stayed in Eretz Yisrael he would have survived. It was an ironic event when Naomi returned to Beis Lechem a poor barefooted widow with no living children; whereas, those who remained in Eretz Yisrael survived the famine.  Upon realizing this, the people said:

רות א:יט

…ותאמרנה הזאת נעמי?

            Is this Naomi?! (Rus 1:19)

i.e. can this be the Naomi who ran away from the famine and her family died?

בבא בתרא צא.

וכן היה רבי שימעון בן יוחאי אומר אלימלך מחלון וכליון גדולי הדור היו ופרנסי הדור היו ומפני מה נענשו מפני שיצאו מארץ לחוצה לארץ

 

Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai used to say: Elimelech, Machlon and Chilyon, (who left the Land of Israel during a famine and moved to Moav where they died not long after) were the great men of their generation and the caretakers of their generation. And for what reason were they punished? Because they left the Land of Israel to go live outside the Land (even though they had grain available to them)  (Talmud Bava Basra 91a)

 

It would seem that Elimelech and sons should have had some Divine protection.  After all they were direct decedents of Yehuda and Nachshon.  However, they lost this divine protection.

בבא בתרא צא.

            מא קא משמע לן? שאפילו מי שיש לו זכות אבות אינה עומדת לו בשעה שיוצא מארץ לחוצה לארץ

 

What does this teach us?  That even one who has the merit of righteous forefathers, (such as Elimelech the son of Nachshon) will not have [this merit] stand by him when he leaves the Land of Israel for the outside the Land.  (Talmud Bava Basra 91a)

 

How is Elimelech related to Yehuda ?

Yehuda married Tamar and their son  Peretz was born. Peretz fathered Chetzron who in turn was father to Rom.  Rom had a son Aminadav.  Aminadav had a son Nachshon (who became famous for being the first Jew to jump into the Reed Sea to make it split), who in turn had four sons of his own.  One of them was Elimelech, but he is not listed in the lineage of the Megillas Rus.  The end to the Megilla lists the descendents of Peretz as follows: Peretz fathered Chezron, Chezron fathered Rom, and Rom fathered Aminadav; and Aminadav fathered Nachshon, and Nachshon fathered Salmah; and Salmon fathered Boaz, and Boaz fathered Oved; and Oved fathered Yishai, and Yishai fathered Dovid.

Peretz →Chetzron →Rom →Aminadav →Nachshon →

(Tov, Elimelech, father of Naomi) Salmon →Boaz →Oved→ Yishai →Dovid

מגילת רות ד:יח-כב

וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדוֹת פָּרֶץ, פֶּרֶץ הוֹלִיד אֶת-חֶצְרוֹן:  וְחֶצְרוֹן הוֹלִיד אֶת-רָם, וְרָם הוֹלִיד אֶת-עַמִּינָדָב:  וְעַמִּינָדָב הוֹלִיד אֶת-נַחְשׁוֹן, וְנַחְשׁוֹן הוֹלִיד אֶת-שַׂלְמָה:  וְשַׂלְמוֹן הוֹלִיד אֶת-בֹּעַז, וּבֹעַז הוֹלִיד אֶת-עוֹבֵד:  וְעֹבֵד הוֹלִיד אֶת-יִשָׁי, וְיִשַׁי הוֹלִיד אֶת-דָּוִד:

Shmuel Hanavi wrote the book of Rus in order to clarify the above lineage, and thus demonstrate that the origins of Dovid Hamelech were legitimate.

בבא בתרא יד:

שמואל כתב ספרו ושופתים ורות. (רש”י …רות שהיתה בימי השופתים)

 

Shmuel wrote his book and the books of Shoftim and Rus.

(Talmud Bava Basra 14b)

 

Some interesting facts:

  • Aminadav also had a daughter named Elisheva.  Elisheva was known as the sister of Nachshon and she married Aharon the brother of Moshe.
  • Nachshon had five children, four sons: 1) Tov 2) Salmon 3) Elimelech and         4) Naomi’s father.
  • Elimelech married his niece Naomi.
  • Salmon fathered Boaz. Boaz was a gilgul of Yehuda, and Rus was a gilgul of Tamar. (Seder haDoros)
  • Aharon אהרן הכהן was the gilgul of הרן brother of Avraham (Sha’ar Hagilgulim).
  • Chetzron is also named Yefuneh. He had another son named Calev (Midrash Rabbah Breishis)

Kings of Moav: Balak and Eglon, Princess Rus

Balak king of Moav hired Bilam to curse the Jewish people. Eglon, the son of Balak, the king of Moav, was also the father of Rus and Orpah. Eglon was eventually killed by the Shofet Ehud ben Geirah.

נזיר כג:

לעולם יעסוק אדם בתורה ובמצות אפילו שלא לשמן שבשכר ארבעים ושנים קרבנות שהקריב בלק הרשע זכה ויצאה ממנו רות…רות בת בנו של מלך מואב היתה

 

A person should always engage in the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvos even for ulterior motives, because from learning Torah and doing mitzvos for ulterior motives he will eventually come to learn Torah and do mitzvos for their own sake.  The proof is that in reward for the forty-two sacrifices which the wicked Balak offered, he merited having Rus among his descendants…Rus was the daughter of the son of Eglon the King of Moav. (Eglon was the grandson of Balak, this proves that Rus was descended from Balak. (Talmud Nazir 23b)       

Machlon married Rus – in his merit his wife was the forebear of King Dovid. Kilyon married Orpah, who was known as a nasty woman.  Prior to Naomi’s return to Eretz Yisrael, Orpah took forty steps with her and she also shed four tears. Because of these actions, she was rewarded with four mighty sons: Saf, Madon, Yishbi B’Nov and Golias (Goliath).  In a similar merit, Golias lived and extra forty days, when he blasphemed  G-d while standing in Socoh opposite the Jewish camp near Azekah.  Forty days later Goliat he was killed by the young Dovid (Orpah vs. Rus).

Orpah was promiscuous  – Goliat was born of one hundred stepfathers and one father. According to the Midrash, she sunk to the basest level and had relations with a dog.

סוטה מב:

“ויצא איש-הבנים ממחנות פלשתים וגו’ ” מאי “בנים” ? … רבי יוחנן אמר: בר מאה פפי וחדא נאנאי

 

“And the beinayim man went out of the Plishtim camps” [and his name was Goliat of Gat …] (Shmuel I 17:4) What is meant by beinayim? R’ Yochanan said: It means that he emerged from between multiple acts of cohabitation.  For he was born of one hundred stepfathers and one father [in a single night]. (Talmud Sota 42b)

 

 

 

Orpah was eventually killed by  Avishai, a General in King Dovid’s army.

סנהדרין צה.

רככיה לפרדיה וקם ואזל. קפצה ליה ארעא. בהדי דקא מסגי, חזייה לערפה אמיה, דהוות נוולא. כי חזיתיה, פסקתה לפילכה, שדתיה עילויה. סברא למקטליה, אמרה ליה, “עלם, אייתי לי פלך”. פתקיה בריש מוחה וקטלה.

 

[Avishai] then mounted [Dovid’s] mule and rode off.  The ground miraculously contracted under him, enabling him to reach the land of the Plishtim in an extraordinarily short time.  As [Avishai] was riding, he saw Orpah, the mother of [Yishbi B’Nov], and he noticed that she was spinning thread.  As soon as she saw [Avishai], she broke the thread off her spindle and threw [the spindle] at him like a dart.  She had hoped to kill him with this, but she saw that the spindle had failed to  hit him, she feigned innocence and said to [Avishai]: “Young man! Fetch me [that] spindle which I accidentally dropped in front of you.”  He threw [the spindle] at the top of her head and killed her. (Talmud Sanhedrin 95a)

 

Boaz – Shofet Ivtzan

Boaz was head of the Sanhedrin and was also known as one the Judges, Shofet Ivtzan.  Boaz had sixty children and did not invite Manoach (future father of Shimshon/Samson) to any of his weddings – since Manoach did not have any children of his own to wed and return the favor. Boaz made a major judgment error in thinking the he was sparing Manoach’s feelings, since he could not reciprocate; the opposite was true.

בבא בתרא צא.

דאמר רבה בר הונא אמר רב: מאה ועשרים משתאות עשה בעז לבניו שנאמר: “ויהי לו שלשים בנים ושלשים בנות שלח החוצה, ושלשים בנות הביא לבניו מן החוץ…”…ובכולן לא זימן את מנוח…וכולם מתו בחייו

 

For Rabbah bar Rav Huna said in the name of Rav: Boaz made one hundred and twenty feasts for his sixty children, as it says: “And [Ivtzan] had thirty sons, and thirty daughters whom he sent abroad, and thirty daughters whom he brought from abroad for his sons…”…and in all of them he did not invite Manoach (who was at that time childless but would later father Shimshon Hagibor with Tzelelponis)…all of  those children died in [Ivtzan’s] lifetime. (Talmud Bava Basra 91a)

 

During the time of Boaz, the Sanhedrin publicized the halacha that men from Moav and Amon are not allowed to marry Jewish women after conversion, but women are allowed to convert and marry a Jewish man. At this point in time Naomi and Rus showed up.  Boaz was elderly with no wife or children. It was the harvest season in Eretz Yisrael (Time of Shavuos).

The Chassam Sofer points out that the elderly Judge, Boaz, was winnowing his wheat, working and sleeping in the fields because this is part of the mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael. Unlike Elimelech, Boaz felt the importance of living in Eretz Yisrael.

Rus ended up marrying the elderly Boaz when she was forty years old.  Boaz was double her age; he was eighty years old.  So not surprisingly, Boaz died the very night he was married to Rus, after she conceived. His mission in life was completed.

A Child was born to Rus nine months after their wedding day.  However, it took two years after the child was born in order to get his name – Oved. With time, Oved himself got married and had a son named Yishai.

At this point in the story it helps to go back and review the story of Yehuda and Tamar.

 

Controversial births in the Messianic family

In Megillas Rus the genealogy begins with Peretz; why does is not begin with Yehuda?

An answer is that Peretz was a child from a controversial marriage between Yehuda and Tamar.  For this reason, the Megillah clarifies that Peretz was the legitimate son and heir of Yehuda.  Also, there were parallels between the mother of  Peretz, Tamar, and the mother of Oved, Rus.  Tamar had to resort to subterfuge and trickery in order to marry Yehuda; so too the marriage of Rus and Boaz required planning and legal maneuvering.

Yishai, father of King Dovid

Yishai, son of Oved, had six sons and two daughters.   Yishai was a Tzadik.   One day he had some introspection and thought that perhaps Boaz and his court (the Sanhedrin) had made a terrible mistake. He thought that he was illegitimate (from Rus the Moabite) and was thus not permitted to be married to a Jewish woman.  He had the mistaken belief that he was only allowed to marry a Shifcha (maidservant).  His wife, Nitzevess, was a legitimate Jew, so he reasoned that he was required to separate from her and he married a Canaanite maidservant in her place.

Yishai’s wife, Nitzevess, suffered anguish over her husband’s separation from her. The maidservant saw her anguish and offered to switch places in the bedroom, as Leah did with Rachel.  Yishai was unaware that his Canaanite maidservant had switched places with his wife.  Three months later his wife was noticeably pregnant.  Eliav and his other sons wanted to have their mother killed for committing adultery!  This story just so happens to be very similar to the story Yehuda and Tamar.

Yishai would not allow his pregnant (seemingly unfaithful) wife to be killed.  He rather reasoned that they should allow her to give birth to her child.  Once born, this child was named Dovid.  Yishai gave strict instructions that Dovid was to be abhorred and be treated as his brother’s servant, tending to the flocks of animals.

Yishai at the time, did not realize that he indeed had an eighth son. Eight represent a miracle, like Chanukah and bris mila, which manifests itself above the laws of nature.  Dovid, against all odds, eventually became the King of the Jewish people.

 

Rus lives to see Dovid and Shlomo lead the Jewish nation

Rus eventually got to see Dovid become King of Israel. She herself, eventually, sat on the throne next to King Shlomo.

בבא בתרא צא:

“עם המלך במלכותו ישבו שם” זו רות המואביה, שראתה במלכות שלמה בן בנו של בן בנה; שנאמר: “וישם כסא לאם המלך”. ואמר רבי אלעזר: לאמה של מלכות.

 

“With the King at his work they sat there” – this refers to Rus the Moabite, who lived to see the reign of Solomon, the grandson of her grandson; as it says (Malachim I 2:19) “And [Solomon] placed a seat for the mother of the King (Batsheva)”.  And Rav Elazar said: (he placed a seat) for the mother of the royal line, (i.e. Rus, his great-great-grandmother). ( Talmud Bava Basra 91b)        

Dovid Hamelch’s life parallels the history of the Jewish people.  His birth, existence, and success came to fruition despite all odds.  Similarly, his son King Shlomo, was almost not born.  If Dovid did not marry Batsheva, who just happened to be married to another man, initially; then Shlomo would never have been born.

King Dovid was able to withstand suffering more that any person on earth.  Ultimately, the kings of the Jewish people came from him; however, the mothers of the Jewish kings are credited to Rus the Moabite and Naama the Ammonite.  This is reason alone to sing Hallel – Dovid’s praise to G-d.  With this story explained, we can now understand the meaning of the pasuk in Hallel praising the “yoke straps”:

יבמות עז.

דרש רבא: מאי דכתיב “פתחת למוסרי”? אמר דוד לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא, “ריבונו שך עולם, שני מוסרות שהיו עלי פתחתם.” רות המואביה ונעמה העמונית

 

Rava expounded: What is the meaning of that which is written: “You have released my yoke straps” (Tehillim 116:16)? Dovid said before the Holy One, Blessed is He, “Master of the Universe, the two yoke straps that were upon me – you released them.”  This is a reference to Rus the Moabite and Naamah the Ammonite. (Talmud Yevamos 77a)

 

Seemingly odd events occurred from the time of Avraham and Lot.  Initially, it was not so obvious why these stories were relevant or why they occurred in the way they did. However, when we look back and see that the Divine Plan always works out for the good כל מה דעביד לטב עביד . We can clearly say, as was said by Dovid’s brothers, when he was anointed King by Shmuel Hanavi (Pesachim 119a):

תהילים קיח: כג

מאת ה’ היתה זאת, היא נפלאות בעינינו

 

From G-d emanated this; it is wondrous in our eyes

(Tehilim 119:2)

 

As far as we know, King Dovid never left and would never want to leave Eretz Yisrael.  If he had only one request it would be not to leave Israel or the Palace of the Heavenly King.  The Land of Israel is the Palace of The King.

תהילים כז:ד

                        אחת שאלתי מאת ה’ אותה אבקש; שבתי בבית ה’ כל ימי חיי…

 

One thing I asked of Hashem, that I shall seek: Would that I dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life… (Tehillim 27:4)

 

There Is No Vacation From Torah Observance or From The Land of Israel

 

The Rambam paskens that a Jew cannot take a vacation from Israel to Chutz La’Aretz, as many do today.  There must be a legitimate reason to leave.  We learn this from Sefer Rus. There are a few Halachik heterim for leaving Eretz Yisrael that he enumerates.  Vacations and visiting graves are not listed.

 

רמב”ם שופטים הלכות מלכים ומלחמות ה:ט

אסור לצאת מארץ ישראל לחוצה לארץ לעולם, אלא ללמוד תורה או לישא אישה או להציל מיד גוים ויחזור לארץ.  וכן יוצא הוא לסחורה.  אבל לשכון בחוצה לארץ אסור אלא אם כן תזק שם הרעב עד שנעשה שווה דינר חטין בשני דינרין: …ואף אל פי שמותר לצאת אינה מדת חסידות שהרי מחלון וכיליון שני גדולי הדור  היו מפני צרה גדולה יצאו ונתחייבו כלייה למקום:

 

It is forbidden to leave Eretz Yisrael, ever, except for purposes of learning Torah or marry or to save his money from the non-Jews. Then he must return to the Land. One may leave for commerce. However, one may not reside permanently outside the Land unless there is a famine so severe that wheat which once cost one Dinar now costs two Dinars…Even though it may be permitted to leave [in certain circumstances] this is not the way of the Righteous.  We see this from the story of Machlon and Kilyon [the book of Rus] two of the great sages of their generation suffered greatly since they left [Israel] they [and their sons] were annihilated by G-d.  (Rambam Mishneh Torah Chapter 5:9)

 

There is a story written around the year 1930, about one of the grandsons of Rav Chaim Sonnenfeld. The grandson wanted to leave Eretz Yisrael for Europe.  Outside of Israel he had the opportunity to be great Rabbi, with a good salary.  This is the answer Rav Sonnenfeld answered his grandson as follows:

 

“My son, I feel that being a laborer in Eretz Yisrael is greater than being a Rav in Chutz La’aretz”.

The grandson stayed in Eretz Yisrael and never went to Europe.

Every Shavuos we are reminded to learn the lesson of Machalon and Kilyon.  We are privileged to live in Eretz Yisrael and continue to serve Hashem in the best possible way.  He took us out of Mizrayim and gave us the Torah on Har Sinai on Shavuos in order for us to keep the laws of the Torah in – Eretz Yisrael.  Every Shavous holiday the proper way for us to reaccept the Holy Torah that was given on Har Sinai, is to learn it and make a kinyan on it here in Eretz Yisrael.

When we eat our milk products on Shavuous, let us remember that we are privileged to learn and keep the Torah in The Land of Milk and Honey ארץ זבת חלב ודבש.

 

Bibliography

Eliyahu Kitov, Nachman Bulman, Dovid Landesman. The Book of Our Heritage volume 3. Feldheim Publishers. 1997.

Yosef Deutch. Let Me Join Your Nation. Feldheim Publishers. 2013.

Talmud Bavli. The Schottenstein Edition. Artscroll.

 

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 is also a active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Currently practicing in Laniado Hospital in Netanya and at Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv, part of the Assia Medical group; speciaizing in the surgical care of all problems of the colon, rectum and anus.
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