Yesurin: From the Time of the Purim Story Jews Created Excuses Not to Make Aliyah (Part 5 of 6)

A Jewish Holocaust almost occurred during the time of Mordechai and Esther, but it was delayed until the Twentieth Century. Ezra and Nechemia built the Beis Hamikdash and started the aliyah process. Most of the Jews chose not come and stayed in Shushan, Persia. This enabled the inevitable era of hester ponim to enter our world from the years 1939-1945. Unfortunately, we did not have an Esther and a Mordechai to save us. If we were saved, we would have chosen to remain in Europe.

After the time of the Purim story ended and the Jews were spared annihilation, the opportunity for aliyah became a reality. Darius II, the son of Esther agreed to allow the building of the second Beis Hamikdash. The second major Aliyah began with Ezra as the leader. The initial group of 40,000 olim included the outcasts of Jewish society, the mamzerim and those who were married to gentile wives. The majority of Jews and Rabbis chose to remain in Chutz La’Aretz. At that time the Sanhedrin was in Shushan and they were opposed to Mordechai; maybe because he was labeled a Zionist and he would not give up on the Land of Israel! We do know that Mordechai and Ezra HaSofer established the Anshe Keneses Hegedolah in Eretz Yisrael. At its peak, the Jewish population of Israel during the second Beis Hamikdash only reached two million Jews. Currently, the Jewish population census in Israel is reported to be six million !

The Jewish Communities Who Chose Not to make Aliyah

Ezra HaSofer tried to hasten the arrival of the Moshiach by encouraging the Jewish people from the Diaspora to return to Eretz Yisrael. He travelled all over the world for this purpose and he failed. Ezra traveled in person to Yemen and appealed to them to return to Eretz Yisrael, but they refused. Ezra cursed them and they cursed Ezra (Rabbi Shlomo Adenia, Melechet Shlomo).

Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Toledano (Ner Hamaarav) wrote about the Jews of the town of Ifran in Morocco. These Jews had their own kingdom and their first king was named Avraham Efrati of the tribe of Ephraim. Ezra called upon them to go up to Yerushalyim, however, they did not listen to him. Their power eventually deteriorated and they were defeated by their enemies. Later on their enemies changed the royal family name to Afariat. Ironically, this sounds similar to the Arab terrorist named Arafat.

Rabbi Don Yitzchak Abarbanel, in his commentary on Sefer Melachim, relates that members of the tribes of Yehuda, Benyamin, Shimon, and Levi/Kohen, settled in parts of Spain after the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash. Moshe Makir (Seder Hayom), relates that Ezra sent for the Jews of Toledo, but they did not want to go back to Eretz Yisrael. In order to convince Ezra that they were not evildoers and not lacking in faith to G-d, they composed and sent him the prayer emes veyaziv, אמת ויציב which we continue to say in our daily prayer until today.

Yusfa Shamash (Maase Nissim) wrote that in the time of Ezra, the Jews of Yerushalayim sent the Jews of Worms a request for them to be עולה לרגל three times a year as commanded by the Torah. They replied that they had established for themselves a new Yerushalayim on the banks of the Rhine and that they were not interested in the second Beis Hamikdash!  They did not move to or visit Israel as requested. The SMA (Sefer Meiras Eynayim) explained that this is one reason that the Jewish community of Worms suffered far more persecution, pogroms, and evil decrees than other congregations. The success of Worms and other communities was its undoing. The prosperity of the Jew in exile is a Divine test to see whether it will cause the Jew to forget his homeland and his heritage.

There was a community of Kohanim in Djerba, an island off the Tunisian coast. Ezra called on the Kohanim of Djerba to return and serve G-d in Yerushalayim. They refused, because they did not believe that the building of the second Beis Hamikdash was ordained by G-d! Ezra cursed them and their children that: they would not serve as Kohanim in the second Beis Hamikdash and that no Levi would ever come to the Island to be of service to them. There is an ancient tradition in Djerba that any Levi who settles in Djerba will not survive more than a year.

Since the days if Ezra we give maaser rishon to a Kohen and not a Levi. This is a punishment by Ezra, to the Leviim for choosing not to leave Bavel for Eretz Yisrael. This decision by the Leviim was against the commandment of the Torah.

יבמות פו עמוד ב

מפני מה קנסו לוים במעשר? פליגי בה רב יוחנן וסביא. חד אמר שלא עלו בימי עזרא.

Why did they penalize the Leviim by depriving them of maaser? Rav Yonasan and the Elders disagree about it. One says the Leviim were penalized because they did not ascend to Eretz Yisrael from the Babylonian exile in the days of Ezra. (Talmud Bavli Yevamos 86b)

Rabbi Gershon Henoch Lainer, The Radziner Rebbe , traveled to the Island of Corfu in order to examine the Corfu esrogim. He learned that the Jews of Corfu had an ancient tradition that when Ezra HaSofer asked them to return to Eretz Yisrael, they refused.

Most of the Jews of Europe and USA today naively believe that they do not need to make aliyah. If we do not learn the lessons of history then we will repeat them. G-d is knocking on our door, קול דודי דופק, while we choose not to let Him in. Jews today chose to remain in the Diaspora, this is their רצון, and this keeps Moshiach from coming and this also prevents the Shechina itself from returning to the Holy Land.

We Live In Beit Shemesh

When we made Aliyah, we chose to live in Beit Shemesh. It seems that we chose to live in the Land of “milk and honey”. The gematria of Beit Shemesh and the pasuk that describes Israel as the “land of milk and honey” have the same gematria.

בית שמש = 1,052= ארץ זבת חלב ודבש

Beit Shemesh was known as a city of Kohanim and an Ir Miklat (city of refuge), in the area of the Tribe of Yehuda. The Aron (Holy Ark) passed through Beit Shemesh upon being returned by the Pelishtim. According to the Abarbanel, the Jews of Beit Shemesh were punished severely at that time, since they opened up the Aron to see the luchos inside. The pasuk says seventy men and fifty-thousand men died in Beit Shemesh. The proof that great men lived here was the fact that the death of seventy men of Beit Shemesh was equivalent to fifty-thousand men. According to some other estimates, during the time of the Tanach, twenty-thousand people lived here. The current population is greater than this; as predicted by the Navi, that in the era of Moshiach the Land will be rebuilt and repopulated.

Jews Belong In the Holy Land of Israel

Rav Nachman of Breslev visited Eretz Yisrael at the age of twenty-seven. He said:

the main source of all wisdom is in Eretz Yisrael. Each Jew has a part in Eretz Yisrael and each person in Chutz La’Aretz draws his inspiration from the part he has in Eretz Yisrael. Whoever truly wishes to be a Jew should travel to Eretz Yisrael. The exile of the Jewish People will only come to an end when all the Jews live in Eretz Yisrael.

Rav Yosi told his son to learn Torah in Israel if he wants to see G-d.

מדרש שוחר טוב קה

אמר ר’ יוסי בר חלפתא לר’ ישמאל בנו: מבקש אתה לראות פני שכינה בעולם הזה? עסוק בתורה בארץ ישראל!

Rav Yosi Bar Chalifta said to Rav Yishmael his son: “You want to see the face of the Shechina in this world? Be involved in Torah [study] in Eretz Yisrael. (Midrash Socher Tov 105)

The disciples of Rab Avarham of Kalisk complained how difficult it was to live in Eretz Yisrael and that it was very hard to earn a living. He replied to them:

If you only wait a while, everything will, G-d willing, improve. We are told in Tehilim )87:5(, regarding Eretz Yisrael that, “man after man was born in her, and he establishes her as the most high ” “איש ואיש ילד בה, והוא יכוננה עליון. A Jew who moves to Eretz Yisrael is as an unborn child. Once he finally settles, he becomes like a newborn, and only after sufficient time has elapsed does he begin to feel his own strength.

Joy Is Found In Israel

Only in Eretz Yisrael can one find true joy and really sanctify oneself. This is something that is impossible in any other country. This was similarly stated by Rabbi Avraham Hazan:

Those who move to Eretz Yisrael even if they do not observe the commandments and stray from the proper path, have “strayed worthily”, because they are much closer to the proper path. The meaning of the words Eretz Yisrael is the land which makes people into a Yisrael (a Jew).

The lowliest maidservant in Eretz Yisrael is more beloved to G-d than the most pious righteous man outside Eretz Yisrael. Whoever is really sincere and travels to Eretz Yisrael in order to return to G-d, will find that Eretz Yisrael helps him greatly. Even the very fact of entering Eretz Yisrael makes him a more holy person. On the other hand, if people have no desire whatsoever to serve G-d, living in Eretz Yisrael will not help them. Instead the land will reject them.

תהילים לז:לד

קוה אל ה’ ושמר דרכו, וירוממך לרשת ארץ; בהכרת רשעים תראה.

Trust in G-d and observe His ways, and He will elevate you to inherit The Land; the excision of the wicked you will witness. (Tehillim 37:34)

Not everyone is worthy to actually make aliyah. The Pitgamin Kadishin Hashalem comments, that only those who observe the commandments of G-d properly will be able to move to Eretz Yisrael.

At What Point After the Yesurin Does One Actually Acquire Eretz Yisrael

The Ramat Beis Shemesh Bostner Rebbe died in New York on Parshas Shelach in 2016. He was my patient. I had one memorable evening with the elderly Rav. He was a very funny guy. He asked me the following question: “When and at what point do we make the acquisition on The Land with yissurin/suffering?” He did not give me an answer. This question has plagued me ever since. One answer can be that when we die and we are buried in the soil of Eretz Yisrael we literally acquire that six foot rectangular section. A more satisfying answer is that acquiring the land of Israel is a daily process of renewal based upon our actions; just as acquiring Torah and Olam Haba is a constant process.

G-d Told Avraham and All His Future Descendants To Live In Israel

G-d said to Avraham, “Go for yourself,לך לך , from your land, from your relatives,and fromf your fathers’s house to the land that I will show you” (Berieshis 12:1). Rav Meir Yechiel of Ostrowiec explained that this was the first commandment ever dictated to a Jew and as such the commandment to live in Eretz Yisrael is a very important one.

Tosafos Yom Tov explains that of the ten tests that Avraham passed, the most difficult test he endured was his emunah, proving his faith in G-d. Hashem initially told him to go to Eretz Yisrael. When he finally arrived, there was a famine and he was told to leave and go to mizrayim. This was a test to see if he would question G-d’s commands. The greatest test is to believe that there are not any questions, and that we believe that everything is exactly as G-d desires it to be.

The power of tefillah changes one’s mazal. However, there is no power of mazal over Jews (Talmud Shabbos). Eretz Yisrael is the place of prayer. The holiest prayer sites are here. To name a few, we have the Kotel, Maaras Hamchepela, Tzefat, Teveirya etc. There is no need to leave the holiest place on earth and go down in kedusha to praye in places such as Uman. Those who leave Israel to have their prayers answered elsewhere show that they are disconnected from the spiritual reality that exists in the world of דביקות to G-d.

Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk commented that the Jewish people are only worthy of their special place in creation, when they are in their own homeland (Eretz Yisrael). Whoever wants to truly live as a Jew must travel to Eretz Yisrael. However, it is impossible to come to Eretz Yisrael without yisurim.

There are those who think that they really desire to come to Eretz Yisrael – provided ONLY if they can make the move in comfort and NOT with great effort. That is not a real desire. Because anyone who truly wishes to move to Eretz Yisrael must come here “on foot”, just as Avraham was commanded “go, “לך לךor literally “walk” to the land that I will show you. He was specifically commanded to walk here. Walking can be a painful process and takes much effort. Whoever is really sincere and travels to Eretz Yisrael in order to return to G-d will find that in reality The Land itself assists greatly in this quest.

Rabbi Meir Simcha of Divinsk explains the pasuk that states that G-d will return us from our exile and the he will again return and gather us. Why are there two returns?

דברים ל:ג פרשת נצבים

            ושב ה’ אלקיך את שבותך ורחמך, ושב וקבצך מכל העמים אשר הפיצך ה’ אלקיך שמה:

Then Hashem, your G-d, will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will bring back and gather you in from all the peoples to which Hashem, your G-d, has scattered you. (Devarim 30:3)

The process of redemption has two stages. In the first stage G-d will return those who always longed for Eretz Yisrael; He will bring them to Eretz Yisrael. After this step is completed, then the second stage will begin when G-d will gather all the exiles who did NOT have a desire to return. These are the Jews who felt very comfortable in Chutz La’aretz.

Rabbi Aron Moshe of Brody was a student of the Chozeh. The Chozeh told him in a dream that in order for a person to be worthy of recognizing Eretz Yisrael as being “exceedingly good טוב מאוד”, as it is referred to in the Torah; he must first act in accordance with the saying of Chazal to be “exceedingly humble עניו מאוד”.

Rabbi Mordechai Ashkenazi commented that the Talmud gives a clear indication of the most explicit sign of the approaching of the redemption. It is the sight of fruit groves in Eretz Yisrael laden with fruit. Most mornings I drive from Ramat Beit Shemesh to Rechovot via route 383. On this drive I pass by dozens of fruit orchards, rolling fields of grain, olive groves, vineyards and several farms. I can see the geulah approaching; this is not the land of galus!

יחזקאל לו:ח-יב

ואתם הרי ישראל ענפכם תתנו ופריכם תשאו לעמי ישראל, כי קרבו לבוא: כי הנני אליכם, ופניני אליכם ונעבדתם ונזרעתם: והרביתי עליכם אדם כל בית ישראל כלה, ונשבו הערים והחרבות תבנינה: והרביתי עליכם אדם ובהמה ורבו ופרו, והושבתי אתכם כקדמותיכם והיטבתי מראשתיכם וידעתם כי אני ה‘: והולכתי עליכם אדם את עמי ישראל וירשוך והיית להם לנחלה, ולא תוסף עוד לשכלם:

but you, O mountains of Israel, will give forth your branch and bear your fruit for My people Israel, for they are soon to come. For behold, I am with you; and I will turn [My attention] to you, and you will be tilled and you will be sown. I will make people numerous upon you – the entire House of Israel, all of it, the cities will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will multiply man and animal upon you, and they will multiply and be fruitful; I will make you inhabited as in your earlier times, and I will make it better than it was at your beginning; then you will know that I am Hashem. I will cause man to walk upon you – My people Israel – and they will inherit you. Then you will be theirs for a possession, and you will no longer be bereaved of them. (Yechezkel 36:8-12)

How Do We Get Close To G-d?

The righteous man is neither prepared nor suited to become drawn close to G-d .The Highest Mercy therefore decreed that some sort of purification exist. This is the general category of sufferingיסורין . G-d gave suffering the power to dispel the insensitivity in man, allowing him to become pure and clear, prepared for the ultimate good at its appointed time. The amount of suffering needed to purify the individual would then depend on the amount of insensitivity that he has acquired as a result of his deeds (Ramchal, Derech Ha-Shem/The way of G-d, Providence Man in this world).

The Chovos Halevavos states in his introduction, we learn from Tehillim that once we turn away from evil then we can do good. This can only really be accomplished in the Land of Israel, which is our inheritance for us and our children and generations to come; if we earn it.

תהילים לד:טו

סור מרע ועשה טוב, בקש שלום ורדפהו.

Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it. (Tehillim 34:15)

תהילים כה:יב-יג

מי זה האיש ירא ה’, יורנו בדרך יבחר. נפשו בטוב תלין, וזרעו יירש ארץ.

Whoever is the man who fears Hashem, He will teach him the way that he should choose. His soul in goodness will repose, and his offspring will inherit The Land [of Israel].

In the chapter on the Gate of Reflection שער הבחינה, Rav Ibn Tibbon teaches that G-d is good to all. However, when people become involved in worldly affairs and sincerely desire unattainable worldly pleasures, they overlook all the good that the creator showers upon them. When people fail to perceive G-d’s graces, this is when misfortune befalls them in this world. They fail to discern how these serve as means for their ultimate good. Nor do they appreciate the benefits to be gained from the trial and discipline which these misfortunes provide, as it says, “Happy is the man whom You discipline o’ G-d, whom you teach from your Torah.”

תהלים קמה:ט

טוב ה’ לכל, ורחמיו על כל מעשיו:

Hashem is good to all; His mercies are in His works. (Tehillim 145:9)

תהלים צד:יב

            אשרי הגבר אשר תיסרני י-ה, ומתורתך תלמדנו.

Happy is the man whom G-d disciplines, and whom You teach Your Torah. (Tehillim (94:12)

How Do We Demonstrate Our Trust in G-d?

This topic is discussed in the gate of Trust in G-d שער הבטחון, in Chovos Halevovos. Whoever trusts in something other than G-d will be punished. As a result, G-d removes His providence from himהשגחתו , and leaves him in the hands of whatever he trusted in.

ירמיהו יז:ז

ברוך הגבר אשר יבטח בה’, והיה ה’ מבטחו.

Blessed is the man who trusts in G-d, and who makes G-d his refuge.     (Yirmayu 17:7)

One who trusts in G-d is assured of his sustenance by any of the means available in the world. Not by “bread” alone can man live; rather, man can live on anything that comes from G-d. The same G-d that provides income and sustenance to the Jews of the USA is the some G-d that can provide for all our needs in The King’s Palace of Israel.

דברים ח:ג

ויענך וירעבך ויאכלך את המן אשר לא ידאת ולא ידעון אבתיך, למען הודיעך כי לא על הלחם לבדו יחיה האדם כי על כל מוצא פי ה’ יחיה האדם:

He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you manna that you did not know, not did your forefathers know, in order to make you know that not by bread alone does man live, rather by everything that emanates from the mouth of G-d does man live. (Devarim 8:3)

Many Jews feel they can only be secure physically and financially in the USA based on their own accomplishments. One must realize that not one of the created things can help him or harm him, except with the permission of the Creator. Don’t trust our bank accounts, investments or our leaders. We can only trust in G-d. He will occasionally remind us of this fact.

תהילים קמו:ג,ה,י

אל תבטחו בנדיבים, בבן אדם שאין לו תשועה…אשרי שאל יעקב בעזרו, שברו על ה’ אלקיו…ימלך ה’ לעולם, אלקיך ציון לדר ודר הללוי-ה.

Trust not in rulers, in a human being in whom there is no deliverance..Praiseworthy is he whom the G-d of Yakov is his help, whose hope is in Hashem his G-d…Hashem shall reign forever, your G-d Zyion [Eretz Yisrael] from generation to generation, Haleluka. (Tehillim 146:3,5,7)

If a man did not have to trouble and busy himself in seeking means of obtaining his livelihood, he would rebel and chase after what is forbidden, and would pay no attention to what he owes G-d. Working hard to earn a living and to thrive in Israel is a means to an end to get closer to G-d. In this manner when a person gives priority to the service of G-d and resolves to fear Him; trusts in Him, then he will be relieved of the burden of seeking and searching for a livelihood.

Many olim try to find the best job suited to their needs. We need to remember that every person has a preference for a particular occupation or business over any other, as G-d has implanted within his nature to have love and affection for it. However, we must not think that our livelihood depends on a particular source and that if that source were to fail, then there would be no other way for us to earn a living. Rather, we rely on G-d for our sustenance and realize that to the Creator all the means of providing parnasa are equal.

I believe that G-d determines what my monthly income will be here in Israel. He decides through the individuals the he sends my way how I will receive my livelihood and it is all for my benefit.

תהילים קמה:יז

צדיק ה’ בכל דרכיו, וחסיד בכל מעשיו.

G-d is righteous in all His ways, and magnanimous in all His deeds. (Tehillim 145:17)

Life in Israel is not always easy, it is not meant to be. Things do not always go our way or according to our hopes and expectations. One who trusts in G-d, accepts His judgments under all conditions and thanks Him for the good as well as the bad.

איוב א:כב

            ויאמר ערם יצאתי מבטן אמי וערם אשוב שמה . ה’ נתן וה’ לקח, יהי שם ה’ מבורך:

He said, “Naked did I emerge from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there, Hashem has given, and Hashem has taken away; blessed be the name of Hashem (Iyov 1:21)

One who does not trust in G-d is always envious and jealous of all others. One who trusts in G-d does not grieve if denied a request or if deprived of something he loves. He does not concern himself with what will be tomorrow. He trusts in G-d to provide his livelihood on a daily basis.

Sometimes the task of settling and living in Eretz Yisrael seems overwhelming and impossible to surmount. We must Trust in Him and then G-d will provide us with an easier occupation. We must accept in our heart and with our speech outwardly and inwardly whatever G-d decrees for us. Then we will be happy with whatever G-d brings us. We should never desire anything that G-d has not chosen for us. Rather we should desire only what G-d wants for us. In worldly matters we will then not prefer one condition over another, nor desire to be in any condition other than the one we are in. We must understand that serving Hashem in Eretz Yisrael is the purpose for which we were created.

G-d answers our pleas by not to making us suffer greatly. He does not exact payment from us all at once rather He does it in small doses. G-d is our protector and He gives us strength and help in times of distress. G-d divides his punishment into many small distresses.

תהילים מו:ב

אלקים לנו מחסה ועז, עזרה בצרות, נמצא מאד.

G-d is for us a refuge and strength, a help in distress, very accessible. (Tehillim 46:2)

The Talmud (Arachin 16b) explains that G-d constantly sends inconveniences to us as יסורים suffering, in order to help purge us of our sins. Those who live in Israel live with G-d. Those who live in Israel do not have sin. We learn to accept our yesurim with love.

We are supposed to cry to G-d in prayer. No tear is wasted. There is darkness before the light. There are great struggles before basking in the joy of the final redemption.

תהילים קכו:ה

הזרעים בדמעה ברנה יקצרו

Those who sow in tears shall reap with glad song (Tehillim 126:5) .

There is a period of a lot of crying after making aliyah. We all have tears while raising children, earning a parnasah, living honestly, and struggling in our Torah observance. These tears are the catalyst for the acts that will guarantee our share of eternal reward.

No matter what happens, it is always for the best. Here in Israel we can see that G-d is in charge.

תהילים טו:ח-ט:

שויתי ה לנגדי תמיד, כי מימיני בל אמוט: לכן שמח ליבי ויגל כבודי, אף בשרי ישכן לבטח:

I have set G-d before me always; because He is at my right hand always I shall not falter. For this reason my heart rejoices and my soul is elated ; my flesh too, rests in confidence. (Tehillim 16:8-9)

It really makes no difference if events are good or bad, because G-d is with me always. In every single occurrence I see the guiding hand of G-d, who always does what is best for me; even though I do not always see how that is so.

Rav Simcha Zissel (Chochma U’Mussar, vol I, p.1127) suggests the following test to determine whether his economic efforts are a curse or not. If the worker feels that his work is a burden and his happy to finish it, then he recognizes the work is a curse. But if he relishes making money and wants to work to earn more and more, then this man is a victim of his faithlessness which tells him, My strength and the power of my hand made me these riches (Devarim 8:17).

            דברים ח:יז, פרשת עקב

            ואמרת בלבבך, כחי ועצם ידי עשה לי את החיל הזה:

One who is burdened with excessive material possessions and mundane desires cannot make a meaningful ascent to spiritual heights. He cannot maintain his lofty level if he continues yearning for earthly pleasures.  One who wishes to enjoy spiritual elevation must refine his behavior. The ideal location for this spiritual growth to occur is to dwell in The King’s Place (Israel).

תהילים כד: ג,ד

מי יעלה בהר ה’ , ומי יקום במקום קדשו: נקי כפים ובר לבב אשר לא נשא לשוא נפשי, ולא נשבע למרמה:

Who may ascend the mountain of G-d, and who may stand in the place of His sanctity? One with clean hands and pure heart; who has not sworn in vain by My soul, and has not sworn deceitfully (Tehillim 24:3,4).

My time is in G-d’s control. When a man imagines that he controls his time, G-d then puts obstacles in his way that fritter precious hours and days; thereby frustrating his attempts to create his own life’s agenda.

תהילים לא:טז

            בידך עתתי, הצילני מיד אויבי ומרדפי.

In your hand are my times, rescue me from the hand of my foes and from my pursuers (Tehillim 31:16).

Those who surrender their control to G-d, can enjoy life’s gifts and not suffer from anxiety. There is a point while living in Israel where one must give up all expectations and will state out loud in prayer to G-d – that we are in His hands alone. After that epiphany, we have the the ability to accept the daily challenges that we live through. This is followed by a quieting of the soul that enables one to sleep well at night.

תהילים קכז:ב

            שוא לכם משכימי קום מאחרי שבת אכלי לחם העצבים, כן יתן לידידו שנה:

It is vain for you to rise early, who sit up late, who eat the bread of sorrows; for indeed, He gives His beloved ones restful sleep (Tehillim 127:2).

We demonstrate our trust in G-d by dwelling in the land of Eretz Yisrael. In return, G-d will grant us our needs. In this manner, one will find delight in G-d. There is no need to search for parnassah in Chutz La’aretz, because here we are nurtured by our faith ורעה אמונה in G-d.

            תהילים לז:ג-ה

בטח בה’ ועשה טוב, שכן ארץ ורעה אמונה: והתענג על ה’ ויתן לך משאלת לבך: גול על ה’ דרכך, ובטח עליו והוא יעשה:

Trust in Hashem and do good; dwell in the land [Israel]and nourish [yourself] with faithfulness. And rely upon Hashem for your enjoyments, for He will grant you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to Hashem, rely on Him and He will act. (Tehillim 37:3-5)

The Rambam explains the difference between אמונה belief and בטחון trust. Belief comes first; whereas trust is belief in action. A person should be delighted at every opportunity to exercise his trust in G-d. At this stage one has attained the level of a master of trust בעל בטחון. For this very reason, Rav Yoshe Ber Soleveitchik would say, “My father taught us that a person should never worry about money.”

Many people do not make aliyah because they lack the faith that G-d has the ability to provide for their financial welfare in His Holy Land; but the He (G-d forbid) is limited in power to only providing parnassa in Chutz La’aretz. Clearly this thought process is heresy. G-d wants us here and He is the source of everything. Words are cheap. Those who live here demonstrate their belief in G-d.

Reb Shneur Zalman, Baal HaTanya taught, “no matter where a Jew finds himself, he must always believe that he is there by the will of G-d, and that he is in the best place in the world for him at that time. Remember that G-d created the obstacles”. Nonetheless, the Torah, mitzvos and our prayers constantly remind us that living in the USA is a punishment and our goal is to serve G-d properly in Eretz Yisrael. Faith is a prerequisite for love of G-d – we first say שמע ישראל in our prayers and only then can we profess love for G-d ואהבת את ה’

If one has doubts if they can make aliyah or regrets or wants to make yeridah, there is a prayer to help. The Shaloh Hakadosh (שער האותיות; אות ל) quotes that Rav Moshe Cordevero was taught by Eliyahu Hanavi, that if one wishes to rid his mind of bad thoughts, he should repeat this verse over and over again:

ויקרא ו:ו, פרשת צו

אש תמיד תוקד על מזבח לא תכבה:

A permanent fire shall remain aflame on the altar; it shall not to be extinguished (Vayikra 6:6).

The purpose of all creation was to put man to the test: Would he delude himself into thinking that he is in charge of his own destiny, or would he discover the truth of G-d’s ultimate control over everything? When, in a time of crisis, he demonstrates his awareness of G-d’s omnipotence, the purpose of creation is realized. Therefore, G-d rejoices because the men of prayer are the very purpose of creation itself.

The Chofetz Chaim taught that we are like a stranger in the land and yet this is where G-d chose to challenge us. It is only in Eretz Yisrael where a Jew (like Avraham) can be challenged/tested and can obtain the eternal reward for truly acquiring Torah and mitzvos. Rav Shimon Bar Yochai in Talmud (Brachos 5a), lists three these things that are only acquired with much effort. It wall begins with Eretz Yisrael, then Torah, and finally oloam habah.

תהילים קיט:יט

            גר אנכי בארץ, אל תסתר ממני מצותיך:

I am a traveler in the land [of Israel/the world], hide not your commandments from me (Tehillim 119:19).

Rav Zvi Hirsch Kalisher – Jews Must Leave Gallus and Move To Israel

Rav Zvi Hirsch Kalisher, lived in Thorn (1795- 1874) and he was a student of Rav Akiva Eiger. He was very adamant that all Jews must make the effort to live in Israel.

We are now living in Galus and are awaiting our redemption. But we are doing nothing to hasten that redemption. We must ascend to our land and rebuild it. Only by settling Eretz Yisrael can we prepare for the coming of Moshiach. G-d performs miracles for those who are worthy of them and not for those who merely wait for miracles to happen.

Living in Galus can only harm the Jew, physically and mentally, for he will begin to accept and even love his exile. Chutz La’aretz is a punishment. Who in their right mind desires to continue the punishment?

Jews must be prepared to sacrifice [yesurim] a great deal in order to secure their land. The time for kibbutz galuyos has arrived. The redemption will not be a sudden event, heralded by the trumpets of Moshiach; rather it will be a slow gradual process.   Jews and the surrounding nations will have to contribute to bringing about the return and resettlement of Eretz Yisrael. After the completion of this first natural Geula, the full redemption will occur.

Rav Moshe Sofer, Rabbi Yaakov of Lisa and Rav Akiva Eiger reaffirmed the necessity for every Jew to hope and pray to return to Eretz Yisrael. In our present time it is possible for any Jew, who can get on an airplane, to move here. The doors to Israel are open. There are no Christains, Ottomans or British blocking Jewish entrance to Israel. This reality has only been possible since the miracle of the 1948 War of Independence.

Rav Kalisher was convinced that the karbanos ought to be reinstituted in Eretz Yisrael. He maintained that it was not necessary to wait for the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash in order to resume karbanos. Moreover, he was of the opinion that the revival of the mitzvah of karbanos would hasten the Geula Shalaima. The son in law of Rav Eiger, Rabbi Moshe Sofer, “The Chassam Sofer,” agreed with Rav Kalishwer from a halachik point of view. He mainained that only the karbon pesach could be brought at this time. Rav Kalisher disagreed and argued that even individual karbonos can also be brought.

We should be ashamed of ourselves!…our duty is to labor not only for the glory of our ancestors but for the glory of G-d who chose Zion…the redemption will begin in a natural manner and why G-d will not immediately send the Moshiach in an obvious miracle?…all our worship of G-d is in the form of trials [nisyonos] by which he tests us…

Our Generation Is Being Tested – Do We Really Want Moshiach?

Rav Kalisher was clear that we need to show, via our free will, that we want Moshiach. We can only start to demonstrate this by building up Eretz Yisrael. The first step is giving up some of the comforts of Chutz La’artetz. Torah observant Jews are not supposed to be drawn to the life of gashmius at the expense of our actual goal in life – to serve G-d in Israel.

If G-d would suddenly appear one day in the future, through undeniable miracles, this would be no trial. What straining of our faith would there be in the face of the miracles and wonders attending a clear heavenly command to go up and inherit the Land and enjoy its good fruit? Only a natural beginning of the redemption is a true test of those who initiate it. To concentrate all one’s energy on this holy work and to renounce home and fortune for the sake of living in Zion before “the voice of gladness קול ששון” and “the voice of joy קול שמחה ” are heard, there is no greater merit or trial than this.”

In the sefer Derishat Zion he states clearly that anyone who contributes toward the settlement of Eretz Yisrael would automatically be fulfilling the injunction of “ascending“ to Eretz Yisrael. A Jew is complete only when he expands all of his energies on the rehabilitation of Eretz Yisrael. Many Israelis have are parents in the USA who are doing this by assisting their children and grandchildren to live and build in Israel.

Rab Nathan Friedland (Kose Yeshuot), from Lithuania, outlined a formula for true world peace and “tikun olam”:

The kingdoms will not be permitted to rest as long as they refuse to recognize that the place of the Jews is in Eretz Yisrael.

Kol Dodi Dofek – G-d is Knocking, Begging for Jews to Make Aliyah

The Kuzari criticized world Jewry for choosing to live in the Diaspora, so that they would not have to part from their homes and businesses. He quotes from Shir Hashirim, “I am asleep, but my heart is awake אני ישנה וליבי ער”, to describe this phenomenon throughout the ages. Then he states:

ספר הכוזרי, מאמר שני, כד

קול דודי דופק“, קראת האלקים לשוב…ומה שאמר: “פשטתי את כתנתי”, על עצלות לשוב.

A voice! My beloved knocks! (Shir HaShirim 5:2)” which refers to G-d’s beckoning call to return to Eretz Yisrael…When it later says, “I have removed my robe (ibid. 5:3),” this refers to the Jewish people to return [like one who is too lazy to don his robe and answer the door].

Rav Yosef Dov Solveichik described six knocks:

  1. Political – The alliance of West and the Soviet Union in the recognition of the Jewish State Novemer 29, 1947 at the League of Nations (UN).
  2. The Battle Field – A small IDF was able to defeat the mighty well trained and equipped Arab armies.  This was deliverance of the many into the hands of the few.
  3. Theology – Christians say the G-d deprived the Jews of their rights to Eretz Yisrael and that we were replaced by the Christians. The establishment of Israel exposed the falsehood and validity of Christianity.
  4. Jewish Identity – In the 1940’s with the advent of the Holocaust we experienced a time of hastarat panim, despite the vast efforts of Jews to assimilate.  With the creating of modern Israel, Jews can’t hide from their Jewishness anymore.
  5. Value to Jewish Lives – With the advent of the IDF, Jewish Blood for the first time in exile is not hefker. We now have responsibility and the ability to defend ourselves.
  6. RefugeEretz Yisrael is a place of secure refuge for any Jew.

The Sin of The Spies ((מרגלים – Setting the Land of Israel Is The Solution Not The Problem

I read the following article by Artuz-7 several years ago, I do not know who the author is. He is correct and very clear: Eretz Yisrael is the solution – NOT the problem. To understand this, it is important to know what the actual sin of the Spies was.

Their sin was that they looked at the cherished Land with abhorrence. Their basic attitude was that conquering the Land and settling it was a difficult matter. The spies proposed that it would be better to remain in the desert, to eat bread from the heavens and the quail, and survive miraculously. Therefore, when they saw the giants and fortified cities, they made up their minds that it was impossible to conquer the Land, and “melted the hearts” of the people.

In the end, all of them were punished and delayed for forty years (I made aliyah at age 40), “until the last of your corpses lie here in the desert”. They chose to protect their physical bodies, rejecting the vision of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land of Israel), and instead, remained dead corpses in the desert. They did not understand. The Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael) is not the problem of Jewish existence – the Land of Israel is the solution.

Jews in the Diaspora and the Question of Eretz Yisrael

There were Jews in the Diaspora who wished to forget about the Land of Israel, to stop feeling like foreigners, and assimilate into their societies. But the Gentiles did not let them forget the Land of Israel. “Jews to Palestine” they shouted at them. Many Jews believed that if they could just forget about their connection to Eretz Yisrael, everything would be fine; after that, they would be accepted among the nations, and be able to influence them with their Jewish values. The Reform movement even erased the Land of Israel and Jerusalem from their prayer books. In the end, there was the Holocaust and it was no longer possible to immigrate to Israel.

Students of the Vilna Gaon and the Precursor’s of Zion

The Vilna Gaon and his disciples began speaking about the importance of immigration to Israel and rebuilding the Land, but their words did not attract enough followers. The yishuv (settlement) in Eretz Yisrael was meager and poor. Even a generation later, when the gaonim Rabbi Kalisher and Rabbi Guttmacher aroused the public to immigrate to Israel and build it, only a few heeded their call, because the leadership and the people thought it was too difficult to immigrate to Israel and survive there. In Europe, hardships and persecution increased on the one hand, and assimilation on the other.

Founding of Secular Zionism As A Rescue Movement

We were not worthy of having multitudes of Jews immigrate to the Land of Israel motivated by a desire to fulfill the mitzvah from the Torah and the vision of Redemption. Anti-Semitism greatly increased. Thus, the secular Zionist movement was founded solely as a rescue movement for the persecuted Jewish people.

From the onset, it was clear that the place of refuge for the Jewish people would be in the biblical Land of Israel, including the eastern side of Jordan. With the grace of G-d, the nations of the world also recognized this at the time of the Balfour Declaration and the decision of the League of Nations.

However, when the Zionist leadership saw that the claim to Eretz Yisrael initiated problems and required struggles with the Arabs and the British, it was decided to solve the “problem” of Eretz Yisrael by conceding the eastern part in exchange for a promise to settle the western side of the Jordan and the transfer of the Arab population to the eastern side.

Giving Away Our Land Did Not Solve The Prolem

To much surprise of the Jews, conceding the eastern side of the Jordan did not solve the problem! The pressures and rioting in opposition to the Jewish settlement increased. Instead of the Arabs moving to the eastern side of the Jordan, masses flocked to the western side to enjoy the fruits of Jewish settlement. Jews hired the arabs and gave them jobs. The problem gradually intensified and the British restricted Jewish immigration and allotted parts of our holy Land to the Arabs, as well as land purchased by Jews (Hevron, Silwan, the Old City…). Because Eretz Yisrael is not the problem, but the solution; the conceding of the eastern side of the Jordan only exacerbated the problem.

The Partition Plan

Nevertheless, the secular Zionist leadership did not learn its lesson and continued to relate to Eretz Yisrael as a problem. In order to prevent further bloodshed after the riots (1936-1939), they agreed to give up most of the area west of the Jordan as well; in accordance with the proposal of the Peel Commission.

Instead of receiving peace, security and unrestricted immigration to save Jews from the claws of the Nazi’s; the riots continued and the British imposed further obstacles to immigration to Eretz Yisrael. For indeed, the Land of Israel is not the problem, it is the solution.

Either We Build or Engage in Saving Lives

When the Jewish people are worthy – we engage in the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz, attempt to bring as many Jews on aliyah as possible, settle as much of the Land as we can. In this manner we attain peace, security, prosperity, respect among the nations, and strengthen the Jewish spirit. When we are not worthy to engage in yishuv ha’aretz, we are forced to engage in pikuach nefesh (saving lives).

In recent generations, at least we can take comfort that by the grace of G-d, with all the troubles and dangers, we are privileged to make some progress in settling the Land – but with great difficulty and agony.

Only following the tragedy of the Holocaust were we able to find the strength to establish the State of Israel. Only because the Arabs continued to attack us with a lust for murder and destruction, were we able to liberate portions of our homeland and began to re-settle Judea and Samaria. This is the significance of what our Sages said concerning the Redemption: “If they are worthy, I will hasten it. If not, it will come in its due time” (Sanhedrin 98a). If they are worthy – through the joy of building the Land; if not – through difficulty and horrible suffering.

The Moral Predicament

Certain morally-conscientious people throughout the world argue against the State of Israel: “You are robbers, for you have forcefully conquered the Arab’s land” (in which they never had a state).

There are also morally-sensitive Jews who argue “occupation corrupts”. They believe that if not for this messianic affinity to Judea and Samaria all wars would cease, the world would consider us enlightened, and Israel would be the exemplary society they dreamed of establishing. For that to happen, first we need to get rid of the “problem” of the “territories” (a derogatory name for Eretz Yisrael).

In actual fact, the Arabs were granted broad autonomy in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip. But instead of peace, hatred and terrorism towards us increased tremendously, anti-Semitism spread throughout the world, and international pressure against Israel has intensified. Because the Land of Israel is not the problem, it is the solution.

If we are worthy – we settle the Land for the sake of the mitzvah. If not – we are forced to conduct repeated wars, and only through suffering are we privileged to slightly expand Jewish settlement.

The Problem of the USA and the Entire World

Even the United States and the rest of the Western countries have a serious problem with the Land of Israel. If not for the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, world peace could have been achieved long ago, the Muslims would have calmed down, and democracy would flourish in all countries. Instead of this, the world is forced to hear about more houses being built in the settlements.

And as long as Jews continue to build in the settlements the international media is forced to cover it, and does not have time to report about the millions of murdered people in Islamic countries, and about the hundreds of millions of starving and sick people in Africa. As long as the settlers keep behaving with horrendous violence by scribbling graffiti against the Arabs, world leaders and the U.N. are unable to find time to solve the problems of international terrorism, nuclear weapons, and global conflicts.

Several years ago, under the leardership of General Ariel Sharon, they were able to begin solving the “problem”. They succeeded in expelling the Jews from Gush Katif and freezing construction in Judea and Samaria. But for some odd reason tensions are on the rise, the Muslims are not satisfied, and anti-Semitic incitement is growing. Countries are collapsing in blood, fire, and pillars of smoke. Because the Land of Israel is not the problem, it’s the solution.

Through the building of Eretz Yisrael, nations who desire justice and peace could have sent a clear message to all the various terrorists that violence, falsehood, and evil do not pay. This is the correct way for the West to put all evil regimes in their place. This is the way to bring peace to the world.

The Wars in Gaza Had we been worthy, we would have engaged in the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz, building and expanding Gush Katif. We would not have sinned in the Oslo Accords, and would not have granted the Arabs any collective rights in the Land of Israel. Indeed, we would have to deal with international pressure and threats from the Arab enemy, but handling such pressure would have been relatively easy. It could even have been a constructive and reinforcing struggle.

But since we were not worthy, we sinned in the Oslo Accords and the destruction of Gush Katif, we entered a complicated war in Gaza, twice, in order to save Jewish lives from the fires of Muslim terror, and our precious soldiers are forced to sacrifice their lives in the defense of the people and the country.

The Only Way to Win is Settling the Land

If the government continues to ignore the vision of yishuv ha’aretz, we cannot win the war. For the Arabs know that the key issue concerns the sovereignty over the land, and as long as they remain steadfast and their claims receive international attention – they win. Even if we kill thousands of their soldiers and citizens and destroy thousands of their houses, specifically on account of that, they will receive more funding to build their military strength.

Thus, we will have to go from one military operation to the next, to bend, twist, and confront international pressures – because the Arabs will always have demands, and there will always be more terrorists to violate the peace.

The only way to win is by returning to the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz. If as a result of the wars in Gaza the government comes to the realization that further talk about withdrawal from Judea and Samaria is forbidden and we must rather expand the Jewish settlements, this war can then be depicted as somewhat of a victory.

If the enemy knew that as a result of the war the government would decide to build tens of thousands of homes in the settlements of Judea and Samaria, they would realize they have lost.

If they heard that the Israeli government intends to occupy Gaza, to rebuild the destroyed communities, to encourage the emigration of refugees and enemies of Israel, their dream of victory over Israel would fade, international pressure would gradually diminish, and the swamp of terror would eventually dry up.

The Role of Individuals During the period of mourning over the destruction of the Temple, during the three weeks and nine days, each individual should make an effort to rectify the Sin of the Spies by building the Land. Anyone who can make Aliyah is called to do so. Because settling the Land is the solution, and in the building of Eretz Yisrael we will find comfort.

We demonstrate our faith in G-d by living in the Land if Israel and He in turn supports us. Only those who follow G-d’s Torah and mitzvos inherit the entire Land of Israel and will therefore be able to dwell in it forever.

תהילים לז:ג-ד

בטח בה’ ועשה טוב, שכן ארץ ורעה אמונה: והתענג על ה’, ויתן לך משאלות לבך:

Trust in Hashem and do good; dwell in The Land [of Israel] and nourish [yourself] with faithfulness. And rely on Hashem for your enjoyments, for He will grant you the desires of your heart. (Tehillim 37:3-4)

תהילים לז:כט

צדיקים יירשו ארץ, ישכנו לעד עליה:

The righteous will inherit [The] Land [of Israel] and dwell forever upon it.(Tehillim 37:29)

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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