The students of the Vilna Gaon (the GRA) started the Ashkenazik yishuv in Yerushalyim. The Chassidik Aliyah started with Rav Avraham Gershon Kitover, the Baal Shem Tov’s brother in law, in 1742. In 1777, students of the Maggid of Mezeritch, Rav Menachem Mendel, Rav Avraham Hakohen and Rav Yisrael Palitzker, settled in Tzefat and Teveriah. In 1808, ten years after the GRA died, Rav Menachem Mendel of Shklov made Aliyah. The GRA taught that the ideal fulfillment of the Torah and the mitzvos is only in Eretz Yisrael.
The source of the Torah, its dwelling place, and its full revelation is in Eretz Hakodesh(Aderes Eliyahu, Devarim 1:6). The Chassom Sofer, also taught the idea that Eretz Yisrael is the place most suited for Torah and mitzvos.
In the Diaspora, we should learn from our ancestors in Bavel and not to build homes and plant vineyards…One who unnecessarily builds a house of stone in order to secure his dwelling in the Diaspora, while despairing of the Redemption, places himself in danger…Just as it is a greater mitzva to help populate Eretz Yisrael by building houses than by planting palm trees, so too, the converse is true in the Diaspora. (Responsa Yoreh De’ah no.38)
The Shelah, (end commentary to Tractate Succah), advises against getting settled in Chutz La’aretz.
It has always incensed me to see Jews building palatial residences [in the Diaspora] thus sinking roots into this world and into an impure land… It appears to be, G-d forbid, a diversion of attention from the Redemption. Therefore, my children, even if G-d grants you wealth, build homes according to modesty and not more…
Rav Moshe Zaks, a talmid of the Chassom Sofer, made Aliyah in 1830. He was a strong advocate for the formation of agricultural settlements. The main reason at that time for the inability to create mass Aliyah from Hungary and Austria seems to have been from the relative comfort and benign conditions enjoyed by Jews in those lands. The Chassam Sofer had to warn constantly against the dangers of assimilation and attachment to the galus.
Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, the Leader of the Chareidi Community
There were many yisurim and sacrifices that Rabonim made for Aliya. Rav Meir Auerbach (Imrei Binnah), gave up his prestigious position as the Rav of Kalish in 1859, in order to make Aliya. He left behind his children, family, and friends. Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld suffered from the deaths of eight of his eleven children. Rav Sonnenfeld made Aliyah in 1873. He verbalized that he expected to live a life of poverty. Rav Sonnenfeld gave up eight years of support from his father in law, and he also gave up a guaranteed future of being one of the leading Rabonim in Europe. Prior to his Aliyah, he was offered by a wealthy Pressberg Jew, a lifetime of financial support only if he would remain in the Diaspora. He gave this all up at the age twenty five in order to move to Eretz Yisrael.
When he arrived in Yerushalyim, he and his wife spent four nights in the open air of a closed courtyard. Only on erev shabbos did they find a small unpainted dwelling in which to live. Rav Sonnenfeld’s love for Eretz Yisrael was heightened by the numerous obstacles placed in his path! He always stressed that it was forbidden to fall victim to despair. His young wife once complained of the constant hardships for which they had traded for the years of guaranteed support in her father’s house. Rav Chaim would comfort her by saying, “that is precisely why we came here! – In order to suffer the pains of acquiring Eretz Yisrael.”
Rav Chaim once told Mordechai Aruchai from Warsaw, who served as the secretary of the Poalei Aguath Israel:
Tell your friends here in Eretz Yisrael that their reward is very great. Their personal toil and effort on behalf of Eretz Yisrael are as important as all of the institutions here, because they are creating the foundations of a religious settlement in Eretz Yisrael. Go and tell your friends, in my name, that for the sake of G-d, I beg them not to leave Eretz Yisrael! G-d will help them. The main thing is not to despair or lose trust in G-d. One of this age’s biggest problems is that people have grown accustomed to comfort and are not trained to bear hardship.
Rav Chaim also emphasized to Mr. Aruchai about the need for Eretz Yisrael to be settled by religious Jews. Many neighborhoods were built on land registered in Rav Chaim’s name (the land was legally purchased and never stolen from Arabs, as many now claim). For example, the Beis Yisrael neighborhood was built in an area registered in the name of Rav Chaim Sonnenfeld in 1886.
When Rav Chaim passed through new sections of Yerushalyim, he would say the words “G-d is the Builder of Yerushalyim.” In the next line of this pasuk, Dovid Hamelch refers to G-d as the Doctor. So it seems that doctors are also builders of Israel.
בונה ירושלים ה’, נדחי ישראל יכנס. הרופא לשבורי לב, ומחבש לעצבותם.
The builder of Yerushalayim is G-d, the outcasts of Israel he will gather in. He is the Doctor of the brokenhearted and the one who bandages their sorrows (Tehillim 147:2)
What does building have to do with being a healer? It may refer to the fact that many Olim who return will have broken hearts. However, when we turn to G-d, He will give us the strength to persevere.
Rav Chaim personally witnessed the rebuilding of Yerushalyim. He stated that even new buildings built and inhabited by non-Jews, was a preparation for the redemption. Once walking through the non-Jewish neighborhoods of Talabia and Katamon, Rav Chaim was very excited over the new construction of buildings. He was questioned about this misplaced excitement. He answered, “What difference does it make? Their ancestors destroyed the Land, are they not required to assist in its rebuilding? Do not worry, all these beautiful and palatial buildings will one day be ours…” The man who recorded this conversation with Rav Chaim, was later on privileged to live in a home in Katamon.
In 1903, Rav Chaim wrote:
In the thirty-one years since my arrival, more changes have taken place than in the previous one-thousand years combined…Is it not possible to see the Hand of Divine Providence in all this? We must labor in the resettlement of the Land with trust in G-d, Who gave us His Holy Torah. Certainly, if we are faithful to the Torah, we will merit to live here securely…
He commented on the fact that many of the Olim had abandoned the entire Torah except for the mitzvah of rebuilding Eretz Yisrael, which they performed at great self-sacrifice. He would say:
It is my hope that in the merit of this mitzvah which they fulfill with such sacrifice, they will repent and return to the fold of the Torah and faith.
Some point out that the current state of Jewish Torah observance in Israel is severely lacking. This can be seen in the annual Gay parade in Yerushalyim, the Holiest site on earth. This display would never be tolerated on the Temple Mount, since it would be seen as an affront to Islam and Arab honor. Despite all politically correct opinions, this is not congruent with Judaism or Torah Law.
ויקרא יח:כב, כד,כה (אחרי מות)
ואת זכר לא תשכב משכבי אשה, תועבת הוא…אל תטמאו בכל אלא, כי בכל אלה נטמאו הגוים אשר אני משלח מפניכם: ותטמא הארץ ואפקד עונה עליה, ותקא הארץ את ישביה:
You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination…Do not become impure through any of these; for through all of these the nations that I expel before you became impure. The Land became impure and I recalled its iniquity; and the Land vomited out its inhabitants. (Vayikra 18:22,24,25)
ויקרא כ:כב (קדושים)
ושמרתם את כל חקתי ואת כל משפטי ועשיתם אתם, ולא תקיא אתכם הארץ אשר אני מביא אתכם שמה לשבת בה:
You shall observe all My decrees and all My ordinances and perform them; then the Land to which I bring you to dwell will not disgorge you. (Vayikra 20:22)
Rashi explains that the Land of Israel is like a prince of delicate constitution, who cannot abide food which disagrees with him and vomits it out.
רש”י ויקרא יח:כח
כך ארץ ישראל אינה מקיימת עוברי עבירה.
Similarly, the Land of Israel does not abide transgressors. (Rashi Vayikra 18:28)
According to Ynet in 2009, the city of Tel Aviv aimed to become the world’s Gay capital. Then in January 2012 it was reported on mailonline, that Tel Aviv had indeed been named the world’s number one Gay city. The Israeli metropolis beat out competition from New York in a survey carried out by American Airlines and GayCities.com, which was done in order to find out the most popular destination for Gay travelers
In November 2016, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to support a resolution that recognized Arab ties and rejected all Jewish connections to the Temple Mount. The next month, December 2016, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution condemning the Jewish communities in Judea, Hevron, Yerushalayim, including the Jewish Quarter and the Kotel plaza. In January 2017, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled in favor of Reform women mocking Judaism, by praying like Jewish men with tallis, tefilin, and reading from a sefer Torah scroll. However, these same women have no desire to pray on the Temple mount since their behavior would insult Islam.
How can this situation exist today? Rav Sonnenfeld himself asked a similar question:
How can we understand that such great men [the spies מרגלים] spoke evil about Eretz Yisrael? When they came to Eretz Yisrael they received prophesy נבואה. They peered into the future and saw all the generations that were destined to live there [in Israel]. In their vision, they also saw those generations that would sin, including the secular Zionists of our own generation, and they were shaken by what they saw. “If so”, they reasoned, it would be better to remain in the wilderness and not enter Eretz Yisrael. That is the meaning of their statement, “it is a land that consumes its inhabitants.” For the holiness of the land cannot tolerate those who violate the precepts of holiness and the land will ultimately expel them. That is what they meant by “there they saw the Nephillim (fallen ones)”, those who would fall from their Torah level and sully themselves with sin. If so, better not to enter The Land.
במדבר יג: לב-לג, שלח
ויצא דבת הארץ אשר תרו אתה אל בני ישראל לאמר, הארץ אשר עברנו בה לתור אתה ארץ אכלת יושביה הוא וכל העם אשר ראינו בתוכה אנשי מדות: ושם ראינו את הנפילים בני ענק מן הנפילים ונהי בעינינו כחגבים וכן היינו בעניהם:
They brought forth for the Children of Israel an evil report on the land that they had spied out, saying, “The Land through which we have passed to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants! All the people that we saw in it were men of measures! There we saw the Nefilim, the sons of a giant from among the Nefilim; we were like grasshoppers in their eyes, and so we were in their eyes!” (Bamidbar 13:32-33)
Rav Chaim continues to explain:
To this Yehoshua and Calev responded, “The land is exceedingly good…we will surely go up and take possession of it”. In spite of everything, it is incumbent upon us to go up and take possession of the Land and withstand all the tests. It is not for us to fathom the hidden ways of G-d. Thus, the sin of the spies was that they should not have allowed their reasoning to contradict G-d’s command and promise. They sinned and were punished. Nevertheless, since their intentions were good, the anniversary of their deaths is commemorated on the 17th Elul, which is the fast day for Tzadikim.
במדבר יג:ל, יד:ז, שלח
ויהס כלב את העם אל משה, ויאמר עלה נעלה וירשנו אתה כי יכול נוכל לה…ויאמרו אל כל עדת בני ישראל לאמר, הארץ אשר עברנו בה לתור אתה טובה הארץ מאד מאד.
Calev hushed the people toward Moshe and said, “We shall surely ascend and conquer it, for we can surely do it!”…They spoke to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel saying, “The Land that we passed through, to spy it out – the Land is very, very good! (Bamidbar 13:30, 14:7)
In 1925 a group of religious Jews purchased the entire area of Givat Ram. Rav Chaim participated in the ground breaking ceremony at the age seventy-five. Unfortunately, the development plans fell through. Later on the Israeli Government Knesset building and Israel museum were built adjacent to this site.
In 1887 Rav Yitzchak Avi Rivlin purchased 1,200 dunams of Arab land near Nebi Samuel. In 1929, that Arabs of Nebi Samuel attacked the Jewish farmers who successfully fended off the Arab attack. The Muktar of Nebi Samuel, Shahada Mustafa, was later on tried for treason by the Jerusalem Mufti (a Nazi sympathizer) named Haj Amin al Husseini. The Muktar was accused of treachery by his selling land to Jews. He was subsequently sentenced to death. Later on as the Muktar was leaving the al-Aqsa mosque with his grandson they were both shot to death by fellow Arabs. The Arab mob then proceeded to attack the Jewish residents of Yerushalyim.
The Leader of the Agguda movement, Dr. Isaac Breuer, was known to visit Rav Chaim. During one of their visits Rav Chaim Sonnenfeld lamented about the apathy towards the resettlement of Eretz Yisrael by world Jewry. He found reference to this fact in the Musaf prayer that we say on of Yom Tov when we pray:
…ומפני חטאינו גלינו מארצינו ונתרחקנו מעל אדמתינו.
…Because of our sins we have been exiled from our country and distanced from our land.
There is a redundancy in the words “exiled” and “distanced” which requires explanation. We are being taught that, although we were initially exiled from our country against our will by invading nations, we subsequently distanced ourselves by losing interest in Eretz Yisrael.
Rav Chaim complained to Professor Yosef Patai in a published interview, that Torah Jews were choosing not to make Aliyah.
Am I not aware of the teaching of the Sifre,“Dwelling in Eretz Yisrael is equal to all of the mitzvos (Re’eh 12:29), or the teachings of our Sages that “a small group in Eretz Yisrael is more beloved that the Sanhedrin in the Diaspora (Yerushalmi, Nedarim 6:8)? How many times have I begged and commanded the religious Jews in the Diaspora be told that whoever has the opportunity to move to Eretz Yisrael but does not, will have to answer before G-d for his failure!…the Holy Land must be build in holiness…As I told Dr. Weizman, “If because of our sins we were exiled from our land, then how can we expect to return successfully to redeem the land without Torah and without faith in G-d?…It is specifically religious Jews who must come here and build the land according to the Torah, for the land is waiting for them to redeem it from its desolation.
ובא לציון גואל ולשבי פשע ביעקב, נאם ה’.
A redeemer with come to Zion, and those of Yaakov who repent from willful sin –the word of Hashem. (Yishaya 59:20)
Rav Chaim goes on to explain this passuk: first the Redemption will arrive and afterwards the sinners will repent. He believed that every pioneer who participates in the rebuilding of Eretz Yisrael with be aided to return to Torah on the merit of Eretz Yisrael. Even those who returned to Eretz Yisrael from Bavel in the days of Ezra and Nehemia violated the Shabbos and had non-Jewish wives. Nevertheless, the second Beis Hamikdash was built by them and they returned to the Torah.
Rav Chaim was challenged by detractors who argued that the land of Eretz Yisrael is geographically too small to house the entire Jewish people. To his he responded:
When children return to their mother’s home, space is never a factor…they squeeze in and sit and the mother will never say that it is too crowded.
Ultimately, it will be recognized that all Jews originated from Israel.
ולציון יאמר איש ואיש ילד בה, והוא יכוננה עליון:
But of Zion it can be said, “Man after man was born in her,” and He, the most High, maintains her thus. (Tehillim 87:5)
We derive from here that any Jew who aspires to live in Eretz Yisrael is considered as if he were born there. Thus, all Jews who yearn to come to Eretz Yisrael are indeed natives of Eretz Yisrael.
כתובות עה עמוד א
אמר רבי מיישא בר בריה דרבי יהושוע בן לוי אחד הנולד בה ואחד המצפה לראותה.
Rav Meyasha the grandson of Rav Yehoshua ben Levi said in explanation: Equally one who was born in [Eretz Yisrael] and one who yearns to see her. (Talmud Kesubos 75a)
In 1931, Rav Chaim had a conversation with a Mr. Levi Kush of Klausenberg. He said, “Tell the Jews of Klausenberg and its environs, especially the Ullman family, that now is the time to liquidate assets and move immediately to Eretz Yisrael – they are not to wait any longer!” Upon his return to Klausenberg Mr. Kush relayed his message from Rav Sonnefeld. The extremely wealthy Ullman’s were displeased to hear Rav Chaim’s words. Within a year they lost all their wealth and were forced to live on public assistance. However, Mr. Kush on his own liquidated his assets and moved to Eretz Yisrael, where he lived a long life and was blessed to see children and grandchildren.
Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld never advised a Jew to leave Eretz Yisrael, even in the most trying situations. He would encourage them to remain in Eretz Yisrael and put their trust in G-d, reminding them in whose power rests the solution to all problems. Once Rav Chaim’s own grandson wanted to leave Eretz Yisrael for a prominent Rabbinical position in Czechoslovakia. Rav Yitzchak Yerucham Diskin had pressured the grandson to leave Eretz Yisrael stating that the young man was a brilliant scholar and would fade into oblivion in Eretz Yisrael. This was due to the local academic climate and mounting pressures to support a family under dire economic conditions. When the grandson approached Rav Chaim he was told:
My son, I feel that being a laborer in Eretz Yisrael is greater than being a Rav in Chutz La’aretz.
Rav Chaim Sonnenfeld’s grandson decided to stay in Eretz Yisrael.
In 1925 Rav Shimon Sofer, Rav of Erlau wrote to Rav Chaim:
…Perhaps now is the time to consider erecting the altar on the Temple Mount and offering sacrifices on it…it states in the Yerushalmi that the Beis Hamikdash will initially be built with only the minimum of an altar on which to offer sacrifices…if the Jerusalem Rabbonim will jointly request permission from the British…The actual halachos regarding the sacrifice procedures and Kohanim can be discussed by the sages of Eretz Yisrael and decided by majority rule…
Rav Yosef Chaim responded:
…Unfortunately…misinformed regarding the good will of the government towards allowing us to conduct our affairs in complete accordance with the Torah…Besides, the Temple area has been in possession of the Arabs for quite some time…aroused considerable Arab hatred against us. If Jews would openly profess such intensions, terrible consequences, G-d forbid, would result. Therefore, we must await G-d’s salvation and pray that He send us Moshiach…
Rav Chaim preferred the yisurim, hardships of Eretz Yisrael, over the relative tranquility and security of the Diaspora. He encouraged all to see the good side of Yerushalayim and not the poverty and conflict that existed.
יברכך ה’ מציון וראה בטוב ירושלים, כל ימי חייך: וראה בנים לבניך, שלום על ישראל:
May Hashem bless you from Zion, and you gaze upon the goodness of Yerushalyim, all the days of your life. And may you see children [born] to your children, peace upon Yisrael. (Tehillim 128:5-6)
To those who struggled after making Aliyah, he would explain that this is the way of the Holy Land; it is one of the divine gifts acquired through suffering. After the suffering comes relief and appreciation of the eternal benefits which are found in Eretz Yisrael more than any other land. Unfortunately, this powerhouse of holy inspiration came to an end on the 19th of Adar II (1932), Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld died at the age of eighty-four.
Rabbinical Support For The Importance of The Land Israel
The Chafetz Chaim in letters of the Chazon Ish (vol.1, pg. 175) points out that the world is created with mirror images, “G-d created everything with its opposite counterpart” (Koheles 7:14). Because the sanctity and the importance of Eretz Yisrael are great, the yetzer hara fights hard against the love for the Land.
Rav Eliyahu Gutmacher of Geiditz wrote in Nefesh Chaya of the need to settle the Land of Israel :
In redeeming the Land, the beginning must come from us, and G-d will finish the rest. It is of prime importance to devote ourselves to this, since the Satan works hard even on the greatest Tzadikim [Satmar?] to oppose this work. This is because the Satan’s power is entirely dependent upon the exile, and when the exile is finished, his power will be annulled, as the Gemara in Sukka (52b) explains.
Rav Yoel Schwartz in his sefer, Zion Today (pg.14), comments on the irony that specifically Torah observant Jews think that it is permitted to leave Israel merely for vacations:
Now, when we are fortunate enough to be able to live in Eretz Yisrael, this situation is all the more evident. Since the confrontation between Orthodoxy and Secular Zionism, voices praising the greatness and sanctity of the Holy Land have become still. Basic principles which have always been clear to the Jewish people have been forgotten…Even the most observant take trips to chutz la’Aretz, something the Halacha forbids. Could there be greater irony than this: the Torah community, which cherished the memory of Eretz Yisrael so throughout the ages, now leaves the love of Zion to the “secular”?
Rabbi Moshe Sheinfeld, states that the mitzva to love Israel is not the same as accepting the false ideology of secular Zionism (Diglainu, Shevat 5707).
…Political Zionism has come between the people of Israel and their Land, throwing Bnei Torah into confusion with its propaganda. Because we have fallen into the trap of equating Zion with the Zionistic movement…One portion of Orthodox Jewry has lost its ability to differentiate between the love of Zion and love of Zionism…
On each person’s Judgment day he will be asked, “Did you anticipate the Redemption?”
תלמוד שבת לא עמוד א
בשעה שמכניסין אדם לדין אומרים לו: נשאת ונתת באמונה? קבעת עתים לתורה? עסקת בפריה ורביה? צפיתה לישוע? פלפלת בחכמה? הבנת דבר בתוך דבר?
When they escort a person to his final, Heavenly judgment after his death, [the Heavenly tribunal] says to him: Did you conduct your business transactions faithfully? Did you set aside fixed times for Torah study? Did you engage in procreation? Did you [actively] anticipate the Messianic salvation? Did you delve into wisdom? When you learned Torah, did you learn it deeply, and infer one thing from another? (Talmud Shabbos 31a)
How do we practically “bring” the Moshiach? By striving to live and build up the country of Israel. For only then will the goyim know that Hashem is one and only true G-d.
תהילים קב: יד-טז
אתה תקום תרחם ציון, כי עת לחננה כי בא מועד: כי רצו עבדך את אבניה, ואת עפרה יחננו: וייראו גוים את שם ה‘, וכל מלכי הארץ את כבודך:
You will arise and show Zion mercy, for [there will come] the time to favor her, for the appointed time will have come. For your servants have cherished her stones, and favored her dust. Then the nations will fear the name of Hashem, and the kings of the earth Your glory. (Tehillim 102:14-16)
Love of Eretz Yisrael is the reason to return to it and this will bring the Redemption closer (Metzudas Dovid). This is similar to a man searching to marry his beshert. He knows that it is a just a matter of time before he will get married. However, making no effort to go on dates and thus be able to get married is not a Jewish option. So too, we all know that it’s the רצון ה‘ for Jews to live in Israel. We recite this mitzva in the Shema prayer two times daily, “ to love Hashem our G-d with all our heart and wealth…” The love of Eretz Yisrael allows us to break away from the material wealth of the USA and enables us to survive the daily financial reality of living here.
Holy Statements About Eretz Yisrael. All the Great Rabbis were true Zionists!
Rav Moshe Alshich taught that in Eretz Yisrael man is judged every day, “the eyes of G-d are constantly upon her” (Devarim 11:12, Parshas Ekev). Whereas, in chutz la’aretz man is judged only on Rosh Hashana.
ארץ אשר ה’ אלקיך דרש אתה, תמיד עיני ה’ אלקיך בה מראשית השנה ועד אחרית שנה:
A land that Hashem, your G-d, seeks out; the eyes of Hashem, your G-d, are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to year’s end.
Rain can be compared to parnasa (monthly income). In Israel Rain comes directly from G-d, unlike what occurs in chutz la’aretz. So too, those who live in Israel must have direct divine assistance in order to make a living.
כי הארץ אשר אתה בא שמה לרשתה לא כארץ מצרים הוא אשר יצאתם משם…למטר השמים תשתה מים:
For the land to which you come, to take possession of it – it is not like the land of Egypt from where you left…by the rain of the heavens it drinks water. (Devarim 11:10-11)
Sefer Chareidim states that the Jewish people are only a nation when we live in Israel, “…they will never be called “one nation” except inside it, as the Zohar explains the pasuk “who is like your people Israel – one nation in the land “.
The Kuzari is very clear that we can only get spiritually close to G-d in the Land of Israel,”…the chosen nation cannot become connected to the Divine anywhere but in this Land”.
Rav Yehezkel Abramsky, wrote that it is pointless to invest a lot of our resources in Jewish communities in chutz la’aretz, since “…every center of Jewish life in exile was destined to wither and die…” (The Land of Israel for the People of Israel, pg.44). This applies to all the major Yeshivos of Europe and the USA.
Rav Elchanan Wasserman (Kovetz Ma’amarim, pg. 129) points out that two thirds of Shas (Talmud) involves Eretz Yisrael. Of the 613 mitzvos 195 are applicable in Israel alone and 78 depend on living in Eretz Yisrael.
Rashi on the words of the Shema prayer, “you should place these words of mine”, is to teach us that we keep the mitzvos of tefilin and mezuzah in the Diaspora in order to actually perform them in Israel. So that when we do make Aliyah, these mitzvos will not be “new” to us when we return.
רש”י דברים יא:יח ד”ה ושמתם את דברי אלה
אף לאחר שתגלו היו מצויינים במצות, הניחו תפילין, עשו מזוזות, כדי שלא יהיו לכם חדשים כשתחזרו, וכן הוא אומר “הציבי לך ציונים” (ירמיה לא:כ, ספרי מג).
Even after you will go into exile, be distinguished through performance of commandments; for example, put on tefillin and make mezuzos, so that they should not be new to you when you return. And similarly it says, “Erect markers [Zionists] for yourself.” (Rashi, Devarim 11:18)
According to the Netziv, the mitzvah of tefilin and mezuzah is only a token or practice in chutz la’aretz (Shivas Zion II pg.8). Similarly, keeping all the mitzvos, including the reward for honoring our parents as mentioned in the Shema, are also linked to Eretz Yisrael.
דברים יא:יג, כא
והיה אם שמע תשמעו אל מצותי אשר אנכי מצוה אתכם היום לאהבה את ה’ אלקיכם ולעבדו בכל לבבכם ובכל נפשכם…למען ירבו ימיכם וימי בניכם על האדמה אשר נשבע ה’ לאבותיכם לתת להם, כימי השמים על הארץ:
And it will be that if listening, you will listen to My commandments that I command you today, to love Hashem your G-d, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul…In order to prolong you days and the days of your children upon the Land that Hashem has sworn to your forefathers to give them, like the days of the heavens over the earth. (Devarim 11:13,21)
The Talmud is very clear that most of Torah knowledge exists in the Land of Israel.
קידושין מט עמוד ב
עשרה קבים חכמה (רש”י: תורה ודרך ארץ) ירדו לעולם. תשע לטלה לארץ ישראל ואחד כל העולם כולו.
Ten measures of Torah [wisdom] descended from Heaven to the world. The Land of Israel took nine of them, and all the rest took one. (Kiddushin Talmud Bavli 49b)
The Midrash Socher Tov encourages one to study Torah in Eretz Yisrael: “Rabbi Yose ben Chalafta told his son Rabbi Yishmael: do you want to see G-d’s presence in this world? Go study Torah in Eretz Yisrael, as it is written “Search out Hashem and His might, seek His presence always.” (Tehillim 105:4)
דירשו ה’ ועזו, בקשו פניו תמיד:
Semicha, Rabbinic Ordination, could only be done in Eretz Yisrael (Talmud Sanhedrin 14a). Based on this the Rambam rules that if the Rabbonim in Eretz Yisrael were to nowadays agree to ordain Rabbis in this manner, they could do so (Shoftim Hilchos Sanhedrin 4:4).
רמב”ם שופטים הלכות סנהדרין והעונשין המסורין להם פ”ד הלכה ד
אין קרוי אלהים אלא בית דין שנסמכו בארץ ישראל בלבד והם האנשים החכמים הראויין לדון שבדקו אותן בית דין של ארץ ישראל והמחו אותן וסמכו אותן:
Currently, there are hundreds of quality Semicha programs all over Israel. Why is that? Eretz Yisrael is the best place to learn Torah and the only place where potentially all of its mitzvos can be kept. Therefore, it is the most natural place to come close to G-d.
Prophesy can only be achieved on a regular basis in Eretz Yisrael. Navi Yechezkel was not able to record prophesies he received in chutz la’aretz (Rashi, Bava Basra 15a).
According to the Ari z”l, one who lives in chutz la’aretz can only achieve the status of “Nefesh”. One who has walked four amos in Eretz Yisrael has the higher level of “Ruach”. Only a permanent inhabitant (one who made Aliyah) can reach the greatest level of “Neshama”.
כה אמר הקל ה’ בורא השמים ונוטיהם רקע הארץ וצאצאיה, נותן נשמה לעם עליה ורוח להלכים בה:
Thus said the G-d, Hashem, Who created the heavens and stretched them forth; Who firmed the earth and its produce, Who gave a neshama to the nation upon it and ruach to those who walk on it. (Yeshaya 42:5)
In the Talmud, Rav Yochanan was amazed to learn that people lived to an extremely old age in Bavel. This is was due to the fact that in the “Shema” prayer, the Torah states, that the reward of long life will only be given to the Jews who live in Eretz Yisrael.
תלמוד ברכות ח עמוד א
אמר ליה לרבי יוחנן: איכה סבי בבל. תמה ואמר “למען ירבו ימיכם וימי בניכם על האדמה” כתיב. אבל בחוצה לארץ, לא.
They said to Rav Yochanan: There are elderly people in Bavel. Rav Yochanan said in amazement, It is written (Devarim 11:21), “In order to prolong your days and the days of your children upon the land ]that Hashem has sworn to your ancestors to give them[”, which is a reference to Eretz Yisrael. This implies, however, that outside of Eretz Yisrael there is no promise of a long life. (Talmud Bavli Berachos 8a)
Rav Dessler quotes the Yalkut Shimoni to explain that the Exile of the Jewish Nation is a punishment for past sins committed in Eretz Yisrael. However, those who live in Israel have no sin and no iniquity. (Michtav Me’Eliyahu vol.3, pg. 193) In addition, Eretz Yisrael one relies on miracles; in this way we are able to stand against our many enemies. (ibid, pg.196)
מכתב מאליהו, השפעת ארץ ישראל
מי נושא עוונם – הארץ אשר הם יושבים עליה, שנאמר – העם היושב בה נשוא עוון; הרי החיים. ומנין אף המתים, תלמוד לומר – וכפר אדמתו עמו…אשריהם יושבי ארץ ישראל שאין להם לא חטא ולא עוון, לא בחיים ולא במתים (ילקוט שמעוני, ח”ב תתל”ג)…בארץ ישראל בוטחים בניסים, שנוכל לעמוד אפילו נגד ריבוי שונאינו…
The experience of living with the holiness of Eretz Yisrael involves risks, yisurim. The Torah commands us to face these challenges regardless of the obstacles which may confront us along the way. There are hazards living in Eretz Yisrael but we are obligated to face them.
In the Bircas Hamzon prayer, which is said after eating a bread meal, Eretz Yisrael is emphasized, despite the fact that this prayer said all over the world. We also have a special beracha for the seven species of fruits that are unique to the Land of Israel, מען שלוש. The Vilna Gaon (Imrei Noam) explains that the produce of the entire world is blessed only because of Eretz Yisrael. According the GRA, the beracha “המוציא לכם מין הארץ” means that G-d gives food to the entire world from “הארץ”, Eretz Yisrael (Chidushei HaGra, Berachos 35a).
We see learn from these pesukim, that when the work “הארץ” is used in Tanach or our prayers, this a reference to Eretz Yisrael and not “the world”, as commonly mistranslated by many English translations.
Eretz Yisrael is the ideal place to utilize the material aspects of the world for spiritual purposes. Everyday mundane activities here are part of “yishuv ha’aretz” and are therefore mitzvos. If one sees himself standing naked in a dream, located in Eretz Yisrael, it means he is without the benefit of having performed mitzvos. Thus finding oneself naked in this land symbolizes that he has failed to clothe himself with the mitzvos available to him. Whereas the land outside of Israel has not special merit attached to it, and most of its inhabitants commit great sins. (Talmud Berachos 57a)
Eretz Yisrael is G-d’s special territory. It is the ideal location in which to come close to Him. One who loves G-d will automatically love the Land “which G-d inquires after.” A genuine love of the land does not come easily, one must work at it. In order to receive the plenty that G-d gives the Land and its inhabitants (Devarim 11:12) “…the eyes of Hashem, your G-d, are always upon it…” We must work at acknowledging that Eretz Yisrael is our special land given to us by G-d as an inheritance. One who does not acknowledge this does not belong in Eretz Yisrael (Kovetz Sichos Mussar 5733. Pg.130 Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz).
Rab Yerucham Levovitz, Masgiach of Yeshivas Mir, wrote that the only way to appreciate the holiness and spiritual greatness of Eretz Yisrael is to become firmly attached to it. Eretz Yisrael is the natural place for Torah and mitzvos. (Daas Torah. Parshas Veyera).
Yaakov avinu differentiated from the possessions he acquired in chutz la’aretz and those of Eretz Yisrael. Rashi points out that the possessions acquired in chutz la’aretz are not important! In our Aliyah experience, most of the items we brought from the USA are falling apart. Also, our first week here my wife lost her purse with her money, new cell phone, new camera, credit cards, checks, drivers license on a Ramat Beit Shemesh city bus; the items were never recovered.
בראשית מו:ו, פרשת ויגש
ויקחו את מקניהם ואת רכושם אשר רכשו בארץ כנען ויבאו מצרימה, יעקב וכל זרעו אתו.
They took their livestock and their possessions which they had amassed in the land of Canaan and they came to Egypt – Yakov and all his offspring with him. (Bereishis 46:6, Parshas Vayigash)
רש”י ד”ה אשר רכשו בארץ מצרים
אבל מה שרכש בפדן ארם נתן הכל לעשו בשביל חלקו במערת המכפלה, אמר, נסכי חוצה לארץ אינן כדאי לי…
WHICH THEY HAD AMASSED IN THE LAND OF CANAAN- But what he had amassed in Paddan-aram, he gave it all to Esav for his share in the Cave of Machpelah. Yakov said, “Possessions of outside the Land, i.e. Possessions acquired outside the Land of Israel, are not worthwhile for me.” (Rashi)
The Gemarrah in meseches Kesubos teaches that a Babalonian scholar who goes to Eretz Yisrael is superior to the local Eretz Yisrael scholars. The Rebbe of Ozhorov explains: A newcomer [Oleh Chadash] who yearns for Eretz Yisrael is greater than the local resident. For the Oleh Chadash knows what is it not to have Eretz Yisrael. His personal connection is strong and it is on this love that the benefits of Eretz Yisrael hinge (Be’er Moshe, Bereishis, Essay 7).
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai teaches that three good gifts from G-d are obtained only by yisurim: Torah, Eretz Yisrael and Olam Habah (Berachos 5a). We never finish learning Torah and it is a daily commitment that is renewed since we are never sure how our most recent actions will affect our Olam Habah; so too, yishuv Eretz Yisrael is a daily challenge to acquire anew. The suffering and sacrifice for Eretz Yisrael strengthens a Jew’s involvement in the mitzvah of settling the Land. The Rebbe of Ozhrov explains that G-d answered Avraham’s question of, “Whereby shall I know that I am to inherit it [Eretz Yisrael]?” (Bereishis 15:8) – Rashi explains he will merit lasting in the Land of Israel through the of karbanos. The only way to acquire Eretz Yisrael is though supreme devotion and closeness to G-d (Be`er Moshe, Bereishis). Eretz Yisrael has suffered many Jewish karbonos throughout history! These similar thoughts were shared by Rabbi Mordechai Rindinow at the funeral of his eighteen year old son who was a soldier killed in the IDF during his service in 2016.
רש”י בראשית טו:ו ד”ה ויחשבה לו צדקה, פרשת לך לך
ד”א, במה אדע, שאל לו אות, אלא אמר לפניו הודיעני באיזה זכות יתקיימו בה. אמר לו הקב”ה, בזכות הקרבנות:
…when Avraham asked, “Whereby shall I know,” he was not requesting a sign from Him. Rather, he said before Him, “Let me know through what merit they, i.e., my offspring will last in the land.” The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to him, “Through the merit of the sacrificial offerings.” (Rashi, Bereishis 15:6)
Eretz Yisrael was only acquired through great effort. Yehoshua had to take the people to war. Avraham merited Eretz Yisrael as his reward for his self sacrifice in Ur Kasdim. Later on during the time of Ezra Ha’Sofer the Jews had a lot of difficulties re-settling Israel. Why was all this hardship necessary? It was in order to endear the Land to the Jewish people. It was not an individual but rather a group effort of Klal Yisrael; which holds true to today. A conquest by an individual is not conquest (Gitten 47a). If only half of the Jewish Nation has made Aliyah we can only acquire half the Land; thus we are having problems with Jews being allowed to live in the Yehuda Shomron territories.
Rav Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk wrote a letter explaining that anyone who makes Aliyah goes through a great deal, until he is able to live here. It takes years. One has to pass through a period comparable to conception, development, and childhood. Eventually, he becomes settled and G-d blesses him with peace. For each individual this transition period is different (Letter in Pri Ha`Aretz, Alei Shur pg. 285).
When one makes aliyah he senses that he must start anew spiritually and feels his spiritual foundations are slipping out from under him and he must start all over to rebuild . This is in order to reach the standards of Eretz Yisrael (Alei Shur)
Yonasan Eibeschutz writes that the Jewish people are destined to return to Eretz Yisrael before Moshiach arrives, when we will undergo great difficulties here. Yet in spite of all the troubles we will not abandon Eretz Yisrael [to the exclusion of The Satmar Rav]. This time, when it is rough, we will not leave as was done by Jews during the era of the Beis Hamikdash who went to Egypt (Yeshaya 31:1) – “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and who rely on horses…and did not seek out Hashem.” (Ahavas Yonasan on Parshas Balak)
The Sin of the spies who rejected Eretz Yisrael, is alluded to in Tehillim. They were punished measure for measure מידה כנגד מידה. Since they rejected Eretz Yisrael, exile was the result. Maybe this is why Satmar is based in Williamsburg New York, since they have rejected Israel.
ולהפיל זרעם בגוים, ולזרותם בארצות:
And to cast down their descendents among the nations, and to scatter them among the lands. (Tehillim 106:27)
Our ultimate redemption will be the reward for those who properly appreciate Eretz Yisrael. Anyone who mourns over Yerushalayim will merit seeing its joy (Taanis 30b).
שמחו את ירושלים וגילו בה כל אהביה שישו אתה משוש כל המתאבלים עליה:
Make glad Yerushalayim and rejoice with her, all those who love her; be elated with her, all those who mourn for her. (Yeshaya 66:10)
The Gaon Rav Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky wrote:
If the religious Jews in chutz la’aretz had that pull to Eretz Yisrael , they could rescue the sanctity of the Land from any who might oppose it…most Jews…are still enamored with their foreign homes. Their future, most seem to feel, lies there! Our early settlers came at great personal sacrifice, because they longed to be “in G-d’s courtyards.” All Torah-true Jews today, when the task is so much simpler, must take their example to heart (Sefer Eretz Yisroel 99-100).
For many Torah observant Jews, the ephemeral physical pleasures (olem ha’zeh) of chutz la’aretz, at this time, are more appealing than the pull to Eretz Yisrael. Only one who lives to be a ben olam habah will prefer Eretz Yisrael. Since Zionism calls for aliyah, the masses took it to mean that the gedolim who opposed Zionism are opposed Aliyah and settling Eretz Yisrael. In reality, the true Gedolei Yisroel (not Satmar) are also the truest lovers of Zion.
The famous Reish Lakish once told Rabah from Bavel that, “G-d hates you!”.
ריש לקיש הוי סחי בירדנא אתא רבה בר בר חנה יהב ליה ידא א”ל אלהא סנינא לכו.
Reish Lakish, who lived in Eretz Yisrael, was once swimming in the Yarden River. Rabah bar bar Chanah, [who was from Bavel] came [by and noticed him starting to leave the water. Thereupon], he gave him his hand to assist him. [Reish Lakish] then said to [Rabah bar bar Chanah]: G-d hates you [Babylonians]! (G-d hates all Babylonian Jews who did not make Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael in the days of Ezra, and thus prevented the Shechina from returning and resting in the second Beis Hamikdash). (Talmud Bavli Yoma 9b)
Sefer Hachareidim teaches us that the Ramban counts living in Eretz Yisrael as one of the 613 mitzvos – and each minute living here, is a fulfillment of the mitzvah . From the pasuk, “for you did not serve G-d with joy” (Devarim 28:47) תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה’ אלקיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב, מרב כל (דברים כח:מז), we learn that the reward for a mitzvah is commensurate with the joy experienced in its fulfillment. Therefore, those of us living here should always be happy with our perpetual mitzvah. The difficulties, yisurim, experienced here should be accepted with joy because of our great love for Eretz Yisrael. (Mitzvos Hatluyos Ba`Aretz, Chapt. 2, Sefer Hachareidim).
Solutions To Treat Israel Properly
Enrich our spiritual lives by removing the vanities of olam hazeh that we got used to in chutz la’aretz and regain the spiritual values of olam habah.
Pay attention to our prayers and blessings. Strengthen the love of Israel by taking field trips and admiring the beauty of the Land of Israel.
Never speak badly about Eretz Yisrael. This was sin of meraglim. We are never to criticize the climate, produce, or the residents – even in criticism is true. We rather must always point out the beauty of Eretz Yisrael if we want to love it and inspire love in others.
The modern day settlement of Israel us only possible due to the initial sacrifices and commitment of the seventy people sent by the Vilna Gaon, to settle in Eretz Yisrael. It is therefore appropriate to conclude this section with an excerpt from a letter written by one of the students of the Vilna Gaon, who settled here:
Here the Torah is clear, fear of G-d is strengthened…I am still in the desirable Land, the delight of angels and men, the best place in the world…
שבת קל עמוד א
כל מצוה שמסרו ישראל עצמן עליהם למיתה…עדיין מוחזקת בידם…
Any commandment for which the Jewish People gave themselves over to death…is still held firmly in their hands… (Talmud Bavli Shabbos 130a)