Shabbat Parashat Korach| 5764
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - The Status of the East Bank, the West Bank, and the Mikdash - Part II - Condensed from Chavot Binyamin, siman 95
We saw last time that at least certain areas on the east bank of the Jordan had only partial kedusha during the time of Bayit Sheni. We suggested that even if the land was sanctified with its initial conquest, the kedusha was not permanent because those areas were not included in what the Torah refers to as “the inheritance of the fathers.” In that way, those areas were different than areas on the West Bank, Eretz Yisrael proper.
There is an additional distinction between the two sides of the Jordan in the time of Bayit Sheni. During that period, re-sanctification could not be accomplished outside the boundaries of Eretz Yisrael. Firstly, kedusha based on conquest could not take place until all of Eretz Yisrael was taken, which never happened in that period. Additionally, at that time, sanctification took place by settlement (chazaka), not conquest. However, the entire concept that areas outside Eretz Yisrael can be annexed was said only by means of conquest, not settlement. The Ra’avad [cited last week] believed that the East Bank was sanctified as an integral part of Eretz Yisrael, and therefore, could have, at least in theory, had its kedusha restored. According to the Rambam, the initial sanctification was done as kedusha tacked on to chutz la’aretz. As such, it was not possible to renew it at the time of Bayit Sheni for the reasons we have mentioned.
Let’s proceed to a mysterious passage of the Ra’avad. The Rambam (Beit Habechira 6:16) states: “Why do I say that the original kedusha of the Mikdash and Yerushalayim continued, and that of the rest of Eretz Yisrael did not? Because the kedusha of the Mikdash is due to the Shechina, and that does not cease... But the Land’s obligation in regard to shemittah and ma’asrot is only because of conquest by multitudes. Once the Land was taken from their hands, the conquest is void.” The Ra’avad, taking the opposite approach, says that “according to the opinion that the initial kedusha does not continue, we have no distinction between the Land, in general, and Yerushalayim and the Mikdash. Furthermore, even according to R. Yossi, that the second sanctification is permanent, that is only said in regard to the rest of Eretz Yisrael, not Yerushalayim and the Mikdash… So was revealed to me by a secret of Hashem to those who fear Him …”
The commentators were puzzled about the basis of the Ra’avad’s opinion, which is diametrically opposed to the Rambam’s. Was it really some type of secret prophecy?
Recalling the gemara in Chagiga [cited last week], we have a solution. The gemara says that, according to R. Eliezer, the lands of Ammon and Moav did not have a full status of Eretz Yisrael regarding shemittah. Why should they be different from other areas of the East Bank, since they were all sanctified in Bayit Rishon? The Ra’avad understood that, regarding other parts of the East Bank, we say that the original kedusha remains, but [as we explained last week,] the logic didn’t apply to Ammon and Moav. But if R. Eliezer holds that the original kedusha remains, as a rule, then why was the gemara (Megilla 10a) unsure about R. Eliezer’s opinion on the topic? It must be because the gemara in Megilla is talking about the Mikdash’s sanctity, not the Land’s. From there the Ra’avad learned to distinguish between the two, opposite to the Rambam. In that gemara in Chagiga, the term “a secret of Hashem …” appears prominently. That is the allusion the Ra’avad made; he did not mean to refer to any prophetic powers.
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