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Shabbat Parashat Pinchas| 5765

Moreshet Shaul

From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - The Mitzva to Live in Eretz Yisrael - Part I - Ramban’s Opinion (I) - From Eretz Hemdah I,1:1
[We will now start a series on the topic of the mitzva to live in Eretz Yisrael in our days. This mitzva, which the last few generations have had the z’chut to be able to fulfill, with Hashem’s mercy, is a very dear one. It is also the first topic in Rav Yisraeli z.t.l.’s first sefer, Eretz Hemdah. (Our kollel is named after the sefer and the ideas behind it.) While it is not equally easy for all to actually fulfill this tremendous mitzva, it is important for all to understand its relevance. He (and we) starts with the strong words of the Ramban, one of the most prominent and powerful proponents of the obligation to settle the Land, who also carried out his dream, moving to Eretz Yisrael. Because of the limitations of this forum, we have to quote sporadically. We will continue with Rav Yisraeli’s analysis of the Ramban next week.]
 The Ramban, in his additions to the Rambam’s Book of the Mitzvot (#4) counts the mitzva to conquer and inhabit Eretz Yisrael as a mitzvat aseh (positive). The following is the language of the Ramban. [Ed. note- we are forced to translate and regret that it prejudices the analysis.]
 “We were commanded lareshet (to possess (/inherit?) the Land that Hashem gave to our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov and not to abandon it in the hands of any other nation or leave it in desolation. This is what the pasuk says: ‘You shall possess the Land and settle in it, for to you I gave the Land to possess it’ (Bamidbar 33:53)… He specified for them the boundaries [of the Land] … The proof that this is a commandment is that which it is said in reference to the meraglim: ‘Go up and possess as Hashem spoke to you’ (Devarim 1:21) … and when they did not want to go, it says: ‘you rebelled against the word of Hashem’ (ibid.:26) … we see that this is a commandment and not a foretelling or a promise. That is why the Rabbis call it “a war of mitzva” (Sota 44b). The Sifrei states: ‘’You shall possess and inhabit it’- in the merit of possessing it [by battle] you shall inhabit.’ You should not think that the mitzva is the war of the Seven Nations to destroy them … for we were commanded to destroy these nations when they fight with us, but if they agree to make peace, we will make peace with them under certain known conditions. But we shall not leave the Land in their hands or the hands of any other nation in any generation … We were commanded to come to the Land, to conquer (lichbosh) the cities, and to settle our tribes in them …If our tribes will want to leave it and conquer [a different land] they are not permitted, for we were commanded to conquer it and inhabit it. David acted against the Torah. The Torah said that after you conquer Eretz Yisrael, you will be allowed to conquer outside the Land, and he [conquered elsewhere before completing to conquer Eretz Yisrael]. So we [see that] we are commanded in all generations. And I say that the mitzva that the Rabbis speak about in such extreme terms and that is to live in Eretz Yisrael, to the extent that they said that whoever leaves it and lives abroad should be in your eyes like an idol worshipper, etc. (Ketubot 111) and other extreme statements, all of this is because of the mitzvat aseh that we were commanded to possess it and inhabit it. If so, it is mitzvat aseh forall generations, in which every one of us is obligated even in the time of Exile, as is clear from the Talmud in several places. The language of the Sifrei is: ‘There was a story of Rabbis … who were going leave Eretz Yisrael. They reached Platia and remembered Eretz Yisrael, raised up their eyes, their eyes teared, they ripped their clothes and recited the following pasuk: ‘Youshallpossess …’ and they said: ‘Living in Eretz Yisrael is of equal weight to all the mitzvot.’”
[We suggest that our readers hold on to this abridged version of the Ramban (or have the original handy) as it will be the basis for the analysis to come.]
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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
Mina bat David Presser on the occasion of her second yahrzeit. Her life exemplified growth through learning.
R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.,
Yitzchak Eliezer Ben Avraham Mordechai Jacobson o.b.m.

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