Volume 31 Number 44
                 Produced: Wed Feb  9 20:23:20 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Carl M. Sherer]
         [Russell Hendel]
"all must ascend" vs.  "all can compel ascension"
         [David and Toby Curwin]


From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 15:15:54 +0200
Subject: Aliya

Someone writes:

> 2.  One poster asked about halachik considerations.  I don't know them,
> but certainly everyone knows of g'dolim in America that stayed in
> America.  Rav Weinberg tz'l, Rav Moshe tz'l, and so forth.

I think that before any of us decides to stay in America because Rav
Weinberg zt"l or Rav Moshe zt"l did, that we need to ask whether our
contribution to the Klal (general public of Jews) by staying in America
approaches (let alone matches) the contribution of Rav Weinberg and Rav
Moshe. If you truly believe after a cheshbon hanefesh (soul searching)
that yours does, gei gezunter hait (live and be well); I won't argue
with your decision. But I suspect that for most of us, our contribution
to the Klal by staying in galus does not approach that of Rav Weinberg
and Rav Moshe.

> 3.  "kol yisroel arevim zeh b'zeh", all of yisroel is responsible for
> another.  Serious question: if all observant Jews moved to Israel, what
> would happen to the millions of non-observant Jews?  Is "kol yisroel
> arevim zeh b'zeh" just a cliche, or was Chazal stating a mandate?  There
> is some serious, critical, kiruv (outreach) work that needs to be done,
> and we can not abandon millions of our brothers by just getting up and
> leaving.  If a Chabad shaliach can go to Alaska, or Timbuktu, or
> Khazakhstan, the least I can do is live in a metropolitan area, where my
> children can get a solid day school education, and I can engage in kiruv
> work of my own.

I don't know what you do for a living, but someone else who (if I am not
mistaken) actually DOES work in kiruv [trying to draw people closer to
G-d] full time made a very similar argument to yours in a debate with me
over this issue in 1996. Why reinvent the wheel? :-) This is what I
wrote to him then; it is just as true today:

"This reminds me of [a] conversation my Rebbe had with us before Shavuos
when I was in Yeshiva.  His words were very simple "none of you should
be the tzaddik [righteous one - I think Avi was less strict about
translations three and a half years ago - all the square brackets are
things I added today :-) ] who says brachos [the morning blessings] for
everyone." Yes, someone has to say birchos hashachar [the morning
blessings] on Shavuos morning and to do that they have to have slept
(i.e. not learned all night).  But why does it have to be *you*? I
realize this isn't entirely fair because at this point you may well be
stuck in chu"l [outside of Israel] because of your responsibilities to
specific individuals.  But I would hope that if you ever didn't have
those responsibilities you'd be on the next plane here.  Because there
is plenty of kiruv work to be done here - both with secular Israelis and
with English speakers who come here who've never seen a Shabbos but who
because they are in Israel are suddenly open to the possibility of
trying it.  Yes, there is even kiruv work to be done in Israel by people
whose Hebrew is less than fluent.  For anyone else out there who is
about to go into kiruv who is using their lack of Hebrew skills as an
excuse, keep that in mind."

I would only add to that, IMHO, *unless* you are full time in kiruv work
like the Chabad shaliach, the fact that a Chabad shaliach is in Alaska
or Kazakhstan or Uruguay or anyplace else is no *halachic* justification
for *you* to remain in galus (exile).

Alexis Rosoff writes:

> The United States has been good to the Jews, and I am grateful
> to it.  Maybe it's not perfect, but my family has done well here, and I
> can't blame someone for saying that this is their country, and they will
> stay.

You, of all people, since you are on tachlis, can probably vouch for me
being the biggest America lover on that list :-) But that's not the
point. I would not tell anyone to leave America because it's bad,
because there's anti-semitism, because there could be another holocaust
R"L (G-d should save us). I think it's a bad argument to make, I think
using that argument is just trying to scare people, and frankly I have
my doubts as to whether it's correct. The point isn't that America is
bad. The point is that Jews are supposed to live in Israel. That Hashem
wants us to live in Israel. That Baltimore or Monsey or Passaic or
Chicago or Los Angeles is not Yerushalayim or Chevron or Shilo or Beit
El or even Tel Aviv. I have NOTHING against America, and I am happy to
visit it anytime except during the chagim. But Hashem wants me to live
in Israel, and as a halachic Jew, I try to fulfill Hashem's will. It's
that simple.  (And yes, I really do believe what I write).

Someone else writes:

> But for a child whose parents are in need of support or assistance, to
> abandon them in pursuit of a mitzvah whose modern day obligation is
> debated among some poskim (unless I am mistaken and I will then be on
> the next pilot trip) , 

Start packing your bags :-) If you're trying to argue that there are
poskim that hold that moving to Israel is not a mitzva today, I think
that with the exception of Satmar you are mistaken.

The classic halachic justification for not moving to Israel is the
Gemara of the three shvuos (oaths). The Gemara in Ksuvos (111a) brings
three oaths that the Jews were forced to take after the destruction of
the Temple, one of which was not to return to Israel "kachoma" (as a
wall, i.e. by force). *None* of these three oaths are quoted by the
Rambam or the Shulchan Aruch.  The Rambam does bring Rav Yehuda's quote
in the same Gemara of anyone going from Bavel (Babylonia) to Eretz
Yisrael (Israel) violating a positive commandment (Hil. Melachim 5:12)
but he changes it slightly. Instead of referring to going to Eretz
Yisrael the Rambam says going from Bavel to "other lands".  The Lechem
Mishna explains that this was because Bavel was a place of Torah.  It
also seems that Tosfos does not hold this way because in Tosfos on Daf
110b (a Tosfos whose authenticity and applicability to today's facts I
questioned in a post yesterday) he explains why one does *not* have to
move to Eretz Yisrael today, and he doesn't mention the three oaths
which appear on the next page in the Gemara.  If Tosfos held that the
oaths were still valid, why didn't he mention them? I have heard various
explanations as to why the oaths no longer apply today - the two most
popular ones seem to be that they refer to the period before the second
Temple was built and that the non-Jews violated their oaths so we are no
longer bound by ours.  There are also those who hold that because the
Balfour Declaration constituted a permit from a nation that was
sovereign over Eretz Yisrael to Jews to come live in Eretz Yisrael,
everything that came thereafter is Pikuach Nefesh (done in response to
mortal danger) and in fact the oaths have not been violated by Jews
moving here.

There is a long list of poskim (halachic decisors) cited by David
Curwin, who hold that living in Israel today is a mitzva. AFAIK the only
one who holds otherwise is VaYoel Moshe (the Satmar Rov zt"l), and if
that is whom you are relying upon, I can only ask you how many other
psakim (halchic decisions) of the Satmar Rov you follow.

> I find the decision to follow a safek (doubtful
> or questionable) vs. a definite d'oraita (torah obligation) or Kibud
> Horim (honoring one's parents) a quite disturbing demonstration of
> unneccesary piety .

I think I have just shown that the mitzva status of living in Israel
today is NOT a safek.

Are you trying to argue that everyone whose parents live in the US (and
by the way, mine do; my in-laws made aliya three years after we did) has
a halachic obligation to stay in the US? If your parents told you not to
wear tzitzis, would you listen to them out of "honor?" Of course you
wouldn't, no matter how much it bothers them!

Yes, I know, your wearing tzitzis doesn't affect your parents but your
going on aliya does affect them. Well, show me a posek who says that
makes a difference? If you're a Kohain and your father tells you to go
into a cemetary to pick up something he has lost, the Gemara says quite
clearly that you are not allowed to go into the cemetary. But doesn't
that affect your father? And you're still not allowed to do it! Ah, you
may argue, but a Kohain going into the cemetary is violating a lav
(negative commandment) but by not moving to Israel you are only failing
to fulfill a positive commandment? Then I will bring you tzitzis
again. Or tfillin or mezuza or Shabbos or lulav or matza on Pesach or
davening with a minyan. You wouldn't listen if your father told you not
to do those would you? Even if somehow it did affect him (like if he
didn't want you to daven with a minyan so you could keep him company on
his morning walk). So why all of a sudden when it comes to making aliya
is "my parents would be upset if I went" such an excuse?

You are also making the assumption that everyone's parents are elderly,
disabled, in need of full time care that only they can provide, and so
on. But what about those for whom that is not the case? What about those
whose siblings for whatever reason will NOT consider going and whose
siblings could care for their parents? What about those who already live
several hours away from their parents by car or plane? What about those
who could make aliya and bring their parents with them? At the end of
the day, I think that the number of people whose parents would be
seriously, adversely affected by our making aliya when we are in our
twenties and thirties pales in comparison with the number of people who
have made a simple cheshbon hakis (financial accounting) and decided to
stay in the US, or who have never seriously considered making aliya

One last point. As Avi responded to another poster, this thread started
out as a thread on special ed. Some loudmouth stood up and said, "all of
you people who are agonizing over spending thousands of dollars per year
to send your kids to fruhm special schools in the States, or sending
them to public schools so that they get the special services they need,
should pick yourselves up and move to Israel." I am that loudmouth and I
stand by what I said. Don't you think that when it's a choice between
what's best for your parents and what's best for your kids, that your
kids have to come first?

Carl M. Sherer
mailto:<cmsherer@...> or mailto:sherer@actcom.co.il
Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for my son, Baruch Yosef ben
Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  Thank you very much.


From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 22:01:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: Aliyah

Carls basic point about Aliyah was that parts of America (like the
public schools) are 'spiritual deserts' and Israeli schools are not. I
would like to bring in some (unpleasant) topics connected with the
aliyah situation that have not yet been mentioned. I believe in certain
areas America surpasses Israel in 'atmosphere'.

The question I am about to propose was in fact asked to Professor Alon
when he presented a lecture at Penn Univ discussing including civil
rights in a new Israeli constitution, 3 years ago. I did not get an
answer then nor since.

Briefly I would posit that sexual harassment is much more common in
Israel then it is in the US and this constitutes a legitimate reason
(halachically and morally) for not going on Aliyah.

First let me mention that there was in fact an (embarassing) cover story
on Times Magazine (in 1994?) that dealt with this topic.

The question I asked Prof Alon was for details in the progress Israel is
making in eliminating sexual harassment at the 4 critical points of a
womans life

a) TEENAGE YEARS: A former prime minister of Israel openly said that the
army is "where people learn about sex." I know that Carl will probably
tell me that religious girls are exempt from the army, but I don't want
to emigrate to a country where all non-religious girls are subjected to
a 'military' life. Furthermore, although people learn about sex in
colleges the distinction is that the colleges do not have an enforcable
environment.  Whether we like it or not America has no forced military
conscription while Israel does.

b) WORK PLACE: As indicated America has very strong harassment laws;
CEOs and managers try and avoid lawsuits(this fact is not contradicted
by American promiscuousness in the workplace--harassment is very
distinct then promiscuousness). By contrast there is little legal
protection in Israel (though some recent supreme court decisions may be
changing that)

c) DIVORCE: The waiting, inefficiency of courts, & necessity to give up
equitable shares of estates for a divorce are all public knowledge

d) EMIGREES: People still crack jokes about Russian emigrees asking
where to find employment who are told to go to places where prostitutes
hang out

I would be happy to find out only 1 or 2 of these are still serious
problems But they are problems and Israel has to offer a comparable work
environment to those who want it. Saying that Bais Yaakov teachers have
none of the above problems is avoiding issues. Religious girls have a
right to be CEOs or computer scientists or whatever they
want. Halachically, the right to a 'safe work place' is one of the 3
permissabilities for leaving Israel.

Since I have a habit of being misunderstood let me make it explicitly
clear that ALL I am saying is that in certain areas America is superior
to Israel in atmosphere and the deficiencies in these areas halachically
justifies not emigrating to Israel--that is ALL I am claiming.

Russell Hendel; Phd ASA; <RHendel@...>, Math
Moderator Rashi Is SImple; http://www.shamash.org/rashi/


From: David and Toby Curwin <curwin@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2000 09:19:20 +0200
Subject: "all must ascend" vs.  "all can compel ascension"

I would like to correct a translation error that I made in a post to
Mail Jewish. I translated the mishna in Ketubot as "all must ascend to
Eretz Yisrael" instead of the correct "all can compel ascension to Eretz
Yisrael". While that might seem to mean that it does not imply a mitzva
of aliya to Eretz Yisrael, it is important to understand what stands
behind the ruling of the Mishna. Why can a spouse force their partner to
move to Eretz Yisrael?

I found the answer to that question in MeAfar Kumi, by R' Tzvi Glatt
HY"D. In pages 53-55 he deals with that question. The issue is first
dealt with by the Ran in the name of the Raavad. He writes that the
reason slaves are included in the ability to compel is that they are
also obliged in the mitzva of living in Eretz Yisrael. He brings similar
proofs from the Rashbash (Siman 1), the Kneset HaGdola, the Gra, Rav
Shlomo Kluger, the Avnei Nezer, and 25(!) others who all show that the
basis for the mishna in Ketubot is that there is a mitzva to live in
Eretz Yisrael.

R' Glatt goes so far as to say: "I didn't find in the Rishonim or the
Achronim, anyone who disagreed with the simple understanding that the
compelling to make aliya to Eretz Yisrael is because of the the mitzva
to live in Eretz Yisrael."

-David Curwin
Kvutzat Yavne, Israel


End of Volume 31 Issue 44