Volume 31 Number 59
                 Produced: Wed Feb 16  5:40:29 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aliyah (4)
         [Dani Wassner, Carl M. Sherer, Isaac A Zlochower, Carl M.
"All can compel Ascension"
         [Sheri & Seth Kadish]
Dibat HaAretz (2)
         [David and Toby Curwin, Isaac A Zlochower]


From: Dani Wassner <dani@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 12:23:44 +0200
Subject: RE: Aliyah

Last Thursday afternoon I was driving from Jerusalem to Be'er Sheva. I
was not in a particularly good mood as I was going for an "interview"
with my army unit. As I was "ordered" to appear, I had no choice in the
matter, I simply had to go. I knew that it would be a long "shlep" each
way, that they would keep me waiting for hours and that I would achieve

With these thoughts in mind, I began thinking of all the anti-aliya
points that have come up in this thread. My major thought was, "if I
still lived in Australia I wouldn't have to put up with all this."

However, around 5pm, when I was getting close to Be'er Sheva, I saw
something unusual. Every few kilometres I noticed that there were cars
stopped at the side of the highway. Standing next to each car was a
person, sometimes two, davening mincha. It was a great site to see. The
trip to Be'er Sheva was worthwhile.

Dani Wassner 
Publications and Economic Information 

From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 13:16:43 +0200
Subject: Aliyah

Joseph Geretz writes:

> Josh Backon wrote:
> > Apart from the Avnei Nezer who wrote that that the
> > oath doesn't apply when the nations of the world give
> > permission for the Jews to return (e.g. Balfour Declaration)
> Without taking a position on Aliya in general, I have to say that I
> don't find the above argument very compelling. Citing the Balfour
> Declaration as carte blanche permission for our return ignores the fact
> that the multitude of Arab nations are adamantly opposed to our
> return. Moreover, certain pressure from other countries limiting our
> settlement of significant portions of Eretz Yisrael (e.g. USA, vis a vis
> 'West Bank' settlements, pressure to return the Golan, etc.) could also
> be construed as some sort of opposition to our return.

I think that the oath cited in the Gemara states that it is assur
"la'alos kachoma" (to go up as a wall, i.e. by force). Even assuming
that oath is valid today (which is questionable on other grounds aside
from those cited by Josh), I don't think the fact that someone somewhere
is opposed means that once we are here already, we are obliged to do the
bidding of either our Arab neighbors or the United States.

When it comes right down to it, the Arabs don't want you to come 
here as a tourist either. How many of you think about that as you 
board an El Al plane for your vacation?

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: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 00:10:30 -0500
Subject: Aliyah

I'd like to redirect the current debate on whether aliya is currently
required to a study of some of the sources cited.  In T.B. Ketuvot 110b
we find the following puzzling statement by the leading Babylonian
Amora, Rav Yehuda, "Whoever goes up from Babylonia to Israel
transgresses a positive commandment, for it says, 'They will be brought
to Babylon and will remain there until I release them, says G-D'."  This
aphorism of Rav Yehudah caused his pupil, R' Zeirah to avoid him for
fear that Rav Yehuda would expressly forbid him to emigrate to Israel.
Despite his teacher's adamant position, R' Zeirah did make aliyah and
became one of the outstanding sages there.  Let us try to understand Rav
Yehuda.  The verse cited is from the Prophets (Jeremiah 27:22).  The
positive commandment must then refer to the biblical commandment of
listening to a prophet (Deut. 18:15).  But if we look at the context in
Jeremiah we see that the cited verse refers to the vessels in the
temple, palace, and mansions of Jerusalem that were left after the
Babylonians took the golden temple vessels and the prominent people to
Babylonia together with their young king some 9 years before the second
invasion which lead to the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, and the
exile of most of the remaining people to Babylonia.  In context, it is
an attempt to undercut the false prophesies that were current in
Babylonia and Israel which claimed that the confiscated vessels would
soon be returned together with the exiles.  Jeremiah was told to warn
the people not to rebel against the authority of the Babylonian Emperor
lest the remaining vessels and people be taken captive to Babylonia as
well.  This is how the verse was understood by those who disagreed with
Rav Yehuda.  But what was Rav Yehuda's reasoning?  How could a verse
dealing with vessels in the first temple be construed as an admonition
to people in Babylonia after the destruction of the second temple some
900 years later not to leave Babylonia?  How could Rav Yehuda so
disregard the historical precedent of Hillel, Rabbi Nathan, Rabbi Chiya,
and his own teacher, Rav, who made aliya from Babylonia to Israel?  We
seem forced to conclude that Rav Yehuda was not giving the real source
for his would-be prohibition.  The real source is alluded to later in
Rashi in explaining another statement of Rav Yehuda - this time in the
name his other teacher, Samuel, "Just as it is forbidden to go from
Israel to Babylonia so is it forbidden to go from Babylonia to other
countries".  Rashi explains that Babylonia was a Torah center.
Presumably, emigration from such a Torah center would cause a diminution
in Torah learning and practice.  This is the unstated assumption of Rav
Yehuda.  In his times, the scholarship of the Babylonian yeshivot
surpassed those remaining in Israel as a result of the persecutions in
Israel.  He, therefore, held that it was more important to remain in the
primary Torah center than to seek the greater holiness in Israel (or to
fulfil the mitzvah of settling Israel).  The remaining discussion in the
Gemara has to do with whether or not there is an oath not to settle
Israel before the Redemption (based on verses in Shir Hashirim).  The
Gemara seems to conclude that the oath deals with conquest rather than
individual settlement.

The Rambam in Mishne Torah, Kings 5:12 does not mention Rav Yehuda's
aphorism against going from Babylonia to Israel, but does cite the
statement above about not going to other countries that was given in the
name of Samuel.  The Rambam uses the verse in Jeremiah to support that
position.  But if the verse really does imply something other than its
simple meaning, why is Israel different than any other country relative
to the ban against going out of Babylonia?  If Israel is, indeed,
included (as per the Kesef Mishne -R' Yosef Karo) then how is this
position consistent with the Mishna in Ketuvot 110b which states that a
person can force his family to go with him to Israel and makes no
distinction between Babylonia and any other country?  If the Rambam does
not learn his din from the verse, but is only using it figuratively,
then why is Babylonia given a privileged position since it was no longer
a great Torah center in the Rambam's time?

Any suggestions?

Yitzchok Zlochower

From: Carl M. Sherer <cmsherer@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 13:45:08 +0200
Subject: Aliyah

Carl Singer writes:

> With the exception of those few who have had horrendous personal
> disasters in making Aliyah, (and perhaps those who think that busses are
> too crowded :) you'll find few who have made Aliyah arguing against it.
> Many arguments against Aliyah are motivated IMNSHO by a need to
> rationalize the dissonance that is felt when one does not choose to, or
> one does not consider making Aliyah as an option.

Thanks Carl for calling a spade a spade. One of my objectives in this
discussion was to show people how their rationalizations are often
flimsy, especially when stacked up against their needs.

I know that I have made a lot of you feel uncomfortable with this entire
discussion. If it makes you feel uncomfortable enough to do that real
cheshbon hanefesh (soul searching) as to why you are not here, then I
think it inevitable that some of you will realize that you ought to be
here. In which case, I might have accomplished something aside from
raising everyone's blood pressure (including my own)!

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: Sheri & Seth Kadish <skadish@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 06:33:36 +0200
Subject: "All can compel Ascension"

David Curwin wrote:
	"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...
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."

	It actually isn't so simple at all.  As R. YH Henkin has pointed
out, the very same mishna also allows one to force his/her spouse to go
up and live in Yerushalayim, and there is clearly no source anywhere for
an *obligation* to live in Yerushalayim!!

	If I remember correctly (perhaps I'll have a chance to check the
text over Shabbat), he suggests that what we have here is a takkana
[rabbinic decree] to enforce a general policy for the good of the
public, namely: there must be Jews in the Jewish state, and there must
be Jews in its capitol.  But there is no hint here of a formal
obligation (mitzva).

	If I may be provocative, I suggest the following: Religious Jews
who make aliya today overwhelmingly settle in or near Yerushalayim.
Those who don't tend to settle in all-religious communities or in places
where religious life thrives.  But for the public good, don't we also
need these very same people in other places?  Perhaps today the takkana
would have been that one may force his/her spouse to *leave*
Yerushalayim for the public good.  Better to establish your
school/yeshiva/kollel in Modiin or Shlomi...

Seth (Avi) Kadish
Karmiel, Israel


From: David and Toby Curwin <curwin@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 17:59:17 +0200
Subject: Dibat HaAretz

I would like to second everything that Carl wrote in his post, with one
addition: The sin of Dibat HaAretz (slandering the land) applies even
when someone tells the truth (which was not done in the post Carl
responded to).

The story is told that the Netziv was approached by a religious Jew from
Eretz Yisrael trying to raise money. The Netziv asked what was happening
in the land, and the Jew could not resist, and told the Netziv about all
the religious abandonment going on by the settlers.  The Netziv got very
angry and shouted: "Spy, leave my house!"  The Jew tried to explain to
the Netziv that he didn't make anything up, God forbid, but the Netziv
got angry at him again and said: "The spies also told the truth, and yet
they were still punished, and this comes to teach us: Who ever tells
"dibat ha'aretz", even if it is true, is like the spies, and his sin is
unbearable..." (Sarei HaMeah 5:184)

This rule applies to all of us, Israelis and those who have not yet made
aliya.  It applies on the list and off. It applies whether you think the
country is not religious enough or has too much religious coercion,
whether the government is too far left or too far right, whether taxes
are too high or not enough is given too the poor, or whether the society
is too American or not American enough.  It certainly is true if by that
"dibat ha'aretz", it will cause Jews not to come here, chas
v'shalom. That was *the* sin of the spies.

Two more quotes (of many possible) to drive home the point:

Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld used to say on the verse "And you shall see
the goodness of Jerusalem" (Tehillim 128:5): One must always see only
the good of Eretz Yisrael, that is, the positive sides of Jerusalem. One
must be careful not to be a "spy", God forbid.  The spies were punished
because they slandered Eretz Yisrael at a time when there were no Jews
there; how much more so now, when there are many Jews in the land.

The kabbalist, R' Avraham Azulai (the grandfather of the Chida) writes
in Chesed L'Avraham: Anyone who lives in Eretz Yisrael is considered a
tzaddik (righteous individual) even though it does not seem that
way. For if he was not a tzaddik, the Land would vomit him out, as it
says, "And the land vomits out its inhabitants" (VaYikra 18:25). Since
the Land does not vomit him out he must be considered a tzaddik, even
though he is presumed to be wicked.

David Curwin
Kvutzat Yavne, Israel

From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 16:32:20 -0500
Subject: Re: Dibat HaAretz

While I have disagreed in the past with Russell, and disagree with him
on the question of whether or not aliyah is a mitzvah today, I must
object to the characterization of his post as that of one of the
"meraglim" (spies that Moshe sent who came back with a bad report about
the Holy Land) with an associated implied warning about divine
punishment.  However, one might disagree with a fellow poster, the very
idea of invoking such threats is scary.  It is known that there are
anti-zionistic elements in Orthodox circles (less today than in the
past) - not just the late Satmar Rebbe who have made pronouncements
against settling in Israel or have sought to highlight all perceived
deficiencies of life in Israel.  Perhaps Russell is merely rationalizing
his own reluctance to make Aliya on the basis of some alleged problem
with living in Israel instead of personal reasons.  Perhaps it is a
question of posting often enough that you are ultimately going to say
something foolish.  It should be sufficient to point out the fallacies
of his argument while avoiding personal attack.

My own reasons for not having made aliyah, although I have dearly wished
to do so for many years, are personal - and I am not more imbued with
the desire to go now than before.  The arguments raised on behalf of
aliya on this forum are nothing new, nor are they being raised by people
with a claim to authority -as far as I can make out.  I do not maintain
that such arguments should not be raised, just that the tone has to be
more moderate.

Yitzchok Zlochower


End of Volume 31 Issue 59