Sunday, July 31, 2005

R' Zev Leff on moving to Eretz Yisrael

Here are some quotes from an essay of R' Leff (a prominent Charedi Rav) taken from The Mitzvah of Living in Eretz Yisrael - Rabbi Zev Leff

...The Chazon Ish, the Gerrer Rebbe, Avnei Nezer and the Pischei Tshuvah in Shulchan Aruch agree with the Ramban and the Chareidim that there is an obligatory mitzvah from the Torah today. Theirs is the majority view of the latter-day poskim.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled that it is a mitzvah today, but only of a voluntary, not obligatory nature. He compared yishuv ha'aretz to tzitzis, which is also a voluntary mitzvah. (One doesn't have to wear a four cornered garment, but if one chooses to, he needs tzitzis.) But how would we look at a person who doesn't wear tzitzis because it's only a voluntary mitzvah? Obviously, such a person is not a yirei shamayim. He's not a person who's looking for opportunities to do mitzvos. The gemora says that in a time of anger one is punished for avoiding a voluntary mitzvah.

But even if there is a doubt about the mitzvah does that mean it should be dismissed? How much money is spent, how much time is spent on acquiring a kosher mezuzah, written with every hiddur, in careful fulfillment of all the shitos? In normal everyday mitzvos, we take care to be mehadrin min hamehadrin, to be yotzei all the shitos, to take all the halachic opinions into consideration. Yet, we don't find the same attitude when it comes to yishuv ha'aretz. There are people who build their sukkos using only wooden pegs, just to fulfill the shita of the Chazon Ish, which nobody else holds like. The same Chazon Ish says it's a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisrael.
Will you be able to survive in Eretz Yisrael financially? If you can survive without begging, that's called making a parnasah.

What is the standard of living that the Shulchan Aruch has in mind that would exempt a person from a mitzvah in which he is otherwise obligated? Is it a question of owning one car instead of two? Or dwelling in five rooms instead of twenty? Will you be able to afford only one maid instead of two, or maybe no maids at all? A person who is used to a certain standard of living, who would have to sacrifice that standard in order to live in Eretz Yisrael, might indeed be exempt from the mitzvah.

But the question is: How proper is it to maintain a life style that prevents you from keeping mitzvos? Is that the kind of life that HaShem wants of a person? So it depends on how we define making a living. Baruch HaShem, there are people living here who are eating, who are functioning, wearing clothing, and are making ends meet without going around begging. Or if not, at least they're close to making ends meet. And if they're not close, someday it'll get close.

But I'll tell you a secret?there are also people in America who don't make ends meet. It all comes from HaShem.
Safety: I find it very amusing. I live on a moshav in what the newspapers call "The West Bank." I don't lock my door at night. True, the moshav is surrounded by a barbed wire fence, and we have guards all the time. But, Baruch HaShem, even after the intifada, the problems have been very minimal. At least I know when I walk out, what my enemy looks like. And I know that the people in the street with the guns are on my side.

But in Boro Park, I'm not sure that the people in the street with the guns are on my side. When I visit the States, a day doesn't go by without somebody being mugged. I find it extremely amusing to hear someone asking me, "Don't you feel unsafe living on the West Bank?"?as they lock the six locks on their door. One has to face the fact that it's not safe in America, either. And in Eretz Yisrael one has a very good protection policy, Hinei, lo yanum v'lo yashen, Shomer Yisrael. HaShem has a special connection with Eretz Yisrael.
Will living in Eretz Yisrael enhance my mitzvah observance?
The places of Torah in chutz l'aretz are just an extension of the Torah of Eretz Yisrael. They are meant for people who want kedusha, but cannot go to live in Eretz Yisrael. For such people, for all practical purposes they are in Eretz Yisrael. (Whereas someone who has his feet in Eretz Yisrael, but his mind is in chutz l'aretz, is in chutz l'aretz.)

It's said that someone who learns the parshayos of korbanos, it's as if he brought a korban. But that's only for someone who cannot bring a korban, because there is no Beis HaMikdash; someone who can bring a korban in the Beis HaMikdash and learns the parasha instead, isn't fulfilling anything. If you can be here and choose not to, just wanting doesn't help.


Anonymous said...

Why is it that half the websites online are completely obsessesd with yishuv eretz yirsroel? Of course its a mitzvah. But moving there is never simple or easy, especially in the current situation. I have had so many friends who moved there but couldnt find jobs when they had the fanciest of college degrees and work experience.

The rishonim quote chazal saying that one better be prepared to live a higher level there and that avairos committed there are considered much worse (calling eretz yisroel the palace of the kink). Its so easy to commit averios there. You walk into your local store and you have to worry about termus and maasros on produce. The newspapers can be ossur to look at becuase of loshan horah. There are even sheilos about electricty on shabbos. Chinuch gets way more complicated. There are fewer options - which can be difficult for a chutznick kid to get used to. The list goes on. I have met so many people who are happy to ignore it all. The live there are pretend as if all the new halachos dont exist.

I also wonder why the smae people who are so obsessed about thus mitzvah dont put more effort into other areas of torah. They normally are lacking in kiyum of talmud torah and dikduk b'mitzvos. They are normally the peopel who make fun of people for carrying out the obscure haalchos buried in mishna berurah that they do not want to chechbon.

This is all some dreamy-eyed nationalistic notion. I am not denying the importance of eretz yisroel. But that isnt in the modern nationalistic context. The vast majority of poaskim for instance allow giving over of land to goyim in the case of pikuach nefesh.

Al pi torah - eretz pelishtim as well as the sinai is not halachic eretz yisroel. It was mukdash by ezra. Yet the smae yishuv eretz yisroel people settled these areas.

I despair at all this wishful thinking. The state that exists right now is not the first stage in the coming of moshiach. I am remininded of the crazies who want to start building the 3rd bais hamikdah right now. They want to form the 'Sanhedrin' right now. Sheer madness and scary wishful thinking.

I make a prediction. In 50 years after a lot of demographic change you will see that what is now the state of israel will be seen to definately not have stated a new messianic era.

Anonymous said...

anonymous, I hear what you are saying, but the same way that they have no way of knowing if the current ingathering is the first step towards the coming of Moshiach, you have no way of knowing if it's not.

Anonymous said...

Ok, a few things in response to the above comments. Of course I am not satmar or anything like it. I dont have anything against yishuv eretz yisroel. Satmar hold one should not move there. I am not saying one should not go. Rather that its not an open and shut case that everyone in chutz l'aretz move there immediately. I am trying to take a nuanced position. Yes its important. However IMHO its way overblown to the degree that people's priorities get confused. Its not a mitzvoh that is docheh evrything else. Thats all. Its always hard taking moderate and nauanced postions. No-one likes subtleties. They dont sound interesting.

Secondly I dont think we should presume that any particular event is the beggininng of the geulah. History is replete with false mashiachs and dashed hopes. And then people have to pick up the pieces. Its all very painful and futile. Shabti zvi was the most recent but unfortunately there have been so many more. I think we will also see some very dissapointed chabadnicks realising how wrong they were and I think it will be very painfull for them. Everyone says that this event or that event is the begginning of the geuloh. They said it in the 1940s. They said it in 1967. They said it during the first gulf war. I am sure there will be some new event that people will say it about. IMHO we should assume the the hanacha peshuta is that something is not the beggining of the geuloh unless we have very STRONG evidence.

As far as the State is conncerned. How many years more does it have to exist before people realise its not raishis semichas geulosainu. Another 50, another 100, 150, 300. How long? Of course we all are mispalel for mochiach. But what if he has not come in 100 years. Will that be evidence that the current state is not some messianic phase as opposed to part of the history of this long golus.

bluke said...

Whether or not it is reishas tzmichas geulateinu is basically irrelevant to the discussion. The Mitzva of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael according to most poskim is a mitzva d'oraysa bizman hazeh. The other point you raised about it being hard to mekayem the mutzvos is silly. It is not hard to observe the mitzvos of terumos umaasros, all the reliable hashgocha's are mafrish for you. In fact, I would suggest it is easier to keep kosher in Israel then in America for the following reason. According to the normal rules of psak the din of chadash should be noheg min hatorah in chutz laaretz (see this post 2 difficult leniencies in halacha). It is difficult to keep chodosh in America because many kshrus organizations are not makpid on chodosh, whilein Israel obviously all the Hashgochos are makpid on chodosh.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Anonymous: If you want to be a 612 mitzva kind of Jew (actually, far less than 612, since you're ignoring all the mitzvot hateluyot ba'aretz) then go ahead.

If you can't handle the mussar and you have to rationalize it because your yezter hara is too great, then I hope the Rebono Shel Olam grants you the wisdom to do teshuva and move here.

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RZL makes a fundamental error. According to RMF -- who, along with countless other rabbis chose to remain outside of EY -- said YEY has teh HALAKHIC PARAMETERS of YEY. He could have chosen shiluach hakan, but tzitzis is more common.
Also, very important, read RMF's entire teshuva.
He says that all things being equal, you are better off in chul. Yes. Read it and weep.
Then, read his haskama to the sefer "Me-afar Kumi."
Case closed.

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masmid613 said...

I am a big fan of Rav Leff's ask him Shailos on a semi-regular basis. Having said that I have a big problem with Rabbonim (of which he is one of many) who came here in ther mid 40's after being well established in America to lead largely American Kehillos telling 20 somethings to come here and slave away dealing with Israelis all day.

Yisrael said...

That's crazy talk. One can tell by the wildly emotional, simplistic, shaming, and judgemental tone. And that nonsense about having one less maid. The man obviously knows very little about people's lives. I'm lucky to pay the rent.