Toldot by Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
Dwell in the Land that I Will Tell You
Of all our Patriarchs, Yitzhak is unique in the sense that he never left the Land of Israel. Yitzhak does not take on this practice solely by his own initiative, but is also commanded by Hashem n this matter, and also his father Avraham ordered his servant Eliezer not to remove Yitzhak from this Holy Land, even for the sake of marriage. Rashi explains this matter by citing the Midrash (Bereshit Raba 64, 3) that Yitzhak, after the Akeida, is considered a “pure burnt-offering,” and it is unfitting that you go to the Diaspora. The Re’em explains this by saying that just as such an offering in the Beit Hamikdash, if it [the animal] leaves the “Azara” [ courtyard] of the Beit Hamikdash it is rendered forbidden for use and benefit, so too the Land of Israel is considered like the courtyard of the Beit Hamikdash, and if Yitzhak would leave it, he would be considered blemished/endangering himself. The Midrash (Bereshit Rabba 64:3) homiletically interprets the words of Hashem’s command upon Yitzhak, mentioned in our title quote, “shechon baaretz,” “dwell in the land,” to mean “make the Shechina, the Holy Presence, dwell in the Land of Israel.” The responsibility to enable the Holy Presence to “dwell” in the Land of Israel does not apply only to Yitzchak, our Patriarch. Rather, every Jew is also called upon to realize this lofty aspiration and goal, as can be seen in Midrash Tehillim 105: “Rabbi Yossi bar Chalafta said to Rabbi Yishmael, his son, “if you wish to see the countenance of the Holy Presence in this world, study Torah in the Land of Israel, as it says: “Seek Hashem and His might, seek His countenance always.”
What can we do to transform this aspiration into reality? In the book of Devarim (12:5), we are told to build the Beit Hamikdash by first seeking or “addressing” (tidreshu) the Holy Presence. What type of seeking is involved? Rav Kahana, in the Pesikta Rabbati (6), says that the exiles are only ingathered in the merit of studying the Mishna. In general, “Mishna” refers to Torah Shebaal Peh, the Oral Torah, and especially halacha. Therefore, throughout our book, “Hebron – Uniting with the Holy Presence,” about to be published, we consistently include halachic discussions pertaining to “dwelling in the land” and “making the Holy Presence dwell in the land.”
The Rambam rules (Hilchot Melachim 5:9) based on an explicit passage in tractate Avoda Zara (13a): “It is always forbidden to leave the Land of Israel for the Diaspora, except to learn Torah, to marry, or to save Jews from gentiles [who put them in danger], and nevertheless, afterwards he must return to The Land. And one may also leave for business, but to settle outside of Israel is forbidden, except if there was famine …. But although he is permitted to leave, it is not the way of the pious, for Machlon and Kilyon were the pious leaders of their generation, and even when they left because of great distress, they were nevertheless punished before God.” The Shulchan Aruch writes that one who was on a trip overseas and could not take a haircut before Chol Hamoed may do so during Chol Hamoed, provided the trip was not one of traveling outside of The Land for leisure. The commentaries explain that one may not take a haircut in the latter case because it is not permitted for him to travel outside of Israel for leisure. Some opinions compare the performance of other mitzvot to Torah learning, thereby permitting one to leave The Land for more reasons than those mentioned by the Rambam above. Nevertheless, it is clear, as mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch, that no authorities permit leaving The Land simply for leisure.
This halacha is juxtaposed to the prohibition to live in Egypt in the Rambam. Since only Egypt is specified, by inference, the following halacha prohibiting leaving Israel for other lands must be of rabbinic origin. We may say that the juxtaposition of these two halachot also seems to suggest that the prohibition of leaving The Land is related to the prohibition of living in Egypt. Since the very goal of leaving Egypt was to come to the Land of Israel, therefore, leaving the Land of Israel for a reason not justified by halacha is tantamount to undermining this very goal. It seems that it is the spirit of Hebron, The City that Unites [“hibur”] us with the Holy Land, enables us to more deeply appreciate the meaning of this halacha pertaining to the Holy Land, showing how our covenant with Hashem through the events of the Exodus from Egypt is integrally linked to the Holy Land promised by Hashem to our Forefathers of Hebron.
In December 1948, the Egyptians were harassing Israeli settlements in the Negev while advanced columns were moving north. Yadin used the Bible for strategy. It mentioned an ancient road forgotten for centuries, which ran almost directly to Mushrafa, the Egyptians’ central garrison. Heavy boulders were pushed aside with bulldozers. Soldiers in armored vehicles, jeeps and supply trucks sped under cover of darkness along the ancient road and surprised the Egyptians. Taking this garrison destroyed the Egyptian defense system and ended the war 14 days later.
- See Rambam, Hilchot Talmud Torah 1 and Shulhan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, 246:4, based on Kiddushin 30a
- Orach Chaim 531:4
- See Encyclopedia Talmudit, the Talmudic Encyclopedia, entry of The Land of Israel.
- If one needs to travel from the Land of Israel to the Diaspora, a competent posek should be consulted, as authorities differ with regard to the exact parameters of this rule.