Ask the rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Settling the Land of Israel

Eretz Yisrael


Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

15 Kislev 5768
After reading (yet again) the parshiot of the last few weeks, starting with Lech Lecha, and seeing the incredible importance of Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish people, it seems to me that living here is one of the most important mitzvot in the Torah, if not the most important. If this is so, how do religious Jews living abroad (modern orthodox, haredi, etc.), justify NOT living in Israel, when in these times, from an economic, social and security point of view, there is nothing to stop them from moving here.
1. I agree with you that Eretz Yisroel is a central value of the Torah and that living in Eretz Yisroel is both a mitzvah and a fullfillment of HaShem's promise to our people. Living in Israel expresses belief in the coming of the Mashicach and the hope for the rebuilding of the holy temple, may we see it in our time. 2. A value does not always create an obligation. The Holy Temple and its worship are central values but we cannot fullfill them today. According to some opinions, the obligation to live in Israel; depends on other factors such as the rebuilding of the temple, coming of mashiach, etc. According to Rav Moshe Feinstein, living in Israel is a mitzvah, but not an obligation (similar to the kosher slaughtering of meat which is a fullfillment of a divine commandment, but one can forgo meat. 3. I believe it is necessary for Olim to Israel to make those who live in the diaspora aware of the high quality of spiritual, social and economic life of Israel. If the Torah says over and over that the Land is a good land, we must commit ourselves to seeing and teaching this Torah truth. Israel cannot be shoved down a Jew's throat; one must approach this value with love and appreciation. May we all do our part to spread love of the holy Land and the desire to dwell there.
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