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  • The Prohibition of Leaving Israel

Kedusha in the Golan Heights


Rabbi David Sperling

Elul 24, 5771
Can you help clarify the issue of the kedusha of today’s Golan region? Is it permissable to cross the Jordan river for a vacation? Is living there considered settling the Land of Israel? Is produce tithed in the same manner as Israel proper? And what about Acco - I’ve heard that many tzaddikim wouldn’t venture there? And what about southern Lebanon - should we anticipate settling land there?Please explain the issues. Thank you.
Shalom, What a wonderful generation this is that we merit to answer questions of this nature for practical application !! May your study of the holiness of Eretz Yisrael be a blessing to the whole nation, and strengthen our love for the Land, and the mitzvah of dwelling in it. The questions you ask deserve a whole book to answer (at least) and many years of study - in fact there are Yeshivot that just study these issues - and I refer you to the "Machon HaTorah VeHa'aretz", an incredible group of Talmud scholars dedicated to these holy matters of the Land of Israel. In short, we find three definitions of the borders of Israel. The first, called "The Promised Land", includes all that was promised to Avraham (see Bereshit 15, 18-21). These include all the lands you mentioned, and much more, including much of today's middle east. The main expression of these borders in halacha is our ultimate obligation to conquer and settle these lands. The next two defintitons are the borders of "Coming up from Egypt", and "Coming up from Babylon" (Second Temple) borders. There are many arguments as to the exact locations of these borders, but the Golan Heights, and parts of southern Syria are certainly included in both definitions (the lands of Gad and Reuven). The many artefacts of Jewish life that have been found in these areas attest to their being part of traditional Israel. Acco seems to be a border town between the "Coming up from Babylon" borders and the unsettled lands of that time. The importance of these borders is for most of the mitzvot connected to the Land of Israel, like taking tithes, and Shmittah. There are many disscusions, and arguments, both in the Talmud and later works, about these obligations and borders - nonetheless the practice today is to take tithes from the produce of these areas. But concerning reciting the blessing over this mitzvah, you need to ask about each location specifically for the local ruling. One may certainly visit these places - and it is a mitzvah of walking in the Land of Israel. However, we learn from David HaMelech that even leaving the parts of Israel under Jewish rule to go to those parts under foreign rule is undesirable. For when he was forced to run away from King Shaul to the lands of the Plishtim, he bemoaned the fact, even though he was still in the greater borders of Israel (see Shmuel 1, chapter 26, 19). In connection to those parts of modern day Israel that may be outside these borders, such as Eilat, there is debate about visiting them. But Rabbi Dov Lior shlit"a has answered on this site (in Hebrew) that it is permitted to visit them, as it strengthens the State of Israel in its entirety. Blessings.
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