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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Re'e

Parashat Re'e

More Mitzvot in Erets Yisrael

The special Mitsvot of Israel seem like a burden to some people; Rabeinu Chaim seems to agree with that statement; The Maharit's explanation.
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An observant Jew living in the Diaspora once told me that he did not purchase Israeli produce because it would be too great a burden upon his family to set aside terumot and ma'asrot, some of which are mentioned in this week's parashah. I was quite surprised. In truth, however, this statement echoes the words of Rabbenu Hayyim, as they appear in our edition of Tosafot to Ketubot 110b. He claims, according to this version, that "today" we are under no obligation to live in Eretz Israel, because there are a number of mitzvot hateluyot ba'aretz (mitzvot dependent upon Eretz Yisrael) that are difficult to observe in a meticulous manner.

Rabbenu Hayyim is also difficult to understand. Many mitzvot are difficult to observe, and yet the Torah does not exempt us from our obligation to fulfill them. Troubled by this problem, the Maharit (Rabbenu Yosef Mitrani - b. 5328 [1568] in his Responsa, Yoreh Deah, no. 28) concludes that the statement attributed to Rabbenu Hayyim was made in his name by an unreliable student.
In fact, Rabbi Simlai in Sotah 14a says quite the opposite: "Why did Moshe Rabbenu yearn to enter Eretz Yisrael? Did he want to eat of its fruits or satisfy himself from its bounty?! Rather this is what Moshe Rabbenu said: ‘Israel has been commanded to observe many mitzvot that can be fulfilled only in Eretz Israel. I wish to enter the land so that I will be able to fulfill all of them!’"

Today we are able to fulfill Moshe Rabbenu's dream. We have many opportunities to observe these commandments wherever we live by purchasing Israeli produce. Much halakhic literature is available today to help us fulfill these obligations properly. But better yet, today we have the opportunity to live in Eretz Israel and observe mitzvot hateluyot ba'aretz on a daily basis, connecting ourselves thereby with spiritual bonds to the Land.


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