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Settling the Land of Israel

There is an obligation, based on the mitzvah of settling the Land, not to evacuate Jewish settlements in the Land of Israel.
3108
Dedicated to the memory of
R. Avraham Ben David
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Jewish law teaches that in a case where a Jew is physically coerced to transgress one of the mitzvoth (precepts) of the Torah, to the point where his life is endangered, his duty is to transgress the mitzvah rather than allow himself to be killed. This is the rule with regards to all of the mitzvoth except for three: idol worship, incest, and murder.

The above is true concerning a case where a Jew is threatened in private, yet if one is forced to transgress publicly, it is forbidden to breach any mitzvah whatsoever - even a seemingly insignificant one, or an accepted Jewish custom; rather, one is obligated to give his life before transgressing. If, though, the intention of the one threatening is to simply derive self benefit - i.e. it is not the Jews' transgression of a mitzvah which interests him - Jewish law permits transgression rather than the giving of one's life.

One who believes that the Arab-Israeli conflict over Eretz Yisrael is not one of principles, and that what motivates the Arabs is mere self-benefit - for they've got nothing personal against the Jewish People or our aspirations in the Land of Israel - might well conclude that the obligation to protect one's life outweighs the mitzvah to settle the Land of Israel. Yet, it's clear that today's conflict runs much deeper than this. The Arabs' real intention is to prevent us from fulfilling the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel, with all of it's spiritual implications, and the rule, therefore, is that one must give his life before transgressing the mitzvah.

Some thirty-two years ago, our teacher, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah HaCohen Kook, z"tl , wrote: "There is absolutely no way, and will never be a way, to permit the indisputable and absolute prohibition against relinquishing any portion of the Land to the authority of another people, heaven forbid. Therefore, every Jew and every great Torah scholar, every Kenneset member and every military personage, is obligated to prevent and hinder [such an act] with all of his courage and might, and the heavens will assist him in his efforts." Eight years later, he wrote again: "Every Jew faithful to [the Land of] Israel, must stand with complete and undivided self-sacrifice against the absurd injustice of this senseless abhorrent and confused... betrayal. [What I'm referring to is]...the abandonment - if even of the smallest amount - of the Land of our life, [for the purpose of] ...placing it in the hands of a people [whose only desire is] to persecute us, heaven forbid! As in all cases of physical coercion, whether by non-Jews or by Jews, which, according to Torah law, obligate one [to give his life before transgressing] ... how much more so with [regards to the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel which our sages have said] is equal to all of the mitzvoth in the Torah together."

Concerning the claim that it's merely their own personal benefit which motivates the Arabs, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah said: "Let me enlighten and inform you that this claim is completely null and void, and that such talk does not change in the slightest our obvious obligation [to risk our lives for the sake of settling the Land]. Their "benefit" is that they themselves rule here in this land, and not us, and concerning this we have been commanded, for all generations, by the Lord our God, King of the universe - in accordance with the Ramban (Nahmanides) - that not they be ruling here in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the Golan, and Jericho, but rather that we be ruling here in our Land, a Land which belongs to the many thousands of assemblies of our people, the House of Israel." The Rabbi added: "The... claim of "self benefit" is meaningless in our eyes. Self benefit implies their ruling here, and this, the Ramban has taught us, is equivalent to the nullification of a Torah mitzvah, namely, that the land should be under our rule and not the rule others.

The words of the Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah HaCohen Kook are clear: there is an obligation, based on the mitzvah of settling the Land, not to evacuate Jewish settlements in the Land of Israel. We hope, God willing that this issue never becomes an actual topic of debate, "For God will not abandon his people, and will not leave His inheritance."(Psalms 94:14)
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
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