Monday, February 20, 2017

The Most Important Rabbi That Americans Have Never Heard Of

Many people make the mistake of confusing American Centrist or Modern Orthodoxy with Israeli Religious Zionism. While there are major areas of overlap, and certainly an average right-wing YU graduate with a black hat is much closer to Israeli religious Zionist than to Israeli charedi (contrary to what such a person often believes), there are also significant points of difference (which is a topic for another time). It is also the case that the rabbinic leaders of the Israeli religious Zionist community are often virtually unknown outside of Israel.

Rav Eliezer Melamed is one such person. He is the Rosh Yeshivah of Har Beracha and the author of the Peninei Halacha series. In Israel, he is incredibly influential, with over half a million of his halachic works in print (and, unlike many other works, actually read). Yet in the US, he is virtually unheard of, and his sefarim are generally unavailable (though fortunately, Koren Publishers have begun marketing English editions of his works, translated by Rabbi Elli Fischer).

But Rav Melamed is not only important and influential. He is also a Rav whose approach to both halacha and hashkafa is outstanding and will resonate strongly with many US/Anglo Orthodox Jews. It will also come as a welcome surprise to them, especially if they have only previously been exposed to charedi rabbinic authorities. Rav Melamed is also not afraid to speak his mind.

In the past, I have referenced Rav Melamed's extraordinary essay on "Who Are The Gedolei HaTorah?" in which he wrote: "Gadlut beTorah necessitates an all-embracing, fully accountable handling of serious issues facing the generation, including: the attitude towards Am Yisrael in all its diversity and various levels – both religious, and non-religious; the attitude towards mitzvot of yishuv haaretz and the on-going war which has surrounded it for over a century; the attitude towards science and work, and the contemporary social and economic questions." In forthcoming posts, I plan to discuss several aspects of his writings, in particular those on Torah study (from the volume Likkutim I) and on the laws of marital intimacy (from the volume Simchat Habayit V'birchato and the companion Harchavot volume). Meanwhile, if you have a way to get these sefarim from Israel, I highly recommend them!

75 comments:

  1. I am not familiar with Rav Melamed Halachik responsa, but in political area I remember he joint Labor party under Barak leadership, who thn run under proclaimed secular revolution slogan.

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    1. I think that you are confusing him with someone else!

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    2. Don't worry. R Melamed was one of those who originally endorsed refusing IDF orders regarding the Gaza disengagement and other matters. He should be sufficiently right-wing for you if that is what you are looking for.

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    3. Don't call the expulsion from Gaza by the left-wing term invented to obscure it. It was an expulsion, period. If you had lived there yourself, you wouldn't be so cavalier about it.

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    4. Sorry, it was party Meimad with R'Melchior in 1999. Everything begins with M, was easy to forget.

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    5. It should be pointed out that I heard him speak on Arutz 7 years ago about his experiences as a soldier. Apparently IDF service did not prevent him from becoming a talmid hacham.

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    6. I am blocking further comments about Gaza. They are off-topic.

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  2. Unless they read Arutz 7's English site that regularly translate his columns.

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    1. Yes, this is where I have seen his writings as well (though I am not a regular Arutz Sheva visitor).

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  3. Replies
    1. The entire collection is freely available online at the official website: http://ph.yhb.org.il/

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    2. you can also try here:

      http://ph.yhb.org.il/en/
      http://ph.yhb.org.il/

      the yeshiva doesn't publish the books for profit

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    3. Anyone know where I can purchase a hard copy of Laws of Prayer?

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    4. The apps are linked from the Yeshiva's website, so clearly they don't have a problem with it.

      The English is published by Koren/Maggid, so it should be at most sefarim stores.

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  4. My husband has the whole series in Hebrew. He bought them in the book store in the RBS mercaz. And broght them back to America. He also found them on the app ובלכתך. דרך

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  5. I think that anytime you start a sentence or essay with the words "The Most Important Rabbi...." you are looking for unnecessary controversy. In fact anytime you start ranking rabbis you are going in the wrong direction.
    Not to be mis-interpreted, I have read Rabbi E Melamed's column in Besheva religiously for close to a decade.

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  6. I purchased a set of Peninei Halacha from Moznaim Publishers in Boro Park, 718-853-0525 or sales@moznaim.com

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  7. Rav Melamed is undoubtedly a figure of great learning. That being said, I certainly hope that calls to disobey IDF orders will not "resonate strongly with many US/Anglo Orthodox Jews."

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    1. Because the state is always right? Because obeying orders is more important than morality? Perhaps you should read Thoreau on civil disobedience.

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    2. No, not because the state is always right. There is a difference between refusing an unlawful order disobeying due to a policy disagreement. If that was not the case, then no order with any political implication could ever be given.

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  8. Here's a great app with the whole series that they keep up to date:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rafraph.pnineyHalachaHashalem

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  9. The guy in this picture is extremely dangerous. In the halachick sphere, his view that it is permissible to ascend Har HaBayit today is the equivalent of saying that one need not fast on Yom Kippur. If you want to talk about his influence on the religious Zionist community in Israel, it is worth noting that his yeshivah was thrown out of the Hesder system because of his opinions regarding the army; he instructed his soldiers to refuse orders and his followers have vandalized army property and threatened soldiers. This makes him much more radical than most Hareidi rabbis. Finally, in the political sphere, his justification of murdering Arabs makes Donald Trump look like a bleeding-heart liberal.

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    1. Anonymous, while I disagree with the tone of your statements against Rabbi Melamed, I agree with the need for a counter-argument to R' Natan's apparent approbation of this rav. He is rather radical in some views. However, his advocacy of ascending the temple mount is not one of them. If he confined himself to ascending to areas outside the 500x500 ama historically designated as sanctified, then he is in good company. Other poskim agree, although not Hareidi ones. It's a matter of knowing approximately where those boundaries are. If we identify the Es Sakhra rock which is the centerpiece and raison d'etre of the Golden Dome building with the Even Shetiah of the temple's inner sanctum then it's not difficult to stay outside the boundary by entering through the Mugrabi gate and walking eastward. If he meant going anywhere on the temple mount then he would be relying only on the Raavad who disagreed with the Rambam that the holiness of the temple mount persists even after its destruction. Stating that ascending the temple mount is equivalent to eating on Yom Ki0ppur is a groos, if not offensive, exaggeration.

      Isaac

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    2. You are either very cloistered or are pretending to be. There are many views who hold it permissible and even laudable to ascend the Temple Mount, and that view is growing. Its similar to visiting Chutzniks keeping one day of Yomtov. It used to be only a small group, but the number has been growing and growing, for a while now.

      As for the rest of what you say - I don't know the specifics of this case, but obviously different things are more important to different groups. An order to evacuate Ertez Yisrael is just as bad to R. Melamed as drafting girls was to the Chazon Ish, and he would have had his students disobey that order. And of course, there are any number of parallels one can find in Jewish history and American history and even contemporary American life about disobeying orders or laws. Its just politics.

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    3. Anonymous: there are many Hareidim who ascend to Har Habayit, including more than a few Hareidi rabbis. It's a machlokes with strong opinions on both sides. Your analogy though is interesting, as the mishna in Rosh Hashana recounts the story of such a dispute over Yom Kippur. The rabbi fighting the establishment is disgraced and forced to tow the party line, but the story actually concludes with a change of leadership as the nasi is deposed.

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    4. Its just politics.

      Precisely why it is very dangerous. Refusing an unlawful order is important. Refusing an order because you don't agree with its political implications is dangerous. Civilian control of the military is essential.

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    5. From a pure halachah PoV, it seems impossible that the entire Temple Mount is forbidden, given that the edges didn't even exist until the retaining walls were built around it in Roman times.

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    6. For the record, the 500x500 amah area is also permitted under halakha today (provided certain conditions are met). It is the area that was within the Azara (or Cheil, d'rabbanan) that remains assur today.

      This is, of course, a classic example of rationalism vs. its opposite. We *know* where the forbidden areas are today thanks to archaeologists, but non-rationalists will not accept such evidence.

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    7. Commenter David Ohsie: "Refusing an unlawful order is important. Refusing an order because you don't agree with its political implications is dangerous."

      Actually, both are "important" and both can be "dangerous". But more practically, your distinction is meaningless in application. To the supporters of something, it's always legal; to the opponents, it's always illegal. That is why there is not a single law passed, nor a single executive order signed, that is not declared illegal by some organization or another and then challenged in court. From Immigration to Obamacare to Campaign Finance (and hundreds of others in between that only legal practitioners in the field are aware of) - one group says legal, and the other says not. And it takes years to go through the court system, and even then the opponents never actually *accept* the final decision.

      Halacha, of course, is no different.

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    8. I agree with David Ohsie that only unlawful orders are to be disobeyed. As to DF's argument that the legality of many orders is controversial, this may be so, but it seems to me (though I have never been a soldier) that if soldiers are not in the habit of giving commanders the benefit of the doubt, an army cannot exist. It would follow that rabbis should be very careful about disturbing that habit.

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  10. His set of Halacha sefarim, פניני הלכה, are a must for every home and are available to be downloaded free on the net. His clarity on even difficult and complex Halachot is outstanding.

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  11. ...the attitude towards mitzvot of yishuv haaretz and the on-going war which has surrounded it for over a century

    Actually, this issue is ~2K years old. There is a difference between settling in eretz Isroel and taking sovereignty there. Gemarah (can't remember where exactly) forbids the latter until arriving of Mashiach. And Rambam by the way, did not include living in Israel in 613 mitzvot.

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    1. Lazar, you are referring to the '3 oaths' mentioned at the end of T.B. Ketubot (which is later reconfigured as 6 oaths). Such aggadic reference based on wording in Shir Hashirim is mentioned only in defense of Rav Yehuda's problematic position that it was 'forbidden' for someone like his talmid Rav Zeira to leave Bvel for Judea (the referenced verse in Jeremiah explicitly refers to the vessels of the bet hamikdash and not people - besides the ahistoric invocation of a verse from the end of the 1st temple). Rav Zeira disagreed with the application of the 'oaths' to aliya or his rebbe's stricture, and, indeed, left for Judea. You are correct in that the 'oaths' are intended to forbid either mass aliya (kachoma) or conquest (bachoma). The latter girsa in the gemara is what we have. In any case, the source is aggadic and not necessarily reflective of halacha (although some later poskim treated it as if it were basic halacha). While you are correct that the Rambam doesn't count yishuv eretz Yisrael are an ongoing mitzvah, the Ramban does.

      Y. Aharon

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    2. @Y. Aharon, I would go further and speculate that this stricture was an attempt to prevent the kind of fundamentalism that today exists among some Zionists. The most natural interpretation of the Torah is that every generation should always attempt a mass return to Israel and an attempt to re-establish sovereignty. However, the Jewish-Roman wars demonstrated that such a fundamentalist approach without regard to political realities was quite destructive. Thus the oaths were an attempt to describe the fact that these mitzvos are practically inoperative until the political situation allows for it and why the Babylonian scholars didn't simply move to Israel as would seem to be what the Torah required. The story of Rav Zeira fits this (very speculative) theory quite well.

      The genius of the Zionist movement was to recognize that the time was ripe to change strategies (and also to realize that Jewish Europe was coming to an end).

      If my theory is right, then the oaths are still in operation in the same way that they were before, but need to be applied differently. Ascending the Temple Mount may be meritorious from a pure halachic PoV, but if the politics says that the time is not ripe, then the Oaths are the justification for desisting from this practice.

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    3. The RAMBAM says in the Mishneh Torah that a Jews SHOULD live in Eretz Israel and can only live outside under certain circumstances. Although I am no expert, I recall hearing that his not listing Yishuv Eretz Israel as one of the 613, does not mean he does not view it as a mitzvah, but rather it is an overarching principle which is not listed as a separate mitzvah, and there are other examples like this (please correct me if I am wrong).
      Regarding sovereignity, in Hilchot Melachim, he refers to the independet Hashmonaic kingdom as something like a time of glory for Am Israel, in spite of all the problems it had.
      I am truly amazed at all the contortions learned people go through in order to negate the practical importance of settling and building Eretz Israel and having a sovereign state there. Any who reads the parshat hashavua, which are to be read publicly three days every week make this plain. I know, someone will jump up and say "you are not a scholar, you have no right to draw conclusions from reading the parsha", yet why would our scholars have made it obligatory if it didn't have an important message that ANY Jew can understand?

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    4. And every almost every posek since rules like Ramban.

      This issue isn't 2,000 years old. The first person to invoke the three oaths was (brace yourself) Mendelssohn, and after that it was only brought up in opposition to Zionism. Before the anti-Zionism of both the German Modern and Eastern European Chassidic types, everyone took it for granted that aliyah is obligatory.

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    5. Oh, and the Rambam takes it for granted that sovereignty can precede Mashiach. So...try again. And it helps if you know your source before trying to make an argument.

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    6. "While you are correct that the Rambam doesn't count yishuv eretz Yisrael are an ongoing mitzvah"

      That is simply incorrect. The question of why the Rambam does not list settlement of the land as one of the 613 mitzvot is an interesting kasha for those who are interested in such things, but it is abundantly clear from numerous places that the Rambam considers דירת ארץ ישראל to be an "ongoing mitzvah". The idea that there is such a thing as a non "ongoing mitzvah" is, in any case, completely inane.

      More generally, the comments on this thread about Rav Melamed's non-brainer rulings on ascending the temple mount and refusing evil decrees by the Israel "Defence" forces, demonstrate, as if demonstration were needed, that lots of orthodox Jews don't know what the Torah says, don't want to know what the Torah says and are sure as heck is heck not going to be told what the Torah says.

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    7. non-brainer rulings ... evil decrees ... as if demonstration were needed

      I genuinely admire the transparency you display in assuming your conclusion. Most people try to obscure this and it is dishonest. You are very honest about your ground assumptions, albeit very wrong IMO.

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    8. David Ohsie, the biblical command of liberating the land and settling it may be directed primarily at the generation of Joshua whose obligation it was to do that very thing. If it was incumbent on all generations then some drash on verses in Shir Hashirim wouldn't be sufficient to overrule a biblical command. As it is, your interpretation has merit, and its possible application of 'shelo ya'alo bachoma' to ascending the temple mount is interesting.

      The gemara in Ketubot 111a brings the 3 oaths (later morphed into 6 oaths) only as an argument for Rav Yehuda's position that it was forbidden to leave Bavel for Judea. The gemara then concludes that these oaths didn't address the question of individual aliya which is still permitted to R' Zeira and others. This conclusion is rather obvious from both the primary sources and history. Rav Yehuda was in no position to invalidate the aliya from Bavel of Ezra, Hillel, Rebbe Natan, Rebbe Chiya, and other sages. A literal application of a phrase in Jeremiah which, in context, dealt with the temple vessels is of no consequence. It's just an asmachta. The real issue is that of leaving Bavel which was then the center of torah learning. Rav Yehuda was apparently concerned that the 'best, brightest, and most idealistic' torah students should not leave for Judea or elsewhere. A similar motivation could apply for those who used the 3 oaths to discourage aliya. However, such use of the 3 oaths is very old and long preceded Mendelsohn. The Rambam mentions it in his Iggeret Teiman and the Maharal insists on it in his 'Nidchei Yisrael'. As was pointed out, the Rambam never intended his invocation of the oaths to rule out individual aliya.

      Y. Aharon

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    9. "The first person to invoke the three oaths was (brace yourself) Mendelssohn, and after that it was only brought up in opposition to Zionism."

      Sorry Nachum, but he was preceded by earlier figures. Though, it's worthwhile to mention that Mendelssohn invoked the oaths to prohibit any human action to hasten redemption. So who was the first to invoke the oaths? According to the head of העדה חרידית it was דתן ואבירם- they stayed behind because they didn't believe in משה רבינו and the 400 years weren't completed, and it's forbidden to leave the exile early.

      Pretty much all the authorities hold that the oaths are not violated unless we're dealing with immigration of most of the nation, or an armed invasion. Neither applies to Zionism. The Satmar rebbe innovated the notion that the oath could be violated by any legal unarmed large immigration- even if such immigration was demanded by the nations under the threat of death. Such a reading is at odds with the mesorah we have on this gemara.

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    10. Gavriel M,
      "The question of why the Rambam does not list settlement of the land as one of the 613 mitzvot is an interesting kasha for those who are interested in such things, but it is abundantly clear from numerous places that the Rambam considers דירת ארץ ישראל to be an "ongoing mitzvah". "
      It is clear that he places high value on it - although that is simply Rambam citing the ruling of the Gemara, but please demonstrate that it has the obligatory -or similar- status of a mitzvah.

      Ephraim,
      "The Satmar rebbe innovated the notion that the oath could be violated by any legal unarmed large immigration"
      Not really. It's more complicated than that. While I certainly don't agree with him, his position is more grounded than you think. This isn't the forum, but take a look for example at Teshuvot Rashbash 2.

      Y. Aharon
      "The latter girsa in the gemara is what we have. In any case, the source is aggadic and not necessarily reflective of halacha (although some later poskim treated it as if it were basic halacha)."
      Its current application notwithstanding, it has long been treated as having halakhic power. v. Rashbash, Rivash Shut 101, Caftor v'ferach 10.

      R Stefansky

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    11. R Stefansky: Your first source (Sefer HaRashbash 2) actually uses the Rambam to show that it is a Mitzvah to make aliyah. This is based on his p'sak in MT in line with the Gemara that forces the wife to make Aliyah if the husband wants to (H Ishus 13:19).

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    12. David Ohsie
      I know. I referenced that Rambam. But it is still a big jump to posit as Rashbash does that it is evident from that halakha that it has the status of a mitzvah, not just a highly recommended practice, especially since if it was, Rambam should certainly mention it somewhere explicitly.

      R Stefansky

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    13. R Stefansky - it was great meeting you at the museum. Please can you email me. Thanks! zoorabbi@zootorah.com

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    14. @R Stefansky: I certainly respect your right to disagree with Rashbash.

      On the underlying issue of the 3 oaths, the Rashbash does reference them, but there is nothing there that indicates that he things that there is an actual halachic prohibition involved. He uses it in the same way that I suggested above: while it is a mitzvah for each individual to go, it is not a requirement on the people as a whole to attempt to go back to the land en masse to re-establish sovereignty. Thus he also references the B'nei Eprhaim who attempted to return from Egypt too early and were unsuccessful which is definitely aggadic in nature. Also he does not mention the oaths when trying to figure out if an oath to go to Israel must be enforced; if the oaths were literally oaths, then they should be factored into that analysis.

      Thus, while he uses the oaths in a descriptive halachic context, he gives no reason to think that he considers them anything other than aggadic source material that can shed light on the mitzvah (just as the story of Bnei Epraim can) and nothing to show that he considers them directly binding oaths.

      For anyone that wants to look, click here click here. It is one of the first forty pages, and so free on Otzar. See the last paragraph in the second column.

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    15. Rabbi Stefansky
      "It is clear that he places high value on it - although that is simply Rambam citing the ruling of the Gemara,"

      Well, yeah!

      "but please demonstrate that it has the obligatory -or similar- status of a mitzvah."

      Look, I think that we can agree on the following two general claims.
      1) The Rambam states in multiple places that living in EY has an obligatory character.
      2) The Rambam does not list an individual Torah mitzvah of living/conquering EY and, in the places where he states the obligation to live in EY, he does not link this to any specific Torah mitzvah (and indeed seems to sort of go out of his way not to do so, see Hilchot Melakhim 5:1).

      However, it is important to distinguish this reality from a widespread urban legend which runs like this. "The Rambam believes that there used to be a mitzvah of living in EY, but this mitzvah is on ice until some future date. The Ramban disagrees and states that the mitzvah is ongoing".

      I don't pretend to have the answer to what the Rambam was driving at (and since, whatever he was driving at, he obviously didn't express it very well, I personally don't see the point in cracking your head over it), but it is important to dispel this urban legend because it has huge ramifications.

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    16. Rabbi Stefansky
      "It is clear that he places high value on it - although that is simply Rambam citing the ruling of the Gemara,"

      Well, yeah!

      "but please demonstrate that it has the obligatory -or similar- status of a mitzvah."

      Look, I think that we can agree on the following two general claims.
      1) The Rambam states in multiple places that living in EY has an obligatory character.
      2) The Rambam does not list an individual Torah mitzvah of living/conquering EY and, in the places where he states the obligation to live in EY, he does not link this to any specific Torah mitzvah (and indeed seems to sort of go out of his way not to do so, see Hilchot Melakhim 5:1).

      However, it is important to distinguish this reality from a widespread urban legend which runs like this. "The Rambam believes that there used to be a mitzvah of living in EY, but this mitzvah is on ice until some future date. The Ramban disagrees and states that the mitzvah is ongoing".

      I don't pretend to have the answer to what the Rambam was driving at (and since, whatever he was driving at, he obviously didn't express it very well, I personally don't see the point in cracking your head over it), but it is important to dispel this urban legend because it has huge ramifications.

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    17. "an obligatory character."
      A small quibble, but I believe you are overstating Rambam's position. I don't see anywhere that is has an obligatory character, only a virtuous one.
      You also have to take into account its conspicuous absence from the MN. While there is little evidence that the dispute between Rambam and Ramban is as the urban legend claims, it is undeniable that there exists a massive gulf in between their opinions on the place of EY in Judaism.

      Incidentally, its veracity notwithstanding, I believe that this urban legend may be older than you think. It had already been proposed by Megilat Esther on the Sefer Hamitzvot in the 16th century.

      R Stefansky

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    18. "A small quibble, but I believe you are overstating Rambam's position. I don't see anywhere that is has an obligatory character, only a virtuous one"

      אסור לצאת מארץ ישראל לחוצה לארץ לעולם--אלא ללמוד תורה, או לישא אישה, או להציל מיד הגויים, ויחזור לארץ; וכן יוצא הוא לסחורה. אבל לשכון בחוצה לארץ, אסור--אלא אם כן חזק שם הרעב, עד שנעשה שווה דינר חיטין בשני דינרין

      לעולם ידור אדם בארץ ישראל, אפילו בעיר שרובה גויים; ואל ידור בחוצה לארץ, ואפילו בעיר שרובה ישראל: שכל היוצא לחוצה לארץ--כאילו עובד עבודה זרה, שנאמר "כי גירשוני היום מהסתפח בנחלת ה' לאמור לך עבוד אלוהים אחרים" (שמואל א כו,יט). ובפורענות הוא אומר "ואל אדמת ישראל לא יבואו

      Virtue, at least in this case, is obligatory.

      "it is undeniable that there exists a massive gulf in between their opinions on the place of EY in Judaism."

      The difference, I think, is that Rambam throughout the MT looks at the Torah as the integrated legal system of a settled independent nation that, unfortunately and temporarily, is now in exile. Since every state must have territory, the land is assumed throughout. Further, because of his general anti-mysticism, there is no room for talking about the inherent sanctity of the land. For the Ramban the land has inherent holiness and his general view of mitzvot leaves more room for looking at settlement of the land as an independent concept. With that said, I don't believe anyone actually understands the Rambam's position on the matter and the simplest explanation for that is because it is not coherent.


      "Incidentally, its veracity notwithstanding, I believe that this urban legend may be older than you think. It had already been proposed by Megilat Esther on the Sefer Hamitzvot in the 16th century."

      Everyone knows that, I think. There are millions of examples of kvetched answers to kashas like this around. Usually you just tactfully ignore them or, if you are so inclined, pull them out when someone asks you to give a d'var Torah at shalosh seudos. This one attained urban legend status because certain people wanted to concoct the idea that mitzvot they don't like have a time limit.

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    19. @Y Aharon: David Ohsie, the biblical command of liberating the land and settling it may be directed primarily at the generation of Joshua whose obligation it was to do that very thing. If it was incumbent on all generations then some drash on verses in Shir Hashirim wouldn't be sufficient to overrule a biblical command.

      My claim is that it would be sufficient, because the Drash is just a support for the fact that one is not required to attempt to fulfill a mitzvah which is a suicide mission or even one that is simply not practical for the general population as a whole to carry out. I disagree with Gavriel M on a lot, but he is right there was really never a permanent suspension of notion of return to Israel. Rather the oaths are of a piece with the general realization that this Galus was not ending so quickly and a turn towards waiting for the end times to simply come to us rather than doing anything practical to restore sovereignty. Similarly, the opposition to Zionism was largely due to the fact that, after 2000 years, it was simply no longer traditional (and then later because it was carried out by non-traditionalists).

      One other point is that the Oaths are so obviously Drash that I don't think that anyone could seriously deny this, and when authorities use them in a practical way, no matter their language, they are channeling their spirit an not treating them as actual oaths. Where did they happen and why didn't the people at the time reject them as a abrogation of the Torah oaths which are supposed to be permanent?

      Rather, the subject matter of when is the right time to attempt a return is something that can't be decided by a legal formalism. So all the arguments are of an aggadic/philosphical nature and not halachic in a purely formal legal sense. The time to return was when the Jews as a whole made a sensible decision to do so.

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    20. "Virtue, at least in this case, is obligatory."
      You assume that לעולם constitutes an obligation, with the same obligatory force as, say, mitzvat lulav. I think it is only a recommended behavior, such that its disregard would not be considered a ביטול מצוה. And other instances of לעולם... אדם in Gemara and MT clearly support this, unless you wish to vastly expand the scope of binding halakha, past what is already included in the Shulchan Arukh.
      In MT for example: Do you mean that Deot 2:4 and Talmud Torah 1:5 are also obligatory?
      לעולם means should, not must.

      "Since every state must have territory, the land is assumed throughout. Further, because of his general anti-mysticism, there is no room for talking about the inherent sanctity of the land."
      You're minimizing the difference. On one hand we have Ramban, who places EY at the heart of his theology, and claims that all mitzvot performed outside of EY are effectively just for practice, and on the other we have Rambam, who nowhere claims that it is a mitzvah, and far more importantly, ignores it entirely in his treatise on Judaism. So, yeah, I'd say that's a pretty big disagreement, and one that should factor into one's decision whether or not to make aliyah for theological reasons.
      The rationale, if one chooses not to subscribe to a simple technical reason, could be that Rambam held that the perfection of humankind that the Torah is ultimately driving at should not be confined geographically.
      As for your assertion, "The difference, I think, is that Rambam throughout the MT looks at the Torah as the integrated legal system of a settled independent nation that, unfortunately and temporarily, is now in exile." I'm not sure how you see that.

      "With that said, I don't believe anyone actually understands the Rambam's position on the matter and the simplest explanation for that is because it is not coherent."
      Actually, I believe there is a relatively simple, and slightly technical, explanation. Rambam believes that there is no specific command in the Torah to settle in EY whose intent includes a directive to future generations. Similarly, he omits building the Aron as a mitzvah for the very same reason, despite Ramban's question that assuming the Aron were to break, it would incumbent on the people to build a new one. Rambam just maintained that since there was no intent that that should ever transpire, the intent of the command to build an Aron was solely directed at Moshe's generation.

      R Stefansky

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    21. "You assume that לעולם constitutes an obligation, with the same obligatory force as, say, mitzvat lulav. I think it is only a recommended behavior, such that its disregard would not be considered a ביטול מצוה."

      I think it's obligatory behaviour, but it's disregard would indeed not be considered a ביטול מצוה.

      "Do you mean that Deot 2:4 and Talmud Torah 1:5 are also obligatory?
      לעולם means should, not must."

      No it means must, subject to the qualifications the Rambam himself provides. You are at liberty to disagree with him, as was the SA.

      "You're minimizing the difference. On one hand we have Ramban, who places EY at the heart of his theology, and claims that all mitzvot performed outside of EY are effectively just for practice, and on the other we have Rambam, who nowhere claims that it is a mitzvah, and far more importantly, ignores it entirely in his treatise on Judaism. So, yeah, I'd say that's a pretty big disagreement, and one that should factor into one's decision whether or not to make aliyah for theological reasons."

      I'd put it differently. For the Rambam having a state is central to Judaism, Judaism without a state is a sort of temporary freak occurence. For the Ramban it's also important, but it's more like the final piece of the puzzle. Hence you can talk about the holiness of the land outside the context of having a state. You could I suppose make the argument that according to the Rambam it's only important to make aliyah if it contributes to the formation of a national polity, but (a) he doesn't say this and seems to say the opposite and (b) it's moot since now it clearly does.


      "As for your assertion, "The difference, I think, is that Rambam throughout the MT looks at the Torah as the integrated legal system of a settled independent nation that, unfortunately and temporarily, is now in exile." I'm not sure how you see that."

      You see it everywhere. Look for instance at how the Rambam presents the halachot of seder night compared to how every other Rishon does so.

      More specifically, the Rambam says there is a mitvah incumbent on you right now to build a temple. Where are you going to build a temple? The Rambam says there is a mitzvah incumbent on you right now to appoint judges. Where are you going to appoint these judges? The Rambam says there is a mitzvah incumbent on you right now to appoint a king. Where are you going to appoint this king? Crown Heights?

      "Actually, I believe there is a relatively simple, and slightly technical, explanation. Rambam believes that there is no specific command in the Torah to settle in EY whose intent includes a directive to future generations."

      There's no evidence that the Rambam considered there to have been a specific command to conquer EY that only applied to one generation. Indeed he seems to clearly preclude this possibility when he specifically (and for no apparently pressing reason) says the milhemet mitzvah of Yehoshua was to genocide the seven nations.

      Delete
    22. "No it means must..."
      Do you assume all other instances mean must as well, or only in cases where you wish to shoehorn in your own ideology? If not, you're going to need to add a few volumes to your SA.

      "Indeed he seems to clearly preclude this possibility when he specifically (and for no apparently pressing reason) says the milhemet mitzvah of Yehoshua was to genocide the seven nations."
      I'm sorry - I'm not sure what's bothering you here, and what you think you are proving. Either way, the fact that the milchemet mitzvah is NOT yishuv ha'aretz should tell you something.

      R Stefansky

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    23. "Do you assume all other instances mean must as well, or only in cases where you wish to shoehorn in your own ideology? If not, you're going to need to add a few volumes to your SA."

      Why would the fact that SA does not consider things the Rambam thought to be be obligatory to be obligatory mean I need to add a few volumes to my SA? Maybe since the SA thinks considers things to be obligatory which the Rambam does not consider obligatory, I need to add a few things to my Rambam.


      "I'm sorry - I'm not sure what's bothering you here, and what you think you are proving"

      It's simple. You are arguing that the Rambam considers the mitzvah of conquering EY to be a one time command that applied only to the generation of Yehosuah and hence not one of the 613 mitzvot (which is one of his principles of counting the mitzvot). However, the Rambam explicitly says that the milhemet mitzvah of Yehosua was not about conquering EY. Therefore, like all other efforts to solve this kasha, your attempt fails.

      Delete
  12. You wrote:
    "...fortunately, Koren Publishers have begun marketing English editions of his works, translated by Rabbi Elli Fischer"

    I believe Rabbi Fischer is the editor of the series. At least two of the volumes have been translated by Dr. Yocheved Engelberg Cohen.

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  13. Do you believe Rabbi Melamed is "The Most Important Rabbi That Americans Have Never Heard Of" or "One of The Most Important Rabbi That Americans Have Never Heard Of"?

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  14. The Political Modesty of Rabbi Eliezer Melammed

    http://viewpoints.utj.org/?p=1456

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  15. Such great rabbis as RAV ay kook and rav tiectal yissacar posek the 3 oats are binding. There was a post about this on the circus tent blog a few months ago. If you cant find it, write me and i will send a copy.

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  16. Yosh, surely you're joshing. Rav Kook and Rav Teichtel (after witnessing the horrors committed by the Nazis and their helpers) were strong advocates of aliya. The anti-aliya interpretation given to the oaths, notwithstanding. That interpretation is, in any case, fallacious as can be gleaned by reading the source material in Ketubot 111a. Many illustrious sages made aliya including Ezra, Hillel, the Tana'im Natan and Chiya, and the Amora who is the subjet of the gemara, Rav Zeira. The Ramban made aliya. The Vilna had started on an aliya journey and many of his students succeeded. The senior disciple of the Magid made aliya and was supported by funds raised by the Alter Rebbe. The old yishuv consisted of immigrants.

    Y. Aharon

    Y. Aharon

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  17. There are 3 oaths. Rav kook and rav tiechtal certainly held of alia to EY. The oath to revolt against the nations they held is binding.rav tiectan in "eim 2:21". Rav kook in עולת ראיה. If you google circus tent- 3 oaths you can see photos of these pages

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  18. This means the war of independance is out. Rav teictal didnt want a medina. Rav kook also, but so much is atill censered we sont know for sure. During the 20's rav kook was נכנע before the arabs . In 1929 rav kook reversed his position, as is known.

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  19. yosh55, the original 3 oaths from Shir Hashrim rabba are that Jews won't 'ascend the wall', i.e., conquer the land; that they won't revolt against their host nations; and that those nations won't severely oppress their Jewish inhabitants. The Jewish state came into being as the result of the vote in favor by the majority of nations in the UN. Hence the proclamation of the Jewish state by Ben Gurion and associates of the Jewish Agency was not an act of rebellion. Defending themselves against attach by Palestinian Arabs and neighboring Arab countries is a simple matter of self defense that overrides Shabbat - much less some putative oath. The oppression of Jews prior to the founding of the Jewish state is too obvious to need retelling. The 3 oaths - assuming that they were ever in effect, were disregarded and broken by the nations andare, therefore, no longer valid.

    I highly doubt that Rav Teichtel didn't favor an independent Jewish state. After all that he witnessed in the Holocaust and the hands-off attitude of the leading western nations, why would simple mass aliya to Palestine be a solution to persecution - much less, even possible as long as Britain ruled there? Kindly supply some evidence that Rav Kook was not in favor of an independent Jewish state. Such an argument goes against the conventional understanding of is views.

    Y. Aharon

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  20. Y aharon... what you are saying is the daas of the avni nezer. This is referring to the oath of going up as a wall.
    2) this is a saas yahid like rashi in sotah.many other opinions(toafos. Ohr ha chaim, abarbanel, maharal among other say even with permission we must stay in galut.
    Avraham our father chose galut over gehinnom, as is known.
    3) the zohar says the land was givin to yishmeal until משיח(וארא)
    4) the un permission was not enough... the arabs never agreed
    5) again as rav kook and rav teichtal say, this is only aliyah... arms and war every one forbids

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    1. Bizarre---reveling in humiliation and weakness. Very counter-intuitive. Makes no sense that Rav Teichtal and Rav Kook would support Zionism but oppose setting up an independent state.

      Delete
  21. Y aharon... this very question( with permission) is answered very well in ויואל משה perek 86

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    1. Yosh55, I assume that you are referring to mass aliya being allegedly forbidden. That view, assuming the validity of the 3 oaths, depends on the girsa in the gemara. We have 'bachoma', which means ascending the wall - as in conquering a walled city. Rav Yaakov Emden changes that to 'kachoma' like a wall, i.e. in mass. I don't know that he had a manuscript source for that change. In any case, individual aliya is certainly permitted and is not the lone view of the Sochatchover Gaon (Avnei Nezer). How, else do you account for the aliya of the illustrious sages that I mentioned earlier? Besides the earlier sages mentioned, there is the Hazon Ish, Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, Moshe Mordechai Epstein, the Slobodka rosh yeshiva who founded yeshivat Hevron, and the immigrants of the old yishuv.

      Where does 'Tosfos' state that aliya is prohibited. The Ohr Hachaim would certainly have permitted individual aliya since he made aliya himself from North Africa in his later years. As to the alleged unanimity in rejecting the permissibility of expanding territorial control through conquest, what about all those Hareidim who live in areas in Jerusalem and elsewhere that were conquered in 1967?

      I have little interest in reading Vayo'el Moshe. I learn the gemara in Ketubot quite differently than what has been brought from that seifer. Kindly cite his answer if you wish to continue the thread.

      Y. Aharon

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    2. It is hard to "answer very well" when you start by calling your ideological opponents idiots.

      "ויש טפשים האומרים שיען שהיי בהסכמת רוב האומות אין כאן לא איסור
      שבועה ולא איסור העברה על הקץ,"

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  22. Rav melames wrote in גשבע not long ago the chazon ish had no national respoaeability because he refused the heter machira!!! Rav ay kook himself refused to use the heter machira, as is well known.

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    1. I am sure you are aware that it is common for a Posek to give a lenient opinion for someone asking him a question, but he will be machmmir on himself. Many Dati Leumi Rabbanim who support the heter mechira do not rely on it themselves but this does not mean they look down on those who do. If Rav Kook did not eat heter mechira food, I am sure that was his thinking.
      Years ago, when we had just made aliyah during shemittah year I asked a mainline Haredi rav if there was a problem if people we knew ate from heter mechira food in our house and he said NO.

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  23. When i first posted hear it was about the misrepresentation of rav teichtal by r melamed. This was on the oath of rebellion against the nation as brought by everyone, including rav kook and rav teichtal.
    The main reason for mass aliya is rhe decree of galus, where we must remain to redeem the holy sparks.
    Tosfos is in
    דעת זקינים ובעלי תוספות
    Which is not befor me now.
    This is very well explained by the maharal at lenth.
    The אור החיים is many times this idea try vayikra 25:39
    Shmot 1:1 and much more
    David ohsie... only drash!!?? Many many bring this as halacha, includig rav ay kook and rav tiechtal.

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  24. Y ben david...you are right... my point was the לשון זילזול of r melemad to the chazon ish
    2) rav kook didnt just not keep shmita... he regretted the hettwr he gave!!! He fely the יסורין at the end of his life was because of the hetter.( as heard from his closest talmis at the time... rav yitzck arieli... told in detail the rav eliyahu slezinger's - rav of gilo- book on shmita

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  25. David ohsie... about the oarhs not being הלכה... in the gemora כתובות קיא both rav zera and rav yehuda are arging about what to do.. הלכה
    2) the midrish raba בשלח brings 4 groups that were over the oaths and were punished... bnai efriam, bar cochva etc
    3) in the book by professer aviezer ravitzky הקץ המולה he brings about 20 major poskim that bring the oath as הלכה, look there

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  26. Yosh55. Let me deal with the primary sources to which I have easy access, namely the gemara in Ketubot 111a and in Yoma 9b. The first states that Rav Zeira avoided his rebbe, Rav Yehuda (the leading Babylonian Amora in his generation) because he intended to make aliya - against the view and aphorism of Rav Yehuda. R' Yehuda had said that anyone making aliya from Bavel transgresses an 'asei', as is says (in Jeremiah)"They shall be brought to Bavel and there they shall remain until the day that I appoint for them (to be returned)". The 'asei' is presumably to follow the instructions of a navi. If R' Zeira was avoiding R' Yehuda, it is unlikely that they actually had the 'conversation' which then follows. The point of avoidance was, presumably, to prevent his rebbe from giving him a direct order not to leave Bavel. Nor is the language used a language of a real conversation (he said, and he answered, etc). Rather, it appears that the anonymous 'voice' (stama) of the gemara is projecting a debate advancing arguments for both sides. It is that 'stama digemara' who adduces the 3 oaths in support of R' Yehuda. If R' Yehuda knew of and agreed with the d'rash from Shir Hashirim, he should have used it instead of the citation from Yirmiya, which in context clearly refers to the vessels of the bet hamikdash that would be taken in captivity to Bavel, and it is a prophesy rather than a command - as the gemara answers in defense of R' Zeira.

    The first oath according to the gemara is that they (Israel) won't ascend on the wall (bachoma). As Rashi explains, that means that the Jews won't unite and claim the land by (military) force. That language doesn't prevent mass aliya - only conquest, even if the oaths are still valid. Rav Yaakov Emden chose to read the text as 'kachoma' like a wall with the implication that mass aliya is also forbidden by the oath.

    He appears to have relied on the language in the gemara in Yoma 9b where Rosh Lakish (or R' Elazar) castigated a colleague recently arrived from Bavel as if to say 'Now you're coming? Had your ancestors come in the days of Ezra like a wall (i.e. in mass), then the Shechinah would have returned to the rebuilt temple'. He used a different phrase in Shir Hashirim to make the point, where Israel is compared both to a wall and a door. A wall is compared to silver which doesn't rot, while a door is only wood, which does. As Rashi explains, a wall means all together, while a door implies one opening among many with some doors opened and some closed, i.e. piecemeal immigration.

    The point is that mass immigration is not only allowed, but required. Nor does R' Yochanan there dispute this point. He only differs in asserting that the Shechinah would not have returned in any case under the rule of the Persians. If mass aliya was allowed or encouraged in the time of Ezra, then the interpretation of the 1st oath as forbidding such immigration should be seen as no longer germane, i.e., the appointed time had come. what is the source that the oaths were subsequently resurrected?

    Y. Aharon

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  27. Rav melamed says to go on har habayit... OK... so does rav d lioar and rav tz drori, also graet rabbis. But to say rav ay kook, if alive today, would also permit this is a bit auditious.

    ReplyDelete

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