Do Not Ascend Like A Wall
by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
Rabbi of Beit El and Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Cohanim, Yerushalayim
translated by Rabbi Mordechai Friedfertig
printed with permission
Clarifications of the Issue of "Do Not Ascend Like a Wall"
In the Talmud in Ketubot (111a), according to Rabbi Zeira there are Three Oaths [or Six Oaths(2)] and among them is "Do not ascend in a wall" [another version - like a wall] (i.e. Do not return to the Land of Israel en masse).
Based on this, the great authority, Rabbi Yitzchak Leon, wrote: "That the commandment of possessing the Land only applied during the periods of Moshe, Yehoshua and David and all of the time that they were not exiled from their Land, but after they were exiled from their Land, this commandment does not apply during the subsequent generations until the coming of the Messiah, since, on the contrary, we were commanded according to what our Sages stated at the end of Ketubot that we should not rebel against the Nations to go and conquer the Land by force, and they prove it from the verse (Shir Ha-Shirim 2:7, 3:5, 8:4), 'I made you swear, daughters of Jerusalem, do nor stir nor awake the love until I desire' and they explain from it that we should not ascend like a wall. And that which the Ramban said that the Sages stated that the conquering of the Land is an obligatory war, this is when we are not subjugated by the Nations."
On the relationship between the oath not to ascend like a wall and our activities toward the revival of our Land and our Nation through the wonders of Hashem, there are thirteen answers:
1. The wall fell by the permit of the Nations of the World.
2. At the time of a Divine remembrance, the wall is nullified:
A. Permit of the Nations of the World is the remembrance.
B. The awakening of the Nation is the remembrance.
C. The appearance of the Revealed End of Days is the remembrance.
D. The horrors of the Exile are the remembrance.
E. The appearance of the Gra.
3. Violation of the Nations of the World of their oath, nullified all of the Oaths.
4. Ascending in stages is not like a wall.
5. The wall only surrounds Babylonia.
6. The wall stands for only a thousand years.
7. The oath is ascending to build the Temple.
8. When there is power and courage, there is no wall.
9. The issue of the wall remains as a dispute in the Talmud.
10. The teacher of the Oaths, Rabbi Zeira, retracted them.
11. The halachic authorities disagree with the author of the Megillat Esther not to ascend like a wall.
12. The wall is a homiletic (aggadic) and not a legal (halachic) issue.
13. The Oaths are Divine decrees and not a prohibition.
1. The wall fell by the permit of the Nations of the World
1. Thus wrote the Avnei Nezer: "That which I wrote in section 56 that there will be no oath if permission is granted for all to ascend to Israel, since Rashi explained 'together by force,' and if it is with permission it is not force."
2. And similarly Rabbi Meir Simchah of Dvinsk wrote: "Nevertheless at this time Divine Providence causes, that in a gathering of the enlightened Kingdoms in San Remo, a command was given that the Land of Israel would be for the Nation of Israel, and since the fear of the Oaths departed, then the mitzvah of settling the Land arose to its place with the permit of the rulers."
3. And this is also implied in the Meharsha: "'Do not ascend like a wall' - and Nechemiah who said: 'And we will build the walls of the city..."? It was with the permission of the King."
4. And Ha-Rav Menachem Kasher wrote that this was similarly the opinion of the Admor of Ostrovtza since he wrote on the words of the midrash "'And the pig (chazir) - this is Edom'...and why is her name called a pig, because she will return (mechazeret) the crown to her owner," and these are his words: "That they prophesied about this that the Christians will conquer the Land of Israel before the Redemption from the control of the Muslims, and they will return her to Israel, and as we have seen fulfilled now in our time."
5. And similarly Ha-Rav Natan Tzvi Friedman, that after the Nations of the World decided to return the stolen object which they stole, now there is no oath.
6. And similarly Rabbi Yissachar Teichtal.
7. And similarly Ha-Rav Chaim David Chazan [Ha-Rishon Le-Tzion].
8. And similarly Ha-Rav Blumberg that with permission it is permissible to ascend like a wall, and his proof is from Ezra.
9. And see Midrash Shir Ha-Shirim: "The Holy One, Blessed be He, made Israel swear four oaths...'Do not stir nor awake the love until I desire' the Kingdom delivered the sword from their hands." On this Ha-Rav Kasher wrote that the Nations of the World will give permission to the Nation of Israel to protect itself and supply it with weapons.
10. And see Kaftor U-Ferach who explains that not ascending like a wall is in order to conquer, which implies that with permission is permissible.
11. And similarly our Rabbi Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah [see below].
And many earlier authorities have already written that the permission of Redemption will be by permit of the Nations of the World as in the time of Koresh, they are: Rabbi Moshe ben Machir, Ramban, Radak, Rabbi Yosef Ibn Kaspi, Rabbenu Bachya, Rabbi Yitzchak Abarbanel, Maharibach, Rabbenu Saadia Gaon, Rabbi Yehudah Chai Alkalai at length, Ha-Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalischer at length, the Gra and the Malbim. The Chafetz Chaim wrote: "It is possible that the future Redemption will be through natural means by way of The Holy One, Blessed be He, placing within the heart of the Kings of the Nations to act beneficently with Israel and such was the matter as was said about Koresh." Rabbi Yaacov Leib, Av Beit Din of Jerusalem, testified in the year 5622 (1862) that this matter was agreed upon by all of the inhabitants of the Land of Israel.
And many great authorities of Israel saw an awakening from the Heavens in the Balfour Declaration and they supported this endeavor, they are Rabbi Meir Simchah of Dvinsk, the Admor of Sochatshov, Ha-Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, the Chafetz Chaim and our master, Ha-Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook.
The general principle: If there is permit - there is no wall. And our Rabbi Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, similarly wrote: "Ascending like a wall, about which we were warned, surely this wall is only the authority of the Nations over our Land and the place of our Temple, and any time in which this wall exists by the Divine command of Exile, but when in the continuing results of the Revealed End (Sanhedrin 98) it becomes nullified and this wall falls, and "the mouth which forbids is the mouth which permits," and the Master of the Universe who erected this wall, as "a separation of iron which divided between Israel and their Father in Heaven" (Pesachim 85b and Sotah 38b), is the One who nullified and caused this wall to fall, then when there is no wall there is no obstacle and the issue of ascending like a wall, is like the law of one who vows not to enter a house, and when the house fell he does not need to be released from his vow."
(b"n more to come)
1. Regarding the issue of the oath "That The Holy One, Blessed be He, made Israel swear not to rebel against the Nations of the World," our Rabbi Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, wrote: "And in the issue of the rebellion against the Nations of the World, when we were compelled to remove the authority of the British from here this was not rebellion against them, since they were not the legal authorities in our Land, rather they had a temporary mandate in order to prepare the authority of the Nation of Israel in its Land according to the decision of the League of Nations, as the word of Hashem in the Tanach, and when they betrayed their mission the time arrived to remove themselves from here" (Ha-Tzofeh, beginning of the year 5734 ).
2. And regarding the issue of "Do not force the End [of Days]," our Rabbi Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, wrote: "This is not the version in our Talmuds, rather 'Do not distance the End,' Rashi explains: 'Do not distance the End - in your sinning.' Another explanation: Do not force - the language of force, that they should not offer too many supplications for this.'" And he does not discuss the physical activity of the ingathering of the exiles and the building of the Land, "And not that they should not increase and magnify the building of the settlement of the Land of Israel and the revival of the Torah in the Land of Israel" (ibid.). And see below footnote 156.
3. Megillat Esther on Sefer Ha-Mitzvot of the Rambam, criticisms on the additions of the Ramban, mitzvah 4.
4. Avnei Nezer Yoreh De'ah #453, 456. And that for which he was criticized in Sefer Va-Yoel Moshe pg. 38 #16, Ha-Rav Kasher responded in Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 195, and in Sefer Milchemet Yom Ha-Kippurim pg. 65, and see further Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 166 in note, and see below footnote 41.
And our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira, said: "Regarding the issue of the Three Oaths...we have a clear ruling of the great authorities of the previous generation. There are not great authorities today who can compare to the author of the Avnei Nezer and the Ohr Sameach who wrote their rulings down" (Morashah vol. 9 pg. 18).
5. And similarly explains the Magen Avraham (Zeit Ra'anan on Yalkut Shimoni #969), and also Eitz Yosef and Matanot Kehunah on Shir Ha-Shirim Rabbah 2:18.
6. And he added: "And his honor pointed out that in the book Ahavat Yonatan he wrote that it is forbidden even with permission, this is a homiletic statement, and a thousand like them will not move the words of Rashi from their place. And Ha-Gaon, our teacher, Ha-Rav Yonatan [Eibeschitz] z"l himself did not depart from Rashi's explanation for the legal ruling," until here are his words.
And in the book Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 193 this statement is expanded and clarified. And similarly Ha-Rav Shaul Yisraeli in Eretz Chemdah pg. 30 and in Morsahah vol. 5 pg. 16.
And see Rashi to Sotah 36, "It will be performed for them by a miracle," and Rashi explains: "It is decreed for them that they will ascend only with permission," until here are his words.
And in the book Geulat Yisrael of Rabbi Avraham Yellin: "I saw in Shem Ha-Gedolim of Ha-Rav Chida z"l that the book Ahavat Yonatan was not written by Ha-Rav Rabbi Yonatan z"l himself, but a student who heard from his mouth, and one great rabbi told me that Ha-Rav Rabbi Yonatan z"l proclaimed that they should not rely on what his students wrote in his name, because sometimes they erred in his words. And similarly in the book Ahavat Yonatan itself (Parashat Ekev) there appears to be a contradiction to his above-mentioned statement" (in Parashat Va-etchanan) (introduction pg 12). In the book Em Ha-Banim Semeichah of Rabbi Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal he resolves the contradiction as mentioned below footnote 99, that when there is dreadful oppression which is visited upon the Nation, this is a sign from the Heavens, and then there is no oath here (Kol Mevasser edition, Jerusalem 5758  pp. 162-164). And see footnote 62. And on what was brought in the book Va-Yoel Moshe pg. 31 #11 from the words of "Yefeh Kol" of our teacher Ha-Rav S. Yafeh on Shir Ha-Shirim, the verse "I made you swear...," that they should not ascend together to the Land of Israel even with permission of the Kingdoms, you also tell him the words of the Avnei Nezer "that a thousand like them will not move the words of Rashi from their place."
7. Otzar Ha-Aretz pg. 82, printed in "Torah U-Meluchah" by Mossad Ha-Rav Kook. And in the book Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 174. And see below footnote 34. And Ha-Rav Kasher wrote: All that is in the book Va-Yoel Moshe that the Three Oaths also apply today, but how he did not see the words of Rabbi Meir Simchah that after San Remo the fear of the Oaths departed, and many great authorities of Israel as well (Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 271). And see further in section 8 #2.
8. Ketubot 111a. And see the article of Ha-Rav Meir Blumenfeld "Regarding the Issue of the Oath Not to Ascend Like a Wall," collection of articles Shanah Be-Shanah 5734 (1974) pg. 15.
9. Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 176, 154. Milchemet Yom Ha-Kippurim pg. 68.
10. Meir Ainai Chachamim, section edition 26.
11. And Rabbi Avraham Yellin wrote similarly in the book Geulat Yisrael on the words of the midrash and the Zohar that the Christians will take the Land from the control of the Arabs and return in to us.
12. Shut Netzer Mata'ai section 10 #5.
13. Em Ha-Banim Semeichah pp. 307-308.
14. In his approbation to the book Derishat Tzion of Ha-Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalischer - brought in Em Ha-Banim Semeichah pg. 11.
15. Kuntres Mitzvat Yishuv Eretz Yisrael pg. 20, based on Rashi, Meharsha and Matanot Kehunah on Shir Ha-Shirim 2:18 and 8:11.
16. Ibid. pg. 21. And he wrote further regarding the oath of "Do not rebel," that from the words "Do not rebel" it is implied that with permission of the Nations of the World there is no rebellion and it is permissible (ibid. 20b, 21a, 21b).
17. Manuscript of the Geniza of Greenhut chapter 3, 5.
18. Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 212.
19. Rabbi Ashturei Ha-Parchi chapter 10 pg. 197. And see footnote 186.
20. Seder H a-Olam (Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 96).
21. Commentary attributed to the Ramban on Shir Ha-Shirim 8:13 (Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 96).
22. Tehillim 146:3 (Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 96).
And in the book Mossad Ha-Yesod pg. 137 it is written that Rabbi Yisrael of Shklov (Pe'at Ha-Shulchan) would quote the words of the Ramban and the Radak that the Redemption will come through the permit of the Nations of the World (Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 546). And see footnote 30.
23. In the book Tam Ha-Kesef pg. 44 (Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 96).
24. Parashat Shemini (brought in the book Em Ha-Banim Semeichah pg. 144) regarding the issue of the pig who will return the crown to its owner.
25. Mashmi'a Yeshu'ah pg. 25 (Em Ha-Banim Semeichah pg. 189). And on the verse "The Builder of Jerusalem is Hashem" (Em Ha-Banim Semeichah pg. 146).
26. Father of the Maharalbach in his introduction to Ein Yaacov (Em Ha-Banim Semeichah pg. 145).
27. Emunot Ve-Dei'ot 8 (Em Ha-Banim Semeichah pg. 146).
28. Goral La-Shem #9. Sefer Ha-Chaim pg. 18b #3. And in the book Minchat Yehudah (Em Ha-Banim Semeichah pg. 188). And in his books which were published in the years 5601-5617 (1841-1857) he wrote that the Kingdom of England, which is at the end of the Earth, will say to Zion, behold your salvation is coming, and he merited to intend to the Balfour Declaration in the year 5678 (1917).
29. Derishat Tzion pg. 40 and further. And see what the Admor of Rosin wrote that before there will be a natural Redemption as in the time of Ezra (Sefer Ha-Zichronot of Rabbi Isik Chasid. Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 114).
30. Sefer Mussar Ha-Yesod pg. 137, that Ha-Gaon, the kabbalist, Rabbi Yaacov Leib Leval z"l, Av Beit Din of Jerusalem, would often mention in his speeches about the beginning of the Redemption according to the opinion of the Gra...and he would emphasize that the beginning will be as it was in the Second Temple Period with the permit of the Nations of the World (Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 546). And see footnote 22.
31. Brought in Shivat Tzion vol. 2, pg. 3 and Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 103.
32. Shem Olam, sha'ar ha-hitchazkut, chap. 14 pg. 14b. Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 103.
33. The newspaper "Ha-Magid" 5622 (1862) copy #26 (Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 154 and 547). And similarly our teacher, Ha-Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin: "That the Beginning of the Redemption will be by the permit of the Kingdoms," Ha-Peles 5663 (1903) 433. Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 100. And in the Midrash Rabbah Parashat Toldot it is told that in the days of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananyah the King gave permission to ascend to the Land of Israel and to build the Temple, and they began the work with the permission of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananyah (Em Ha-Banim Semeichah pg. 101, 137, 181).
34. In the book Rabbeinu Meir Simchah pg. 160. Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 198. And see above 1B.
35. Avir Ha-Ro'im vol. 1 #201-203. Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 199.
36. In the book Moriah of Dr. Yitzchak Breuer, from the book Milchemet Yom Ha-Kippurim of Ha-Rav Kasher pg. 71.
37. As testified by his son. And so too in the book Chafetz Chaim of Ha-Rav S. Greenman pg. 101. Ha-Tekufah Ha-Gedolah pg. 198.
38. Igrot (Letters) vol. 3, 316.
39. In the newspaper "Ha-Tzofeh." And he also wrote: "The wall, which separates between us and the Place of our Life, fell on account of the renewal of the battle of the Governments of the Nations..." (Le-Netivot Yisrael vol. 1 [pg. 65], publication of Mei-Avnei Ha-Makom, Kiryat Ha-Yeshivah Beit El, 5762 , pg. 86). And further there: "And will they resemble those piling up new 'walls' of authority of Exile and erecting a separation between us and our Land, in place of the wall which fell" (pg.  115). And see there further pg. [126-127] 169. And see below footnote 203 and further on.