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
(continued from here)
10. The teacher of the Oaths, Rabbi Zeira, retracted them
Thus it is related in the Midrash: "'If it is a wall,' if Israel would have ascended like a wall from Babylonia, the Temple would not have been destroyed during that period for a second time. Rabbi Zeira went to the marketplace to buy something. He said to the one who was weighing: That was weighed very fairly. He responded: Do not depart from here Babylonian because your ancestors destroyed the Temple. At that moment Rabbi Zeira said, are not my ancestors the same as the ancestors of this one?! Rabbi Zeira entered the house of study and heard the voice of Rabbi Sheila who was sitting and teaching: 'If it is a wall,' if Israel would have ascended like a wall from the Exile, the Temple would not have been destroyed a second time. He said: The unlearned person taught me well."
From here, we see that Rabbi Zeira retracted from that which he said "Do not ascend like a wall." Thus wrote Ha-Rav Shraga Feivel Frank, and so too Ha-Rav Mordechai Attiah, and he adds that this is the reason that Rabbi Zeira, when he ascend to the Land of Israel, fasted for one hundred days in order to forget his Torah learning of Babylonia, which is something which we do not find among even one of the talmudic rabbis who ascended to the Land of Israel. "Rather it is possible to say in a hinted way, since Rabbi Zeira in Ketubot taught the issue of the Three Oaths, and he knew through a Divine Spirit that a subsequent generation would come and place all of its sluggishness on this statement, he therefore fasted for one hundred days in order for him to forget this statement."
11. The halachic authorities disagree with the author of the Megillat Esther not to ascend like a wall
1. Our Rabbi Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah wrote: "Obviously, the author of the 'Megillat Esther' with all of his importance and holiness, can not be compared to the Ramban, who is called 'the father of Israel,' and there are various laws in the Shulchan Aruch from him, while there is not even one law from the Megillat Esther."
And the Ramban clearly stated that we are commanded to conquer the Land, and he emphasized and stressed again that this commandment exists in all generations.
2. And in the book Kuntres Mitzvat Yeshivat Eretz Yisrael of Ha-Rav Blumberg of Dinenburg, he rejected each and every statement of the Megillat Esther without leaving a survivor or refuge among them, and Ha-Rav Shmuel Mohliver, Ha-Rav Chaim Berlin and Ha-Rav Meir Shapira attached approbations to it. And similarly in the book Em Ha-Banim Semeichah of Ha-Rav Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal. And similarly in the book Geulat Yisrael of Ha-Rav Avraham Yellin who wrote that all of the Early Authorities (Rishonim) disagreed with him, and others.
3. And Maharam Chagiz ruled in practice that all these are "objectionable words." And these are his words: "And there are those who also grasp objectionable words in their saying Three Oaths The Holy One, Blessed be He, made Israel swear."
4. Ha-Rav Sharaga Feivel Frank wrote that those who suspend themselves on the Three Oaths and toil to purify the immutable impurity of the Nations by one hundred and fifty reasons, this is chutzpah (impudence) against our forefather Avraham, and against the Sages of Israel and in particular the Gra who ruled in practice regarding the mitzvah of ascending and inquiring about Zion.
5. And similarly the question: "If the possibility exists in the physical reality to bring all of Israel at one time to the Land of Israel...," the Gra responded: "If the possibility exists to bring six hundred thousand to the Land of Israel at one time, we need to do so immediately, since this number of six hundred thousand has immense power and is complete."
6. And so too the Admor of Chortekov: "If the Children of Israel would have settled approximately a half of a million in the Land of Holiness, it would have drawn the Redemption near."
7. And Rabbi Yehoshua of Kotna ruled similarly based on the Ramban that even now there is a mitzvah "to conquer the Land of Israel so that it will be under our control."
And the Meiri wrote similarly that the conquering of the Land is an obligatory war like the opinion of the Ramban.
And similarly according to the Rambam there is a commandment of conquering the Land of Israel.
And even Rashi mentioned the issue of the possibility of Redemption with a [strong] arm in the Second Temple Period.
8. Rabbi Yaacov Emden considered the conquering of the Land of Israel: "Knowledge of the waging of war, manufacturing weapons and lookouts, burnt powder and burnt reed and that which accompanies them (i.e. materials for gun powder), numerous, great and wide-ranging ruses, they are found in the wisdom of calculated thoughts and are of great benefit more than those in which the enemy remembered the eternal sword considering that perhaps we will also be aided by these to ascend and conquer our Land from the control of our enemies."
9. The Admor of Gur, the Chidushei Ha-Rim, stated in the year 5623 (1863), at the time of the national revolt in Poland: "I am concerned lest there will be a prosecutor in Heaven against the Nation of Israel. We see how a nation like the Poles sacrifice its life for its liberation and liberating its land from foreigners, and us, what are we doing."
10. Rabbi Pinchas Eliyahu of Vilna wrote: "But we are guilty concerning the prolongation of the Exile in our dwelling on a foreign land...for how long will we not do for this that which is in our ability to do...and our eyes which see the Nations in which people will go out in the name of their country and wage war each one for the sake of his land...and we are idle and slothful...how long will we not arise to wage war as well for the sake of our Holy Land."
Notes to be posted at the end of the series.