Friday, July 09, 2010

bnei reuvain and gad -- mitzvah of kibush ha'retz?

The Ba’al haTurim writes that the words of Moshe to Bnei Reuvain and Gad, “Ya’avor lachem kol chalutz,” hints to the gemara that all who went out to war with David wrote gittin to their wives to free them from the potential problem of yibum or chalitza (chalutz=chalitza) should they be lost in battle. Why is this hint mentioned in the context of addressing Bnei Reuvain and Gad in particular -- shouldn't the takanah of writing gitin to avoid yibum and chalitza apply equally to all soldiers?

R’ Yosef Shaul Nathanson explains that the writing of gitin was only done in milchemes reshus like those fought by David, wars for the sake of expanding the country. When it came to fighting a milchemes mitzvah, the takanah was not needed; Hashem promises that anyone engaged in a mitzvah will not come to harm, and there was no reason to weaken bitachon in that promise by having gitin written.

The majority of the shevatim fighting for the conquest of Eretz Yisrael were engaged in a milchemes mitzvah to conquer their promised territory. Bnei Reuvain and Gad, however, already had their portion of land. For them, the battles in Eretz Yisrael were a milchemes reshus, required only because of their promise to Moshe. Therefore, Moshe commanded to them, he’chaltzu lachem, in particular, not to rely on Hashem’s protection and to make sure they had gitin written.

(Side point: why is there no mitzvah to help conquer the land regardless of whether you take a portion somewhere else? Did geirim not have a mitzvah of kibosh ha’aretz just because they received no portion of land?)


  1. Anonymous2:48 PM

    theres a havtacha no one will die in mil mitzvah? in mil yehoshua no one died?

  2. I think what he means is that when it came to fighting milchemes mitzvah you can (and should) rely on the potential for a nes to happen (shomer mitzvah lo yeida davar ra) and therefore don't need to write gitin (to do so would undermine bitachon). When it comes to a milchemes reshus there is an issur of ain somchin al ha'nes, so you must write the gitin.

  3. I thought the reason they wrote Gittin was because of the problem of Aguna. See Gemorah Kesubos daf 9b and shabbos 56a.

    Rashi says it was a Get Al Tanay and Tosfos says it was a get stam.

  4. Also, I thought the land was not divided up until after they conquered it. So technically, Bnei Gad and Reuven did not get their land, officially, until after Yehoshua divided it up, no?

  5. I mean, if you look at perek 13 it seems to say that Gad, Reuvein and half of Sheivet Menasheh only inherited their land at the point when they were dividing up the land for all off the tribes. The only thing is that those two and a half tribes did not need to be part of the goral.

  6. >>>I thought the reason they wrote Gittin was because of the problem of Aguna

    The gemara does not clearly spell out the reason, but at least in Rashi its clear that the point of having a chalos get a moment before you die is to avoid yibum/chalitza, otherwise just rely on death as a matir.

    The process of chiluk of the land just delayed the formal kinyan, but practically speaking Reuvain and Gad had homes; no one else did. Whether or not the land had kedushas ha'aretz has no bearing on whether there is a kiyum mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz in settling there.

  7. "Hashem promises that anyone engaged in a mitzvah will not come to harm"

    This does not apply when there is real danger.

  8. Where does Rashi say this? Tosfos seems to explain Rashi that the idea is that if a man does not return then the Get is valid, not that if he dies. Rashi doesn;t say anywhere anything about Yubum that I can find. Check Tosfos on Kesubos 9b.

    Who says no one else had homes? These two tribes were just the ones that asked if they could stay there and build a life there. Do you have any proof of what you are saying or is it just how you understand it?

  9. >>>This does not apply when there is real danger.

    The D.S. is a little unclear, but if I read him correctly what he means is that there was a very high level of bitachon that a milchemes mitzvah would result in victory. Writing gitin would undermine that faith. There was less certainty that a milchemes reshus would lead to victory, so writing the gitin was accepted a part and parcel of valid hishtadlus.

    What constitutes appropriate action (i.e. not relying on shomeir mitzvah...) is proportional to the level of bitachon you have going in.

    Here's a link to the page in the D.S. --