Thursday, May 10, 2018

lo timacher l'tzemisus - redeeem the land

The Mishnas Chasidim, quoted by Rav Teichtel in his sefer Mishneh Sachir on parshas Bechukosai, writes that in the two years he spent in Tzefat in 1718/19 -- almost exactly 300 years ago -- he saw so many houses being built that he felt it could not be anything less than a reversal of the curse of 'v'areichem ye'hi'yu charva," the promise in the tochacha of the land being laid desolate.  The development of the city, says the Mishnas Chasidim, is a "siman l'bi'as ha'go'el."  

What do you think the Mishnas Chasidim would say were he alive today, looking at the many cranes that dot every neighborhood of Yerushalayim, at the buildings going up all over Eretz Yisrael?   What do you think he would say if he witnessed the celebration of Yom Yerushalayim in a rebuilt, modern, Yerushalayim in an independent Jewish state?

Ramban in sefer ha'mitzvot lav 227 discusses the nature of the issur of "lo timacher l'tzemisus."  Rashi seems to hold the issur is for the buyer not to return the land, but, as Ramban points out, the formulation of the lav seems to indicate the prohibition is on the seller, not the buyer.  Ramban, based on the Yerushalmi, is machadesh that the issur is in selling land to an aku"m, who has no incentive to return it.  Ramban then compares the issur of leaving Eretz Yisrael in the hands of aku"m to the mitzvah of redeeming a Jew who is sold into slavery to an aku"m.  Just like in that case  the Torah tells us that the reason for the mitzvah is "ki li Bnei Yisrael avadim," that we are supposed to be servants only of Hashem, so too, Eretz Yisrael is supposed to be a land dedicated to being a makom Shechina, a place of service to Hashem, which is impossible so long as it is not in our hands.

Rav Teichtel quotes 'Ha'gaon ha'mekubal ish ha'Elokim" R' Dovid Lida (the honorifics are especially noteworthy given the background of who R' Dovid Lida was) as saying that our redemption from galus is directly dependent upon the redemption of Eretz Yisrael from our enemies.  Why must the two go hand in hand?  Why can't Hashem redeem us irrespective of our establishing a home in Eretz Yisrael?  Can't we do that afterwards?  Rav Teichtel explains that this is not sisrei Torah, but is implicit in the Ramban's equation of the land in foreign hands to an eved.  Hashem treats us middah k'neged middah.  We want Hashem to take us out of galus and to restore us to being his, and only his, faithful servants.  It's up to us to practice the same middah and redeem his land from foreign control so it can be dedicated to his service.  

We should celebrate the fact that we have been zocheh to see the start of that slow process.

1 comment:

  1. "The development of the city"

    what are the nafka minas between Chinese investors owning Israeli cities*, vs local Jews owning the same?

    "cranes that dot every neighborhood"

    the hook at the end of each crane cable is an inverted yud, the point/dot from which everything spreads [the mystical tree of life is inverted, so they say]

    "a Jew who is sold into slavery to an aku"m"

    ta shma, this one repeatedly sowed his appointed field with kilayim, until finally the ground was cursed and he was compelled to sell it for pittance**;
    the end of the matter, he gets himself mixed-up with a foreign idolater, even to the point of selling himself to the nochri's getchke (final phrase, 25:47)

    "[H?]is land...can be dedicated to [H]is service"

    without a later-day goral and redistribution, how truly grounded can a modern Israeli 'landowning' farmer be?

    *cities, not fields

    **that's right, to an aku"m!