Maamar Shalosh Shevuos Siman 11

(Background: We are discussing the Three Oaths according to Rabbi Zeira, whom the halacha follows. According to this view, the Oaths apply only to the Jewish people as a whole. In the previous siman, the Rebbe asked a basic question: does the oath against “going up as a wall” prohibit only military invasion, or even peaceful immigration with the permission of the ruling power? Now the Rebbe will quote one commentator on the Midrash who takes a side in this matter.)

The commentary Yefeh Kol on the Midrash (by Rabbi Shmuel ben Yitzchok Yaffeh Ashkenazi of Constantinople (1525-1595)) quotes Rashi, who says that “going up as a wall” means “together, with a strong hand.” The Yefeh Kol asks: If we are talking about a military invasion, there can be no greater rebellion against the nations than this, and that would already be covered by the oath prohibiting rebelling against the nations. So why do we need this oath? He offers two answers:

1) Rebelling against a nation means only refusal to obey its laws while living under it, such as paying taxes. But if a nation does not allow its Jews to leave, and they sneak out or break out by force, that is not rebellion. For that we have a special oath not to go up as a wall, but rather to wait until we are redeemed by moshiach.

[The difficulty with this answer is that It assumes that “going up as a wall” is a form of rebellion against the host country under which Jews live in exile. If so, breaking out of one’s country should be a violation of this oath, no matter where the Jew is going – for example, from the Soviet Union to America. But we know that the oath only prohibits going to Eretz Yisroel. The entire page of Gemara in Kesubos is discussing only going to Eretz Yisroel.

Perhaps the Yefeh Kol means that even after all is said and done, breaking out of one’s host country is not rebellion. The oath against “going up as a wall” prohibits breaking out only when the destination is Eretz Yisroel. This would of course assume that Eretz Yisroel was an ownerless, empty land, otherwise the invasion and conquest of Eretz Yisroel would be itself a rebellion.]

2) “To me it seems possible to say that here we are talking about immigration to Eretz Yisroel even with the permission of the governments. For since Hashem scattered us to the corners of the earth, we have no permission to gather ourselves and to be like a wall, to ascend together to Eretz Yisroel, until Hashem gathers us through moshiach. There is proof to my words from what the Midrash says later on the verse ‘if she is a wall’ (Shir Hashirim 8:9): If Israel had come up as a wall from exile… There it is not talking about going up defiantly.”

[The Yefeh Kol adds that this would explain the continuation of the Midrash, “If so, why will the king moshiach come to gather the scattered of Israel?” In other words, if the Jews go up as a wall from exile, why will moshiach need to come and gather the scattered of Israel? And since we know from many Biblical verses that moshiach will gather the scattered Jews, we have no right to gather ourselves together on our own.]

So we see that the Yefeh Kol holds that even when the government allows immigration, the oath is in effect. But it is not clear whether he holds that only the immigration of all of the Jewish people, that is, a majority of the Jewish people, is forbidden (this much we can be sure – that a majority is enough, for if the oath can only be violated when every single Jew in the world comes, it is impossible that a few people will not be missing; and the Taz has already written in the laws of Rosh Hashanah (Orach Chaim 582:3) that wherever “all” is specified, a majority is like all), or perhaps even a large group, although not a majority of the Jewish people, is included in the oath.


Vayoel Moshe

Mass Immigration