Maamar Shalosh Shevuos Siman 5

(Background: Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg stated that nowadays, only a husband can force a wife to immigrate to Eretz Yisroel, but a wife cannot force a husband. The question is, if there is a mitzvah nowadays to live in Eretz Yisroel, even the wife should have the power. And if there is no mitzvah, even the husband should not have the power. In Siman 4 the Rebbe proposed that there is indeed a mitzvah, but it is weaker nowadays. Later in Siman 7 he will explain why this weakness affects the wife’s power and not the husband’s. Now, the goal is just to explain in what way it is weaker. The answer was that the statement, “Whoever lives outside of Eretz Yisroel is as if he worships idols” does not apply nowadays, since even Eretz Yisroel is not under a Jewish kingdom and wherever one goes in the world, he is as if he worshipped idols.” Now the Rebbe will bring Rashi on Tanach who says the same thing.)

And even without all of the above, in most printings of the Tanach, in Shmuel I 26 Rashi says, “One who goes out from Eretz Yisroel in Temple times is as if he worshipped idols.” So he says explicitly that this was only true in Temple times. Although in some printings the words “in Temple times” do not appear, still we see that Rashi there quotes the Targum Yonasan: “David went among the nations who worship idols,” so we see that the reason why someone who goes out of Eretz Yisroel is as if he worshipped idols is because he goes among the nations who worship idols. This is similar to what we find in the Torah, Parshas Vaeschanan, “And you shall serve there gods made by the hands of man,” and the Targum Onkelos and Targum Yonasan say that it means they will serve the nations who worship idols, so it will be considered indirectly as if they are serving the idols. And Rashi also says that the meaning is as the Targum explains it. Now, this reason not to leave Eretz Yisroel only applied when the Jewish people lived in Eretz Yisroel, so that there existed there a kingdom of believers in Hashem. Thus leaving that kingdom and entering the domain of idol-worshippers was considered like serving idols. And so too Rashi on the verse in Shmuel, “For they have expelled me…” quotes the Targum. And this can also be inferred from Rashi’s commentary on Kesubos 110b, where he says, “This verse refers to David, because he had to flee from Eretz Yisroel to the king of Moav and to Achish.” Why didn’t Rashi say simply that he went out of Eretz Yisroel? Why did Rashi have to mention the king of Moav and Achish? So it must be that the main thing is whose rule you are under.

And in truth, Tosafos in Gittin 2a says that the land of the Philistines was actually part of Eretz Yisroel, as we from the fact that Avraham and Yitzchok lived there. And Tosafos proves from the Book of Yehoshua that the Philistines lived in Eretz Yisroel. If so, when David fled to the land of Philistines, it is possible that he never left the borders of Eretz Yisroel. Still, it was considered as if he worshipped idols because he was under an idolatrous kingdom. I have already explained at length that this is the opinion of the Rambam as well, and many other Rishonim. And possibly even the Ramban agrees to this. (In other words, although the Ramban holds there is a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel nowadays, he would agree that the statement that one who lives outside Eretz Yisroel is as if he has no god does not apply nowadays. The reason why the Rebbe is doubtful about this is that the Ramban proves from this statement (“he is as if he worshipped idols”) that there is a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel even nowadays. So we see that however the Ramban understood the statement, he definitely understood it as applying nowadays.) And in the second part of this work, which I hope to write, G-d willing, dealing with the mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel, I will explain this at length. Here I am only bring in briefly whatever is necessary for the subject at hand.

But it would seem that even those who disagree with Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg and hold that both husband and wife may force each other to go to Eretz Yisroel nowadays as well, still agree that this statement that one who lives outside Eretz Yisroel is as if he worshipped idols, which is derived from David, applied only when the Jewish people lived on their land. It cannot be applied to today’s time, because the reason that applied to David, who went from Shaul’s kingdom to the king of the Philistines, does not apply today.

(See the Gur Aryeh on Vayikra 25:38, the Haflaah on Kesubos. and the Avnei Nezer 454:14 – all photocopied in the sources file – who understand this statement differently: in Eretz Yisroel one’s sustenance comes directly from Hashem, while elsewhere in the world it goes through the angel appointed over that country. However, the Meiri says that reason is that we shouldn’t learn from the gentiles, and the same is implied in the Tosefta of Avodah Zarah chapter 5; this is similar to what the Rebbe says.

It would seem that both reasons are true: The Gemara begins with a statement that one who lives outside Eretz Yisroel is as if he had no G-d, and derives it from a verse in Vayikra 25:38. Then it asks how that could be, and revises the text of the Baraisa to read “as if he worshipped idols”. The question is what happened to the first verse. Probably the answer is that the statement that one is as if he had no G-d was meant as the Haflaah understands it, that one is leaving Hashem’s providence and going to live under the angels. This should apply only to someone who leaves Eretz Yisroel, not to someone born outside of Eretz Yisroel, as the Maharal says. Hence the Gemara’s question, how could that be? The Gemara answers that one born outside Eretz Yisroel, or one living there for any reason, is still subject to the statement that he is like one who worships idols, for that is as the Rebbe explains it, an unchangeable fact: he serves those who serve idols, and as the Meiri says, he is exposed to their lifestyle and learns from them.)

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Vayoel Moshe