Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapiro, Munkaczer Rebbe, author of Minchas Elazar (1871-1937)

After the sin of the spies, the Torah tells us that some Jews tried to invade Eretz Yisroel against the command of Hashem: “And they awoke early in the morning, and they ascended to the mountaintop, saying, “Here we are, and we will go up to the place of which Hashem has spoken, for we have sinned.” And Moshe said, “Why do you transgress the command of Hashem? And it will not succeed. Do not ascend, for Hashem is not in your midst, so that you do not get smitten by your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you will fall by the sword, because you have turned aside from following Hashem, and Hashem will not be with you. And they defiantly ascended to the mountaintop, but the ark of the covenant of Hashem and Moshe did not move from the midst of the camp. And the Amalekites and the Canaanites, who lived on that mountain, descended, and they smote them and pounded them until Chormah. (14:40-45)

The Minchas Elazar interpreted these verses as a prophecy about the Zionists of his time: “The Zionists went up to Eretz Yisroel with a strong hand to found colonies and fight with the gentiles. They defiantly ascended to the mountaintop, against the command of Hashem Yisborach through our Sages and our forefathers, who warned that this is not the way, and said that their end would be bitter, G-d forbid. They went in the path of strength and brazenness, as Rashi explains the word ויעפלו (v. 44).

“Yet the ark of the covenant of Hashem – the holy Torah, for we believers have nothing else left over but this Torah – and Moshe – the Torah leaders and tzaddikim (as we find in Shabbos 101b that a great sage can be called Moshe) who cried out against the Zionists and did not ascend with them or join them – did not move from the midst of the camp – the loyal, believing Jews. And the Amalekites and the Canaanites, who lived on that mountain…this is a reference to the evil inclination, which will one day appear in the form of a mountain (Succah 52a). And they smote them and pounded them until Chormah – as unfortunately occurred with the destruction and the killings in Jerusalem, the Holy City, near the Kosel Hamaaravi (in 1929) through these wicked people. May Hashem save us and help us and redeem us soon, in our days, for the sake of His name and His Torah, with love.” (Chaim Veshalom, Parshas Shlach)

The Rambam does not count living in Eretz Yisroel as one of the 613 mitzvos. The Megillas Esther explains that this is because the mitzvah only applied in the ancient Temple times, and the Rambam only counts mitzvos that apply for all times. This is a very strange statement by the Megillas Esther, for surely the mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel will apply in the times of Moshiach, and the Rambam counts mitzvos that will come back into force only in the times of Moshiach, such as terumah, maaser, challah, and all the mitzvos of the Temple service.

The Minchas Elazar explains that in the time of Moshiach, the mitzvah to conquer the land and expel its inhabitants will not simply come back into force like terumah and maaser. Moshiach will come in a miraculous way, predicted by a prophet; he himself will be a prophet close to Moshe Rabbeinu’s level (Rambam Teshuva 9:2), and he will be able to tell each Jew what tribe he comes from (Melachim 12:3). He will succeed in getting all Jews to repent (Melachim 11:4), a feat no one could accomplish under normal conditions. All the gentile nations will call in the name of Hashem (ibid.), and they will come to hear Moshiach as well (Teshuva 9:2). The statement of the Gemora (Shabbos 63a), quoted by the Rambam (Melachim 12:2), that “there is no difference between this world and the days of Moshiach except the subjugation of the nations,” means that in the general world there will be nothing miraculous, but Moshiach himself will be a wondrous person. Thus the Jewish people will not have to conquer Eretz Yisroel in those future times; Moshiach, with his influence over the nations, will solve that problem. It is thus incorrect to say that the mitzvah of taking over the land will apply in the future, for even in the future it will not be a mitzvah for the Jewish people; it will be Moshiach’s task. (Minchas Elazar 5:16)

The Minchas Elazar adds that nowadays, since the Zionists have made living in Eretz Yisroel the center of their ideology, even the Ramban would agree that we should not put effort into this mitzvah. This is comparable to the one-stone altar called a matzeivah, which was used by the Avos and was beloved to Hashem at that time, but later became forbidden because the idol worshippers had begun to use it (Rashi on Devarim 16:22).


Rabbinic Quotations

Eretz Yisroel