Rabbi Yitzchok Yaakov Reines, founder of Mizrachi (1839-1915)

Rabbi Yitzchok Yaakov Reines (1839-1915) was a leader of Chovevei Tzion and the founder of the Mizrachi movement. In 1902 he published a book called Ohr Chadash Al Tzion calling for settlement in Eretz Yisroel, but cautioning (p. 240) that it must not violate the oaths:

What is the point of Chanukah? Seemingly, there is no lesson for us to learn from it for our generations, for then all the miracles took place only after they arose on their own and fought the war of Hashem, but if we try to imitate the actions of our forefathers of that time, coming out with a battle cry and defeating out enemies, these actions would obviously be forbidden to us, since the Holy One, blessed is He, severely foreswore us not to push for the end of exile by force. But we can learn from the story to work to better the situation of the Jewish people and settle it on its land, for this is its honor and the honor of its Torah. And this can take place even now, in acceptable and permissible ways.

In his Sefer Haarachim (pp. 298-299), Rabbi Reines explains that the Ramban in Sefer Hamitzvos advocates “conquering” Eretz Yisroel only in a peaceful way:

We must ask on the Ramban: How is it possible to say that there is a mitzvah on us to expel the Ishmaelite kingdom? Are we not foresworn not to go up as a wall (Kesubos 111a)? Yet the Ramban holds that the mitzvah of conquest applies even during exile, when the land is not under Jewish rule. The answer is that the Ramban means conquest by purchase, that it is a mitzvah to buy land in Eretz Yisroel and to settle there, for conquest does not have to mean through war.


Rabbinic Quotations

Three Oaths