OLEH CHADASH

A concise guide to halachot associated with aliyah and practices of the Land of Israel.

“OLEH CHADASH”

The New Immigrant to Israel

A Spiritual and Halachic Guide to Making Aliyah

By Rabbi Mordechai Zvi HaLevi Friedfertig

[For comments, clarifications or to order this book: Mordechai Friedfertig, Mitzpe Nevo 114/3, Maale Adumim. Telephone: 02-535-1317; 054-840-4747. e-mail: mororly@bezeqint.net]

This book which expresses the love of our Holy Land is dedicated with love, respect and appreciation to my teacher and Rav, HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Aviner Shlit”a, whose Torah on Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael and the Torah of Israel I drink thirstily each day. When I saw HaRav Aviner Shlit”a for the first time after making aliyah, he hugged me and said: “Now you are normal,” based on what HaMaharal wrote in the book “Netzach Yisrael,” in Chapter. 1, that Jewish life in the Exile is not normal. How fortunate am I to have a Rav like this.

 

Letter of Blessing from HaRav HaGaon Shlomo Aviner Shlit”a, Rosh Ha-Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim.

Sivan 5768

“Yashar Koach” to my close friend, HaRav Mordechai Zvi HaLevi Friedfertig Shlit”a, on his important booklet “Oleh Chadash,” which is much needed for anyone who sets his footsteps towards the Holy Land. And HaRav, the author, Shlit”a explained it well and fulfilled it well, for he himself, after serving many years in the Rabbinate in the Exile, made aliyah to our Holy Land and brings blessings to it.

With the honor of the Torah,

Shlomo Aviner

 

CONTENTS

 

INTRODUCTION

  1. One Who Has Decided to Make Aliyah is Considered as if He is Already in the Land
  2. Reciting “Mi She-Berach” Before Making Aliyah
  3. Kissing the Stones of the Land Upon Arriving in Eretz Yisrael
  4. Saying a Blessing on the Mitzvah of Settling Eretz Yisrael
  5. Reciting Shehechiyanu upon Making Aliyah
  6. Receiving a New Soul Upon Making Aliyah
  7. Encouraging Non-Observant Jews to Make Aliyah
  8. An “Oleh Chadash” Buying Furniture and other Items during the Three Weeks
  9. Reciting Shehechiyanu on Voting for the First Time in Israel
  10. Differences between Exile and Eretz Yisrael: Halachot, Minhagim and Prayers
  11. The Blessing of “Baruch Hashem Le-Olam”
  12. Reciting “Morid Ha-Tal”
  13. Bircat Cohanim
  14. Kaddish De-Rabbanan
  15. Going to Shul in Tallit and Tefillin
  16. Wearing Tefillin on Chol Ha-Moed
  17. “Al Naharot Bavel” (By the Rivers of Babylonia) or Shir Ha-Mahalot
  18. Reciting “May The Merciful One…lead us upright to our Land” in the Bircat Ha-Mazon
  19. “Next year in the Land of Israel” in the Pesach Seder
  20. Shehechiyanu on a Brit Milah

Afterward

 

INTRODUCTION

  1. Every Jew comes from the Land of Israel

Rabbi Meir Yechiel of Ostrovtza, one of the great Chasidic Rebbes in Poland, used to

say that whenever Jews meet they exchange “Shaloms,” and ask one another: “Where

are you from?” The typical answer is: “I come from Belgium,” “I come from Brazil” or “I

come from Buffalo.” But Rabbi Meir Yechiel said: No! This is not the right answer.

“Every Jew is obligated to say: I come from Eretz Yisrael – the Land of Israel.” Every

Jew, in his or her innermost essence, belongs to Eretz Yisrael.

Our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah HaCohain Kook, former Rosh Yeshiva of Mercaz Ha-

Rav in Jerusalem and great leader of Religious-Zionism, gives an amazing Midrashic

source for Rabbi Meir Yechiel’s idea (Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehudah – Eretz Yisrael, p.

230). We all know that Moshe Rabbenu’s greatest desire was to enter the Land of

Israel. Most of his life was an attempt to make aliyah. Unfortunately, he was not

successful. Not only did he not make it to Israel during his lifetime, but he also did not

make it there after his death. He was buried outside of the Land. The Torah explains in

many places that Moshe begged Hashem to allow him to enter Eretz Yisrael. The

Midrash picks up this theme and relays the arguments Moshe used to try to persuade

Hashem to let him into the Promised Land.

 

In Devarim Rabbah (2:8), Rabbi Levi expressed somewhat of a criticism of Moshe

Rabbenu by comparing him to Yosef HaTzadik. He relates that when Moshe realized

he would not be allowed to enter Eretz Yisrael while he was alive, he was determined to

at least to be buried there. So he tried to compare himself to Yosef, another former

resident of Egypt. Moshe said: “Master of the Universe, the bones of Yosef will enter

the Land of Israel and I will not?” Hashem answered back with an incredible response:

“He who identified with his Land will be buried in the Land, and he who did not identify

with his Land will not be buried there.” The idea that Yosef identified with his Land is

based on Parashat Vayeshev, where we learn that Yosef is sold into slavery and winds

up in Egypt, in charge of Potiphar’s household. Yosefs troubles, however, are just

beginning. Potiphar’s wife lusts after him and continually tries to seduce him. One day,

when everyone is off celebrating a pagan festival, she corners him. She grabs Yosef by

his garment. When he flees outside, a piece of his clothing is left in her hand. She

claims that Yosef tried to rape her and says to her servants: “Look! My husband

brought us a Hebrew man (Ish Ivri) to sport with us” (Bereshit 39:14). The fact that she

refers to him as “Ish Ivri – a Hebrew man” proves that he identified himself as being

from the Land of the Hebrews. This is confirmed by his own statement when he is

thrown into jail. He says: “For indeed I was kidnapped from the Land of the Hebrews”

(40:15). Hashem therefore responded to Moshe: “Yosef identified with his Land, and

therefore merited to be buried in Shechem in Israel (Yehoshua 24:32). You, however,

did not acknowledge your Land, and you will not be buried there.” With this accusation

Hashem recalls an episode in Parashat Shemot when Moshe escapes from Egypt after

killing the Egyptian. He comes to Midian, saves Yitro’s daughters from some shepherds

and waters their sheep. When the daughters report the event to their father, they say:

“An Egyptian man saved us from the shepherds” (Shemot 2:19). Moshe heard himself

being referred to as an Egyptian and kept quiet. The Midrash concludes that since

Moshe did not identify with the Land, he did not merit being buried there.

Our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah, raises a difficulty: why does Hashem find fault with

Moshe Rabbenu in this instance? Yosef saying that he was from Eretz Yisrael made

perfect sense: he was raised there. But Moshe was born and raised in Egypt! Was he

expected to lie and say he was from Eretz Yisrael? The answer: Hashem’s promise to

give Eretz Yisrael to Avraham’s descendants wedded Moshe to the Land. Every Jew is

obligated to see him or herself as an Israeli. Even if we were born elsewhere, we

nonetheless belong to the Land of Israel.

Although settling the Land of Israel is a Torah mitzvah – as we see in the Ramban

(Bemidbar 35:53 and additions to the Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam, Positive

Mitzvah #4) and the Pitchei Teshuvah (Even Ha-Ezer 75:10): “The obligation to fulfill

this mitzvah applies at all times, and this is explained by all of the halachic authorities,

the Rishonim and Acharonim” – someone who makes aliyah is also returning home.

From the time when Avraham Avinu fulfilled Hashem’s command, “Take yourself from

your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house to the land which I will

show you” (Bereshit 12:1), the homeland of every Jew is the Land of Israel. Making

aliyah is not about leaving or abandoning someplace, it is about returning – returning

home. In the book “HaIsh Al HaChomah – The Man on the Wall” (vol. 3, p. 154), we

learn that even someone who merely anticipates making aliyah is already considered a

resident of the Land of Israel. It is related that during the British Mandate HaRav HaGaon

Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld was asked: is it permissible to testify in court that

someone was born in Israel in order to obtain permission to make aliyah? He

answered: It is certainly permissible and it is even obligatory; there is no falsehood

involved. It is explicated in the words of our Sages (Ketubot 75a) on the verse: “But of

Zion it will be said, this and that man was born in her; (Tehillim 87:5) – this applies

equally to one born there, and one who anticipates seeing it.” We learn from here that

every Jew who anticipates making aliyah, and all the more so one who makes a request

to make aliyah, is considered to have been born in Eretz Yisrael, and can even testify

about it in court.

 

  1. Rabbi Zeira – The Rebbe of Olim Chadashim

But returning home is not so simple. There are many stages and complications. Our

Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah, teaches us that already in the Gemara we have a famous

new immigrant to Israel who dealt with everything related to being an “Oleh Chadash.”

In “LeNetivot Yisrael” (vol. 2, p. 79), he writes that among our Rabbis, the Sages of the

Talmud, there is one person who is unique for his incredible physical and spiritual self-

sacrifice in order to make aliyah: Rabbi Zeira. With all of the holiness of Rabbi Zeira,

his aliyah is like the aliyah of every “Oleh Chadash.” His absorption is like the

absorption of every “Oleh Chadash” and his experience is like the experience of every

“Oleh Chadash.” While every new immigrant’s experiences and emotions are unique,

there are many common features which can be found in Rabbi Zeira, the Rebbe of Olim

Chadashim.

 

  1. Yearning for the Land of Israel

Rabbi Zeira yearned greatly to make aliyah, and especially to learn Torat Eretz Yisrael

(the unique Torah of the Land of Israel) from the Sages of Eretz Yisrael. In the Gemara

in Niddah (48a), Rabbi Zeira says: “If I merit ascending to the Land of Israel and

learning this teaching directly from its source…” (see also Eruvin 80a and Baba Metzia

43b). Nonetheless, he was filled with doubts before he actually made the move. Based

on the Gemara in Ketubot (111a), our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah, explains in Sichot

HaRav Tzvi Yehudah – Eretz Yisael (pp. 81-85) that Rabbi Zeira was avoiding his

Rebbe – Rav Yehudah – because he (Rabbi Zeira) wanted to make aliyah. In those

days the custom was that someone who wanted to leave Babylonia needed to separate

from his Rebbe in order to receive a blessing. But Rabbi Zeira was scared because he

knew that Rav Yehudah opposed making aliyah. In our time too there are great Torah

scholars and Chasidic Rebbes who are opposed to and – to our great distress – prevent

people from making aliyah. “Rav Yehudah said: “Anyone who goes from Babylonia to

Eretz Yisrael transgresses a positive mitzvah”, as it says (Yirmiyahu 27:22): “They will

be brought to Babylonia, and there they will be until the day of my remembrance, thus

says Hashem;” (Ketubot ibid.). Based on this source, it seems that we must remain

outside of Israel until the Messiah arrives. As long as the “day of remembrance” has

not yet come making aliyah is forbidden. But Rabbi Zeira had an intense desire to

come to Eretz Yisrael and understood the verse from Yirmiyahu differently: he saw it as

referring to the Temple’s vessels, i.e. the Temple’s vessels will not return to

Eretz Yisrael until the “day of remembrance.” He therefore avoided his teacher. He did

not go to him to say goodbye and he did not receive his blessing.

During many periods in history, there have been those who claim that people should not

make aliyah for this or that reason. A person who wants to make aliyah always has to

struggle with these arguments. Our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah, brings each of these

claims and systematically rejects them (ibid. p. 57): some claim that it is dangerous,

others argue that there is no mitzvah to make aliyah when it is “impossible” to make a

living there, and still others say that we should not make aliyah because there is a fear

of spiritual decline. There are also those who say that there is no mitzvah when one’s

parents are opposed or because Israelis are rude (despite the fact that they are

speaking Lashon Hara against the Nation of Israel!). This is also similar to what the

Chief Rabbi of Israel, HaRav Yitzchak Nissim once told our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi

Yehudah: he spoke with an American fundraiser for Israeli causes and told him that all

of the Jews of America need to make aliyah. The fundraiser responded: If everyone

makes aliyah, who will donate the money to the support the State of Israel? HaRav

Nissim answered: “It is written that Eretz Yisrael is the “Land flowing with milk and

honey” and she is similar to a nursing mother: just as she produces milk when her

children nurse from her, so too is Eretz Yisrael flowing with milk and honey when all of

her children return to her – “And we can send it to America!” (From the booklet “Arba’im

Le-Binah” by HaRav Yitzchak Shlita, pp. 27-28). Rabbi Zeira also had to struggle with

his Rav’s position, but he decided to make aliyah anyway, on account of his intense

desire to do so. The Gemara in Shabbat (41a) says that Rabbi Zeira wanted to hear

one more teaching of Rav Yehudah before leaving Babylonia. He went in secret, since

he feared that Rav Yehudah would demand that he not leave. So he heard a final

teaching and left without saying goodbye (see the booklet “Lo Yaalu BeChomah – Do

Not Ascend Like a Wall” of HaRav Shlomo Aviner, who brings thirteen different reasons

why Rav Yehudah’s opinion against aliyah and later the Megilat Esther’s opinion is not

accepted in Halachah). Rabbi Zeira shows us that one needs to overcome the naysayers to fulfill the

dream of returning to our natural home.

 

  1. Preparations for Aliyah

Once Rabbi Zeira decided to go on aliyah, he had many physical and spiritual

preparations to make, just like every “Oleh Chadash” today. First he had to close down

his exilic life. The Gemara in Baba Metzia (85a) says that before Rabbi Zeira made

aliyah, he fasted for 100 (or 40) days in order to forget all of the Gemara he learned in

Babylonia. Rashi explains that the style of learning in Israel was entirely different than

that practiced in Babylonia. The Babylonian style of deciding Halachah involved hair-

splitting argumentation, while the style in Israel was more straightforward and non-

argumentative. So in order to prepare himself for the new style, Rabbi Zeira fasted.

Maran (our revered teacher) HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook pointed out

another major difference between the two types of Torah learning. He suggests that a

life led outside of Israel and the Torah that is taught there is of an individual nature,

whereas life in Israel and the Torah of Eretz Yisrael, is of a communal nature. This is

the reason that Rabbi Zeira fasted: in order to prepare himself for communal life in the

Land of Israel (see the article Torat Eretz Yisrael in the book “Chayei Olam” of HaRav

Shlomo Aviner, pp. 264-265).

The Gemara in Berachot (57a) reveals another of Rabbi Zeira’s pre-aliyah experiences.

We are told that he made aliyah only after seeing barley in a dream, which was a sign

that his transgressions had been removed. The Meharsha (ibid.) and the author of the

“Avnei Nezer” (Yoreh Deah #452) explain that Rabbi Zeira felt at this point that he had

reaching a high enough spiritual level, and was now suitable to dwell in the Land of

Israel.

 

  1. Making Aliyah

Our Rabbi HaRav Tzvi Yehudah, writes about Rabbi Zeira”s actual aliyah (Sichot Ha-

Rav Tzvi Yehudah, ibid. p. 82) that the passage from outside of Israel to Israel was by

way of the Jordan River. They were not, of course, as advanced as they are now and

the way to cross was by ferry. When Rabbi Zeira arrived, the ferry had already left. His

desire to reach Eretz Israel burned within him. He had waited in Exile long enough.

The ferry was only scheduled to come once or twice a day, but a great and holy person

like Rabbi Zeira, who burned with a holy fire, could no longer remain outside of Israel.

How long would he have to wait?! How many hours?! So he searched for an alternate

route. He spotted a narrow beam with a rope for support. He climbed on the beam with

great effort and exertion, and finally managed to cross the Jordan (Ketubot 112a with

Rashi, and see Yerushalami, Shevi’it 4:7). A Karaite said: You are a hasty Nation. Wait

a few hours! At the giving of the Torah, you were also a hasty Nation when you

preceded “Na’aseh – we will do” with “Nishma – we will listen” (Shemot 24:7). This is

hastiness. First you should have heard what was being said and only then committed to

doing it. You should have said “We will listen and we will do.” Wait a little and arrive in

Eretz Yisrael in a normal way! Rabbi Zeira responded to the Karaite: “Moshe and

Aharon did not merit entering this Land. Who says that I will merit to enter it?” i.e. I must

seize the chance when I have it!

There are always impediments to setting a time for making aliyah. Some say: “Now is

not the most appropriate time” or “after this or that happens, we will make aliyah.”

Others say: “We have a three-year plan or a five-year plan.” But most often, there is no

“perfect” time to make aliyah. There is always another “reason” to wait. Three-years or

five-years have passed… Although one should certainly plan for aliyah, Rabbi Zeira

teaches us that we must not allow the mitzvah to become “leavened” by delaying its

performance (Rashi on Shemot 12:17 from the Mechilta). If we wait too long, the

mitzvah passes us by. One must make aliyah when the opportunity appears, when the

feelings burn within you, as Maran HaRav Kook writes in “Orot” (Eretz Yisrael 6): “The

more difficult it is for one to tolerate the air outside of Israel, the more one feels the

impure spirit of an impure land – this is a sign of a greater internal absorption of the

holiness of Eterz Yisrael.”

 

  1. “All Beginnings are Difficult” or “The Land of Israel is Acquired through Suffering”

The beginning of Rabbi Zeira”s aliyah was not without difficulties. The Midrash relates

some of Rabbi”s Zeira’s aliyah experiences to teach us that the ingathering of the exiles

requires the new immigrants to adjust to their new lives, to a new place and a new

culture. The Jerusalem Talmud (Yerushalami, Berachot 2:8) relates that when Rabbi

Zeira came to Tiveria, he entered a butcher shop to buy some meat. The butcher, who

recognized that he was an “Oleh Chadash” from Babylonia (based on his accent),

demanded 50 perutot for the meat, and an additional slap on the face. Rabbi Zeira said

that he would pay 60 perutot if he could be spared the slap. The butcher refused.

Rabbi Zeira suggested 70, 80…until he reached 100, but the butcher refused. In the

end, Rabbi Zeira accepted the strange terms of sale and allowed the butcher to do as

he desired, thinking that this must be the local custom. That night, at a meeting with the

local Rabbis, Rabbi Zeira complained about this disgusting custom that a person cannot

eat meat without suffering a slap to the face. The Rabbis were shocked at this and

asked for an explanation. He told them what happened. They sent for the butcher, but

when the messengers arrived, they saw that the butcher was no longer among the

living.

There are times when “Olim Chadashim” must overcome all sorts of situations and

complications that arise. Such were the early days of Rabbi Zeira”s aliyah. In a similar

story to the one above, the Midrash says (Shir Hashirim 8:9): Rabbi Zeira went to the

marketplace to buy something and said to the person who was weighing the produce:

That was weighed very fairly. The merchant responded: “Get out of here, Babylonian,

because your ancestors destroyed the Temple!” Rabbi Zeira was surprised and said:

“Aren’t my ancestors the same as his?!” Rabbi Zeira entered the house of study and

heard Rabbi Sheila who was sitting and explaining the verse from Shir HaShirim (ibid.):

“If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver, but if she is a door, we will

barricade her with planks of cedar” – If you would have made yourselves like a wall, and

all of you would have ascended in the days of Ezra, you would have been compared to

silver, but now that you ascended like doors [opening then closing]  you are compared to cedar which is

subject to decay (see similarly Yoma 9b). Rabbi Zeira said: “The unlearned person

taught me well.” We see that even after Rabbi Zeira”s aliyah, he was still considered an

“Oleh Chadash” from Babylonia. Every new immigrant comes to Eretz Yisrael with the

mentality, culture, history and accent of the country from which he emigrates (Each

person also arrives, by the way, with his own germs! New emigrants often get sick a lot

upon making aliyah because they are not use to the germs in Eretz Yisrael. A common

joke: do not say “Olim Chadashim” rather “CHolim Chadashim” – new sick ones!). It

takes time – often a long time – to integrate into Israeli society.

 

  1. Love of the Land and the People

Despite all of the difficult situations which Rabbi Zeira experienced in making aliyah, he

had a great love for the Land of Israel and its citizens, and was thrilled that he had

merited the mitzvah of making aliyah. Rabbi Zeira valued the residents of Eretz Yisrael

as he said: “Even the simple conversations of the residents of the Land of Israel are

Torah” (Vayikra Rabbah 34:7 and see what he said about Babylonians – Beitzah 16a

and Nedarim 49b). He understood his own ascension in Torah learning as being in the

merit of dwelling in the Land of Israel. For example, see the Gemara in Shabbat (53a)

and Maran HaRav Kook”s explanation in Ain Ayah (vol. 3, p. 15-16), where we learn

that only in Eretz Yisrael can one see the bright light of Torah, as it says in Tehillim

(50:2): “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, G-d appeared.” The famous statement

“The air of the Land of Israel makes one wise” (Baba Batra 158b) came from Rabbi

Zeira. But our Rabbi HaRav Tzvi Yehudah (Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehudah – Devarim, p.

510 and Le-Netivot Yisrael vol. 2, pp. 31-32) states that dwelling in the Land of Israel

needs to be out of a devotion to the holiness of the Land, and not for any other benefit

(see Pirkei Avot 4:5). Rabbi Zeira was already a Torah giant in Babylonia. He did not

come to the Land of Israel in order to increase his wisdom. His greatness came from

his delight in and cleaving to Eretz Yisrael (see the eulogy delivered for him – Megillah

6a and Moed Katan 25b). Despite the difficulties Rabbi Zeria experienced upon his

arrival, he remembered his deep yearning for our Holy Land, he remembered that he

overcame the claims of those opposed to his aliyah, he remembered the incredible

preparations he made, he remembered his immense effort not to be delayed outside of

Israel and to reach the Holy Land, and he remembered that even before his aliyah he

was an Israeli who yearned to return home.

 

May it be the will of Hashem our G-d and the G-d of our Forefathers that every “Oleh Chadash” has a “Kelita Tova Ve-Kalla” – a good and easy absorption – within the Nation of Israel who dwells in the Land of Israel.

Mordechai Zvi Ha-Levi Friedfertig

Buffalo, New York – in the Exile

And now in Eretz Yisrael

Yom Ha-Atzmaut 5767

 

Chapter 1

ONE WHO HAS DECIDED TO MAKE ALIYAH IS CONSIDERED AS IF HE IS ALREADY IN THE LAND

 

In the book Eim Ha-Banim Semeichah (p. 34 and pp. 252-253 in the “Peri Ha-Aretz”

Edition), HaRav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal quotes from the “Sefer Ha-Chaim” of

Rabbenu Chaim, the brother of the Maharal of Prague. Rabbenu Chaim explains the

Gemara in Ketubot (111a) where it is said that during the Resurrection of the Dead

those who are buried outside of Israel will travel to the Land of Israel by the painful

process of rolling through underground tunnels. Rabbenu Chaim explains that one who

made an effort to make aliyah during his lifetime, but died outside of Israel is considered

as if he were already in the Land of Israel and will thus be spared this pain. He will be

resurrected in an upright position (Sefer Geulah Vi-Yeshua, end of chap. 1). The Mabit

– HaRav Moshe Mi-Trani – who served on Rav Yosef Karo’s Beit Din, similarly writes in

the book “Beit Elokim” (Shaar Ha-Yesodot chapter 55): We hold that the Resurrection

will only occur in the Land of Israel, and those who die outside of the Land will suffer by

rolling through the underground tunnels, but those who were making aliyah and died for

some reason in the middle of their journey will merit immediate resurrection outside of

the Land and will complete the aliyah which they began while they were still alive. He

brings a proof from those who were resurrected by Yechezkel (37:1-14), which occurred

outside of Israel in the valley of Beit Dura. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (92b) explains

that these were the men of the Tribe of Efraim who calculated the end of Egyptian Exile

but erred in their calculation. They left Egypt early and were killed on the way to Eretz

Yisrael (see Divrei Ha-Yamim 1 7:20). They were then resurrected by the prophet

Yechezkel, went to the Land of Israel and found wives for themselves. One of the

Rabbis of the Gemara, Rabbi Yehudah ben Beteirah, once stood up and said: I am one

of their descendants. Thus, even though they died outside of Israel they were still able

to make aliyah. Since they died while on their way to performing this mitzvah, Hashem

wanted to give them the merit of completing the mitzvah which they began (Sanhedrin

92b). HaRav Teichtal writes that both of these authorities (Rabbenu Chaim and the

Mabit) are teaching the same idea: One who sets his eyes and heart towards making

aliyah is considered as if he is already in the Land of Israel. It is clear that the decision

to make aliyah to our Holy Land brings about great and powerful results.

This idea can help resolve a difficulty brought up by the Chatam Sofer in his responsa

(Yoreh Deah 2:332) regarding the proper position in which to bury someone. He writes

that he heard a “pearl of wisdom” that we bury people with their feet toward the

cemetery gate. This is in order to hint at the Resurrection of the Dead, since in the

future the person will arise from his grave and leave through the gate. This is similar to

the idea that one should be buried in nice shrouds to hint at the future when he will be

resurrected in that clothing. The Chatam Sofer points out that this explanation is difficult

to understand considering the fact that those who are buried outside of Israel will travel

to the Land of Israel via rolling through underground tunnels, and will therefore not leave

through the gate. He continues by explaining that our Sages established the line “And

lead us upright to our Land” in the blessing of Ahavah Rabbah recited before the Shema

in Shacharit as a prayer not to arrive to the Land of Israel by rolling through the

underground tunnels after death, but by walking there upright while still alive. But we

can answer the difficulty raised by the Chatam Sofer as to why we bury the dead with

their feet in the direction of the gate through the position of Rabbenu Chaim and the

Mabit: one who always expects to make aliyah, whose eyes and heart are there his

entire life, merits making aliyah even after death. He will walk upright through the gate,

and continue his ascent to the Land of Israel.

 

  1. Reciting “Mi She-Berach” Before Making Aliyah

There is an ancient custom to recite a “Mi She-Berach” for all types of situations and

occasions. Because this blessing does not contain Hashem’s Name, and does not

therefore risk reciting a blessing in vain, dozens of such prayers have been composed

over the course of the generations: for someone receiving an aliyah to the Torah, for the

sick, for those who fast “Behab” (a custom in which some people fast on the Monday,

Thursday and Monday following Pesach and Sukkot to atone for the possibility that they

sinned while eating and drinking during the holiday), for the soldiers of Tzahal, for

captive soldiers and for many others. In 5761, an apparently unique “Mi She-Berach”

was published in the parashah sheet of Bar Ilan University (Parashat Tazria-Metzora

5761). Brought down by Dr. Aharon Arned, it is a special “Mi She-Berach” for “Olim

Chadashim.” The prayer was composed around 5708-5709 in Ujda, in eastern

Morocco, for Jews immigrating to Israel. It conveys the hope that the immigrants be

protected along their way (using a variant of the prayer for travelers), that they have

long life in the Land of Israel and that the remaining Jews in Morocco speedily

immigrate to Israel. Dr. Arned postulates that it was recited in Shul prior to the

departure for Israel of members of the community. The text of the prayer is as follows

(see Hebrew section for the original):

 

May He who blessed our pure and holy forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and

Yaakov, Moshe and Aharon, David and Shlomo, bless, protect and safeguard

all our brethren the Children of Israel, men, women and children, young and

old, who are setting out across sea, land, and air to immigrate to the Land of

our forefathers. May the King of Kings in His mercy protect them, keep them

alive and deliver them from all hardship and harm. May the King of Kings in

His mercy cancel all evil and harsh decrees against them and us, and decree

good fortune for them and for us, bringing them to their destination in peace,

to live a long life in the Holy Land. May the King of Kings in His mercy

hasten our Redemption and our immigration to our Land, that we may enjoy

our days there in goodness to devote ourselves to Torah and Divine worship.

May the Redeemer come to Zion, so be it, and let us say: Amen.

It is certainly praiseworthy and proper to publically bless the Oleh or Olim before their

departure in order to strengthen them, to encourage others to make aliyah and to

sanctify Hashem”s Name as these Jews fulfill the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel.

 

  1. Kissing the Stones of the Land Upon Arriving in Eretz Yisrael- The conduct of the Rabbis of the Gemara upon reaching the borders of the Land

The custom of kissing the stones of the Land of Israel when one arrives at her border is

based on the Gemara in Ketubot (112a-b). There, it describes how our Rabbis acted:

Rabbi Abba used to kiss the stones of Acco, while Rabbi Chanina would repair its

roads. Rashi explains: he fixed them because he loved them and feared that people

would disparage the roads. The Tosafot explains differently: Rabbi Abba and Rabbi

Chanina would weigh the rocks. If they were light they would say that they have not yet

entered Israel, but when they were found them to be heavy, they would know that they

had arrived in Israel. The Midrash Tanchuma on Parashat Shelach Lecha says that

when Rabbi Chanina Ha-Gadol came from Babylonia to Israel, he would weigh the

stones. When they were heavy, he would kiss them, as it says (Tehillim 102:15): “For

Your servants desire her stones.” Rabbi Chiya bar Gamda would not only kiss the

stones of Eretz Yisrael, he would also roll in its dust, as it says (ibid.): “For Your

servants desire her stones, and love her dust.” The Rambam in Hilchot Melachim

(5:10) quotes this Gemara: “The great Sages would kiss the borders of the Land of

Israel and kiss its stones and roll in its dirt, as it says: “For Your servants desire her

stones, and love her dust.” It is interesting to note that the Rambam rarely relates

midrashim in his great work. The mention of this custom is thus exceptional. So we

see that it is an ancient custom to express one’s love for the Land of Israel by kissing

her stones upon arrival.

  1. Kissing the Stones and Not the Dirt

Some ask on this Gemara: why did Rabbi Abba kiss the stones in particular and not the

dirt? Our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah, explains in the name of Maran HaRav Kook

that even though these stones do not yield fruit, Rabbi Abba still kissed them. If Rabbi

Abba had kissed the clumps of dirt, people would have thought that he was doing so

because the ground would produce fruit, and the importance and holiness of the Land of

Israel only flows from the mitzvot which are dependent on the Land (such as Terumot,

Ma”asrot, etc…). But Rabbi Abba’s love for Eretz Yisrael was a love independent of all

else and so he even kissed her stones and rocks (Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehudah – Eretz

Yisrael p. 36, 211 and also in the book “Malachim Kevnei Adam” p. 237).

  1. Acco was Outside of Israel”s Borders

Based on a Mishnah in Gittin (1:1-2), the Rishonim (Rabbis of the Middle Ages) raise a

question about Rabbi Abba”s conduct. This mishnah teaches that someone who brings

a “Get” (divorce document) from outside of Israel must testify that it was written

“lishma,” i.e., expressly for the sake of the particular couple’s divorce. Rabbi Yehudah

says that Acco marks the northern border of Israel, and is therefore considered at that

time to be outside of Israel. The Rishonim therefore ask: if Acco is outside of Israel,

why would Rabbi Abba kiss its stones? The Tosafot explain based on the Yerushalmi

(Jerusalem Talmud) that half of Acco was indeed Israel and half was outside. Rabbi

Abba would only kiss the stones of Acco that were from the part that was inside Israel”s

border (Tosafot to Ketubot ibid.). The Ramban and the Ritba (Gittin 2:1) discuss at

what period Acco was conquered and sanctified, and agree that the sanctity was only

for as long as the Jews were there. They therefore explain that the mitzvot that are only

performed in the Land do not apply in Acco, which was not re-conquered by the Jews

who returned from Babylonian Exile. Nonetheless, the Jews” love of the Land never

ceased and Rabbi Abba expressed it by kissing its stones.

  1. The Holiness of the Stones and Dirt of the Land of Israel when they are brought

elsewhere.

The stones and dirt of Eretz Yisrael possess holiness even when they are outside of

Israel. Their holiness, however, is not the same level as when they are physically

located in Eretz Yisrael. We see this in the book “Doleh U-Mashkeh” (p. 308) where

HaRav Chaim Kanievski was asked: if one takes the dirt of Eretz Yisrael outside of

Israel and dwells on it, does he fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in Eretz Yisrael? His

response: No. Nonetheless, there are two episodes which demonstrate the importance

of the stones and dirt of Eretz Yisrael even when they are outside of Israel: 1. Rashi

writes on Tehillim 102:15, based on a midrash, that when Yechonyahu was exiled and

left Israel for Babylonia, the Jews who went with him took stones and dirt of Jerusalem

with them in order to build a shul in Babylonia. Similarly, there are communities in

America who have imported Jerusalem Stone in order to build an entire shul, or a wall

within one. 2. There is also a well-known custom of Jews who live outside of Israel to

place dirt from Israel in their graves. This custom is mentioned by the Rama (Yoreh

Deah 363). HaRav Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky in the book “Gesher Ha-Chaim” (vol. 1,

chap. 23 #10) cites the source for this custom in the Jerusalem Talmud (Kilayim 9:3),

where Rebbe bar Kiriya and Rabbi Eleazar saw coffins being brought to Israel for burial.

Rebbe bar Kiriya said, “What benefit is it to them?” And he applied the following verse

from Yirmiyahu (2:7), “And they came and made My Land impure” – in their death and

“You made My inheritance into an abomination” – during their lives. Rabbi Eleazar

responds that when the coffins arrived in Israel they would place dirt of the Land in them

and they would be forgiven, as it says (Devarim 32:43) “His Land will atone for His

Nation.” Rav Tucanzinsky raises a difficulty here: they are discussing placing the dirt in

the coffins in Eretz Yisrael, but where does it say that the dirt of Eretz Yisrael contains

its holiness and its unique character even when it is outside of the Land? We in fact

seem to learn just the opposite in Mishnah Challah (2:2), where it says that dirt of Eretz

Yisrael which is located outside of Eretz Yisrael is exempt from the mitzvot dependent

on the Land, and dirt from outside of Eretz Yisrael which is located in Eretz Yisrael is

obligated in the mitzvot dependent on the Land. It thus appears as if the issue is

completely dependent on where the dirt is located, and not on the source of the material

itself. If this is true though, what advantage would there be in placing the dirt of Eretz

Yisrael in a grave outside of Eretz Yisrael? After all, dirt is just dirt when it”s outside of

Eretz Yisrael. HaRav Tucazinsky resolves this difficulty by explaining that the holiness

of the Land – and thus the obligation to observe the mitzvot dependent on the Land – is

found when both the air and the dirt of Eretz Yisrael are present simultaneously. The

dirt of Eretz Yisrael without the air of Eretz Yisrael does not possess its full holiness, but

it does contain a portion of the holiness and its treasured status. This dirt that has been

removed from the Land will also return to its source and its rightful place in Eretz Yisrael

during the Resurrection of the Dead (see Ma”avar Yabok, Sefat Emet, chap. 27, who

also explains the connection between placing the dirt of Eretz Yisrael in the grave and

the verse “For Your servants desire her stones”).

  1. Expressing a love of the Land through Kissing

An additional proof which demonstrates the appropriateness of expressing our love for

Eretz Israel by kissing its stones is found in the Gemara in Sukkah (53a): It was told

about Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel that on Sukkot he rejoiced at the Simchat Beit Ha-

Shoevah in the Temple and would juggle eight torches. He would also perfrom “Kidah”

– bowing on his thumbs – and kiss the ground. Rashi explains that he would do this in

fulfillment of the verse: “For Your servants desire her stones.” A similar idea is brought

by HaRav Moshe Tzvi Neriyah in the book “Chayei Ha-Re”eiyah” (pp. 208-209 and

Melachim Kivnei Adam, p. 404), where we learn that when the previous Lubavitcher

Rebbe – HaRav Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson – visited the Holy Land, Maran HaRav

Kook asked him about the purpose of his visit. The Rebbe explained that he would like

to make an annual pilgrimage to the graves of the righteous in Russia, but it was no

longer possible under the Bolshevik regime. To this Maran HaRav Kook responded:

“In Eretz Yisrael, each and every step in every place contains holiness. It is proper to

prostrate yourself, as it says “Rabbi Abba would kiss the stones of Acco” (Ketubot

112a).

  1. Kissing Mitzvot

The Mishnah Berurah (477:5) writes in the name of the Shelah: “I have seen exalted

individuals kiss the matzot, the maror, the Sukkah, when entering and exiting, and the

four species in the Lulav all to express the love of the mitzvot. Fortunate is one who

serves Hashem in joy.” The Chayei Adam (klal 130, a summary of the laws of the seder

#7): “And there are those who kiss it (the matzah) in order to express the love of the

mitzvah in their eyes.” The custom among the Nation of Israel is to kiss the vessels

through which we perform mitzvot in order to express our love for them. This is true all

the more so regarding the fulfillment of the exalted mitzvah of settling Eretz Yisrael.

  1. What Ha-Griz did upon arriving in Eretz Yisrael

The book “Uvdot Ve-Hanhagot Le-Beit Brisk” (vol.1, pp. 342-343) relates that when Ha-

Griz, HaRav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, arrived in Eretz Yisrael he did not kiss the

stones. When he was asked why he did not do so, he pointed to the words of the

Rambam in Hilchot Melachim (5:10): “The great Sages would kiss the borders of the

Land of Israel and kiss its stones and roll in its dirt, etc.” Since the Rambam specifies

“the great Sages,” we see that it is not proper for everyone to act this way, rather only

those who truly feel the holiness of the Land. Someone asked HaRav Meshulam David

Soloveitchik, the son of Ha-Griz and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Brisk, about the words of

the Rambam in Hilchot Matanot Aniyim (Laws of Gift to the Poor 10:9): “The great

Sages would give a coin to the poor before each prayer, and then pray, as it says, “I will

see Your face in righteousness”” (Tehillim 17:15). According to the opinion of Ha-Griz, it

would seem that we should refrain from giving Tzedakah before praying since the

halachah specifies that “The great Sages” acted this way. He answered that in this

case even one who is not on the level of the great Sages still fulfills the mitzvah of

giving Tzedakah in this way. This is not the case, however, with kissing the stones of

Israel, since the act of kissing stones is devoid of meaning unless one feels the holiness

of the Land, and this is the sole purview of “the great Sages.”

  1. The Actions of Maran HaRav Kook and HaRav Aviner

We – the lowly ones – however, have learned from the great Sages to feel the holiness

of the Land. We may therefore follow in their path. When Maran HaRav Kook made

aliyah and reached the port in Yafo, “he sighed in an emotion of holiness and kissed the

holy ground” (Tal Ha-Re”eiyah, p. 191). I once asked HaRav Shlomo Aviner what he

did when he made aliyah [from France]. He answered: I kissed the ground and recited

“Shehechiyanu.” Kissing the ground upon arrival in our Holy Land is therefore a proper

custom.

 

  1. Saying a Blessing on the Mitzvah of Settling Eretz Yisrael

 

  1. The Question

When HaRav Yehudah Leib Maimon, the Mizrachi leader who became Israel”s first

Minister of Religious affairs, made aliyah in 5668, he had a question: does one who

merits settling in the Land of Israel recite a blessing upon its fulfillment? His search for

an answer developed into an article which can be found at the end of the Mossad Ha-

Rav Kook edition of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. HaRav Maimon writes that he scoured

the works of the Rishonim and Achronim (the Earlier and Later authorities) but did not

find any discussion of this issue. He asks in astonishment: why, when the Ramban

says it is a Torah mitzvah to dwell in the Land of Israel (Additions to Sefer Ha-Mitzvot of

the Rambam, Mitzvat Aseh #4), and various Sages say that dwelling in the Land of

Israel is equivalent to all of the other mitzvot (Sifri, Parashat Re”eh), is there no blessing

to recite upon making aliyah? Even if we say that it is a Rabbinic mitzvah there should

still be a blessing, as we also recite blessings on Rabbinic mitzvot (Shabbat 23a

explaining Devarim 17:11 and Rambam, Hilchot Berachot 11:3). There are even

authorities who say that we recite a blessing on certain customs (Tosafot in the name of

Rabbenu Tam, Bereachot 14a). HaRav Maimon suggests that perhaps there is no

mitzvah to dwell in Eretz Yisrael nowadays. He bases this thought on the opinion of

Rabbenu Chaim in the Tosafot (Ketubot 110b) that the journey to Israel is fraught with

danger, poverty and other difficulties which make it impossible to observe the mitzvot

connected to the Land. Settling in the Land cannot therefore be a mitzvah, as living

there would lead to the violation of many commandments. This idea is also found in the

Megillat Esther on the Ramban (ibid.) where he brings another proof from Rav Yehudah

who says that “Anyone who goes from Babylonia to Eretz Yisrael transgresses a

positive mitzvah.” Another possibility is that whether or not settling the Land is a

mitzvah, a blessing is never said since it is a case of doubt. HaRav Maimon eventually

rejects these suggestions explaining that in the words of the Maharit (2:28), this

statement of Rabbenu Chaim is unreliable, having in fact been penned by an errant

student. In any case, authorities have already ruled that the Halachah follows the

Ramban (see Pitchei Teshuvah, Even Ha-Ezer, chap. 75) that settling the Land of Israel

is a mitzvah. And so we are left with the question: why don’t the authorities require us

to recite a blessing on this mitzvah?

  1. Answers
  2. Explanations of HaRav Maimon

HaRav Maimon offers three solutions to this question:

  1. The reason we do not recite a blessing is not because there is no mitzvah to make

aliyah nowadays, but the contrary: because it is such a great and exalted mitzvah,

which constantly applies. There has already been much discussion among our Rabbis

as to why we recite blessings on certain mitzvot and not on others (see Shut Ha-

Rashba 1:18 and Biur Ha-Gra on Orach Chaim 8 #2). The Or Zarua (vol. 1 – Hilchot

Bircat Ha-Motzi siman 140) wrote that for any mitzvah which is required to be performed

at a specific time – such as Tzitzit, Tefillin, Sukkah, Mezuzah, Brit Milah, Shema, etc.,

one is obligated to recite a blessing out of love for their performance. But for mitzvot

which are not time-bound, such as believing in Hashem, fearing Him, loving Him,

heeding His voice, cleaving to Him, not worshipping idols, etc., we do not recite a

blessing. HaRav Maimon thus explains that we do not recite a blessing over settling in

the Land of Israel because one is always required to live in the Land of Israel, as is

written in the Gemara in Ketubot (110b): “A person should always live in the Land of

Israel, even in a city in which the majority of residents are idol worshipers,” and it is

forbidden to leave the Land. Because this mitzvah is incumbent upon us always, there

is no time during which one is exempt from it, and one does therefore not recite a

blessing over it.

  1. Another reason cited by HaRav Maimon for not reciting a blessing upon making aliyah

is based on an explanation found in the Aruch Shulchan (Choshen Mishpat 427:10).

HaRav Yechiel Michel Epstein explains that the formula of the blessing for mitzvot:

“Asher Kiddishanu Ve-Mitzvotav – Who has made us holy with His Mitzvot” teaches that

the commandments are what make us distinct and holy from other people. If a given

mitzvah is intellectually valued by non-Jews, and therefore not particular to Jews alone,

we do not recite a blessing on it. Giving tzedakah, honoring father and mother, helping

someone lift their fallen animal, standing and honoring the elderly and wise, having

scales that are weighted correctly… are all “mitzvot” valued and performed by non-Jews

as well, and thus do not have a blessing associated with them. Based on this idea, we

can understand why our Sages did not establish a blessing for the mitzvah of settling in

the Land of Israel, since the obligation to dwell in our Land and to build it up is a mitzvah

with intrinsic intellectual value: many other nations have similarly inhabited and built up

their own lands and countries. We therefore do not recite the typical formula “Asher

Kiddishanu Ve-Mitzvotav – Who has made us holy with His Mitzvot” for this mitzvah.

  1. Many Achronim (later authorities) ask: why don”t we recite a blessing over the mitzvot of

eating the three meals on Shabbat or eating on Erev Yom Kippur? HaRav Maimon

answers that for any mitzvah that contains a physical benefit, a person must be

extremely careful to perform it for the sake of heaven, and not just to satisfy his physical

pleasure. If a person does not have the proper intention while performing such a

mitzvah, however, he nevertheless fulfills it, but certainly not in the preferred manner. It

is because a person may perform such a mitzvah for the “wrong” reason that

permission was not granted to recite the blessing “Who made us holy with His

Mitzvot…” From this, we may deduce that there is no blessing on the mitzvah of

dwelling in Eretz Yisrael because there is a physical benefit to it. After all, Eretz Yisrael

is a good Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey, and people may very well settle in it

not for the sake of the mitzvah but for their own personal gain. We see this same idea

expressed in the Gemara in Pesachim (8b): Why aren’t the fruits of Ginosar (which are

unbelievably tasty – see Berachos 44A) found in Jerusalem? Lest people say “it was

enough to come to Jerusalem to eat the fruits,” and then the “Aliyah Le-Regel” (the

mitzvah of visiting the Temple on Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot) would not be for the

sake of the mitzvah, but rather for the physical benefits of eating her fruits. And why

aren’t the hot springs of Tiveria in Jerusalem? Lest people say “it was enough to come

to Jerusalem for the hot springs,” and then the “Aliyah Le-Regel” would not be for the

sake of the mitzvah.

 

  1. Explanation of Maran HaRav Kook

HaRav Maimon writes (ibid.) that when he merited making aliyah and met Maran Ha-

Rav Kook face-to-face, he related his ideas about why there is no blessing recited on

dwelling in Eretz Yisrael. Maran HaRav Kook responded by nodding his head and

saying: “Yasher!” (Way to go!). Maran HaRav Kook added that according to the

Ramban the mitzvah of settling in the Land of Israel is only the beginning of the mitzvah.

The continuation is to redeem the Land from non-Jews, conquer it, make it blossom,

inhabit it, rebuild its ruins, etc. These acts, however, are also dependent upon external

factors, i.e. the permission of the non-Jews, and as the Rashba (Shut Ha-Rashba 1:18)

explains, we do not recite a blessing on a mitzvah that is not solely dependent on the

one who performs it. Maran HaRav Kook explains that the Rabbis therefore did not

establish a blessing on the mitzvah of dwelling in the Land of Israel, as the dwelling

itself is considered only the beginning for a mitzvah, the main purpose of which is not

solely dependent on the person making aliyah.

  1. Explanation of HaRav Mordechai Fogelman

In Shut Beit Mordechai (#28), HaRav Mordechai Fogelman, former Rav of Kiryat

Motzkin in Haifa, writes that Maran HaRav Kook”s answer leaves room for an

innovative ruling. Maran HaRav Kook explains that there is no blessing on making

aliyah since dwelling in Israel is not completely dependent on us, i.e. even if Jews

desire to live in Israel, we may only do so with permission of the nations of the world. In

our days, however, because of Hashem”s kindness, the situation has completely

changed. After nearly two thousand years of exile, enslavement and persecution, the

State of Israel is accepted by almost all of the nations of the world and the gates of our

homeland are open for aliyah from every corner of the Exile. Making aliyah is no longer

dependent on external factors, since it is completely in control of the Nation of Israel

and the Government of Israel. Therefore, from the time of the establishment of the

State of Israel onwards, we must count the mitzvah of dwelling in the Land of Israel as a

mitzvah whose performance is within our control. We should therefore recite a blessing

on its performance, in accordance with the Rashba (Shut Ha-Rashba ibid.). Various

difficulties arise, however, if we say that every new immigrant to the State of Israel

today is required to recite a blessing. First, do we even have the authority to establish

new blessings? Does only someone who plans to settle permanently in the State of

Israel recite the blessing, or even someone who plans to live here temporarily? And if

we say that the blessing is only for permanent residents, when it is recited –

immediately upon placing one”s foot on the ground of the Land of Israel or after a certain

amount of time has passed? HaRav Fogelman discusses these questions and

concludes that we in fact already do recite such a blessing on the Land and have done

so for thousands of years: this is the second blessing of the Bircat Ha-Mazon which

concludes: “For the Land and for the food.” It is referred to as “The Blessing of the

Land.” Its source is in the Torah: “And you shall eat, be satisfied and bless Hashem,

your G-d, for the Land” (Devarim 8:10). The Gemara in Berachot (48b) says that the

word “for the Land” is the “The Blessing of the Land.” Yehoshua Bin Nun established

this blessing upon entering the Land (Berachot ibid.), and the exact wording was

created by the Men of the Great Assembly, and the Sages of following generations

(Shut Tashbetz vol. 2 #161). According to this, “Olim Chadashim” are not obligated to

recite a special blessing for the Land. HaRav Fogelman further states that we in fact

already have an ancient and exalted blessing that we are obligated to recite upon

making aliyah: Shehechiyanu (see the next Teshuvah on reciting Shehechiyanu upon

making aliyah).

  1. Explanation of HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach

HaRav Auerbach says that perhaps we do not recite a blessing on the fulfillment of the

mitzvah of settling in the Land of Israel because we do not want to appear as if it is a

yoke upon us, since we were commanded to do so. On the contrary: we are happy and

yearn to dwell in the Holy Land, as the Vilna Gaon says in his famous letter: “[The Land]

which the upper ones and lower ones desire to dwell in” (“Halichot Shlomo – Moadim”

vol. 2, chap. 9 note 224 and Chichu Mamtakim vol. 1, p. 53).

  1. Explanation of HaRav Chaim Kanievski

HaRav Chaim Kanievski states that there is no blessing on settling in Eretz Yisrael

because it is a mitzvah which constantly applies (“Aleinu Leshabei”ach – Bemidbar” p.

555). This is the same explanation as the first resolution proposed by HaRav Maimon.

  1. Explanation of HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein

HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein, Rav of Ramat Elchanan in Bnei Brak and Rosh Kollel “Beit

David” in Holon, explains that the natural place of the Nation of Israel is in Eretz Yisrael:

Every Jew should be born here and remain here during the course of his entire life. On

account of our many sins, however, we were exiled from our Land and only now “are

returning to the source.” The Rabbis did not establish a blessing for those who make

aliyah because they are in essence arriving in Eretz Yisrael unnaturally. That there was

no blessing for the generation of the desert who entered the Land is explained by the

fact that their aliyah took place before the Rabbis established blessings for performing

mitzvot (the book “Aleinu Le-Shabei”ach – Bemidbar, p. 555).

  1. Explanation of HaRav Yaakov Ariel

In Shut Be-Ohela Shel Torah (4:5), HaRav Yaakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan,

discusses the solutions given by HaRav Maimon (see there). HaRav Ariel writes that

according to the Rambam, the main component of the mitzvah of dwelling in the Land is

faith, as he brings from the Gemara: “Anyone who dwells in the Land is like one who

has a G-d” (Hilchot Melachim 5:12) and “the Land of Israel is an altar of atonement”

(ibid. 11). Based on this understanding, the Pnei Yehoshua (end of Massechet Ketubot)

states that the essential component of this mitzvah is one”s intention (kavannah). One

who does not have the intention of being granted atonement by dwelling in the Land will

not be granted atonement. There is no blessing on dwelling in Eretz Yisrael, then,

because there is no blessing on “kavannah.” Someone who is born in Israel can have

the intention to be granted atonement, but he cannot recite a blessing since he does not

perform any specific act. Someone who does make aliyah should in theory recite a

blessing because he does perform an act, but there are a few problems: 1. If the person

left Israel at some period when they were not halachically permitted to do so and thus

transgressed, it is not logical to recite a blessing upon returning since we do not recite a

blessing on an act which comes to correct a transgression (see Teshuvah of Ri ben

Pelet in Encyclopedia Talmudit, entry on Bircat Ha-Mitzvot note 84). The idea that we

were exiled from our Land on account of our sins similarly renders aliyah a corrective

move, over which there is no blessing. 2. If one on the other hand leaves Israel

temporarily, in accordance with the conditions laid down by Halachah, there is no

cessation of the mitzvah to settle the Land, and no blessing is necessary upon

returning. 3. If someone leaves Israel to settle outside of Israel, in accordance with the

conditions laid down by Halachah, or is forced to do so, there is still no blessing upon

one”s return as it is not the normal state of a Jew. This is similar to the fact that we do

not recite a blessing on “Chalitzah” since “Yibum” is the preferred act (Teshuvah of Ri

ben Pelet ibid.). The mitzvah of “Yibum” (whereby the brother of a deceased man

agrees to marry his widowed sister-in-law) is paralleled to living in Israel, while the less

preferable mitzvah of “Chalitzah” (whereby the widow is released by her brother-in-law

to marry someone else) is paralleled to living outside of Israel.

  1. Conclusion

HaRav Ariel (ibid.) suggests that when one recites the second blessing of the Bircat

Ha-Mazon, “The Blessing of the Land,” he should also have the intention for the

blessing to apply to the mitzvah of settling in Eretz Yisrael (HaRav Ariel does not

mention the Teshuvah of HaRav Fogelman in this context). It is certainly proper to

follow this suggestion, especially the first time an “Oleh Chadash” recites the Bircat Ha-

Mazon after making aliyah. It is in fact easy to put this idea into practice by making a

meal of thanksgiving when one merits arriving in our Holy Land.

 

  1. Reciting Shehechiyanu upon Making Aliyah

 

  1. The Opinion of HaRav Chaim Palagi

In Shut Lev Chaim (3:33), HaRav Chaim Palagi was asked: Is someone who merits

establishing his dwelling in Eretz Yisrael obligated to recite Shehechiyanu? HaRav

Palagi answers that one should not in fact recite Shehechiyanu for settling in Israel. He

brings as proof a comment made by the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 223:5), in

relation to whether or not one should recite this blessing on the purchase of holy books.

The Magen Avraham explains that one should not since the mitzvot were not given in

order for us to benefit from them (but rather to fulfill Hashem”s will), and because we

only recite Shehechiyanu on a mitzvah which is performed at specific times. HaRav

Palagi asks: if the Magen Avraham explains that we do not recite a blessing on

acquiring holy books because the mitzvot were not given in order for us to benefit from

them, why does he need to add that we only recite Shehechiyanu on a mitzvah which is

performed at specific times? Isn”t the first explanation enough? He answers that the

Magen Avraham’s second explanation is intended to counter the opinion of some

authorities that the mitzvot were given in order for us to benefit from them. Even these

authorities would agree, however, that we do not recite a blessing over a mitzvah which

is not performed at specific times. Because settling in Eretz Yisrael is similar to buying

holy books in that it is a mitzvah and it is not performed at a specific time, HaRav

Palagi rules that we do not recite Shehechiyanu. Ha-Palagi brings a further proof

against saying Shehechiyanu by pointing out that we only recite Shehechiyanu when we

are joyous. If, for example, a wealthy person buys an item and is not so excited about it

since he has an abundance of wealth, he does not recite a blessing. But if a poor

person buys the very same item, and is joyous, he does recite the blessing. HaRav

Palagi writes that when Jews come to Israel, they are overcome with grief on account of

her destruction, especially when they make the “Aliyah Le-Regel” (traveling to

Jerusalem for the three pilgrimage festivals – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot), and

remember the offering of the Pesach sacrifice by myriads of Jews and the grandeur of

the Cohain Gadol on Yom Kippur. Furthermore, when people come to pray Musaf at

the Kotel on holidays and say, “Because of our sins we were exiled from our Land,” they

burst out weeping. If this is so, how can we recite Shehechiyanu, since there is not only

a lack of joy, but even more, the arousal of a sorrow even greater than that experienced

outside of the Land?

  1. Suggestion of HaRav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal – In Theory but Not in Practice

HaRav Teichtal writes in the book “Eim Ha-Banim Semeichah” (p. 271 in the “Pri Ha-

Aretz” edition) that if he was not concerned that his colleagues and, all-the-more-so, his

Rabbis, would mock him, he would give the following innovative ruling: Just as our

Sages say that one who makes his own Lulav or Sukkah should recite Shehechiyanu

(Sukkah 46a and Menachot 42a), so too should one who begins working the Land of

Israel or building himself a house in Israel recite the same blessing. It is possible that

this person should do so even if his actions are not for himself, since working the Land

is something that is done to make it inhabitable – a benefit which is not necessarily for

one person alone (unlike the mitzvot of Lulav and Sukkah). Furthermore, see Tosafot

(Sukkah ibid.) who discuss the question of when it is appropriate to recite

Shehechiyanu. They conclude that we only recite Shehechiyanu for a mitzvah which

contains joy. In our case, HaRav Teichtal reasons, there is certainly joy, so it is proper

for anyone who begins working or building the Land to recite Shehechiyanu. He makes

clear however that his argument is only theoretical, and that in practice the great

authorities of the generation would have to agree on this point in order to make it so.

  1. In Practice
  2. Ha- Rav Mordechai Fogelman

 

In Shut Beit Mordechai (#28), HaRav Mordechai Fogelman writes that making aliyah to

the State of Israel is nothing like moving to the Land of Israel during the time when it

was ruled by foreigners, as during the time of HaRav Palagi. Someone who makes

aliyah today makes aliyah to the renewed State of Israel, for which we waited and

prayed over the course of many generations. Reciting Shehechiyanu upon making

aliyah to the State of Israel during our time expresses our joy and thanksgiving to the

Guardian of Israel, who after the Holocaust brought us from darkness to light, from

servitude to redemption. He has returned us to the Land of our forefathers and

prophets, to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, which had been in foreign hands ever

since the destruction of the Temple. Someone who makes aliyah today should

therefore give thanks to the Redeemer of Israel by reciting Shehechiyanu. HaRav

Fogelman (in siman #23) specifies the three halachic sources for an “Oleh Chadash” to

recite Shehechiyanu:

  1. The Gemara in Berachot (37b) and Menachot (75b) states that if one is standing in

Jerusalem in the Temple and offers menachot (meal-offerings), he recites

Shehechiyanu. Rashi explains that this refers to an experienced cohain who has not

offered this sacrifice for a substantial period of time. Tosafot write that this refers to a

cohain who serves in the Temple only twice a year, and therefore performs this mitzvah

at specific times. The Rambam (Hilkhot Temidim U-Musafim 7:18), however, holds that

the same passage is talking about a cohain who has yet to offer such a sacrifice in the

Temple, and Shehechiyanu is thus recited on a mitzvah that is performed for the first

time. Similarly, the Rokeach (#371) maintains that any mitzvah performed for the first

time is accompanied by a Shehechiyanu.

  1. Furthermore, and most importantly, the Tosafot (Sukkah 46a) write that when a person

fulfills a mitzvah which has an aspect of “simcha – joy,” he recites Shechehiyanu (the

Tur, Orach Chaim 223, also brings this ruling). Rav David Abudraham (Hilchot

Berachot, sha’ar 3) similarly writes, in the name of the Geonim, that one recites

Shehechiyanu for any mitzvah that contains both joy and a physical benefit. We see

this idea in the Tosefta that Shehechiyanu is recited by one who separates Terumot and

Ma’asrot (different types of tithes) since he is joyful over gathering the fruits (Berachot,

chap.7), one who celebrates on Purim and Chanukah since there is the joy of salvation,

one who lifts up the Lulav since there is joy and a physical benefit from its pleasant

smell and one who blows the shofar since our remembrance ascends before Hashem.

  1. The Bach (Orach Chaim #29) writes that there is a major difference between the

blessing of Shehechiyanu and all others blessings: since the Shehechiyanu is recited

over joy, one does not violate taking Hashem’s name in vain by reciting it, even in a

case where it is not certain that it should be recited.

HaRav Fogelman says that these sources apply to a regular level of joy. All-the-more-

so do they apply to the exuberant joy of the Nation of Israel who, after many

generations of exiles and wanderings, persecutions and murders, has now liberated the

 

Kotel, the remnant of the Temple Mount, from foreigners, and has reestablished Jewish

sovereignty over the Land.

  1. HaRav Yitzchak Nissim

In Shut Yayin Ha-Tov (1:47), HaRav Yitzchak Nissim, former Sefardic Chief Rabbi of

Israel, was asked if one should recite Shehechiyanu upon making aliyah. He quotes

from the book “Lekach Tov” (1:122) in which the author expresses doubt as to whether

one should recite Shehechiyanu upon arriving in Israel after tearing one”s garment and

reciting “Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet” (Blessed is the True Judge) when seeing her in a

destroyed state. The “Lekach Tov” writes that it is possible that the gratitude of

Shehechiyanu is included in the “Bircat Ha-Gomel” (recited after a dangerous journey)

which one would recite upon reaching Eretz Yisrael. HaRav Nissim writes that this

idea implies that if it were not for the fact that one was reciting “Bircat Ha-Gomel,” there

would be a place for reciting Shehechiyanu, since he is receiving the spiritual benefit of

coming to Eretz Yisrael. The distress one feels over the state of destruction does not

affect the need for Shehechiyanu, because this blessing is not dependent on joy but on

the benefit one receives (even if it is mixed with anguish). This is similar to what the

Rashba writes (Shut Ha-Rashba #245, based on the Gemara in Berachot 59b) that if a

person”s father dies and he inherits him, he recites Shehechiyanu. The Rashba

explains that even though the inheritance comes through distress and pain at the death

of a father, one still recites Shehechiyanu over the monetary benefit. Similarly, the

Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 223) rules that if one”s wife gives birth to a son but dies

during the process, the husband recites both Shehechiyanu and “Dayan Ha-Emet.”

And if one recites Shehechiyanu for a physical benefit (such as an inheritance or a son),

this is all-the-more-so true for the spiritual benefit one attains upon arriving in Eretz

Yisrael. Furthermore, as we see in the Ramban (Bemidbar 35:53 and additions to the

Sefer Ha-Mitzvot of the Rambam, Positive Mitzvah #4), settling the Land of Israel is a

Torah mitzvah – this is agreed upon by virtually every halachic authority. And on the

fulfillment of a mitzvah which is “equivalent to all of the other mitzvot” (Sifrei, Re’eh),

there is certainly a place to recite Shehechiyanu, if not to recite “Bircat Ha-Gomel.” Ha-

Rav Nissim also quotes the Teshuvah from the Lev Chaim, writing that the Lev Chaim

apparently did not see the above words of the “Lekach Tov.” Furthermore, he reasons

that one should recite Shehechiyanu since settling in Eretz Yisrael is not an often-

performed mitzvah and is not merited by everyone (regarding reciting Shehechiyanu on

a mitzvah that is not often-performed, see Rambam, Hilchot 11:9, where he cites this as

the reason we recite Shehechiyanu for a Brit Milah. See also Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh

Deah 265:7 and Magen Avraham 223:22).

  1. An Additional Factor – Maran HaRav Kook

The following story is found in the books “Chayei Ha-Re’eiyah” (pp. 117-119), “Moadei

 

Ha-Re”eiyah” (pp.215-217) and “Likutei Ha-Re”eiyah” (vol. 2, p. 140): when the Gerrer

Rebbe (HaRav Avraham Mordechai Alter, also known as the Imrei Emet) visited Israel,

he purchased wheat for Pesach for Shemurah Matzah, and merited fulfilling the mitzvah

of separating Terumah and Ma’aser (different types of tithes). Maran HaRav Kook,

who at the time was Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim, pointed out to him that since this was

the first time he was fulfilling this mitzvah, he should recite Shehechiyanu. He further

reasoned that the joy of coming to Eretz Yisrael adds to the joy of fulfilling this mitzvah

for the first time, making it certain that he can recite Shehechiyanu. After a discussion,

the Gerrer Rebbe followed Maran HaRav Kook’s instruction and recited Shehechiyanu,

since HaRav Kook was the “the Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim” and the leading authority

on the Laws regarding the Land of Israel. In Shut Orach Mishpat (pp. 268-269), our

Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah, discusses his father’s ruling, and enumerates the many

authorities who hold that Shehechiyanu is recited the first time a mitzvah is performed

(see also Or Ha-Chaim to the beginning of Parashat Ki Tavo, that there is only joy in

dwelling in the Land).

  1. HaRav Shlomo Aviner

HaRav Aviner writes (“Al Diglo” #64 and “Mi-Chayil El Chayil” p. 320) that it is clear that

an Oleh Chadash today should recite Shehechiyanu. He explains that the reason “we

do not recite a blessing over a mitzvah which is not performed at specific times” is a

dispute among halachic authorities, and the reason that we are overcome with grief and

sorrow – Baruch Hashem – does not apply in our time (as in the opinion of Ha-

Fogelman, above). Similarly, in the parashah sheet “Olam Ha-Katan” (#200), HaRav

Aviner was asked: Should an “Oleh Chadash” recite Shehechiyanu on receiving his

Tehudat Zehut (identity card)? His answer: Yes.  Wonderful news!

  1. The Conduct of our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah and HaRav Shlomo Aviner

It is related in Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehudah – Eretz Yisrael (p. 374) that a student told

our Rabbi that his cousin was making aliyah, and would be coming straight to the

yeshiva from the airport. Our Rabbi became very excited, even though he did not know

the student’s cousin.  He turned his chair toward the door and he continued to teach.

Every quarter of an hour he inquired if the person making aliyah had arrived yet. Finally

he received the good news that he had arrived. Our Rabbi stood up, and all of the

students obviously stood up with him. He approached the Oleh Chadash, hugged him,

kissed him, cried and recited the “Shehechiyanu” with Hashem’s Name and Kingship.

I myself asked HaRav Shlomo Aviner what he did when he made aliyah, and he said: “I

kissed the ground and recited the “Shehechiyanu.”

 

  1. Receiving a New Soul Upon Making Aliyah

As is known, every Jew receives an additional soul on Shabbat (see Beitza 16a and

Ta’anit 27b). Our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah (Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehudah – Eretz

Yisrael p. 30, 228-230 and Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehudah – Vayikra, p. 149 and Devarim,

  1. 33, 208) brings an incredible idea from Rabbi Avraham Azulai, the “Chesed Le-

Avraham” (Ma”ayan Shelishi, Ein Ha-Aretz, nahar 12): “It is not so popular and well-

known, one should therefore pay close attention to it and understand it…when a Jew

comes to Eretz Yisrael, on the first night he sleeps there, it is as if his soul disappears

and returns in the morning. Did you think that the same soul returns? This is a mistake.

You should know that now, after you have absorbed the air of Eretz Yisrael, that you

have breathed the air of Eretz Yisrael and it (the soul that comes in the morning) was

created by it. The soul which returns is a new soul. You have been renewed!” Maran

HaRav Kook explains in his book “Orot” (Orot Yisrael 7:18) what is embodied in this

new soul: The communal soul of the Jewish People, which only resides in an individual

when he is in Eretz Yisrael. Immediately upon a person’s arrival in Eretz Yisrael, his

individual soul is nullified by the great light of the communal soul which enters him.

Every “Oleh Chadash” therefore loses his individual soul and receives a communal “Klal

Yisrael” soul in its place. HaRav Tzvi Tau – Rosh Yeshiva of Har Ha-Mor – clarifies this

idea in “Le-Emunat Itenu” (vol. 2, p. 77-92): one who enters the Land of Israel merits a

new soul, and this is not at all dependent on his personal level. You live without your

consent, you are a Jew without your consent and you become “Eretz Yisraeli” without

your consent.

HaRav Yitzchak Dadon writes in the book “Imrei Shefer” (p. 256) that HaRav Avraham

Shapira – former Rosh Yeshiva of Mercaz HaRav – once stated that, as the “Chesed

Le-Avraham” writes, a person receives a new soul when coming to Eretz Yisrael. He

continued that when people come to Israel and hear this idea, they respond: But we are

returning to America (or someplace else) and we will lose the special soul given to us!

HaRav Shapira would reply with a concept from the Gemara: we have a tradition that

from heaven they give, but they do not take away. It is also related there (p. 255) that a

yeshiva student from outside of Jerusalem once spent a Shabbat in the Holy City

Jerusalem. He visited HaRav Shapira and told him that he was a guest in Jerusalem.

HaRav Shapira responded jokingly that if you are a Yerushalami [Jerusalemite] once,

you are always a Yerushalami. He explained this based on the teaching of the “Chesed

Le-Avraham” regarding one who receives a new soul upon arriving in Israel. He said

that if this is so, it should also be true for one who arrives in Jerusalem and ascends in

holiness – he receives a new Jerusalem soul. He suggests that perhaps in order for this

to occur one must sleep overnight within the walls of the Old City.

 

  1. Encouraging Non-Observant Jews to make Aliyah

[Q&A from HaRav Aviner”s radio call-in show]

 

Question: The book “Lev Eliyahu” of Rav Eliyahu Lopian (vol. 3, pp. 38-39) mentions a

story which he heard from a trustworthy source about Maran (our revered teacher) Ha-

Rav Kook ztz’l, who he does not mention by name but as the “Rav of Yafo.” When Rav

Yitzchak Blazer visited Rav Kook, Rav Kook explained the verse from Yirmiyahu (2:7),

“You came and defile My Land” as meaning “If only My children would come and defiled

My Land.” Rav Blazer responded that there is a verse in Parashat Acharei Mot (18:28)

which says “Let not the Land vomit you out when you defile it,” if this is so than what is

the benefit of coming and defiling the Land – they will be exiled again? What then does

Rav Kook mean when he said “If only My children would come and defile My Land”?

Answer: The statement “If only My children would come and defiled My Land” was not

invented by Rav Kook. They are the words of our Sages in the midrash in Yalkut

Shimoni (Eichah #1038) when Hashem says: If only my children, my Nation, would be in

the Land of Israel, even though they make it impure. Our Rabbis mean that the

essence is for the Nation of Israel to return to the Land of Israel, even though they are

not observant. The question is: should a non-observant Jew make aliyah or not?

According to this midrash, a non-observant Jew should certainly make aliyah. But won”t

he transgress and defile the Land? The logic is that even though the Land will suffer,

Be’Ezrat Hashem – with the help of Hashem, he will repent over time. This means that

when there is a meeting between the hidden holiness of the Nation of Israel and the

hidden holiness of the Land of Israel, the Nation of Israel will repent. We in fact see in

our times that the Jews in Exile are assimilating and disappearing, while the Jews in

Israel are repenting and strengthening themselves.

There is a story that after the establishment of the State of Israel, Jews from North

Africa and Yemen made aliyah and were abandoning traditional observance. The

person who headed the Department of Aliyah at the Jewish Agency was a Torah

scholar named HaRav Shlomo Zalman Shragai, and he was being eaten up inside by

this fact. He did not know whether it was proper to continue to bring Jews to Israel

under such circumstances. He went to the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, HaRav HaGaon

Tzvi Pesach Frank, and asked him what to do. Rav Frank said to him: Can you do me a

favor and hand me the Yalkut Shimoni? He opened it and showed him the words of the

Yalkut Shimoni on Megillat Eichah: “Hashem says: If only my children, my Nation, would

be in the Land of Israel, even though they make it impure.” And he continued: What do

you want from me – to transgress the words of our Sages?! You are not guilty for what

is occurring. You must bring Jews to Israel and make every effort to connect them to

Torah. Rav Shragai continued to bring Jews to Israel and he mentioned this story

various times. In the book “Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehudah – Eretz Yisrael” (p. 57, 221-

222), there is a letter of Rav Shragai describing exactly what happened. It is even more

severe in this case since we are not discussing unobservant Jews outside of Israel, but

observant Jews who made aliyah and then were no longer observant. If this is so, what

was Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank”s calculation? Rav Shragai once visited France in a place

where many North Africa Jews, who did not make aliyah, settled and he saw their

situation. They did not only abandon traditional observance, but abandoned Judaism

altogether – complete assimilation. He then understood that HaRav Frank was correct

that we should bring the Nation of Israel to the Land of Israel and we should know that

everything will work out in the end.

We can also recall that a certain Rav once explained the line in the Haggadah, “If we

received the Torah, but did not enter the Land of Israel – it would have been enough,”

that it would have been better for the non-religious pioneers to have remained outside of

Israel rather than to commit sins in the Land of Israel.  These words caused much

consternation and when the students came to class, they told our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi

Yehudah Kook, what they had heard.  They thought he would discuss this issue at

length, but his response was brief: “See Yalkut Shimoni #1038” and taught the class as

usual (Iturei Cohanim #181).

 

  1. An “Oleh Chadash” Buying Furniture and other Items during the Three Weeks

[Personal question to HaRav Shlomo Aviner]

 

Question: We are making aliyah during the Three Weeks and are bringing very little with

  1. Is it permissible to purchase furniture and other items upon our arrival in Israel?

Answer: Yes, on account of two reasons:

  1. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 551:17) says that one should be careful not to recite

Shehechiyanu during the Three Weeks. We thus see that this is a custom and not a

full-fledged law (since it says “one should be careful” as opposed to “It is forbidden”).

 

  1. The custom is not to recite Shehechiyanu so as not to say: “who has kept us alive,

sustained us, and enabled us to reach this time,” but there is no problem to recite the

blessing “Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-Meitiv – who is Good and causes good.” Since the furniture is

for the benefit of the entire family, including the beds – sometimes one person sleeps

here and sometimes there – we do not recite Shehechiyanu but rather “Ha-Tov Ve-Ha-

Meitiv.”

But this only applies until Rosh Chodesh Av, since the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. #2) says

that beginning on Rosh Chodesh Av, we limit doing business. We therefore are careful

not to make such purchases during the Nine Days.

 

  1. Reciting Shehechiyanu on voting for the first time in Israel

[Personal question to HaRav Shlomo Aviner]

 

Question: I have heard HaRav tell the story that the Chazon Ish was asked: Should

one vote in the Israeli elections?  He answered: It is a mitzvah.  They asked him: A

mitzvah like matzah?  He said: No, a mitzvah like maror.  HaRav says that it is indeed

a mitzvah like matzah since we have independence and our own State.  Is it a mitzvah

to the extent that someone who votes for the first time in Israel should recite a

Shehechiyanu (since Maran HaRav Kook ruled that one should recite Shehechiyanu

the first time he performs a mitzvah – Shut Orach Mishpat, pp. 268-269 and see Sefer

Chayei Ha-Re’eiyah pp. 117-119, Sefer Moadim Ha-Re’eiyah pp. 215-217 and Likutei

Ha-Re’eiyah vol. 2, p. 140)?

Answer: One should not recite Shehechiyanu for two reasons: 1. The State of Israel is

not the fulfillment of establishing the Kingdom of Israel, but rather a quasi-Kingdom of

Israel, as stated by Maran HaRav Kook in Shut Mishpat Cohain (p. 338).  We therefore

do not recite a blessing on an act which is a quasi-mitzvah.  2. And even if we say that it

is a full-fledged mitzvah, no one performs the entire mitzvah by voting but only a part of

the mitzvah, which is similar to building the Temple in which many people take a part.

 

  1. Differences between Exile and Halachot:

Halachot, Minhagim and Prayers

 

An “Oleh Chadash” should keep in mind that there are differences in certain practices in

Eretz Yisrael (vs. in the Exile). Once a person makes aliyah, it is proper for him to

adopt certain practices of Eretz Yisrael.

  1. The Blessing of “Baruch Hashem Le-Olam”

Various communities outside of Israel recite this prayer before the Shemoneh Esrei of

Ma’ariv. In Eretz Yisrael, neither Sefardim nor Ashkenazim recite it (Sefer Eretz Yisrael

2:1 of HaRav Yechiel Michal Tikochinsky and see the book “Gam Ani Odeka” of Ha-

Rav Gamliel HaKohenRabinowitz who brings various explanations of leading Rabbis

as to why shuls were located outside of the city. This prayer was recited to allow

latecomers to skip it and finish with the others and not have to return to the city alone).

In two Teshuvot in Shut Igrot Moshe, HaRav Moshe Feinstein discusses the case of an

Israeli outside of Israel reciting this blessing:

  1. HaRav Feinstein writes (Orach Chaim 2:102) that the recitation of this blessing is not

dependent on one’s location within or outside of Eretz Yisrael. One who recites this

prayer outside of Israel should do so even in Eretz Yisrael, and one who does not recite

it in Eretz Yisrael should not recite it outside of Eretz Yisrael, since it is a dispute

mentioned in the Tur (Orach Chaim 236). He suggests that the reason for one not to

recite “Baruch Hashem Le-Olam” in Eretz Yisrael is that the early settlers of the Land

were students of the Vilna Gaon and the first Lubavitcher Rebbe (the Ba”al Ha-Tanya),

both of whom ruled that it is not recited. Since an Israeli does not recite this blessing, it

is proper for him not to do so when he is located outside of Israel. He should, rather,

recite the Shema at length (while the others continue with “Baruch Hashem Le-Olam”)

since when one recites Shema and is unable to recite “Baruch Hashem Le-Olam”

before the minyan reaches Shemoneh Esrei, all authorities agree that he does not recite

it (Magen Avraham 236:3) and he does not need to recite it after davening (Mishnah

Berurah ibid. in the name of Ma’aseh Rav).

  1. If an Israeli is leading the davening outside of Israel and he cannot skip “Baruch

Hashem Le-Olam” without others noticing, HaRav Feinstein (Yoreh Deah 3:96 #8)

rules that he should recite it (even though he is reciting a blessing with Hashem’s

Name). His proof is an explicit Gemara in Pesachim (106a with the Rashbam’s

commentary) that Rav Ashi once visited Mechuza and they asked him to make Kiddush

during the day. He did not know whether or not their custom was to say the entire

Kiddush of Shabbat night or just “Borei Peri Ha-Gafen” (known as Kidusha Rabba). He

recited “Borei Peri Ha-Gafen,” but in a lengthy manner. He saw an elder bend down

and drink, and thus realized that this is all that they recited. HaRav Feinstein says that

we see that Rav Ashi was ready to recite the longer Kiddush (which included Hashem”s

Name), although it was not his custom. This applies all-the-more-so to “Baruch

Hashem Le-Olam,” since many authorities rule that one must recite this blessing (this is

also the ruling in Shut Rivevot Ephraim 5:178 #2 as well as Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot

1:88, although HaRav Moshe Sternbuch adds that if a community outside of Israel

does not mind if this blessing is not recited by the person leading the davening an Israeli

need not recite it. See also in the book “Ve-Alehu Lo Yibol” p. 282 that HaRav Shlomo

Zalman Auerbach says that one whose custom is not to recite it should skip it, but this

should be done in such a way that it is not explicit that he is acting differently than the

rest of the community. Furthermore, Shut Betzel Ha-Chochmah 4:25 rules that from the

outset an Israeli should not lead the davening outside of Israel.

  1. Reciting “Morid Ha-Tal”

Both Sefardim and Ashkenazim in Israel recite “Morid Ha-Tal” during the non-rainy

season (Sefer Eretz Yisrael 2:5-6).

  1. Bircat Cohanim

Both within and outside of Israel it is a positive Torah mitzvah for every cohain to recite

the Bircat Cohanim once a day (Rambam, Hilchot Tefillah 14:1, Sefer Ha-Chinuch #378

and elsewhere). The Beit Yosef (Orach Chaim 228, and brought in Be”er Heitev #78)

writes: “Yashar Koach to the residents of Eretz Yisrael and the Kingdom of Egypt who

recite the Bircat Cohanim each day.” The Mishnah Berurah (ibid. #164) writes, “And the

halachic authorities praised their minhag.” A different custom developed in the Galil

about which HaRav Yechiel Michel Tikochinsky writes in Sefer Eretz Yisrael p. 22: “In

the Galil, their practice in our time is that they do not recite Bircat Cohanim on

weekdays, but only in Musaf of Shabbat and Yom Tov. It is not known why or based on

whom they do this.” For possible explanations and a lengthy discussion as to whether

or not this custom should be changed, see my book “Kum Hithalech Ba-Aretz,” chap.

31). The Rama (Orach Chaim 128:44) relates that the custom of those Lands (i.e.

outside of Israel) is only to recite the Bircat Cohanim on Yom Tov because at that time

people are full of the joy of the holiday, and one must have a joyous heart to recite the

blessing. On weekdays and even on Shabbat, however, people are concerned about

their livelihood. Even on Yom Tov, the blessing is only recited during Musaf since the

people are about to leave shul and enjoy “Simchat Yom Tov” – the joy of the holiday by

eating and drinking. While it certainly seems in our day that concern about making a

livelihood is more prevalent amongst those living in Israel than those in Exile, this idea

(that those in Exile are in fact more focused on this issue) may reflect the notion that life

outside of Israel is often more focused on the material world, while life in Israel is more

focused on the spiritual.

Halachic authorities ask: how can Jews outside of Israel fail to fulfill the daily Torah

mitzvah of reciting Bircat Cohanim by claiming that they cannot concentrate properly (as

the Rama writes)? Would we say that someone who cannot concentrate properly does

not have to put on Tefillin? In the book “Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehudah – Eretz Yisrael”

(pp. 356-357), our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah, explains that Bircat Cohanim is not a

mitzvah of reciting a blessing, but rather the placing of a blessing of Hashem on the

Nation of Israel, as it says: “So shall you bless the Children of Israel…and let them

place My Name on the Children of Israel, and I shall bless them” (Bemidbar 6:23-27). A

Divine blessing flows through this pipeline, i.e. through the throat of the cohain. If this

person is healthy and feels good, and is in complete friendship with the Nation of Israel,

the true blessing flows through his 248 organs and 365 blood vessels. In order for this

blessing to possess the power of a mitzvah, the power of Divine holiness, proper

spiritual and physical feelings of joy and contentment must be present. If one is not

content or is ill therefore, it is impossible to recite this blessing. This is similar to a

person who does not have Tefillin. He cannot put them on. This is the state of the

Nation of Israel outside of Eretz Yisrael: the suffering of exile, the scattered nature of

the Nation of the exile, the concern of making a livelihood in exile. It is impossible to

recite this blessing in an exilic state. Occasionally, on a Yom Tov, we are especially

elevated and are able to strengthen ourselves to recite this blessing due to the power of

the joy of Yom Tov. Our Rabbi added that he once discussed this issue with HaRav

Yechiel Michel Tikochinsky, and HaRav Tikochinsky mentioned it in his book “Gesher

Ha-Chaim” (Vol. 2, p. 162), but in a totally different way. He explained in our Rabbi”s

name that we are prevented from reciting Bircat Cohanim outside of Israel since it is

impossible to know what a cohain is thinking when he is saying the words. For

example, perhaps a cohain has an issue with someone and when he recites the word

“Vichuneka” (“and be gracious to you”), he intends it to mean that he should be

strangled (which is pronounced in a similar way – “Yechanek”). This idea was

completely different than what our Rabbi said and he was quite upset over what was

written in his name. The next time he met HaRav Tikochinsky, he said: “Those are not

my words and not my style. I never said those things.”

In the book “Moadim U-Zmanim” (1:31 and 7:127), HaRav Moshe Sternbuch provides

a different answer. He explains that the Bircat Cohanim was part of the service

performed in the Temple, and today prayer takes the place of the Temple service. This

is the reason the Bircat Cohanim is part of the repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei. There

are in fact two types of communal prayer: 1. “Tefillah Be-Tzibur” – prayer with a

community – which is when at least ten men pray together, each reciting his own prayer

silently. 2. “Tefillat Ha-Tzibur” – the prayer of the community – which is when one

person prays aloud and the others stand silently and listen. Only the second type of

communal prayer parallels the Temple service when the cohanim – as agents of the

Nation – would sacrifice the daily offering on behalf of all Jews. Therefore, in the Exile

where people are concerned about their livelihood, and ten people are not listening to

the repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei properly, it is not considered “Tefillat Ha-Tzibur.”

Our great Rabbis therefore ruled that the Bircat Cohanim should not be recited. Only on

Yom Tov, when shuls are full can we be certain that at least a minyan is listening as is

necessary and the cohanim therefore can recite the Bircat Cohanim. In Eretz Yisrael,

however, the Jews who came from Ashkenaz (i.e. the students of the Vilna Gaon and

the Baal Shem Tov) made aliyah to serve Hashem, abandoned all material concerns

and were particular about fulfilling the mitzvot. The Sefardim who were here were not

proficient in the Shemoneh Esrei and were therefore careful to listen to the repetition of

the Shemoneh Esrei. There was therefore proper “Tefillat Ha-Tzibur” and the cohanim

were able to recite Bircat Cohanim according to the law.

Many great Rabbis wanted to return the crown to its former pristine state and have the

cohanim recite the blessing everyday even outside of Israel. The Vilna Gaon, for

example, was very distressed by this omission and wanted the cohanim to recite the

Bircat Cohanim every day in his study hall. He was, however, prevented by heaven: on

the day he was to re-instate this practice he was brought to prison (during the terrible

dispute between the Chasidim and Mitnagdim in Vilna). His student, HaRav Chaim of

Volozhin, also intended to restart this practice in Yeshivat Volozhin. On the night prior

to his beginning it, a fire broke out that burnt half of the city as well as the yeshiva. Ha-

Rav Chaim took this as a sign from heaven that this should not be done. HaRav Natan

Adler actually did make the change in his study hall in Frankfurt am Main but all sorts of

negative things occurred and he therefore did not continue (see Shut Meishiv Dvar of

the Netziv 2:104, Aruch Ha-Shulchan Orach Chaim 128:64, and Shut Minchat Yitzchak

8:1-2). The Baal Ha-Tanya – the first Lubavitcher Rebbe – also wanted to reinstitute the

practice but was unable (Sha’arei Halachah U-Minhag vol. 1, p. 68). It is also said that

Maran HaRav Kook wanted to renew the practice, and wrote a special booklet to

further the cause. He even traveled to the “Kenesiyah Ha-Gedolah” of the Agudat

Yisrael in 5673 to convince other Rabbis to support the change (see Sivchei Ha-

Re”eiyah p. 115 and also brought in Otzrot Ha-Re’eiyah vol. 1, p. 84). And the Satmar

Rebbe addressed this difficulty slightly upon his return from Eretz Yisrael when he ruled

that the Bircat Cohanim should be recited on Shabbat of Chol Ha-Moed, a practice still

followed by Satmar communities outside of Israel until this day (Moshian Shel Yisrael

vol. 5 p. 466, Eidut Bi-Yosef p. 106 and Ha-Beracha Ha-Meshuleshet p. 18 #43).

Despite all of these efforts and good intentions, it is still only in Eretz Yisrael that we

merit blessing and being blessed by the Bircat Cohanim each and every day.

  1. Kaddish De-Rabbanan

In Kaddish De-Rabbanan, the phrase used outside of Israel is “Di Be-Atra Ha-Dein –

who are in this place.” In Israel, the word “holy” is added: “Di Be-Atra Kadisha Ha-Dein

– who are in this holy place.”

  1. Going to Shul in Tallit and Tefillin

 

The Shulchan Aruch and Rama (Orach Chaim 25:2) write that it is proper to wrap

yourself in your Talit and put on your Tefillin in your house and then go to shul. The

Mishnah Berurah (#8) brings from the Beit Yosef and Darchei Moshe in the name of the

Zohar (Parashat Ve-Etchanan) that this is a great matter. The Mishnah Berurah (#10)

in the name of the Magen Avraham (#5), however, writes that in a place where there are

non-Jews in the street one should put on the Talit and Tefillin in the shul courtyard if

possible. I saw in the book “Be-Mechitzat Rabbenu” (p. 82) that HaRav Yaakov

Kamentzky, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Ve-Da’at in Brooklyn, was unhappy about people in

America walking to shul in their Tallit. He said that we must remember that we are still in

the Exile among the non-Jews and we should not walk in the street as if we own the

place. It seems that during the course of the Exile, we became accustomed not to

follow this practice and continued in this way even on our return to Eretz Yisrael. The

book “Chiko Mamtakim” (vol. 2, p. 334) relates that in the later years of HaRav Shlomo

Zalman Auerbach, he was on his way to the shul “Kehal Chasidim” in the Sha’arei

Chesed neighborhood in Jerusalem, where he lived, and saw a poster that advocated

reinstituting the ancient custom of going to shul wearing Tallit and Tefillin. Many people

walked past the sign without any recognition that the announcement was intended for

them. The next day, the residents of the neighborhood were surprised to see HaRav

Auerbach walking through Sha’arei Chesed on his way to shul wearing Tallit and Tefillin.

He continued this practice until his passing. Therefore, now that we have returned to our Holy Land

and we are at home, it is certainly proper to return the crown to its former pristine state and follow this custom. I

once asked HaRav Shlomo Aviner about following this minhag and he answered: “We

are not obligated but it is certainly worthwhile.”

 

  1. Wearing Tefillin on Chol Ha-Moed

The custom of Eretz Yisrael is not to wear Tefillin on Chol Ha-Moed, following the

opinion of Rabbi Yosef Karo in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 31:2). Some people

in the Exile follow the ruling of the Rama, which states that Tefillin should be worn on

these days (Kitzur Dinei Eretz Yisrael U-Minhageha 11, 4 and see Shut Igrot Moshe

Orach Chaim 4:105 #5).

 

  1. “Al Naharot Bavel” (By the Rivers of Babylonia) or Shir Ha-Ma’alot

It is written in Iturei Yerushalayim (Kislev 5769 – #26) that our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi

Yehudah, would not recite “Al Naharot Bavel” but rather “Shir Ha-Maa”lot” at each meal,

as a result of our return to our Land (although “Al Naharot Bavel” and when it is recited

appears in Siddur Olat Ha-Re’eiyah vol. 1, p. 360 – A siddur with Maran HaRav Kook”s

commentary which our Rabbi arranged and annotated).

I also saw that HaRav Yaakov Ariel – Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan – was once asked: on

a day on which Tachanun is not recited, should “Shir HaMaalot” (which is recited on

festive days) or “Al Naharot Bavel” be recited? He answered: Many have the custom in

Eretz Yisrael to recited “Shir Ha-Maa’lot” every day.

 

  1. Reciting “May The Merciful One…lead us upright to our Land” in the Bircat HaMazon

Question: Should an individual living in the Land of Israel say, “and lead us upright to

our Land (le-aretzenu)” in the Bircat Ha-Mazon?

Answer: I have seen three answers to this question:

  1. Rabbi Yaakov Chagiz (Shut Halachot Ketanot #185) was asked: Should an individual

living in the Land of Israel say, “and lead us upright to our Land (le-aretzenu)” or change

it to “and led us upright IN our Land (be-artzenu)”? He responds, “This is how people

customarily recite it [and led us upright IN our Land], but if one says “le-artzenu – to our

Land,” he does not lose out” (Rabbi Chagiz also rules that this is the correct wording in

the blessing recited before the Shema in the morning, “Ahavah Rabbah,” i.e. it should

read “And led us upright in our Land” instead of “And lead us upright to our Land.” This

ruling which is also quoted in Minhagei Eretz Yisrael of Rav Yaakov Galis, p. 31). I

have also seen that HaRav Dov Lior, Rav of Kiryat Arba-Hevron, was once asked the

correct formula to recite in the Bircat Ha-Mazon, and he answered: “In Israel, we recite

“in our Land.””

  1. When asked this question, HaRav Chaim David Halevy (Shut Aseh Lecha Rav 3:13)

expresses surprise that people ask about this sentence in the Bircat Ha-Mazon, whose

recitation is not obligatory, but do not ask it about a phrase in Musaf, which was

established by our Sages in the Anshei Knesset Ha-Gedolah (the Men of the Great

Assembly during the Second Temple) of which one may not omit even one word: “May it

be Your will Hashem…that You bring us up in joy to our Land and plant us within our

boundaries.” HaRav Halevy explains that this prayer was established for the entire

Nation. As long as the majority of Jews remain in the Exile, it is possible to say “And

lead us to our Land,” “plant us within our boundaries,” etc. since it applies to the entire

Nation and not only to those of us who dwell in Eretz Yisrael. The same idea applies to

the phrase in the Bircat HaMazon (i.e. we continue to say “and lead us upright to our”).

  1. HaRav Shlomo Aviner, in his commentary on the Bircat Ha-Mazon – “Shir HaMa’a lot,”

focuses on the word “upright” to explain why the phrase in Bircat Ha-Mazon is still

applicable. He writes that on the verse, “And I will lead you upright” (Vayikra 26:13):

Our Sages explain, “With upright posture, so that you do not fear any creature” (Sifra).

One can raise a difficulty here: Doesn’t the Shulchan Aruch rule, “It is forbidden to walk

with upright posture” (Orach Chaim 2:6), which the Mishnah Berurah (#9) explains:

“Because you will press against the feet of the Divine Presence of the Omnipresent”?

But this is not a contradiction: The one refers to the individual who is required to be

humble and modest, while the other refers to the entire community which is required to

walk upright. Through this posture the honor of the Divine Presence will be revealed. In

practice, the prayer books in Israel say, “le-artzenu – to our Land,” since it also means

that Hashem should lead the Nation to act in an upright posture.

Conclusion: Even in Eretz Yisrael, one should recite “lead us upright to our Land” in the

Bircat HaMazon since it too refers to all of the Jewish People and to the upright posture

of the Nation. One who wishes to change it to “and led us upright IN our Land” may do

so, however, since its recitation in the Bircat Ha-Mazon is a custom and not an

obligation.

 

  1. “Next year in the Land of Israel” in the Pesach Seder

Question: Why do we say “This year we are here, next year in the Land of Israel” even

when we are in the Land of Israel?

Answer: Our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah, answers that this statement does not apply

to the individual, but to Klal Yisrael (commentary on the Haggadah, p. 27 and

commentary of Rav Aviner to the Haggadah, p. 19. This is similar to a woman”s

obligation to recite Bircat Ha-Mazon even though it mentions of the obligation of Brit

Milah. She recites the phrase – “for Your covenant which You sealed in our flesh” –

even though it does not apply to her because it does not refer to one”s individual

obligation but to the mitzvah as it applies to Klal Yisrael. See Shulchan Aruch, Orach

Chaim 187:3 and Mishnah Berurah #9). We do not forget that the majority of the Nation

of Israel – to our distress – still remains outside of the Land of Israel. I also saw that Ha-

Rav Chaim Kanievski was asked this question (Derech Sichah, p. 241) and answers

that the intention of this statement is that all Jews be in the Land of Israel. A similar

question is found in the book “Malachim Kivnei Adam” (p. 221): Maran HaRav Kook

once visited America to raise money for the yeshivot in Eretz Yisrael and Europe. While

there, he met a wealthy man who was willing to make a very generous donation on the

condition that Maran HaRav Kook explain to him why Jews in Jerusalem recite “Next

Year in Jerusalem” at the conclusion of the Pesach Seder and Yom Kippur. After all,

they are already in the Holy City! Maran HaRav answered that in Jerusalem we add in

an extra word: “Rebuilt” – “Next Year in the Rebuilt Jerusalem” – and that there is still

much to do to fulfill this hope in its entirety. And he added with a smile: When we

request: “Next Year in the Rebuilt Jerusalem,” our intention is that we merit being

completely in Jerusalem – physically, spiritually and in our thoughts, and not like today,

when we dwell in Jerusalem, but are planning to leave it to travel to America to raise

money…” Perhaps we can also explain that “Next Year in Jerusalem” applies to the

entire Nation of Israel, and the day when Jerusalem expands on all sides until it reaches

the gates of Damascus (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 7:3).

Question: Will we no longer recite this statement when all of Israel returns to the Land?

Answer: Our Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah, answers (ibid.) that the Four Questions will

not change, but the last lines of “Ha-Lachma Anya” (which says “This year we are here,

next year in the Land of Israel”) are obviously from the time of Exile, will change. The

source for the Four Questions is in the Torah (Minchat Chinuch mitzvah 21, Shulchan

Aruch, Orach Chaim 472 with the Mishnah Berurah #3 and 463:21). A practice based

on the Torah is a law that will not change, but a custom is dependent on our current

situation. We must understand the difference between a law and a custom.

 

Question I asked HaRav Shlomo Aviner –

“Next Year in the Rebuilt Jerusalem”

 

Question: I saw in the Haggadah “Mi-Beit Levi” (p. 233) and the Haggadah “Shai La-

Torah” (p. 411) that the Griz – HaRav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, Av Bet Din of Brisk –

was particular that one should not add the word “Rebuilt” since there is no source for

adding this word and it was included by those who claim that the Redemption has

begun. Is this a Zionist expression?

Answer: Maran HaRav Kook brings this phrase as the custom of Jerusalem (see

Melachim Kivnei Adam p. 221). HaRav Menachem Mendel Kasher included the

phrase “Next Year in a Rebuilt Jerusalem” in his Haggadah Shelemah in smaller letters

and he writes in his “Eretz Yisrael” Haggadah: “They say in the Land of Israel…” Ha-

Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlap in Haggadah “Mei Marom” writes “Rebuilt” in brackets.

And this phrase is included in the Haggadah of Tzahal, where HaRav Shlomo Goren

writes in his notes which appear in the back: “The formula of the Land of Israel.” It is

clear that this is an expression used in the Land of Israel. Outside of Israel, people say:

“Next year in Jerusalem.” But in Eretz Yisrael or, most precisely, in Jerusalem, we add

“Rebuilt” since we are already here. The Griz is correct that this is a new phrase, but it

is not necessarily a Zionist expression. It is not connected to the State of Israel but to

the fact that we are in the Land of Israel and Jerusalem. Who was the first to say: “Next

Year in the Rebuilt Jerusalem”? This is a question for a researcher in the university.

 

A Note about “Next Year in Jerusalem”

 

One year on Simchat Torah, the students were singing “Next year in Jerusalem.”  Our

Rabbi, HaRav Tzvi Yehudah, stopped everyone and said: “This year!”  (HaRav

Yechezkel Greenwald – Iturei Yerushalayim #3)

A similar story is told in the Munkatcher Rebbe”s Shut Minchat Elezar (1:35) about the

first Belzer Rebbe – HaAdmor Sar Shalom. The Rebbe was once drawing water for

“Mayim She-lanu” to bake the matzah to be used at the Seder (lit. water that rested

overnight. Matzah is made from water which has “rested” in a cool place overnight out

of a concern that warm water will cause leavening – see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim

455). His Chasidim were blessing him in the customary way: “Next year in Jerusalem.”

The Rebbe said to them: why next year? Don”t we believe that with this water that we

are drawing now, we will merit to be in Jerusalem tomorrow (Erev Pesach) and eat the

matzah there when the Messiah arrives? The only problem is that the Gemara in

Pesachim (13a) says that Hashem has already promised Israel that Eliyahu will not

arrive on Erev Shabbat or Erev Yom Tov on account of the burden. (Rashi explains that

on those days we must be involved in preparing the Shabbat and Yom Tov meals and it

would be a burden if Eliyahu arrived on that day). But – the Rebbe concludes – we can

nevertheless await him even now and hope that he arrives on Erev Pesach. If someone

raises a difficulty based on this Gemara, Eliyahu will resolve it for us when we merit his

coming, just as he will resolve all the difficulties we have in the Exile.]

  1. Shehechiyanu on a Brit Milah

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 265:7) writes: “And according to the Rambam, the

father always recites Shehechiyanu on each Brit Milah (not only the first), and this is the

practice in the kingdom of Eretz Yisrael, Syria and its surrounding area and in the

kingdom of Egypt.” The Rama (who lived in Cracow, Poland) adds: “And in these lands,

the custom is not to recite Shehechiyanu, even when the father himself is performing

the Brit Milah (and see Biurei HaGra ibid. #36 where the Vilna Gaon writes that the

Rishonim already wrote that there is no reason for not reciting it and he rejects all of the

possible explanations for not reciting it). In Sefer Eretz Yisrael (3:2), HaRav Yechiel

Michel Tikochinsky writes that the practice in Eretz Yisrael follows the ruling of the

Rambam and Shulchan Aruch: a father recites Shehechiyanu on every Brit Milah.

Final Note: On Regional Practices in Eretz Yisrael

I once asked HaRav Shlomo Aviner about the practice in Eretz Yisrael of reciting Bircat

Cohanim every day, reciting Shehechiyanu at a Brit Milah and (for some people) reciting

“Shir HaMaalot” and not “Al Naharot Bavel.” I asked whether these practices are on

account of the joy people feel being in Eretz Yisrael or because the students of the Vilna

Gaon and of the Baal Shem Tov were some of the first to settle here during the current

return to Zion and established the practices based on their Rabbis’ rulings. HaRav

Aviner answered: “It is a “derush” (a homoletical teaching) to say that it is on account of

the joy. After all, there are different customs within Israel itself, such as in the Galil.” In

other words, there are many factors which affect which practices are followed where in

Eretz Yisrael.

We can add that in Shut Minchat Yitzchak (8:1-2), HaRav Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss

discusses the practice of certain communities in the Galil not to recite Bircat Cohanim

every day. He quotes from the book “Eretz Chaim” (Kuntres Ha-Klalim d.h. ve-afilu)

that even where the Beit Yosef (Rabbi Yosef Karo – author of the Shulchan Aruch, who

lived in Tzefat) and other halachic authorities write that a particular practice is the

custom “throughout all Eretz Yisrael,” there are often regional variations amongst

Ashkenazim. For example, the Beit Yosef (Orach Chaim 422:2) writes that the custom

“in all of Eretz Yisrael” is not to recite a blessing on Hallel on Rosh Chodesh. Although

this is the custom of the Ashkenazim in Tzefat, the Ashkenazim in Jerusalem do recite

the blessing. The Beit Yosef (Yoreh Deah 265:7) also writes that the practice “in all of

Eretz Yisrael” is that the father recites Shehechiynu for every Brit Milah. This is indeed

the custom of the Ashkenazim in Jerusalem, but the Ashkenazim in Tzefat do not recite

Shehechiyanu at a Brit Milah. The Minhcat Yitzchak explains that it is therefore not so

exceptional that not all communities in the Galil recite the Bircat Cohanim every day.

There are several practices that vary between cities and regions.

 

Afterword

 

To Love the Land as Someone who Arrived only Today

 

One time, in the summer of 5721, during a public celebration at Kibbutz “Sha”alavim” in

the Elon Valley, with the participation of public officials, Ha-Gaon HaRav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman – Rosh Yeshiva

of Ponevezh – got up and spoke passionately, praising our Holy Land.

He began with a verse from the weekly Torah portion, Parashat Ki Tavo,

which places the words in the mouth of one bringing the Bikurim:

“I declare today to Hashem, your G-d, that I have come to the Land that Hashem swore

to our forefathers to give us” (Devarim 26:3)

And he asked with astonishment: Are only new immigrants obligated to bring Bikurim,

while anyone born in the Land is not obligated in this mitzvah? No. The meaning,

rather, is that even the “Vatikim” (old-timers) of Eretz Yisrael must love the Land with an

eternal youthful love, as if they had just arrived today…

 

[From the book “HaRav Mi-Ponevezh” vol. 3, pp. 136-137, and brought in the book

“Ke-Motze Shalal Rav – Devarim, pp. 293-294]

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