February 26, 2024
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Is One Required To Live In Israel, Part III

Unlike the Yishuv school of thought described in the previous article, the Kibbutz Galuyot school of thought requires all Jews to return to Israel under a Jewish sovereign state. What follows are some of their arguments.

The beginning of the Messianic era is already upon us. Based upon the verse “and it shall come to pass that at evening time there shall be light,” our Sages foresaw that the dawn of the Messianic era would be preceded by a period of unprecedented persecution.

Before being forced into the ovens of Treblinka, Rabbi Yisrael Shapira, the rebbe of Gradziska proclaimed: “If it is God’s will that we now ascend to the stake and offer ourselves as a sacrifice to the birthpangs of Messiah, at this stage of the redemption, happy are we that we merit it.”

Although it is true that the Final Redemption will be accelerated when all Jews repent and accept the rule of the Torah, there is also another scenario. The Messiah will come at a time prescribed by God, even if the Jews do not repent. Isaiah prophesied “The Lord will hasten the redemption in its time.” The Talmud interprets this prophecy as follows. If the Jews merit it, God will hasten the Final Redemption. If they do not merit it, the Final Redemption will occur anyway at its prescribed time, “zachu, acheshenah; lo zachu, be-itah.”

In a famous debate between Rabbi Eliezer, who claimed that the Final Redemption is contingent upon repentance, and Rabbi Yehoshua, who claimed that the Final Redemption would happen in any event, Rabbi Eliezer conceded to Rabbi Yehoshua. Whereas the Final Redemption brought about by repentance will occur miraculously, the Final Redemption at its prescribed time will occur naturally.

Although not all Jews have repented, the time for The Final Redemption has arrived. The beginning of the Final Redemption, atchalta d’geula, has already occurred by natural means with the permission granted to the Jews by the Balfour Declaration and the United Nations to return to Israel as a nation. This is the opinion of many of our esteemed rabbis.

The arrival of the Messiah at the prescribed time will occur through the following sequence of events. First the Jewish people will return to Israel as a nation. Then God will help them repent. Then the Messiah will arrive. The return of the Jews to Israel even before they repent is a condition precedent to the Final Redemption.

This order of events is borne out by the sequence of the words of the Torah: “God will bring you into the Land that which your fathers possessed … and will circumcise your hearts … to love God with all your heart and all your soul.” However, God will only assist the Jews to repent if they first return as a nation to Israel. The Final Redemption will not occur all at once in a flash of lightning. Rather, it will occur in stages like the glimmering lights of dawn, “ayelet hashachar.” Jewish self-rule based on secular law is only the first step in the Final Redemption.

The return of the Jewish nation to Israel under a Jewish sovereign state does not violate the Four Oaths for the following reasons.

The Four Oaths are part of Aggadah. They are not part of Halacha. This is apparent from the fact that neither the Rambam nor the Schulchan Aruch mentions them in their codes of law.

The Jews have not returned to Israel by means of force. They have not rebelled against the nations. The Jews have returned with the permission of the nations.

The Four Oaths are interdependent. The breach of the oath of the nations of the world not to subjugate the Jews more than necessary releases the Jews from their oath not to converge upon Israel in a “wall of force.” The prescribed time for the beginning of the Final Redemption has already arrived. Accordingly, the Four Oaths no longer apply.

The return of the Jewish nation to the land of Israel under a Jewish sovereign state does not violate the oath not to force the arrival of the Messiah before his time. Rather, it is the beginning of the Messianic era that is forcing the Jews to return.

According to the Vilna Gaon, the Four Oaths do not apply to the return of the Jews to Israel. They apply only to the rebuilding of the Temple. The Four Oaths have already expired. As long as Israel is subject to the international law of the nations, it is excused from the mandate of banishing idolatry from the Land of Israel.


Raphael Grunfeld, a partner at the Wall Street law firm of Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP, received Semichah in Yoreh Yoreh from Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem of America and in Yadin Yadin from Harav Haga’on Dovid Feinstein, Zt”l. This article is an extract from Raphael’s book “Ner Eyal: A Guide to Seder Nashim, Nezikin, Kodashim, Taharot and Zerai’m” available for purchase at www.amazon.com/dp/057816731X  or by e-mailing Raphael at [email protected].

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