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Kesuvos, 111

KESUVOS 111 - dedicated anonymously in honor of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, and in honor of those who study the Dafyomi around the world.


QUESTION: Rebbi Elazar states that one who lives in Eretz Yisrael "dwells without sin" ("Nesu Avon"), as the verse says, "One who lives there will not say, 'I am sick;' the nation that dwells there will be forgiven of sin" (Yeshayah 33:24).

How is it possible that everyone in Eretz Yisrael lives there without sin? How can this be true if we find that the Jewish people were punished and exiled from Eretz Yisrael for their sins? On the contrary, the RAMBAN (end of Acharei Mos) says that only when the Jewish people are in Eretz Yisrael are they punished with exile for sinning, because sins committed in Eretz Yisrael are punished much more severely than sins committed in Chutz la'Aretz! (PNEI YEHOSHUA)


(a) RAV YAKOV EMDEN (in Hagahos Ya'avetz) and the IYUN YAKOV explain that living in Eretz Yisrael only atones for less serious sins, and not for serious ones (like Avodah Zarah, Giluy Arayos, and Shefichus Damim, or like rebellious sins, "Pesha'im"). Iyun Yakov also suggests that living in Eretz Yisrael only forgives the sins of individuals who sin in private, but not the sins committed collectively by an entire community. The Iyun Yakov adds (in the name of his father) that living in Eretz Yisrael only lessens the sin, making an intentional sin like an unintentional one. This explains why the verse says that they are "Nesu *Avon*" -- "forgiven of *sin*," which is the word that refers to intentional sin (as opposed to "Chet" which refers to unintentional sin, which they do have).

(b) The PNEI YEHOSHUA and ETZ YOSEF (in the Ein Yakov) explain that Eretz Yisrael alone does not grant pardon for sins. Rather, one's Teshuvah is accepted more readily in Eretz Yisrael, or it is easier to do Teshuvah in Eretz Yisrael because of the Kedushah there.

We may add that the Gemara in Berachos (7a) explains that a person is punished for the sins of his fathers when he commits the same acts. The reason for this might be that when a person sins, his acts become so much a part of the person that he is able to pass the trait on to his children, who either learn it from him or inherit it from him (see Insights to Shabbos 55). A person who lives in Eretz Yisrael, though, is so often awakened to do Teshuvah that any evil traits of his father are not transmitted to him. He is influenced more by the Kedushah of the land than by those evil traits of his father. Therefore he is free of the "Avon" of his father. When the verse says "Nesu Avon" -- "forgiven of sin;" it is referring to the "Avon" in the verse, "Poked Avon Avos Al Banim" -- "He remembers (and punishes) the sin of the fathers upon the children" (Shemos 34:7)! (M. Kornfeld; the Iyun Yakov also hints to this on 110 DH Kol, and 111b DH v'Ken Amru)

In what way does living in Eretz Yisrael prompt a person to do Teshuvah, more so than living in Chutz la'Aretz? Perhaps the Gemara is referring to the Sifri cited by Tosfos in Bava Basra (21a, DH Ki mi'Tzion) which says that when the people would come to Yerushalayim from all parts of Eretz Yisrael at the time of the festival and see the immense Kedushah and the Kohanim performing the Avodah in the Beis ha'Mikdash, "their hearts would turn towards Yir'as Shamayim and towards learning Torah." (Even after the Churban of the Beis ha'Mikdash, Yerushalayim remained a city of holiness, where great Tzadikim dwelled in order to be near the place of the Shechinah.)

This approach answers another apparent problem with this Gemara, which the RIF on the Ein Yakov points out. The verse in Yeshayah is clearly referring to *Yerushalayim*, and not all of Eretz Yisrael, as is evident from the other verses in that chapter. How, then, can Rebbi Elazar say that the verse refers to people who live in *Eretz Yisrael*?

The simple answer is to say that Yerushalayim, which sits at the center of Eretz Yisrael, is used to refer to all of Eretz Yisrael. However, according to our explanation, the answer is that one who lives anywhere in Eretz Yisrael must come to Yerushalayim for the Shalosh Regalim, and by being in Yerushalayim and seeing the great Kedushah, one is aroused to do Teshuvah! Hence, the verse is indeed referring only to the people of Yerushalayim, but Rebbi Elazar is saying that anyone living in Eretz Yisrael would also go to Yerushalayim for the festivals and be aroused to Teshuvah.

(The Pnei Yehoshua adds if a person is not living in Eretz Yisrael because of its Kedushah but simply because he was born there or because he was attracted by its produce, he certainly will not be aroused to Teshuvah by the Kedushah of Eretz Yisrael, which he does not even feel. The Gemara is not referring to such a person.)

(c) The RIF on the Ein Yakov explains that Rebbi Elazar's statement that those who live in Eretz Yisrael dwell without sin should be understood in the context of the Gemara that follows, in which Rava (or Ravina) says that the verse is referring to people who suffer from illnesses.

TOSFOS (110b, DH Hu Omer) says in the name of Rabeinu Chaim ha'Kohen that it is very difficult to travel to Eretz Yisrael and to properly observe the Mitzvos of Eretz Yisrael. The Gemara in Berachos (5a) says that Eretz Yisrael is one of three things which are acquired only through Yisurim, physical affliction. The Yisurim of traveling to and living in Eretz Yisrael serve as atonement for one's sins. (The Ya'avetz and Iyun Yakov give similar explanations.)

QUESTION: The Gemara (end of 110b until the beginning of 111a) records the view of Rav Yehudah, who says that anyone who goes from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael transgresses an Isur Aseh, because the verse says, "To Bavel they will be brought, and there they will stay until the day that I remember them, says Hashem, when I shall bring them up and return them to this place" (Yirmeyahu 27:22). This verse commands us not to return from Galus until Hashem redeems us.

Later on this Daf, Rav Yehudah says in the name of Shmuel that "just as it is Asur to leave Eretz Yisrael to go to Bavel, so, too, it is Asur to leave Bavel to go to other lands." Why does Rav Yehudah now express the Isur of leaving Bavel differently? Earlier, he says that the Isur is to go only from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael, as he derives from the verse in Yirmeyahu, implying that it is permitted to go to other lands. Now, though, he says that the Isur is to go from Bavel to *any* land, and not just to Eretz Yisrael. In fact, the wording of the second statement implies that it is only Asur to go from Bavel to other lands, but it is *not* Asur to go from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael! Moreover, in the second statement he does not relate the Isur of leaving Bavel to the verse that says that Hashem wants us to stay in Galus until the time of the redemption, but rather he relates it to the high level of Torah of Bavel which makes it comparable to Eretz Yisrael (as Rashi points out)! (MAHARIT)


(a) The PNEI YEHOSHUA answers that the two statements of Rav Yehudah were said with regard to two different categories of people. The verse in Yirmeyahu is referring to the time of the Churban of the first Beis ha'Mikdash. Accordingly, the Isur Aseh of going from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael applies only to the people who actually left Eretz Yisrael during the exile to Bavel, and to their descendants who still live there as a result of the exile. (Even after Korash allowed the Jews to return and build the second Temple the command not to return from Bavel still applied, since the time had not yet come for *all* of the Jews to return to Eretz Yisrael. The best proof for this is the fact that the Klei Shares did not return with the Jews who built the second Beis ha'Mikdash, the Pnei Yehoshua maintains.)

Rav Yehudah's second statement is teaching that if one happens to be living in Bavel after having moved there from another country (but not as a result of the first exile from Eretz Yisrael), then although he is permitted to go to Eretz Yisrael he is not permitted to leave Bavel to go to other lands, because Bavel is a place of Torah.

(b) The MAHARAM SHIF also explains that the first statement is only referring to one who goes from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael. He prohibits this with an Isur Aseh, because once we were exiled, Hashem does not want us to return before the designated time. That Isur, though, applies only to one who goes to Eretz Yisrael, but not to one who goes from Bavel to other places in the Diaspora.

The second statement is saying that since Bavel is a place of Torah, one is not allowed to leave Bavel to go to any other place in Chutz la'Aretz. This is not prohibited by the above-mentioned Isur Aseh, since by going to any other place in Chutz la'Aretz one is not returning from the exile. However, the fact that Bavel is a place of Torah does not prevent a person from going to Eretz Yisrael at all, because Eretz Yisrael is a place of Kedushah and the Shechinah, more so than Bavel. Thus the prohibition of returning to Eretz Yisrael is *only* due to the Mitzvas Aseh, and only according to Rebbi Yehudah (i.e. not necessarily according to Shmuel, his Rebbi, in whose name the second statement was quoted.

(c) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Melachim 5:12), quoting Rav Yehudah in the name of Shmuel, writes that just like it is Asur to leave Eretz Yisrael to go to Chutz la'Aretz, it is Asur to leave Bavel to go to other lands. However, he concludes, "As it says, 'To Bavel they will be brought, and there they will stay...'" -- quoting the verse from Yirmeyahu!

The Rambam's words are very difficult to understand. The Gemara says that the verse from Yirmeyahu teaches that it is Asur to go from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael. How, then, can the Rambam say that this verse is teaching that it is Asur to go from Bavel to *other lands*? Moreover, the Rambam implies that it is *only* Asur to go from Bavel to other lands, but it is not Asur to go from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael! Why, then, does he quote the verse in Yirmeyahu, which teaches that it is Asur to go from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael? (The KESEF MISHNAH writes that the Rambam means to include Eretz Yisrael among the other lands to which one may not go from Bavel, and he is ruling like Rebbi Yehudah's first statement. However, this is not the straightforward meaning of the Rambam, and it is also not logical that the Rambam would rule like Rav Yehudah who seems to have been a minority opinion.)

In addition, if the verse could be interpreted to be referring to other lands and not to Eretz Yisrael, then why did Rebbi Zeira have to say that the verse is talking about the Klei Shares, the utensils used in the Beis ha'Mikdash? He could have answered that the verse "Bavelah Yuva'u..." is indeed talking about people, but is referring to going from Bavel to *other lands*! (MAHARIT)

RAV CHAIM SOLOVEITCHIK (in Chidushin on the Shas, written by Talmidim) points out that the verse in Yirmeyahu is discussing only the situation after the Churban of the first Beis ha'Mikdash. Tosfos here explains that Rav Yehudah learns from that time period that the same Isur Aseh should apply after the Churban of the second Beis ha'Mikdash. Rav Chaim points out that Rav Yehudah can only extrapolate from the first exile to the second if the status of Eretz Yisrael after the first Galus and the second Galus are identical: either in both cases the land lost its Kedushah, or in both cases the land retained its Kedushah.

The Rambam (Hilchos Terumos 1:5), however, rules that after the Churban of the first Beis ha'Mikdash, Eretz Yisrael lost its Kedushah, but after the Churban of the second Beis ha'Mikdash, it retained its Kedushah. According to this, even if we accept Rav Yehudah's explanation of the verse that there is an Isur Aseh to return to Eretz Yisrael after the Churban of the first Beis ha'Mikdash, there should be no Isur after the second Churban. After the second Churban Eretz Yisrael retained its Kedushah and there remained a Mitzvah of Yishuv ha'Aretz, of settling the land, which should override any concern about prematurely returning from Galus. The prophet would not have said not to return under such circumstances! That is why the Rambam learns from the verse in Yirmeyahu that one may not go to *other* lands, but one may go to Eretz Yisrael. (It could be that Rebbi Zeira does not explain the verse in such a manner because he wanted to avoid the Machlokes regarding whether or not Eretz Yisrael has Kedushah after the Churban of the second Beis ha'Mikdash.)

An alternate possibility is that the Rambam had a different Girsa in the second line of our Gemara. According to his Girsa, Rebbi Zeira answered that the verse in Yirmeyahu is referring to "Kol ha'She'ar," or "all other [lands]," and not to "Kli Shares." Accordingly, the Rambam is simply quoting the Gemara and ruling like Rebbi Zeira when he writes that the verse is referring to going from Bavel to other lands!

This also answers our original contradiction between Rav Yehudah's first statement and his statement in the name of Shmuel. Shmuel holds, like Rebbi Zeira holds, that the verse is referring only to one who is leaving Bavel for other lands, but not for Eretz Yisrael. (The Maharit also concludes that Rav Yehudah argues with Shmuel.)

HALACHAH: Regarding the Mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael, the RAMBAM (Hilchos Melachim 5:9, 12) rules that it is prohibited to leave Eretz Yisrael for other lands. However, the Rambam never mentions that it is a Mitzvah for someone who lives outside of Eretz Yisrael to *go* to Eretz Yisrael to live there. Although the RAMBAN, in his list of Mitzvos Aseh that the Rambam omitted, counts this as a Mitzvas Aseh, the Rambam makes no mention of this Mitzvah in Mishnah Torah nor in Sefer ha'Mitzvos. The Ramban wonders why the Rambam does not count living in Eretz Yisrael in his list of Mitzvos, since, after all, we find that the Chachamim spoke so highly of the importance of living in Eretz Yisrael, as our Gemara teaches.

It appears that the Rambam learns that there is no Mitzvah at all to go to live in Eretz Yisrael. The Isur of leaving Eretz Yisrael is not counted among his list of Mitzvos because it is an Isur d'Rabanan (or perhaps mi'Divrei Kabalah) similar to the Isur to leave Bavel; if it is Asur to leave Bavel because it is a place where there is Kedushah because of the Jews who live and learn Torah there, then certainly it is Asur to leave Eretz Yisrael, where there is even more Kedushah and a higher level of Hashra'as ha'Shechinah.

However, even if it is not a Mitzvah d'Oraisa to go to live in Eretz Yisrael according to the Rambam, it is clear from our Gemara and from many other sources (which the Rambam himself cites in Mishneh Torah) that Eretz Yisrael should be very dear to our hearts. We should long to dwell in its midst because of its Kedushah and the closeness with Hashem that is attained there, making our Avodas Hashem there so much more meaningful (see Insights to 110b).


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