30 November 2014

"Under the Nations' Rule" - Q and A (Pt 2)

9 Kislev 5775


Communication with Binyamin
 in Jerusalem,  16 Cheshvan 5775

[Note that this is my own translation; therefore, any errors are mine alone.]

"Under the Nations' Rule" - Questions and Answers

Upheaval in the World (Excerpts)

Q. This situation shows clearly that there's nothing to lean on, because what could have prevented these things [i.e. terror attacks]?  Only Hashem can save us! So, they put concrete blocks... they've lost their minds.

A. Good, because of it they will want to bring in soldiers from other places. Their goal - it's to make as much violence as possible, as many injured and killed people as possible, so that we will surrender to their demands.

Seventy years have passed since the second world war. We've gone through two world wars. Within forty-five years there were two world wars which killed millions, millions of people! Cruelty that is impossible to describe. And not just to the Jews, but to the gentiles as well.

In any case, after all this destruction, a world arose that seemed like it was going to be better... more humane... more concerned with the disadvantaged... But, it turned instead into hell on earth. Not even 'hell', but something much worse than hell. So, it's the end, there's no question about it. The end is very near. And the situation is going to get worse - like we said this year. And it's already happening. And from Pesach - it will be very, very much worse, by huge percentages. So I say again to you: until Pesach - it will be a world that will be impossible to recognize at all.


Q. Rumors claim that America is really facing a financial collapse... And then it wil be like a snowball passing over the whole world...

A. Meanwhile, they wait so they can earn another drop and another drop and another drop. And it's not such a 'drop', they simply withdrew the majority of the world's wealth and from here it will fall. And in all likelihood, there will be some kind of 'something big' that they will be able to say that because of it - it all fell.

Q. And then they will surely accuse the Jews...

A. To our great sorrow, there are among them Jews as well. I don't know if it will be blamed on the Jews. It may be that it will be the beginning of the world war, the hard part of the third world war. Indeed, also now it is most difficult for whoever is living in places where war is being waged.

Q. So, what is expected to happen, that the money won't be worth anything, or that there won't be money at all?

A. I don't know exactly. I only know: it will be 'broke'.


Q. You all said that at Purim, the wicked one will fall...

A. Haman. Yes, Haman will fall, that's for sure. But, we will have much harder situations than today and we will know clearly that we are within the end of the birth of the complete redemption.

Q. [Paraphrased] What are the most important things we should be doing now?

A. People need to understand that Mashiach is a real thing and that he will soon be here, and what is happening in the world - we need to understand that it is happening only for the sake of the Jews, for the sake of returning them in repentance.

And when Mashiach will arrive, they will be able to continue to ascend, and continue to flourish, and continue the process of creation. Because, ever since this world was created - Hashem is building, and building, and building this process, to bring us to be one with Him. And this now will pass from the current situation of This-World that is so hard, so deep, to the World-to-Come of Mashiach. And the process of creation will continue to go. And in this process, eventually - it will be much higher than I can explain further.

Q. In practice - what should we work on?

A. Kedoshim tihiyu - "Be Holy."

Q. In what respect?

A. In everything. A Jew needs to be holy. He needs to watch and safeguard himself so as not to be a part of the sleaze that exists in this world. The most important thing - to put barriers between us and this world. Everything is in a hard situation, and people are beginning to catch on because very many people are seeing how 'broke' we are, what problems we have, how we've lost our Judaism with all kinds of superficial and stupid things. Why is there all this goyishness, all the lack of holiness? Because we don't have the way of the Torah.

28 November 2014

"Yad Hashem"

6 Kislev 5775
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

I find it more than interesting that the most compelling issue currently before the Knesset is the Jewish character of the state. And that it should be coming to the fore now, in the month of Kislev, ahead of Hanukah, the celebration of Torah over Democracy, is astounding. 

The news this morning is reporting that PM Netanyahu is considering, and will decide within days, whether to dissolve the Knesset and call for new elections. Perhaps the Knesset will be dissolved, but something will happen to prevent new elections. How fitting would it be for the Erev Rav regime to go down in such a way over such an issue at such a time as this? 

I also find it amazing that each European country continues to hold its own symbolic vote on recognition of 'Palestine'. They can't  wait to go on record as supporting a terror-state in the midst of the Land of Israel. With it, they seal their doom. 

I see yad Hashem all over current events. You should, too.

Shabbat shalom!

PS: This, too, is yad Hashem, B"H!

27 November 2014

Moishela: "You Better Get Serious"

6 Kislev 5775

[Like all of the Moishela messages, this one was received in English by email.]


Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
A Handicapped child 5775 #2
27 Cheshvan 5775 (Nov 20,'14)

You Better Get Serious

Oy, oy, oy, what a tragedy what a terrible tragedy. Choshuva Yidden, not just Stam Yidden, slain in the cruelest way while standing Davening to Hashem. It could theoretically happen to any one of us, Chas Vesholom. The sight of the bodies full of blood wrapped in their Talaisim and their Tefillin, Tzaddikim slaughtered in front of the eyes of their friends, what could be more tragic than that? But everything is a message to Am Yisroel, and this too is a message. This too is a message that we have to try very hard not to ignore. We have to try very hard to understand every aspect of the message and perform what we have to perform, to do what we have to do.

Let’s discuss it. These giants that were killed, these Tzaddikim that were killed only because they were Jews and for no other reason, wrapped in their Talis and their Tefillin in the middle of Davening to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, these Tzaddikim were taken to be Mechaper on the Aveiros of Am Yisroel. If however we don’t understand what Hashem wants from us, why He did this and what it means, then we are going to be in a very tragic position. This is a sign that we are not Beseder. This is a sign that we have to do Teshuva. This is not a sign that everything is ok. Hashem is not telling us, “You’re really being good and that’s why this happened.” No we are not being good as a whole, and we have to do Teshuva. We are living in mixed up times, and these Korbonos, and I Daven to Hashem there won’t be any more, but these Korbonos came to give us a very clear message.

What is the base of Yiddishkeit? Kedoshim Tihu. Look around us. Are we Kedoshim? Yes you can say that we Daven. Yes we go to Minyanim on time, more or less. Yes we put on Tefillin and Tzitzis and Talis and whatever we are required to do every day. Yes we try to keep more or less the Halachos of every Yom Tov, of every Shabbos etc., every aspect of Jewish life. However we are failing. Why are we failing? Because we are doing everything superficially, not everyone of course, but the society has become a superficial materialistic society.

The Yidden that live in the area where these murders took place are known for their Chessed, for their learning, for encouraging the most important aspects of Yiddishkeit. However Har Nof is also known in many instances for being extremely modern and easy on certain Dinim, for example on Tznius. It’s also an area that has all kinds of Yidden living there Sephardim, Ashkenazim, and Litvish and Chassidish. There are great Yeshivas of Litvisha boys and also Yeshivas for Chassidim, and Sephardi Yeshivas, all kinds of Yeshivas. However the superficiality of many of the Yeshivas, not only there but everywhere, has made Yiddishkeit extremely watered down. We give in to the whims of the children of this generation because we ourselves are caught up in the toys, in the adult toys of iPhones that have become so “necessary” to our lives. Many of the people that live in this area are Americans, and the Americans have brought their way, their style, their goals to this area as well, and to all of Eretz Yisroel and the world. This area has many Tzaddikim. There are many Yidden living in Har Nof and it’s only an example of all of the Chareidi communities in Eretz Yisroel and the world. Its only one little sliver of the way of life that many, many so-called Frum Yidden have chosen to live, and these Tzaddikim that were taken were different and therefore they were chosen as a Korbon Tzibur for Am Yisroel.

Now let’s see where we are lacking. The first place that screams out to all of us is the Tznius. The Tznius all over the world for Am Yisroel for the Chareidim has fallen to a great and new low. The Yidden that were in Europe at the time that the “enlightenment,” the so-called “Haskala” movement began, fell very low in their Tznius, and even though most of the Jews of Europe were incinerated in the camps, still the seeds of the so-called enlightenment moved out of Europe with the survivors, and even though many put on Shtreimels and grew Payos and beards, and even though many of the Kehillas were rebuilt, still that seed of Gashmius, of modernization stayed inside of many of them, and it was passed on to their children because the world became so materialistic, so rich that we could easily afford all of these toys, all of this superficial kind of life. We are all trying very hard to say Tehillim and to Daven and so on, but naturally this superficiality takes a great toll out of our true Yiddishkeit. It takes away the depth. We’ve become superficial and many, many Talmidei Chachomim and their wives are very interested in the materialistic side of the world, the side of the Egel Hazahav. The greatest evidence of this is the Levush of the women, the modern Jewish women. They could be Chassidish or Litvish or Sephardi. It doesn’t matter what. In every group it has taken a toll in a terrible way. The wig, the Sheitel, the Peah Nochris is a killer. It’s was made from horse tail hair in past generations in the very beginning when it was done Leshem Shomayim, or thin ropelike materials that they made their Sheitels out of which, were only for the greatest Tzadekeses, because most of the women just uncovered their hair, but whatever it was, it was Bide’eved, and now we believe wrongly that it is directly from the Torah which it is not. This uncovering of the hair which is to put on your head a beautiful piece of hair that is not yours, but that looks like yours, and makes you look unmarried, it’s in many instances so outlandish that I don’t know how any believing Jewish woman could dare wear this, or how any Avreich, a true, true lover of Hashem, a lover of Torah could ever let his wife appear in such a vulgar form of dress. But that is only the beginning. Once the head is covered like this, the makeup follows very quickly, even makeup that is absolutely forbidden. Then comes the tight clothes, which almost every other Jewish girl and woman dresses with tight tops, open necks, tight and short skirts. Some are shorter. Some are a bit longer. Some are a bit wider, but whatever it is the body form is seen completely and even often embarrassingly complete. That doesn’t seem to bother anyone, it doesn’t bother anyone at all. We just go on like this and it gets worse and worse, worse and worse. We test our husbands and our sons in the worst way, and when they fail we make excuses for them.

In the Yeshivas they overlook many, many important things. The Yeshivas are full of boys that have no real idea what Kedusha means, how important it is, and what a big Aveirah it is if they go against it. They have absolutely no idea, because the Roshei Yeshivas very often ignore these things because it’s so prevalent. A boy can learn wonderfully and still have a problem with his Kedusha, and many people will laugh at you if you’re Shomer Einayim because that’s ridiculous, and you look so silly if you put on glasses that are made especially so that you cannot see farther than your nose in order not to be aware of all of the spiritual filth in the street. Of course if you are obviously Shomer Einayim, people will think that something is wrong with you, and you just become a joke, and for sure can’t get a Shidduch. Yes, we’re in big trouble. We think white is black and black is white, and no one realizes that red is forbidden.

I want to tell you that this is our main problem, and once we have this problem then we have other problems, like problems with Kashrus because we are so superficial and so into materialism that food is so important to us. It’s not just to live. It’s to enjoy beyond belief, and therefore we are looking for restaurants or recipes or whatever constantly to feed our Kishka, and once we fill up and get a little bit heavy, then we have to diet, and once we diet then we cheat, but we diet. This dieting and cheating and dieting and cheating is so crazy. It’s not what Hashem wants from us. He wants us to eat in Kedusha. He wants us to take the food and make a Brocha over it and thank Him for it because it’s nourishing our bodies. Of course, we are allowed to enjoy our food but we don’t have to be gluttons. We don’t have to lust after food, and that is what is happening in this world. All of these parties and these Bar Mitzvas and these Chasunas, with their outlandish food brings us down. I’m not saying that everyone is on that low level, but many are, and many of the people that we admire the most, because they have the most money and they are the ones that give to the Yeshivas and build them, they are the ones that set the style and the tune, the tune of this dance of this macabre, terrible, frightening, scary, sad dance the dance of the Gashmius, the dance of the dead.

I will go on to other things. We’ve talked about clothes and we’ve talked about the modern way of life. Food is one example, but then we have problems with the food which is called Kashrus, because we need so much of it, and it is hard to bring in from wherever they get the food enough to satisfy the needs of our gluttonous society. Any Hechsher that has too many customers is likely to make big mistakes and take many shortcuts, and any Hechsher that gets too rich is going to be so rich that they’ll be afraid to lose even one customer, and there are many, many problems like this all over the world. We are in a very bad situation. In many instances we are eating Mamash Treif, Shelo Neida.

Yes we Daven, but we want our Rabbonim to tell us what we want to hear. We want our Rabbonim to make Yiddishkeit easy. There are Heterim which were never given before, only in times that Yidden were so weak that they couldn’t even fast through a Tisha B’av. We are that generation, the lowest generation ever, but we have the ability to rise the highest. Therefore, I beg you Am Yisroel. Yes you have cars, and yes you have air conditioning in your house, and yes you have and all kinds of electrical things that will help you, but don’t forget one day Hashem is going to pull the plug. There will be no electricity. There will be no light. There will be no air conditioning. There will be no car. There will be no nothing, just you and Hashem, and at that moment you are going to have to give Din Vecheshbon. At that moment you’re going to be so frightened you won’t know where to go. At that moment you’re going to try to find Hashem, but you will have been so detached from Him, even though you thought you were close to Him, that you won’t know where to go. You say Tehillim and even cry. You stand in Shmoneh Esrei with your skirt just about at your knee, showing your whole figure top and bottom, with your long fancy Sheitel and you cry and then you realize, oh your make up is running. You better stop crying. That is the worst thing you could do. I beg you, Am Yisroel. Wash your faces. Take off your Sheitels and put on your headscarves, your Tichels. Lengthen your skirts and widen them. Better than that wear a dress. Cover yourselves completely. Daven with clean faces.

Treat your husbands with respect. Do what you have to do as a wife, always with Simcha, as a wife and as a mother, as a true Jewish mother, and you my dear Talmidei Chachomim, be real Talmidei Chachomim. Stop talking politics all the time. Stop trying to decide which of the Gedolai Hador are the best, and nix the ones that you don’t like. Stop trying to go and ask Shailos and get the answers that you want, because unfortunately you will get the answers that you want, but I don’t know if it will be the right decision. Stop looking for wives that other men are going to look at, and please try to find Hashem. Try to find Hashem. There are groups of Yidden that are doing this now. Join up with them. Get rid of all the superficialities in your life and come close to Hashem, Its not easy now after you have lived in a Disneyland so long, but now is time to get serious, because we’re at the end. We are very, very close to the end. You better get serious.

"Under the Nations' Rule" - Q and A

5 Kislev 5775


Communication with Binyamin
 in Jerusalem,  16 Cheshvan 5775

[Note that this is my own translation; therefore, any errors are mine alone.]

"Under the Nations' Rule" - Questions and Answers

The Riots in Jerusalem

Q. Is the rule for nine months mentioned by the prophets speaking about Yishmael or Edom?

A. We don't know, but I would say Edom. That we are feeling that it is Yishmael who is taking over [is because] there are those who want a situation like this, that we will think that 'Yishmael is taking over', that the pere adam is taking over and that we need to receive, to give support to these 'darlings', these soldiers with all the guns and helmets, etc. who come from Europe, etc. - that they will surely save us from the perei adam Yishmaelim.

But, they are the ones who are sending and making this whole scenario - the messes of these perei adam Arabs. And they really are perei adam [man-like animals], but they have no real power, really they have no power, the power of a country, with an army, etc. Because if they will start to bomb them seriously, they're not bombing them seriously, it's all a game, but, if they were to bomb them seriously - it'd be finished in a second!

[And this is also why the Israeli government always stops just short of finishing the job!]

But, they continue with it once more, and more and more and more...until they overpower them, until they wear them out and then Edom will rule.

And all the armies in the world today, in western lands - they all look the same. [See below.] They all look like Nazis. Look at them, they really look like Nazi soldiers. But, what's the only difference? They have much more elaborate equipment, that's all.

Q. Are you saying that they are creating it so that we will need them to 'save us', the soldiers of foreign countries...

A. That's exactly what is happening in all the lands, in Egypt, in Libya, in all the lands. Except that, in Egypt, he resisted, but, in any case, he's also not in an easy situation. But, they put in their own people this way, nobody asked permission 'yes or no'. They're simply in a position of weakness there, so they could come in. Meanwhile, they're getting the Arabs to kill each other.

Q. That all the wars are around the Temple Mount, is it not a sign that Mashiach is getting closer?

A. It's very interesting what is happening on the Temple Mount. Because all the nations want it. The Catholic Christians made an agreement with the Arabs sitting on Har Habayit that the Catholics will take Mount Zion and they [the Arabs] will take Har Habayit. That's a big laugh! Do you think the Edomim will let the Arabs sit on the Temple Mount for long?... And in general, what is there for the Arabs with the Temple Mount? In general - nothing. It's all nonsense. And the Christians know: whoever rules the Temple Mount - rules. Without any doubt, they're not going to let the Arabs rule there. But, meanwhile, there will be a bit more quiet for them to operate the way they want. You should know one thing: no one has any intention of letting the Jews have Har Habayit. Except for HKB"H. But, Hashem doesn't intend it for now, it's not for now, it's for when Mashiach comes and builds the Beit Hamikdash. The gentiles want to build a temple, Hashem protect us, G-d forbid, on Har Habayit, but it will be something else, it won't exactly be a Catholic church, it will be some kind of church to avodah zarah, Hashem protect us. But, with G-d's help - it won't be. Hashem won't allow it to be.

[If you have any doubts at all about their intentions, just take a look at this video:]

 "Solomon's Temple in Brazil - A Landmark for the Whole World"

[Questions and Answers to be continued, b"H]

Click to enlarge.

24 November 2014

Rav Yehuda Richter Shiur on Yishmael (Continued)

3 Kislev 5775

Part 1 here.

The Druze of Eretz Yisrael

2 Kislev 5775

A lot of attention has been focused on the Druze community in Eretz Yisrael this week since the Druze policeman was killed trying to save Jews in the Har Nof terrorist attack last week. For Jews who wish to follow the Torah with regard to relations with gentiles in Eretz Yisrael, it presents a question. How are we to relate to the Druzim of Eretz Yisrael who, unlike the Muslim Arabs, have proven to be loyal citizens of the nation?

While pondering this, I thought back to Yael who slew General Sisera when Devorah Haneviah judged Yisrael and who was married to Hever "the Kenite". I seemed to recall having read that the Kenites were descendants of Yitro. Knowing that Yitro is revered by the Druze, I began to investigate whether there might be a connection.

The following quotations are taken from The Jewish Virtual Library:
"The Kenites came from the south: Midian, Edom, and the Arabah. Hobab (*Jethro), son of Reuel the Midianite, who aided the Israelites in the desert and served as their pathfinder (Num. 10:29–32), was also known as the Kenite (Judg. 1:16; 4:11). ... The house of Rechab, which had preserved traditions of the time of the Exodus, was related to the Kenites....   In view of the kindness the Kenites had shown to Israel during the Exodus (I Sam. 15:6), Saul gave them friendly warning before attacking the Amalekites."
"The house of Rachab" being the only ones saved from the City of Yericho because they threw their lot in with the nation of Yisrael

There is no doubt that the Kenites were allowed to live in Eretz Yisrael and were treated well by the Jews in return for their loyalty. The question now is whether this example can be applied to the Druze community.

According to Wikipedia:

...The Druze revere the father-in-law of Moses, Jethro, whom some Muslims identify with Shuʻayb. According to the biblical narrative, Jethro joined and assisted the Israelites in the desert during the Exodus, accepted monotheism, but ultimately rejoined his own people. The tomb of Jethro near Tiberias is the most important religious site for the Druze community.
...In January 2004, the current spiritual leader, Sheikh Muwaffak Tarīf, called on all non-Jews in Israel to observe the Seven Noahide Laws as laid down in the Bible and expounded upon in Jewish tradition. The mayor of the Galilean city of Shefa-'Amr also signed the document.[17] The declaration includes the commitment to make a "...better humane world based on the Seven Noahide Commandments and the values they represent commanded by the Creator to all mankind through Moses on Mount Sinai."
It is well known that they have proven their loyalty to the nation by serving as soldiers, policemen and guards. Whether they are the descendants of the Kenites or simply following in their path, it would appear to me that they must be treated the same way that Yehoshua, Devorah and Shaul HaMelech treated those earlier gentiles who also followed the Noahide laws and who proved themselves loyal to the nation of Yisrael

20 November 2014

Parshat Toldot - 5775

28 Marcheshvan 5775
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

Parashat Toldot – Behavior and Character Traits – Rabbi Meir Kahane

The lads grew up and Esau became one who knows hunting, a man of the field; but Jacob was a wholesome man, abiding in tents. Isaac loved Esau for game was in his mouth; but Rebecca loved Jacob. (Gen. 25:27-28)

G-d chose Abraham because of his behavior and his merits; He rejected his son Ishmael and chose Isaac, too, because of his merits; again, He rejected Esau and chose Jacob due to his behavior. So after three successive generations of tzaddikim, all the subsequent offspring of the Patriarchs could be considered spiritually fit. G-d could forge them all into a chosen, treasured, and exalted nation, who would be His emissary to the human race and a light unto all the nations, to teach them the correct ways which they should follow. This process of choice and rejection is realized to a good degree by the intervention of the Matriarchs, Sarah and Rebecca, who interpreted the behavior of Ishmael and Esau more correctly than Abraham and Isaac. The mother instinctively recognizes the son because she raises him, she educates him, the child is in her trust, and when it comes to the child, the mother is the expert. And therefore, when talking about Rebecca, the Torah emphasizes that she was the mother of Jacob and Esau – that she understood both of them thoroughly. The holy language of the Torah expands the concept expressed by the word "em" (“mother”) to the extent that the word "emunah" (“faith”) comes from the root "em". For who is more faithful and loyal to a child, who is more willing to sacrifice their very life for the child’s sake, than a mother? And this is an additional reason that Rebecca is referred to there by the term “mother”: she faithfully clung to the truth, understood that Jacob had to be the spiritual heir – and for this, she was willing even to go against Isaac, to the extent of deceiving him, and telling her son Jacob, “Let your curse be upon me, my son.” (Genesis 27:13).

G-d chose Abraham because of his behavior and his merits: It says [regarding Abraham] (Gen. 18:19), “I have given him special attention that he might command his children and his household after him, and they will keep the ways of the L-rd, doing charity and justice.” Thus G-d commanded Abraham to perform acts of charity and kindness, as well as to further justice by causing G-d's role to be acknowledged. By doing what G-d had commanded, Abraham's kindness and mercy became rooted in him. These traits passed on to Isaac and then to Jacob and his seed. R. Natan bar Abba said in the name of Rav:The wealthy of Babylonia go to hell. When Shabtai bar Marinos came to Babylonia, he sought work, but they would not provide it nor would they feed him. He said, “These [wealthy Babylonians] are of the mixed multitude, for it says, 'G-d will make you merciful and have mercy on you' (Deut. 13:18). When anyone acts mercifully, we know he is of Abraham's seed; if he acts unmercifully, we know that he is not.” (Betza 32b) Kindness, like all traits found in the Torah, is nothing but a Divine attribute we were commanded to emulate and accept upon ourselves with the goal of being G-d-like. Thus we learn (Shabbat 133b): “This is my G-d and I will glorify Him” (Ex. 15:2)... Abba Shaul said, “To 'glorify' Him means making ourselves similar to Him. Just as He is kind and merciful, so must we be kind and merciful.” There is a double message here. Not only must we be kind and merciful, but we must “make ourselves similar to G-d,” i.e., we must be kind and merciful the way G-d explains these terms rather than the way we perceive them.

The real meaning of kindness and truth is that these principles are only part, albeit an exceedingly marked and conspicuous part, of the Torah's main purpose and goal – self-abnegation and suppression of our evil impulse and arrogance. All the mitzvot were given for this purpose, but kindness and mercy are the most direct path to this goal. By contrast, the Jews who distort the Torah are so influenced by the alien [Western] culture that they turn kindness and mercy into goals in and of themselves. By such means they elevate them above all the mitzvot, necessarily diminishing the value of all other mitzvot. They also push the concepts of kindness and mercy to foolish and dangerous extremes, while they themselves include wicked enemies of the Jewish People.

The Torah's goal is to create a person who diminishes himself, who bridles his arrogance, breaking down and negating his ego, who suppresses his evil impulse and liberates himself from covetousness and haughtiness, which are the root of evil and impurity. The most direct, clear and immediate way to achieve this is by loving one's fellow man and by being kind to him. Such acts express the Torah's essence, breaking down one's ego. Hillel therefore called this “the whole Torah”, since indeed breaking down the ego is G-d's whole aim, and this is expressed in the clearest, most acute fashion by loving one's fellow man. “All the rest”, however, the other mitzvot, are the commentary on this. That is they show us how to suppress our evil impulse.

Whoever behaves ethically and with love, agreeing with these attributes [only] because they are esthetic and pleasant, will never reach the true goal of breaking down his ego. Yet by fulfilling all the mitzvot, even those lacking any rationale, and all the more so those difficult mitzvot that contradict, so to speak, love and morality, one makes clear that loving one's fellow man is not a goal in and of itself, but a large part of man's true goal – breaking down his ego and accepting G-d's yoke. Similarly, whoever understands the true role of kindness and mercy in the Torah framework, will also understand their limitations, and where it is forbidden to show kindness and be mercifulKindness and mercy – in the right time and place – is the obligation of every Jew. It is a means of suppressing one's passions and becoming less selfish, thereby exalting oneself almost to the level of the ministering angels, and perhaps higher. Hence, from the general theme of kindness and mercy emerge countless mitzvot and ideas which have always guided the Jew in his daily life.

It is clear that a prerequisite for acquiring any good trait is destroying its opposite. First, one must “turn away from evil” (Ps. 34:15) – and only then - “do good” (Ibid.) Thus, to become loving, we must cease to be hateful. To learn respect, we must cease to scorn our fellow man. I must warn once again that all the principles I quote from the Torah and our sages are rulings that have come down as precise law, and they apply only in the time and place that our holy Torah says they apply. Hence, whoever sets out to eradicate hatred should have in mind only that hatred which opposes our Torah, false hatred, defined by our sages as sinat chinam, “groundless hatred”. Nothing originating from G-d can be “groundless”. If there is no Divine reason for hatred, it is absolutely forbidden and despised by G-d. Yet when G-d commands us to hate the evildoer, that is “truthful hatred”, a sacred duty from which no one is exempt.

The same applies as far as love. There is not, never was, and never will be a Torah concept of “groundless love”. G-d does not concede regarding hatred of those who hate Him and or the evildoers who destroy what is sacred to the Jewish People. I shall never tire of bringing our sages' words (Bava Kamma 50a), “Whoever says G-d indulgently forgoes sin, shall forgo his life” (“because he is teaching his fellow man to sin” - Rashi). Love and hate, like all Divine traits, came into the world with well-defined parameters, virtually possessing a set of laws of their own. Whoever preaches that hatred is never valid, or presents a false picture of love, shall have to account for it in the future.

All the same, where indeed inappropriate, hating one's fellow Jew is a heinous sin. Our sages said (Arachin 16b): “Do not hate your brother in your heart” (Lev. 19:17): I might think [it would suffice] not to hit him, slap him or curse him. It therefore says, “in your heart.” The verse refers even to hatred in one's heart. It is forbidden to hate a Jew even in one's heart. Rather, one must make known one's objections and rebuke him.
[Source: Compiled by Tzipora Liron-Pinner from "The Jewish Idea" and "Peirush haMaccabee (Shemot)" of Rav Meir Kahane, HY"D]

R' Mizrachi on the Har Nof Massacre

27 Marcheshvan 5775


27 Marcheshvan 5775

Finally, a few voices of sanity...

Karlin-Stolin Rebbe Says Throw the Arabs Out of the Mosdos!

FLASHBACK: Hagon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Calls On Yeshivos To Fire Arabs 

Shoppers leave their groceries rather than buy where Arabs are employed

Ashkelon mayor: No Arab construction workers in kindergartens

...but they stand to be drowned out by the hypocritical destroyers of Israel.

Arab workers' firing draws wall-to-wall condemnation from Israeli politicians

Despite the fact that the mayor of Ashkelon is only talking about temporarily removing Arab workers using hoes and shovels around kindergarten children, Economy Mnister Naftali Bennet has the nerve to say that "Israel must have zero tolerance for racism in the workforce...."  He says further that “...99.9% of Israeli Arabs are loyal and want to integrate. There is a tiny minority that uses violence and causes terrorism and we must crack down on that but also integrate and bring closer the vast majority of Israeli Arabs. This is a key to our future here."

"...Finance Minister Yair Lapid said calls not to employ Arabs are racist, unacceptable and intolerable."

"Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) said the Ashkelon mayor's decision was immoral."

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that to prevent Israeli Arabs from making a living just because they are Arabs is against "our fundamental values." 

Netanyahu on discrimination of Israeli-Arabs: An entire community should not be stigmatized

These people wouldn't recognize a "Jewish value" if it snuck up and bit them. Losers - one and all!

It is certainly no coincidence that as Kislev and Hanukah approach, we are going to hear more and more how "Jewish values" = "Western democratic values."

This is just another chapter in the war between Jews of faith and the Hellenists among us.

UPDATE on the so-called "Jewish State Bill"...

Netanyahu announces support for 'Jewish state bill'

..."The judiciary, which recognizes Israel's democratic side, will also have to recognize that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People," Netanyahu said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting.

The prime minister vowed to push the bill forward, but said it must undergo many changes.

"In the end, we will make it clear that Israel is the Jewish nation-state, while promising equal rights to all its citizens," he added.

Nix 'Jewish State' bill in favor of a 'declarative vision,' Livni report says

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday announced that a report she commissioned on Israel as a Jewish and democratic state had recommended against passing a law to that effect and in favor of a vaguer declarative vision.

The 20-page report, authored by renowned constitutional law Professor Ruth Gavison, explained that a new law would only inflame controversy among diverse sectors in the country and Jews in the Diaspora.

In contrast, she said a new non-binding vision or re-affirming the vision of Israel’s Declaration of Independence could focus on aspects of being Israeli which unify the diverse Jewish and non-Jewish sectors.

...Gavison’s vision leaned more toward the democratic side, as she divided the core, undisputed, guiding principles as “Judaism, democracy, and human rights.”

As Binyamin pointed out in his recent message, we're already under gentile rule. 

Buffalo Buried!

27 Marcheshvan 5775

18 November 2014

"Under the Nations' Rule"

26 Marcheshvan 5775


Communication with Binyamin
 in Jerusalem,  16 Cheshvan 5775

[Note that this is my own translation; therefore, any errors are mine alone.]

"Under the Nations' Rule"

I feel that the government is already not a Jewish government.
I feel that we are already in the rule of the nations.
I feel that we the Jews - are a minority here in the land, even though there are, so to speak, something like six million Jews here, but I feel that we, the real-Jews, are few.
I feel black spiritual clouds over Eretz Yisrael .
I feel that the Third World War is already here, and I feel that until Pesach, our world will be another world entirely.

Am Yisrael! 

Look around at what they are calling 'Medinat Yisrael'...
Look upon the places of the tzadikim, the holy-places, where all our tzadikim are buried...
Look upon our leaders...
Observe well our rabbis, from all the various types...
Look well, observe thoroughly, look around at our society, hear all the slogans of the Knesset members, the secular as well as the religious, and also the so-called 'chareidim', and see what a problem, what a difficult problem, that we have.

And those who don't want to see, want to continue the big party, the rampage with materialism - they'll never see the truth. They will want to continue it, to continue the nonsense. But, the few who are real-Jews, in a little bit, will suddenly be able to see the truth, really. 

Am Yisrael, no matter how much I try to explain it to you - you don't want to hear.

Let's go over a bit what's happening here.

The Arabs are very angry. And the Jews, the Prime Minister and his friends from all sides, from all directions - are playing a game with us, a "game of chase", whoever catches can understand. But, no one knows how to catch what's really going on.

They're taking groups of people and worrying that one will start with the other, that there will be unrest between Jews and gentiles and between Jews and Jews.

They're going from country to country and they're doing it in every place, meanwhile mainly in Arab countries, one Arab against another. And a serious part of the Arabs who are attacking - they belong to the heads of these groups, they belong to the "New World Order" that wants to rule over everyone.

And these, the great evildoers - they are Edom, like we spoke about not just once. And the Arabs, they are simply 'pere adam', it's possible to easily inflame them against the Jews and against the Edomim. Against the Jews - they've always had anger, since Yishmael and Yitzchak, but the hatred between the Edomim and the Arabs, it's not as much time, it's since the birth of Islam.  Because, before that the Christians ruled, and suddenly came Islam and conquered an enormous part of the world, so there is very, very deep hatred between them. They even hate them more than the Jews. But, they both want to get rid of the Jews, and we're 'under supervision', but first of all they will make war between themselves.

I'm not saying that Jews won't die until then from these wars, G-d protect us, but at the end of it we, the real-Jews, will arrive to the complete redemption. But, look around, what murder, what hatred. It's true, it's true that the Arabs are really not ok, but also the 'supposedly-Jews' are not ok. There are police here, and part of the police are really no better than all the police all over the world, no nicer nor better. Once, at the establishment of the state - no one was afraid of the police. But, now, fear of the police also exists among the Jews, even though supposedly the police are 'Jews', but it's something else.

And the government from one side says that they need to make a law that officially it's to be called a "Jewish State" and those on the other side are trying to destroy Judaism with laws like the conversion law, that every 'so-called rabbi' can gather a few Jews to a beit din and accept every gentile like a Jew, to turn him in one second into a Jew.

And then they want to dilute the Jews. And it could be the Land of Israel full of gentiles, but in their identity card it's written "Jews"! Thus it will be a place "Jewish-but-gentile." And this is the goal. And whoever opposes so, they will either remove him from life in general, they will erase him, G-d forbid, like they did in many places, or he will agree to surrender and to be what they want. Thus is our situation. That's the situation.

And this government - it's not a Jewish government. It could be that a majority of the people in the Knesset are with a circumcision, but that's not to say they are Jews! They're Erev Rav. Simply Erev Rav. Erev Rav - and nothing more. It could be  that perhaps among them there is another Jew that can do teshuvah, but I really don't understand why the chareidim are still sitting in the 'Knesset'. What more is there to do?... To win what!?... Do you not see that everything is gentile, everything gentiles!?...

On the other hand, I'm glad it appears so, because it says that in a little bit Mashiach will be revealed. Because we need to be underneath the rule of the nations nine months. And I hope that much of these nine months have already passed. But, what is clear: - They're not Jews. They're playing a game. They don't speak about HKB"H. I don't believe they know what it is - HKB"H, with their button-kippah on the head. I don't believe that Lapid knows what it is to be a Jew, even though he says that he wants his daughter to marry only a Jew, maybe it was his son, I don't recall. So, what [does he mean by] a 'Jew'?... For sure it's a Jew who receives some kind of 'conversion' by some movie producer, who knows?

I only know that it's time for the real-Jews, those who strongly feel HKB"H, who are holding fast to the spiritual rope that connects us to HKB"H, that we will begin to organize ourselves and strengthen ourselves more and more, to be close to one another, and organize a few groups, a few places, that we will know that these are our places, and we will be shut inside.

And we will pray strongly to Hashem to rescue the true Am Yisrael and to rescue the real-Jews all over the world and that all of us will merit to receive our righteous Mashiach. And that's what we need to do. That's all that we need to do.

The time that remains to us until the big explosion - it's little, so I request from every Jew that they will make efforts to come close to HKB"H, no matter what happens, and will make efforts to help others, the real-Jews, to return to HKB"H. In a little bit you will see more clearly who is and who is not. Meantime, make efforts with every Jew who says he is a Jew as there is an assumption that he really is a Jew - make efforts to help him to return. That's what there is for us to do now. And "kedoshim tihiyu" [be holy], don't forget. That's the basis for everything. Kedoshim tihiyu! Kedoshim tihiyu! Kedoshim tihiyu!

[Questions and Answers to follow, iy"H]

The Terror Pyramid

25 Marcheshvan 5775

This is my view of the global terror network and how and why it functions. Each level has its own agenda. Ultimately, "terror" serves the interests of the "Elite."

"TPTB" is The Powers That Be - Creators of the "NWO"

17 November 2014

"The Noose Is Getting Tighter"

25 Marcheshvan 5775


Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
A Handicapped child
3 Cheshvan 5775 (Oct 26, '14)

[Like all of the Moishela messages, this one was received in English by email.]

The Noose Is Getting Tighter
.....(See it on video!)

The world has absolutely gone mad, absolutely mad. Murder, accidents, weather related deaths, riots, plagues, Mamash a very scary world. Every day something new. Every day something more bloody. Every day more and more deaths. Every day we become more and more frightened.

The noose is getting tighter and tighter around us, and the worst part about it is that no one seems to feel it except a very few. Very few people feel it at all. Either they don’t want to feel it so they ignore it, or they are really in some very strong daze or under some kind of drug that keeps them from seeing what is happening. It doesn’t even have to be medication, although I would imagine that in the western world at least 50% of the people are on some kind of psychiatric medication. They drug themselves on Gashmius on materialism so they won’t know, so they won’t feel, so they won’t be afraid. What is happening is frightening because the world is beginning to feel the effects of being ruled by a group of absolute maniacs, of people that are evil to their bone. They are planning crazy things and thinking they can get away with it, thinking that they can turn the world into their private domain, that they can take the Jewish people and turn them into Goyim. Their greatest goal that they want to achieve is they want to destroy, to kill nine-tenths of the world population. What can I tell you? We Yidden are being targeted. Our faith is being targeted, and we must, must come back to Hashem in order to stop it.

I have dreams, I have such frightening dreams every night. I see cities being blown up. I see all kinds of terrible things happening. I see wild men killing and plundering. I see planes shooting and bombing. I see people dying of thirst and hunger, and I cry and I cry. I am so nervous and so afraid, not for myself - for my family and for Am Yisroel, how terrible, how terrible. I’m not even giving you the details of what I see but it’s very very frightening! I don’t know how to pass on to my fellow Jews through what I am writing, the difficult things we still have to face.

How can I beg? How can I plead with Am Yisroel to open their eyes, to get rid of the Gashmius, to stop looking like street people, to start looking again like Jews, to start acting again like Jews? I’m talking to the Frum. What else can I say to you? What else can I do? If you read over everything I’ve said to this point, you should already be doing Teshuva in the strongest way, but I see in the streets that people are buying and buying things that are not necessary. I see that they are making fancy parties and fancy Chasunas and things that are not necessary. I see and I feel that children are growing up to love, to lust after Gashmius. I see how we are eating like gluttons, but have become very very weak in our Mitzvos and it makes me cry. Now we are facing the most horribly difficult time in history and we’re messing around with nonsense.

What can I say? What can I do? I’m only a young person with an old head and an old heart, but I can tell you this: you better straighten up fast. You better get your act together because the suffering is going to be unbelievable if not, and if you take yourself in hand then you can save yourself so much suffering, so much misery. Do you understand? People, do you understand? You can save yourselves so much suffering, but if not it will be unimaginable suffering. I’m begging you. I’m begging you. Put your trust in Hashem not in people, not in science, not in chief rabbis, or in heads of state. Put your trust only in Hashem, only in Hashem, only in Hashem. We have to be like the Yidden that left Mitzrayim and spent forty years in the desert. We have to be like that. We have to have that kind of trust of Hashem without question, no matter what happens, no questions asked. We must know in our hearts and our souls that it’s all for our good, it’s to help us go higher, to help us reach the next stage of Creation which is Olam Habah of Moshiach Tzidkainu, and our journey upwards, to total salvation, to completely become one with Hashem. That’s what I have to say.

I’m afraid that my words have become useless because people have become used to listening to them, even though they are harsh and they are strong and people see around them terrible things happening, but they are getting used to it. They want their Gashmius more than they want to listen. So I will say a few more sentences to make sure you understand. Please, please do Teshuva. Change your way of life. Become Tzniusdik, the men and the women. Trust Hashem in everything. Don’t go looking outside of your Daled Amos for the Yeshua. The Yeshua is only with Hashem, only with Hashem. In the near future we are going to witness very bloody happenings, very frightening and very bloody. Here in Eretz Yisroel there will be more riots and more trouble, but in Chutz La’aretz it will be really bad, really bad.

Between now and Chanukah we are going to have a rush of incidents all over the world, that will put great fear into most of the population of the world. You won’t know where to look first, up, down, left, right. Everywhere there will be trouble big big trouble. Hashem is trying to show us that the inevitable must be and that means that we are coming very close to the Geula Sheleima, and the hardest part of this birth is now and therefore you can either have an easy birth or a very difficult one. It’s your choice.

I told you I’m finished for now.

Keep Insisting on That Construction Freeze

24 Marcheshvan 5775

"...we will never accept the definition of building in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem as settlement activity,” Lieberman told a news conference. 'We won't accept any limitation on building in Jewish areas of [East] Jerusalem.'

...Washington responded to the news negatively, reasserting its opposition to the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem. It stated that Lieberman’s announcement may 'exacerbate this difficult situation on the ground and...will not contribute to efforts to reduce the tension.'"

Europe is next: “The peace process is in deep freeze, but the situation on the ground is not. There is big frustration in Europe and zero tolerance for settlement activity."

16 November 2014

“Economic Difficulty” and Aliyah

23 Marcheshvan 5775

Guest post by...

Rav Ari Shvat (Chwat)
Rosh Midreshet Tal Orot
Michlelet Orot, Elkana


(Translated from Tchumin 22 (5762), pp. 355-368)

“Economic Difficulty”- A Halachic Examination and Definition of the Most Common Excuse for Not Making Aliya

After conclusively seeing that living in Israel is so central to Judaism, even “equated with the rest of the mitzvot combined”, what is the rationalization for the many religious Jews who still live in chutz la'Aretz? From my experience, the most popular justification is a financial one – because for most, aliya to Israel involves lowering their standard of living. Rabbi Yehuda HeLevi already mentions, regarding the aliya in the days of Ezra, "most of them, including the most important, stayed in Babylon, agreeing to exile and servitude just to avoid leaving their homes and professions." The question is, "how far does the obligation to live in Israel go"? How much does one need to lower their standard of living in order to fulfill the commandment of living in Israel?

A. The Decree of Usha

Three rabbis of our generation related to this question in the context of "The Decree of Usha". "In Usha they decreed that one who gives should not lavish more than a fifth (of his money)". The reason given in the b'raita is: "lest he become dependant on others (for their support)". The amoraim base this law on the words of Yaakov, "and all that You will give me, I will surely tithe to you". From Rashi's commentary here, it seems that this decree is only regarding the mitzvah of tzedaka, but from the phrasing of the Talmud Yerushalmi, it seems that this applies to all mitzvot: "In Usha they decided that a person should tithe a fifth of his possessions for a mitzva (or, in some versions "for mitzvot")".

This is inferred as well, from the cited source where Yaakov says "and all that You will give me I will surely tithe it to You", where there is no mention of charity whatsoever. Similarly, the reason for the decree, "lest he become dependant on others," applies equally to all mitzvot. Indeed, we find also in the Talmud Bavli, that the Decree of Usha is mentioned in relation to other mitzvot, as well.

Some of the rishonim, in fact, rule according to this broader (and more lenient) understanding of the Decree of Usha, among them, the Rambam, Tosafot and the Rosh. Rabbeinu Yerucham says that all positive mitzvot are like tzedaka regarding the minimal obligation of giving at least a tenth, as he says: "and the commentators learnt that a person is not obligated (to spend) a lot of money on a mitzvah like lulav, as it says ‘one who gives (money) should not lavish more than a fifth’. Nevertheless, in any case he is obligated to use a tenth of his money". However, according to the other aforementioned rishonim, the maximum that can be spent is indeed, a fifth of his possessions, but the minimum is whatever is necessary, to fulfill the mitzvah, up to 20%.

Many achronim mention the Decree of Usha in the context of buying an etrog – as mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch and its commentaries, and also regarding prayer (even though prayer, as opposed to charity, is considered by many to be a rabbinical commandment). In addition, there are those who hold like Rabbeinu Yerucham, that one is obligated to spend at least a tenth of his possessions to fulfill every positive mitzvah. Rav Moshe Dov Volner, former chief rabbi of Ashkelon, opines that the difference between the mitzvah of tzedaka and other mitzvot, is that the amount of 10% is only mentioned regarding tzedaka, whereas for all other mitzvot, it is permissible to spend up to a fifth.

The question is, if the maximum expenditure is specified for any individual mitzvah, accordingly, if one has the opportunity to do five mitzvot (according to the opinion that the maximum is 20%) or 10 (according to Rabbeinu Yerucham), he would have to spend every penny he owns in order to fulfill them! Rav Volner learns from the wording of the Talmud Yerushalmi which the Rambam cites as definitive, "one who spends money on mitzvot (plural!) shouldn’t lavish more than a fifth" that this amount applies to the total sum of his expenditures for mitzvot. Accordingly, he rules in our discussion that it is permissible for one to spend all of that one fifth of his possessions (alloted to fulfill all the positive mitzvot), on one mitzvah – settling the Land of Israel. However, in his opinion, one is not obligated to spend even 10% of his money on any specific mitzvah apart from charity.

In contrast, Rav Shaul Yisraeli, Rosh Yeshiva at Merkaz HaRav and former veteran dayan on the Beit Din Gavoha in Y’rushalayim, rules like Rabbeinu Yerucham regarding the Decree of Usha, that one is obligated to spend up to a tenth of his assets, or enough to cover expenses of food and clothing for one person for five years, in order to make aliya. However, in the opinion of Rav Moshe Shternbuch, sgan av Beit Din of the Eidah haCharedit in Yerushalim, due to the limitation of 20%, there cannot be an obligation forcing one to leave his home for any regular positive mitzvah, even if "he will fulfill a positive mitzvah every minute that he is in Israel". In other words, the physical and psychological effort involved in moving to Israel is worth more than a fifth of his possessions and he is therefore, according to R. Shternbuch, not obligated to do so.

The difficulty with this last opinion is evident. For according to R. Shternbuch, the mitzvah of moving to Israel is essentially cancelled, because every aliya to Israel involves great effort, not to mention self-sacrifice, usually equivelant in worth to more than a fifth of his possessions. Accordingly, the vast majority will not only always be exempt but even forbidden (!) to make aliya, chalila (see chapter E).

Curiously, the three aforementioned modern poskim all deal with the issue of the extent of monetary loss which need be incurred to make aliya, based on their respective understanding of the Decree of Usha, without mentioning the many poskim who explicitly discussed this topic in previous generations. Furthermore, and even more difficult, there is conspicuously no mention whatsoever in any of those many preceding sources of the Decree of Usha, regarding the mitzva of living in Israel? To the contrary, some thirty (!) previous poskim (including rishonim) hold that one is obligated to live in Israel, unless he must beg for a living (a significantly greater sacrifice than 20% of his possessions)! Why did all of those rishonim and achronim see this mitzva as dissimilar, having a unique and substantially different halachic definition regarding the obligation of monetary loss for a particular mitzva?

B. Calculation of the One Fifth – From Past Savings or Future Income?

Today, with modern transportation and “lifts”, there is comparatively less direct exertion involved in the act of moving to Israel than there was before the invention of airplanes. Even financial expenses have been greatly reduced, due to significannot aid offered to new olim by the Ministry of Absorption, including the free flight to Israel. Yet, even in previous generations, and how much more so today, the major loss incurred when making aliya is leaving one's job and lowering his future wages and standard of living. These are losses of potential future income, and it is questionable, if we apply the guidelines of Usha, whether the amounts of 10 or 20% apply to this type of loss.

Rav Moshe Feinstein opines in several responsa, regarding the issue of Usha, that the loss of future income is included in the calculation of the one fifth in order to exempt one from the mitzvah at hand. His reasoning is based upon a kal vachomer from the Decree of Usha, because the sum of one's future wages, are usually worth significantly more than 20% of his possessions.

However, Rav Moshe's assumption is not as simple as it seems, for the question may be asked, how can a "kal v'chomer" be learnt from a decree of the sages, for perhaps they decreed specifically regarding possessions and not on a loss of revenue?

In addition, apparently, Rav Moshe defines “something that has come into the world", even from the time one joins the “job market” or local workforce. This definition is not simple at all.

Even more difficult, how does Rav Moshe learn a "kal v'chomer" regarding a loss of income, if we find that in other cases, the minimizing of future income is considered kal, in comparison with the loss of past income or effort, which is considered chamur?

For example, the Rama holds like the Ran that in a case of monetary loss, a son is permitted to prevent his father from wasting the son’s money, but he is not allowed to stop him from wasting his future wages. This is the reason for the explicit prohibition (!) of waking one's father when a precious stone or the keys to his shop are under his head, even at the cost of a business deal worth 60,000 golden dinars. From this precedent, Rav Shlomo Natan Kotler, Rosh Yeshiva in Slabodka, learns that that the limitation of spending 20% regarding positive commandments is only regarding the loss to his past savings. On the other hand, one is obligated to forego all of his future income in order not to miss any positive commandment. Even though the obligation of honoring parents is only "from the father's (money)", and not the son’s, nevertheless, the son is obligated to forego his future profit or income. If this is the case, how much more so regarding most other mitzvot where monetary loss is mandatory, that foregoing future profit or income is obligatory, as well.

Indeed, we find proof to Rav Kotler's opinion in many other cases as well (such as: mourning; chol ha'moed; erev Pesach; prayer with a minyan ) where a clear differentiation is made between monetary loss (considered significant-"chamur") as opposed to loss of future income (considered more negligible- "kal"). All of the above disprove the kal vachomer of R. Moshe Feinstein, showing that the loss of future income is less important than present losses. It isn’t a “kal vachomer” if the “given” heter may be only regarding something considered more important, not less important!

In addition to the aforementioned difficulties with the opinion of R. Moshe Feinstein, it is worthy to note Rav Moshe's own response elsewhere, allowing the exemption of a person with financial difficulties from having more children (through passively withholding from marital relations on the days that she is likely to conceive), but nevertheless, explicitly instructing them "to trust in Hashem that He will bring him income with ease… because there is obviously income prepared in Heaven for everyone who is born". Apparently this should hold in our case, as well: a person who makes aliya should trust in Hashem, just as Hashem takes care of the income of 5,200,000 Jews in Israel, it is unthinkable that He cannot provide income for one more family.

Until now, our discussion has been based upon the opinions that one is not obligated to spend more than a fifth (or a tenth) of his assets in order to fulfill a positive commandment. However, in the opinion of the Chafetz Chaim, one is obligated to spend more than a fifth to fulfill a positive commandment. He believes that the limit of 20% is only regarding his savings. However, "if he is a person who works regularly at a trade or business in order to make enough money for his food and a bit more, and his livelihood won’t be affecteded by an expenditure on a mitzvah, nor will his situation improve if he does not spend on that mitzvah, according to all opinions he is obligated to spend more than a fifth." The logic of the Chafetz Chaim is clear. For if the reason of the limitation of Usha is to prevent his becoming dependant on others, accordingly, if someone has a regular income, we needn’t worry, even if he spends more that 20% of his money.

As opposed to the Rambam, Tosafot and Rosh, the Chafetz Chaim apparently complies with (and helps explain) the view of the R’ma (R. Meir HaLevy), the Ra'aved and the Nimukei Yosef, that one has to spend all that he has (even more than a fifth) in order to fulfill a mitzvah. In their opinion, the obligation applies unless by doing so he will need to beg for a living.

Baruch Hashem, it is clear that today, noone who makes aliya needs to go begging, as he can surely find a minimum income. Even one hundred years ago, the Avnei Nezer, Y’shu’ot Malko and R. Chaim Falaggi (one of the most profilic sepharadic poskim from Izmir) all note that the financial situation in Israel has changed for the better, and consequently certainly today, according to the Chafetz Chaim, one is obligated to compel himself to make aliya.

C. Is a lowering of standard of life considered a loss of a fifth?

To the same extent that it seems that the loss of future profit may not be taken into account in the calculation of the 10-20%, similarly, it is problematic to include in that figure the lowering of one’s standard of living, which is one of the main problems encountered by people who make aliya from developed countries.

True, we find that if someone is accustomed to a high standard of living and loses his money, the laws of tzedaka obligate us to provide him with all that he is used to, "even if he was accustomed to riding on a horse with a servant running before him”. However, this instruction is addressed to the benefactor – that he is obligated to have pity on his unfortunate brother, even regarding commodities that are not vital. On the other hand, when addressing the recipient of charity, the rabbis alter their instructions: "even make your Shabbat like a weekday, but don’t be dependant on others”.

Similarly, in our discussion regarding one who’s standard of living has been lowered. Just as it’s not proper for the recipient not to compromise his previous stature at the expense of the benefactor, so too, he shouldn’t do so at the expense of fulfilling the mitzvah of living in Israel.

Of course there is no need to live a life of affliction and abstinence in Israel, something which in of itself is not seen positively by chazal. Nevertheless, we are warned in all of the mussar works against a life of luxury beyond basic needs, which are definitely available to most of the residents of Israel today. The fear of lowering the standard of living cannot be used as an excuse for not making aliya. It is inconceivable that a mitzva equated with all of the mitzvot combined, the only mitzva which allows requesting a gentile to do labor that is forbidden from the Torah for a Jew on Shabbat, supersedes domestic harmony, and sometimes even obligates us to sacrifice our life, does not supersede the luxuries of life, which in of themselves, aren’t even desirable! Subsequently, we understand why no posek in any generation mentioned this deliberation, despite the fact that usually fulfilling the mitzvah of living in Israel involves lowering one’s standard of living.

D. The Application of the Decree of Usha Regarding the Mitzvah of Living in Israel

One of the cardinal questions we must deal with, is why the Decree of Usha, not to lavish on the fulfillment of a mitzvah more than a fifth (or a tenth), isn’t mentioned at all in any of the rishonim and achronim regarding the topic of living in Israel. On the contrary, we find a totally different, and much more minimal financial condition necessary to exempt one from living in Israel, that is if he has to go begging.

For example, the Rashbash (rishon, d. 1467/שכ"ז) writes that if "in Israel he won’t have enough money for food, or he won’t have enough money to make aliya and he will have to beg from other people, the Torah and the Sages did not obligate him to make aliya".

Similarly, the Maharit rules that "anyone who will only be able to live there in poverty, this is considered אונס ("has no choice"), and the Ya'avetz, R. Ya’akov Emdin as well, "Every Jew has to make a permanent and definite decision in his heart to make aliya and live in Israel, at least when he will have enough money to cover the expenses and a bit of money to make a living, either through labor or through business to receive the required money to settle the Holy Land, which is desolate without her children". He continues to explain that the obligation to make aliya is conditional upon, "that he has the expenses for the journey and to make "some form of minimal income". Even Rav Kook, who rules leniently like Rabbeinu Yerucham regarding most positive mitzvot, and does not obligate expenditure of more than a tenth and forbids spending more than a fifth, nevertheless does not take the Decree of Usha into consideration regarding the obligation to make aliya. 

It is even harder to understand the law allowing a person to leave Israel at a time of famine, in the words of the Rambam, "if the fruit is inexpensive but he does not have money (to buy them) and he has no work, not even a penny in his pocket". Why was this leniency not limited to a case where he loses a fifth or a tenth of his possessions? Especially, according to the Rambam's own view that the restrictions of the Decree of Usha apply to every positive mitzvah! The only amount mentioned exempting from living in Israel is that he does not have “even a penny in his pocket” nor any way to make money – significantly more than a fifth or even a tenth!

In summary, we see that according to all of the earlier rishonim and achronim who dealt with the topic, the “economical justification” not to live in Israel is not defined by the Decree of Usha. Even if one must permanently lower his standard of living considerably, he is obligated to live in Israel. So maintain the modern poskim, from the different streams as well, including the Chazon Ish, R. Herzog, R. Uziel, R. Goren, R. Ovadia Yosef, R. Yitzchak Ya'akov Weiss, R. Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, R. Eliezer Waldenberg, and others. Nevertheless, we must try to understand why the mitzva of aliya demands a much higher monetary sacrifice than most other mitzvot.

E. Mitzvot Exempt from the Decree of Usha

1. Mitzvot which obligate spending all of his money

Indeed, the mitzvah of living in Israel is not alone, in this regard. The g’mara states that one is obligated to redeem his son even if those five sla'im is all that he owns, and that the same applies to "aliya la'regel", the holiday pilgrimage to Yerushalayim. The Chafetz Chaim asks, why are they not exempted by the Decree of Usha (that one is not allowed to spend more than 20% of his money on a mitzva)? Similarly, R. Ya’akov Emdin asks on the Decree of Usha from the obligation of a pauper to beg (!), if necessary, in order to have four cups of wine on Pesach, Chanukah candles and Shabbat candles. He also questions how the halacha regarding his money can be more strict than that regarding his life? For if non-observance of a positive mitzvah one is lashed "until his soul leaves him", how much more so should he need to spend more than 20% of his possessions in order to keep that same mitzva!

Similarly, we find that Rabban Gamliel acquired an etrog for 1,000 zuz, ostensibly, a violation of the Decree of Usha. Likewise, no one is exempt from the mitzvah of having children, despite the fact that this often involves an expenditure of more than a fifth or a tenth of his possessions. We don’t even find that the Decree of Usha exempts one from the rabbinical mitzva of having more children (even after he already fulfilled the mitzvah of pru ur’vu by having a son and a daughter).

In addition, we don’t say that it is forbidden to provide a Jewish education for your children, even when by doing so, it often uses up a large percentage of his wages (especially in America, where annual Jewish tuition often costs $15,000 for each child). On the contrary, we are explicitly instructed that poverty is davka the way of Torah, "you shall eat (even only) bread and salt, and drink water", and "the words of Torah are only upheld by those who kill themselves over them". This halacha is also phrased in monetary terms, "one is obligated to pay all of his money (if necessary) for his Torah learning, and for that of his sons", and "one should always sell everything he owns in order to marry the daughter of a talmid chacham... and one should always sell everything he owns in order to marry his daughter to a talmid chacham". This is not just philosophy, as it is cited as halacha in the Rif , the Rosh and the Rambam.

Despite the opinions of the Rambam, Tosafot, Rosh and Rabbeinu Yerucham that we brought at the beginning of this article, who hold that the Decree of Usha provides the financial framework for every positive mitzva, from the many aforementioned sources, it appears that there is not only no prohibition, but often even an obligation to spend more than 20%, if necessary.

The Talmud Yerushalmi learns from the pasuk “honor Hashem from your wealth”, that one is obligated to honor Him with everything that he owns. “From what He has given you tithe leket, shikcha and peah, tithe t’rumah and ma’aser rishon, ma’aser sheni, ma’aser ani and challah, and make a succah, shofar, lulav, tefillin and tzitzit, and feed the hungry and poor and give drink to the thirsty. If you have, you are obligated in all of them, and if you don’t have, you are not obligated in any of them”. The obligation has no set amount and no limitation.

Even in the Talmud Bavli, according to the initial understanding of Rav Huna, who says “for mitzvot, up to a third”, meaning a third of his ownings, the only question raised there is, “if he has the opportunity to do three mitzvot does he have to give up all of his ownings?” On the other hand, there is no mention in this sugya of 20% or 10% or of the Decree of Usha. To the contrary, if one is obligated to add a third in order to beautify a mitzva, “how much more so for the mitzva itself”. Moreover, according to the g'mara’s question, it is impossible to calculate any percentage of one’s money that he is obligated to spend on a positive mitzva, as a similar question can be asked about the sum of 20% (as indeed the Yerushalmi asks, what if he encounters five mitzvot?). The Ra’avad writes that one is obligated in order to keep a positive mitzva, to spend as much as is needed “as long as he won’t become impoverished and be dependant on people”. Likewise, the Ran writes “each and every one of us is obligated to give according to his financial capability, in order to observe a positive mitzva, like Rabban Gamliel who acquired an etrog for 1,000 zuz.”

The Mahari Weill, also holds that the Decree of Usha does not apply to every positive mitzva, but he goes to the opposite, extremely lenient direction. That for every positive mitzva there is no need to spend 20%, or even 10%. Only regarding several exceptional mitzvot, a specific cost is explicitly noted (such as “with all that you have”).

We find that, according to these opinions, the Decree of Usha applies only to the mitzva of tzedaka. Their case is strengthened by the words of Rashi, who writes, “one who lavishes on poor people, should not lavish more than 20%”. It is true, that the reason given in the g'mara applies equally to all the mitzvot - “lest he become dependant on others”. Yet it is particularly necessary to consider this factor regarding helping the poor, about which is written “and your brother shall live with you” - and how will it help if by giving your money to a pauper, you yourself become a pauper?!?" And indeed, in just about all of the examples in both the Bavli and the Yerushalmi where they apply the Decree of Usha, they are dealing with the mitzva of tzedaka.

On the other hand, the sugya in Baba Kama, proves that there is a limitation on expenditure in order to fulfill a positive mitzva, but not that of Usha! On the contrary, that one should not spend more than 33% of his possessions. This is opposed to the opinion that one should spend everything that he has to keep a positive mitzva. Apparently, there is a disagreement between the different sugyot in the g'mara, because we have already seen that there are mitzvot, even rabbinical ones, for which one is obligated to spend all of his money.

2. The warning that he may become impoverished applies equally to all mitzvot

As we have seen, the Chafetz Chaim brings the opinion of the Ra’avad, and the Bach cites the Ran, who maintain that in order to keep other positive mitzvot, one is obligated to spend all of his money. It is hard to understand how they say this, as both the Ra’avad and the Ran cite the g'mara that “one who gives money shouldn’t lavish more than a fifth”, with regard to other mitzvot, not just tzedaka.

We can understand the apparent contradiction by explaining that in citing that g'mara, they are not saying that they hold by the Decree of Usha, but rather to its rationale, that one must be careful not to become poverty-stricken. As we saw in the Chafetz Chaim, if a person holds a steady job, even if he spends a large percentage on mitzvot, he should not have to resort to begging. This rationale applies to equally to all mitzvot - “that he shouldn’t become a pauper and become dependent on the community” (as the Rashba writes in Baba Kama, where he quotes the Ra’avad in greater elaboration). It is clear that the Ra’avad didn’t intend to compare all the mitzvot to tzedaka regarding the amount of the limitation (20%) for he obligates spending all of one’s money, up until poverty, and he adds “for poverty is like death - but in any case, not like actual death”. From here we learn that the Ra’avad and the Rashba are of the opinion that not only is it permissable, but it’s even obligitary, to spend more than 20% on other positive mitzvot.

According to this understanding of the Rashba and the Ra’avad, we can explain the apparent confusion regarding the decision of the Shulchan Aruch. On one hand, he rules according to the Decree of Usha only regarding tzedaka, while in the Beit Yosef, in connection to buying an etrog, he brings the saying “one who gives etc.” in the name of the Rashba and the Ra’avad, something which he did not include in the Shulchan Aruch. In the Beit Yosef he continues by explaining that the Ra’avad and the Rashba are more stringent than the Rosh. He also cites the opinion of Rabbeinu Yerucham, but questions on what basis he connects the mitzva of tzedaka to other positive mitzvot, applying the Decree of Usha to them, as well. Apparently, the Beit Yosef is strict and rules that the amount of 20% does not limit other positive mitzvot like it does for tzedaka, nevertheless, he quotes the rationale of Usha as a warning not to spend too much and risk poverty. In contrast, the Rama rules regarding the laws of etrog, according to the lenient opinion of the Rambam, Tosafot and the Rosh, that one should not spend more than 20% on a positive mitzva, even if it will pass him by.

3. Summary of the opinions regarding other positive mitzvot

We can summarize the three approaches to the Decree of Usha as follows:

a. Those holding that the Decree applies only to the mitzva of tzedaka, and not to all of the positive mitzvot, for which one should spend even more than 20%, until the point that his life becomes difficult. This is the opinion of the rishonim of Spain (the R’ma, Ra’avad, Rashba, Ran and Nimukei Yosef), Beit Yosef, Bach, Chavot Yair, Ya’avetz (R. Ya’akov Emdin), Maharitz Chayut (up to a third of his assets) and the Mishnah Brurah (in most cases, where he has a regular job).

b. Those of the opinion that the Decree was only regarding tzedaka, but regarding other positive mitzvot there is no minimum given, not even 10%. So maintain Rashi and the Mahari Weill. R. Moshe Feinstein considers this option, but apparently does not accept it.

c. Those who apply the Decree of Usha to all positive mitzvot, and say that just as by charity, one may (and should) spend up to 20% regarding other mitzvot, and they are: the Rambam, Tosafot, Rosh, Rama, Magen Avraham and the Vilna Gaon.

Despite these differing opinions, we have already seen that unanimously, regarding certain mitzvot, there is explicitly no maximum expenditure whatsoever. Apparently, even opinions b and c, agree that certain mitzvot are simply above the regular limitations. If so, we must search for additional conditions and definitions in order to complete the puzzle.

F. Important Mitzvot Oblige More Expenditure

As opposed to positive mitzvot, where there are limitations on the expenditure (either 20% or until it makes his life difficult), one is obligated to spend all of his money in order not to transgress even one negative mitzva. The Rivash explains that this is because negative mitzvot are more severe than positive ones. Accordingly, if there are positive mitzvot that are especially important, one should also be obligated to spend more on them than on regular positive mitzvot.

We have previously seen that among these especially “important mitzvot”, there are even some rabbinical decrees where one is obligated to go begging in order to observe, even selling his clothes, if necessary, for publicizing a miracle (Chanukah candles and the 4 cups of wine on Pesach) and for shalom bayit (Shabbat candles).

Consequently, we can understand how even the Rambam and the Rosh , who are both of the opinion that the limitations of Usha apply to other positive mitzvot as well as tzedaka, nevertheless, cite the aforementioned g'mara in P'sachim that "one should always sell everything he owns in order to marry the daughter of a talmid chacham… and he should always sell everything that owns in order to marry his daughter to a talmid chacham".

Similarly, Rav Moshe Feinstein, who rules against giving more than 20% to tzedaka, permits spending more than this amount for the sake of those who learn Torah, as does the Chafetz Chaim. Chazal teach us that "one should exile himself to a place of Torah". Should one ask: “isn’t exile more costly than 20% of his possessions? Not only should it not be obligatory, but based on the Decree of Usha, it should be forbidden?” The answer is, similar to negative mitzvot, because of the importance of the mitzvah of learning Torah (equated with the other mitzvot combined ), the rabbis did not apply the limitations of Usha.

The Lvush offers a different reason for the limitation on expenditure for positive mitzvot, "one is not commanded to give all of his money in order to observe (a positive mitzvah) and thus, bringing himself to be dependent upon the community. It is better to be passive and not do the mitzvah, even if it is a mitzvah which will pass. Thus, although this mitzvah will be cancelled, nevertheless, he will be able to keep many more, other mitzvot". Accordingly, we understand why the mitzvah of learning Torah is different, because it in itself brings the person to fulfill many other positive mitzvot. Therefore, in order to observe it, one has to push himself that much more, as we have seen, even to the point of "you should eat bread and salt".

Both reasons, that of the Rivash and L’vush respectively, explaining why Usha does not apply to the mitzvah of learning Torah, apply also to the mitzvah of living in Israel, which is also "considered equal to all the other mitzvot combined", "the nail upon which the entire Torah hangs", and is "a mitzvah which includes all of the Torah", and many of the mitzvot depend on it. So much so that Hashem says, "The Land of Israel is more beloved to me than anything else".

If a mitzvah which is intended to increase shalom bayit (Shabbat candles) has no limitation of expenditure, then how much more so regarding the mitzvah of living in Israel, which supercedes shalom bayit. According to many, the mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael is the only mitzvah which, in order to observe, one is allowed to ask a non-Jew to do a torah (d'oraita) prohibition on Shabbat. It is also singled out from among the mitzvot as the only mitzvah that one must actively endanger his life "milechatchila", in order to observe (to conquer Eretz Yisrael). One explanation cited by some rishonim, is that its unique status, in comparison with other mitzvoth, stems from the fact that it helps all of Israel, even the future generations.

When we say that many mitzvot depend on fulfilling the mitzvah of living in Israel, that does not only refer to the 58 agricultural mitzvot that can only be observed in Israel. Rather we see that in Israel it is easier to keep mitzvot such as Shabbat, kashrut, and even "easy miztvot" like counting the days of the week in connection to Shabbat ("remember the Shabbat day"), use of the Jewish date, and speaking Hebrew. Even the daily meeting with many other Jews provides the opportunity to keep many other mitzvot between man and his fellow man, which one doesn’t have the opportunity to keep with such frequency and intensity in chutz la'Aretz. In addition, living in Israel enables and obligates all of the national and communal mitzvot, such as serving in the army in a milchemet mitzva, milu’im, etc. as well as the many social mitzvot like tzedaka which are fulfilled on a totally different level when done on a national or governmental basis.

The mitzvah of living in Israel is special both quantatively and qualitatively. Quantatively – it is fulfilled every second, every minute, no matter what you are doing, and qualitatively – for the main fulfillment of all of the mitzvot, even those which are an obligation upon the individual, is only in Israel. So much so, that the Rashba uses this rationale to explain the saying of chazal "one who lives outside Israel is considered as one who does not have a G-d". Fulfilling this mitzvah also brings about the ingathering of the exiles and hastening of the ge’ula.

Apparently, one of the reasons explaining why all of the rishonim and achronim did not apply the limits of Usha regarding aliya is due to the special importance of the mitzvah of living in Israel and/or the fact that it enables an incredible number of additional mitzvot. Moreover, there are even poskim who go so far as to oblige a person to go begging (!) in order to keep this mitzvah, for, in the words of the Avnei Nezer, "I don’t know if the prohibition of not becoming dependant on others, applies to (this) continuous mitzvah which is considered equal to all the other mitzvoth (=aliya)".

Although it seems that most poskim disagree with the Avnei Nezer, it should be noted that the many people throughout the generations who lived off of the "chaluka" charity sent from Europe, apparently acted in accordance with his opinion.

G. The hardship of moving is not considered in the 10-20%

Moving to Israel apparently obligates a person to leave his home. Rav Moshe Shternbuch, who is of the opinion that obligation of expenditure for a positive mitzvah is only up to 20%, is also of the opinion that "kal vachomer, one is not obligated to leave his place of dwelling in order to fulfill a positive mitzvah". On the other hand, this basic premise, is not so simple, for we are taught that when there are "two cities, and the shofar is only blown in one of them… one goes to the place where they blow the shofar". Similarly, the Shulchan Aruch rules regarding hearing parshat zachor, "residents of villages who don’t have a minyan must go to a place where there is a minyan".

In these cases, the traveling may be considered a significant physical effort, which can be considered an expenditure of 20% of his possessions, and nevertheless, one is commanded to leave his home! On the other hand, R. Shternbuch can claim that regarding aliya, the real hardship is not the traveling, but rather the physical effort involved in moving a household, which may exempt him. Maybe there is a differentiation between a relatively simple “one time” trip to hear the shofar or parshat zachor, as opposed to the difficulty in permanently moving an entire household?

Nevertheless, the poskim apparently liken the mitzvah of aliya to the obligation of the רוצח בשוגג, the accidental murderer, exiled to a city of refuge, which also involves permanently moving an entire household. In this mitzvah, not only is the physical effort part of the essence of the mitzvah, but the refugee is also obliged to give up his land, shop, customers, and all of his sources of income. It should be noted, as we mentioned above, this obligation applies to loss of his future income, as well! All this is defined as "the exile atones". If this is true about a city of refuge, how much more so regarding the mitzvah of living in Israel, where one fulfills a mitzvah every second, and not just by moving.

Moreover, it seems that the physical effort involved in observing a mitzvah is not considered part of the 20%. For example, even regarding honoring one’s father/mother, where we are told that it is meant to be observed "from the father's (and not the son’s money)", if it is possible to honor him with physical effort instead of expense, he is obligated to do so. For example: if the son needs to travel a significant distance in order to honor them, theoretically, the son is not obligated to pay the airfare, yet he is not exempted from walking by foot! In other words, apparently, physical effort is not considered an exemption. Accordingly, we have yet another reason, why the poskim did not apply the lenient limitations of Usha regarding aliya.

H. Mitzvot which in their essence involve expenditure and effort

In addition, there is another major distinction between the mitzva of aliya to Israel, in that the physical effort is an integral part of the mitzvah of moving to Israel. The Decree of Usha applies to mitzvot which may involve physical effort and large expenditures on a circumstantial basis. Not so regarding mitzvot whose very essence includes expenses and difficulty. Rav Moshe Feinstein applies this principle to explain why one is obligated to spend even all the money he owns in order to redeem his firstborn son, "for the Torah obligates him to give a specific sum of money, obviously, even a pauper is obligated in the same manner…because the sum of money is the integral part of the mitzvah". His explanation apples also to the mitzvah of aliya laregel, the second example cited by the g’mara as a mitzvah that involves expenditure and physical effort.

This principle applies to many mitzvot, where the limitations are not specified because the essence of the mitzvah does not allow for this limitation. For example, Rav Kook explains similarly why the positive mitzvah of the death penalties of the Sanhedrin, and the positive mitzvah of "and you shall destroy the evil from your midst", aren’t cancelled by פיקוח נפש, the mitzvah to save a life. He explains quite simply, that the essence of the mitzvah in this case, is the putting to death. Likewise, if Re’uven lent someone more than 20% of his possessions before the sabbatical year, or if a Beit Din rules that Re’uven owes someone more than 20% of his possessions, he is obviously obligated to deal with the loss that will be brought about through observing the mitzvah of shmitat ksafim or the mitzvah to obey a Beit Din.

Likewise, regarding a positive mitzvah where the physical effort involved is more than the value of 20% of his possessions, such as the suffering of circumcision, or sacrificing one’s life for the sanctification of Hashem's name, or in an obligatory war – where the physical effort and suffering are an integral part of the mitzvah. It is obvious that there is no logic to apply the limitations of Usha in these cases, because, in effect, it would permanently nullify the mitzvah, making it totally obsolete.

We have assumed that the essence of the mitzvah of living in Israel (and also the mitzvah of moving to the city of refuge) is the physical effort and having to leave one's home. However, seemingly this is true only if the act of moving to Israel is part of the mitzvah and not just a preparation for fulfilling it, as it seems from the Ramban, that the mitzvah "and you should conquer the land and dwell in it", is phrased explicitly to those who live outside Israel. The Ramban cites the commandment to the generation who were in the desert, "go up and conquer it (the land of Israel)" – and when they didn’t go up as commanded, it is considered ‘and they rebelled against Hashem’." However, even according to those who disagree with the Ramban, and consider the moving to Israel as only a preparation for the mitzvah (dwelling here), inevitably, a loss of income and possessions are a direct result of the essence of the mitzvah (and not of the preparation for the mitzvah). The loss of income and possessions are certainly more than 20%, just like he who must run and relocate to a city of refuge, and nevertheless, the Torah commands him to do so.

It is possible that even according to those poskim who see the act of making aliya as just a preparation, the mitzvah of living in Israel itself inevitably involves great effort even for one who is born here. In the words of chazal, "the Land of Israel is only acquired through hardships". Also war, which is part of this mitzvah – "and you shall inherit the Land" – can only be fulfilled through trial, tribulation, and sacrifice. Life in Israel naturally involves difficulty, as found in many midrashim: "’It is better to eat a dry morsel’, – this refers to living in Israel, even if one eats bread and salt every day and lives in Israel he merits the world to come". “It is better to sleep in the deserts of Israel than to live in the palaces of chutz la'Aretz". "Even if I will only have dry carobs to eat in Israel I chose to be in Israel". Similarly, the mitzvah of settling the Land involves a special obligation to settle those difficult places that were desolate (as the Ramban says: “and we will not leave her in the hands of other nations nor desolate”). These hardships are an essential part of the mitzva, applying even to one who was born in Israel, irregardless of the hardships of moving.

This instruction is not just agadah, as the halacha states, "a husband (or wife, A.C.) can force his wife (or husband, A.C.) to move from chutz la'aretz to Israel, and he can even force her to move from a nice place (there), to a unpleasant place (in Eretz Yisrael)". The financial difficulties are taken into account regarding every person who makes aliya, as the g’mara cites regarding a person who sold all of his possessions with the intention of moving to Israel. Upon his arrival, his absorption was not successful. Nevertheless, according to the conclusion of the g’mara, even though one might have thought that the sale of his possessions was conditional, the sale is kosher and not annulled. Many poskim explain, because when one makes aliya to Israel, he should (and does) intend to make do with the most minimal housing and livelihood, and considers (or should consider!) his move as final and unconditional.

Since the mitzvah of living in Israel inevitably involves physical hardships, Rav Kook declares that "of course the mitzvah of living in Israel isn’t cancelled because of physical hardships… and Hashem gave three great gifts to the Jewish people (Torah , the World- to- come, and the Land of Israel), and all of them were only given through hardships". This idea may also help us understand the seemingly strict words of the aforementioned Avnei Nezer, one of the most respected poskim of the past century, "I don’t know if the prohibition of not becoming dependant on others applies to a continuous mitzvah which is considered equal to all the other mitzvot (=aliya)". For despite the fact that the hardships of living in Israel are inevitable, nevertheless (and apparently, even davka), Hashem commands us do so.

I. Changing profession

A lack of income is considered by the poskim as close to pikuach nefesh and the Trumat HaDeshen even wonders "who would be able to stand all of this!" However, today everyone has the opportunity to change profession and if he does not manage to make a living from working in his field of expertise, he can find employment in a different area. However, for many people it is difficult to change profession. Does this hardship justify not moving to Israel?

Indeed, chazal do not treat the hardship involved in a change of profession lightly, because Hashem makes everyone's profession attractive to them. They even explicitly instruct "one should not change his profession and his father's profession". This approach is strengthened in light of Rav Moshe Feinstein's question, why one who has yet to fulfill the mitzvah of having children and is therefore obligated to have marital relations at all the set times, is not obligated to find a different job that will allow him to have relations more often?

[Interestingly, Rav Feinstein himself does not explain that changing professions is a loss which is equal to 20% and that he is therefore exempt, as he does in somewhat similar circumstances! ]

However, as we said above, the limitations of Usha do not apply to mitzvot which essentially involve physical effort and expenditure. To the same extent, it would not be applicable to mitzvot which require a change of profession in order to observe. It is logical that a mitzvah which requires a change of place, such as moving to a city of refuge, usually requires a change of profession (he leaves his orchards, clients, partners, etc.). Especially in the agricultural society described in the Tanach, the move to the city of refuge undoubtedly forced the average person to change his profession.

In connection to the mitzvah of aliya, Moshe Rabbenu already alluded to the need to change professions, as the midrash explains: "When Am Yisrael was in the desert for 40 years, the manna fell, the well went up, the pheasant was available for them, the clouds of glory surrounded them and the pillar of fire traveled before them. When the Jews entered the land of Israel Moshe said to them, ‘Every single one (!) of you, take a hoe and plant saplings for yourselves’.”

We are not so naïve as to think that it is easy to change professions. Our rabbis teach that the motive of the m'raglim, the righteous spies who, nevertheless, did not wish to enter Eretz Yisrael, was because they did not want to lose their respectable jobs. Even if their actions are understandable, they are clearly not acceptable, as they were severely punished. R. Yisachar Teichtel, one of the revered leaders of anti-Zionist Hasidic Jewry in pre-war Europe, castigates his rabbinic friends for not willing to make that same sacrifice, thus repeating the sin of the m'raglim.

Contrarily, many important rabbanim saw a great merit in the act of changing one’s profession upon arrival in Israel to be "farmers and cattle herders like their forefathers before them". It is important to remember that considerations of avodat Hashem are more important than considerations of avoda (work). "Even peel hides in the marketplace, and don’t say it is beneath my honor".

J. Begging

If we ask in the birkat hamazon that G-d not bring us to be dependant upon others, apparently this is something negative? Making aliya seemingly involves the dependence of the new immigrant upon "the gifts of flesh and blood". Benefit from the absorption basket which is given by the Israeli government, unemployment benefits given to one who is unable to work in his profession, and much more. Can all this be considered begging and relying on other people?

Indeed, some poskim also considered this factor and said that one’s aliya should not be at the expense of others. However, the support that the community gives to help with immigrant absorption is not just for the sake of the olim, rather it is for the good of the entire nation. Successful absorption of new immigrants will, at the end of the day, help the financial stability of the country (through the children of the olim); an increase in the number of residents will strengthen the security forces; boost the connection between the Jews in Israel and those in the Diaspora- enabling fundraising and more olim; provide a solution to the demographic problem which threatens the State of Israel; and mainly, actualize the vision of the State of Israel and of Zionism as a whole – to gather all of the Jewish people. Accordingly, these benefits are more worthwhile for the State than for the immigrants, and "the mother wishes to nurse even more than the calf wants to eat".

There are those who claim that while living off of others, during the time that the immigrant will not be able to work he is not even fulfilling the mitzvah of settling the land of Israel. Indeed, the Avnei Nezer writes "it is clear that the main way of fulfilling the mitzvah in its entirety, is by those who live in Israel and are financed from the bounty of Israel". Living in Israel without working and having an income does not fulfill the halachic definition of the Ramban "do not to leave (the Land)… desolate". However, even the Avnei Nezer admits that "if one receives money as a present from chutz la'Aretz… this is not the main point of the mitzvah of living in Israel in its complete form, but in any case he does fulfill the mitzvah of living in Israel". In addition, as stated above, this is a temporary situation. In the long term, the entire country benefits, even from the aliya of the unemployed.

There were poskim in past generations, who opposed the aliya of the poor for this comes at the expense of the despondent already in Israel. However, today, when the state distributes unemployment benefits and welfare to each family according to their needs, there is no longer any validity to this consideration.

Similarly, there is no need to worry today about the former fear that the dependence upon others will cause the receiver to deteriorate and habituate parasitism and spiritual decline. Many different sectors of the country benefit from various benefits and stipends, kollel students, university students, large families and many more – and this does not affect their spiritual levels. On the contrary, the spiritual danger of living in the Diaspora is a dire consideration.

We find that all of the financial justifications for not making Aliya do not apply today, and, as the Tzitz Eliezer summarizes "with the declaration of the State of Israel, the obligation to make aliya increased… the financial difficulties due to the inability to make a living have been removed and accordingly, the halachic claims for exemption from the mitzvah of living in Israel have also been removed". It is should be noted that this was written more than 50 (!) years ago, in the relatively dire financial conditions that existed then.

K. Despising the Beloved Land

In addition to the obligation to make Aliya, there is a prohibition for one who is able to make Aliya and does not do so, as the Ramban writes, "and you should not despise the inheritance of Hashem". According to R. Eliezer Waldenberg, the Ramban means "that the essence of setting up residence in another place is considered "despising Hashem's inheritance". The Ramban writes elsewhere, that this was the sin of the spies "when they didn’t want to go up (to Israel)… it is described as "and you rebelled against Hashem's command". It seems that this is "the sin of Chutz La'Aretz", referred to by Rashi.

The Yerushalmi quotes Rabba bar Kriyah, who sees the coffins of people who died in chutz la'Aretz, being brought for burial in Israel and said "What use are these people? I apply to you the pasuk: ‘You have made my inheritance an abomination’ in your lifetimes, and ‘you came and defiled my land’, in your death". The Pnei Moshe explains that the abomination is "that they were able to make aliya in their lifetime and they didn’t". According to Rav Yehoshua Trunk of Kutna, one who is able to make aliya and does not do so, loses his portion in the Land of Israel. It is of no avail to claim that he was forced, as R. Chaim Falaggi writes, "One who does not make aliya, because he loves his location (in exile), is punished, even though he truly was unable to make aliya, because he is ‘willingly’ compelled".

Similarly, R. Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch, testifies that the spiritual Maggid admonishes him and his colleagues, for placing the desire of money above the desire of the Land. "One should push aside his idols of silver and worldly pleasures, his idols of his gold and desire of money and make aliya to Israel, because you can do it, just you are drowning in the mud of worldly desires and its nonsense.

L. Summary

In this article, we attempted to clarify the justification of the “financial excuse” for not making aliya to Israel. The fear is that by making aliya one lowers his standard of living and also lowers his monthly salary. We summarized the opinions as to when the Decree of Usha applies, not to spend more than 20% of his assets on all other positive mitzvoth, apart from tzedaka.

We found that the unanimous definition of the many rishonim and achronim who allow Jews to live in chutz laAretz for financial reasons, is that this is only if one needs to turn to begging (aside from the Avnei Nezer who holds that even in such a case, there is no exemption from aliya). Although they do not cite their rationale, we saw several reasons why, both then and today, this is the halachic definition:

1. The topic under discussion regards the loss of future income, which does not justify exempting from a mitzvah. The monetary limitations of Usha apply only to expenditure of past savings.

2. Lowering one’s standard of living is not considered a loss of 20%.

3. The Decree of Usha does not apply to mitzvot with special importance, including the mitzvah of living in Israel. This is especially true regarding mitzvot which enable fulfillment of many other mitzvot, as well. Moreover, not fulfilling the mitzvah of living in Israel is considered “despising the beloved Land”.

4. There is no monetary exemption for mitzvot which inevitably involve, by definition, significant expenditure or effort.

5. Changing profession is not considered a loss of assets.

6. The only financial predicament which exempts from aliya, as defined by the rishonim and achronim, is if one must beg for a living.

7. Benefiting from the rights granted by the State of Israel for new olim or unemployment, is not considered begging.

See my article, “The Centrality of the Land of Israel to Judaism”.
Sifre, Dvarim 12.
Rav Moshe Feinstein’s surprising, yet oft-quoted opinion, that it is a mitzva mid’oraita (see Resp. Igrot Moshe Y. D. 3, 122) yet not mandatory (ibid, E. H. 1, 102), is based upon one possible understanding of one rishon (the Rambam), but contradicts more than 30 rishonim and achronim who explicitly use the word “obligation”, “mandatory”, or “sin” regarding the mitzva of aliya to live in Israel and the subsequent prohibition to live in chutz laAretz. This formidable list includes Rashi, Ramban, Ra'avad, Rivash, R. Yosef Karo, Vilna Gaon, Nodah BiYehuda, Chatam Sofer, R. Ya’akov Emdin (see footnote 51), Avnei Nezer (now that we have a State, see footnote 158), Chazon Ish (see footnote 151), and many more, as summarized in the Sdeh Chemed, vol. 5, p.11 in the 5727 edition, Pitchei Tshuva E. H. 75, 6 and Z. Glatt HY"D, MeAfar Kumi, pp. 71-90 for a very efficient summary of the issue. See especially R. Ovadiah Yosef, Torah SheBa'al Peh 11 (5729), pp. 35-42; R. E. Waldenberg, Resp. Tzitz Eliezer 7, p. 223; R. Avraham Shapira, Me’afar Kumi p. 108, who all convincingly disprove R.Moshe’s surprising leniancy regarding such an important mitzvah, which contradicts so many preceding sources. The central points of disagreement are as follows:
1. The Sifre (Midrash Halacha) Dvarim 11, 10, writes explicitly, “Coming to Eretz Yisrael is an obligation”. How can R. Moshe contradict chazal?
2. If the mitzva was optional, why is it the only one, according to most rishonim, that allows one to ask a gentile to transgress a Torah prohibition on Shabbat (Gitin 8b)? Why should we break up a happy marriage for an optional mitzva (Ktuvot 110b)? If it is merely optional, why is it not only allowed, but even obligatory to risk one’s life to conquer? In all of the above cases, why don’t we simply say, “stay home and don’t ‘opt’ for that mitzvah”, thus saving marriages, lives and Shabbat?!
3. It seems difficult to imagine that the Torah would leave such a basic and central, all-encompassing mitzva for us to decide.
4. Even if there is such an opinion, regarding safek m’d’oraita, we accept the stricter opinion.
5. No commentary on the Rambam ever understood his opinion that way before, including those who explicitly use the term “obligation” regarding aliya.
6. Many say there is no such thing as an optional mitzvat aseh, see MIchilta on Shmot 23, 13, and Rashba, Rosh HaShana 16a.
7. Many ask why the rishonim did not make aliya? They suggest various reasons, but omit the most obvious, if it were, in fact, optional.
8. If it is just an option, why does the Yerushalmi Ktuvot 12, 3, refer to those who don’t make aliya as “they despised my inheritance”?
9. Why were the spies and their generation, called “rebels” if it is not mandatory?
10. The Rambam himself (Hil. M’lachim 5, 9) explains that Machlon and Chilyon, the sons of Naomi, who were allowed to leave Eretz Yisrael at the time of famine, nonetheless, were killed as punishment for leaving. He clearly does not see it merely as a preferable option!