Monday, November 14, 2005

Torat Erets Yisrael

Many People often ask me: "What exactly is the difference between Torah in chutz laarets and Torah in Erets Israel?" Well, I thought I could use one of my posts in order to answer them.

As we all know, Am Israel is often called G-d's Kallah (bride). This comparison is most striking in Shir Hashirim, which is basically a parable describing the relationship between hakadosh barouch hou and Am Israel.

Rav Elon told us that whenever he asks some of the talmidei chachamim (which he even called tsaddikim) living in North America why they were not making aliyah, they all quoted a tshuva Rav Moshe Feinstein answered 40 years ago. In his tshuva, he said: "While it is definately a mitsvah asseh to live in Erets Israel, Nowadays (people quote this today when it was written over 40 years ago), it would be almost impossible to accomplish all the mitsvot tluyot baarets and therefore, we can be YOTSE if we stay in Chuts Laarets" Great, we can be yotse!

Let me ask you guys something. If you would go to your wives and tell them you will live in a different country then them but that it would still be ok because you will still be yotse of your marriage, how do you think she would react? Well, this is how the Jews of North America are acting towards their hatan, hakadosh barouch hou. All we need is to be yotse. But, is it really enough?

Once, Rav Elon was at a synagogue in London. He was asked to speak, but only in English. Rav Elon usually tries to look at parashat hashavua in English before making a speech in English to know the translation to some key words. However, he could not find any translated chumashim. He thought that he could maybe talk about tfillah, but he could not find one translated siddur. So, he went up after kriyat hatorah and started giving his speech, but in HEBREW. He starts saying a few sentences and everyone gives him weird looks: They did not understand ANYTHING. So, he asks: You have trouble understanding my Hebrew? And they all tell him they don't even know one word of Hebrew. So, he tells them: Oh, I thought your hebrew was so good, you don't even need a translation when speaking to G-d. They tell him that they are still yotse by praying only in Hebrew. He then gives his speech in English. But, on the basis of this story, let me ask you a question: How would you feel if your spouse spoke a completely different language and you couldn't understand a word of what he is saying. Oh, it's ok right? You are still yotse! Is being yotse going to save your marriage?

So, what is the difference between torat erets israel and torat chul? In Chul, all one wants is to be yotse. We look at the details of halacha and try to accomplish them. In erets israel, the goal is to live torah. We try to build a true relationship between am israel and G-d through halacha. The torah is lived out of love, not simply followed like any other civil or criminal code.

May we all get to live a glimpse of torat erets israel, because I know that all we need is a glimpse before we understand it is the right path and change our way of life.


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