31 August 2014

Message from Moishela: "When The Final Curtain Comes Down"

6 Elul 5774


Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
A Handicapped child
10 Tamuz 5774 (July 7, '14)

"When The Final Curtain Comes Down"

There‘s no business like show business! Don’t you get the feeling that we’re living in a play? From one minute to the next we don’t know what’s going to happen. In the morning there’s big news. Mid-morning there’s more news. Nighttime could be a big bang of news, and it goes on and on like that. Sometimes we have a relatively quiet period, but that’s always followed by unbelievable, strange news that we never would have dreamed of.

The times that we are seeing now, are very much like what’s written in the Nevuas, and I would imagine that most of us feel that it’s a sign that Moshiach is almost here, and it is. However, something is going on that we don’t understand, because things took a dramatic turn from the moment that the twin towers fell. From that moment strange and disastrous things have become everyday events. By the time one unbelievable happening happens, the next one is exploding. We all feel it. We all feel fear. We feel emptiness in our hearts. Life has lost much of its taste, especially the Gashmiusdik life. Air travel has become a frightening thing, and if not frightening then very degrading, especially when you have to go through x-rays that show a person without clothes on, where everybody that’s traveling could take a peek, and if you don’t agree to do that then you are open to a physical search which is very very degrading.

We’ve become a world without happiness, without the Gashmiusdik frivolous Simcha and the true deep Simcha. We have become a world of confused people not quite finding our direction. We keep doing the things that we are used to doing, but it doesn’t seem to have meaning, and the road doesn’t seem to lead to anywhere in particular. We can’t plan things like we once did. We used to plan that in six months exactly we’re going to the dentist. We could plan ahead of time where our three year olds are going to go to college or what they would learn. Today people are empty and are afraid. Money is hard to come by except for those eighty-five people in the world that own more than half of the wealth of the world. For the rest of us it’s just an everyday struggle to borrow more money and more money. We are getting into a major rut full of fear and nervousness, full of being frightened for our children and worried for our future, and this is felts all over the world.

Here in Eretz Yisroel we have been in the last few weeks dealing with tragedy after tragedy. First there were many traffic accidents, many children drowning in swimming pools in their own homes, and many other terrible things, but when those three boys were kidnapped and then found murdered in the worst way, and before they were murdered there was a young single woman murdered in a terribly cruel way, this has brought us to some kind of sober reality that tells us that we are in big trouble. How could Jewish young men, Jewish boys kill an Arab boy in such a cruel way. It’s a big shock for a Jew to feel that another Jew could kill like that, burning him alive. True it’s a war, but still how could it be in our generation that a Yid could kill in such a cruel way, even though the Arab is the enemy?

Well the first thing I will tell you is that the Nevuas and what is happening today coincide exactly. It’s interesting how Hashem makes His world. We all know that eighty five people control most of the world’s wealth. They control the wealth and that means they control the world. Besides those people, there’s a whole group of people who have all kinds of strategic positions in order Chas Vesholom to bring this world under the control of the Reshaim. These Reshaim are Edomites, and they don’t like the Arabs, and they don’t like the Jews. The Jews they can tolerate if we agree to be like them. However we’re not like them, and never will be. They have with all of their wealth and control of the world, almost brought all the Arab countries to their knees, not by coming in with the armies of Europe and America etc., but by causing inner strife. They write the script and they provide the players and they are sure that they’re controlling the world. They are very informed about the Nevuas, and they are going exactly according to them, and this makes everyone feel, rightfully so, that all the Nevuas are coming out true. Therefore, everyone is having thoughts about Olam Haba, about Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and for the non-believers maybe the beginning of faith, but the plan ends there, ends where the prophecies continue, and at that point they go in different ways because the plan of the Edomites is to control Eretz Yisroel and to sit in Jerusalem and to rule the world from here and that brings us to what’s happening today.

You feel like you’re in a play, like everything has been thought out. Even the murders have been thought out. Did Arabs do it? Did someone else do it? Is everything really true? Somehow all the stories we are told have holes in them, don’t seem exactly correct like many things that happened in the United States. If we go back over history, we can find these discrepancies in many places. We feel we’re in a play. We feel that a script has been written, actors chosen, and in many cases they’re not very good actors, but it’s a deadly, deadly show. The leading actors of the show are murderers. Blood is shed and they are going to try to take over Medinas Yisroel. Eretz Yisroel is the main point of the world for the three main religions. Of course Eretz Yisroel was promised by Hashem only to the Jews and not to the Goyim, only to the Jews and it will stay only for the Jews, so any Edomite that thinks they are going to come and rule here is going to have a very very big surprise. Until now Hashem has let them do what they wanted to do. He has let them plan and succeed, even though it was almost impossible for them to succeed, but Hashem has let them succeed.

At one point they are not going to make it anymore. They are going to fall apart. Hashem is going to punish them. They’re going to realize what they’ve done wrong. They are going to realize that the Satan isn’t Hakol Yachol. He’s only a creation of Hakol Yachol, of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and because he is a creation of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, he can’t do what he wants. He is only a creation of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, like all of us, like the whole world, like everything in the whole universe, and only Hashem decides when, it will end. The Devil, or the Yetzer Horah, or the Malach Hamaves, or the Satan whatever you want to call him, (he has many names,) will be chopped up into pieces so-to-speak, and recycled in different points of creation, so his parts become positive, but the Yetzer Hara will disappear, and the Reshoim will disappear, but not before they are punished in the worst way.

Now Am Yisroel I beg you. Now that I have given this historical background up to this point, I beg you open your eyes. Don’t you see what they are trying to do to us here in Eretz Yisroel? They’re trying to make us Goyim, and that will be the final solution Chas Vesholom. They are trying to do it with all kinds of plays, with all kinds of actions to make us not believe, Chas Vesholom, in Hakodosh Boruch Hu. They are trying to confuse us. They’re trying to bring Goyim here in the thousands, to make us like Goyim. They’re pushing their money into our Gemachim, into our Shuls, into our Yeshivas, into our Kollels so we will be dependent on them. They’re gathering information about us so that they can come after us whenever they feel like, and most of all they are trying to change our religion. They are trying to take from us the Bris Milah. They are trying to take from us the Kiddushin of marriage. They’re trying to force us to be Chilonim, to be either without a religion or accept their own created religion. They are trying to force you to go in their way by giving you what you want the most money, food, whatever you need. True they’ve also caused us a very difficult time financially throughout the whole world. It seems now, also in Eretz Yisroel, that we were saved almost for the last. We didn’t have financial troubles until lately and now we are at the top of the list for everything, because they are ready to take over. They are building apartments, luxury apartments for their people here in Israel. They’re building buildings and shopping centers and trains and train tracks and all kinds of things that they have money for. The light rail was built to make it easier to get around the city of Jerusalem that has always been the center of the world, the center of the heart of every human being, Hashem’s center, where they want to come and sit instead of Hakol Yachol, instead of the Shechina, Chas Vesholom, but it won’t happen, it won’t happen!

So Am Yisroel be strengthened. Come closer to Hashem. The Gashmius is going to fall very much, but don’t be afraid because Hashem is with us, and those who are with Him, He will be with them. As I have said many times, no Jewish Neshoma will be lost. If you trust in the idols of this world, and if you trust in the Egel Hazahav, then of course, it will be much harder for you to do complete Teshuva, but if you trust Hashem nothing will harm you. He will take care of you completely, whether you need food or clothing or a place to live, warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer. Do not worry. He only is Hakol Yachol. He can defeat any army. He can stop any atomic bomb. He can do anything, and we are His children that He loves particularly, His favorite sons and daughters. Don’t be afraid. We will survive. We will survive and they will not. When the final curtain comes down on this grotesque play that the Reshoim have written, we will go into Olam Habah of Moshiach, into eternity and they will disappear totally from the stage of this world and of all the worlds.

Idol Worshippers Have No Olam Haba

6 Elul 5774

(Unless they do teshuvah.)  This is a very, very severe sin. Most people are lenient with themselves and others on this, but Hashem is not so forgiving when it comes to His sovereignty.

29 August 2014

Parshat Shoftim 5774 II

3 Elul 5774
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

Parashat Shoftim: Sanctifying the Name of God
by Daniel Pinner

“In the event that in any one of your gates which Hashem your God gives you, there should be found a man or a woman who does the evil in the eyes of Hashem your God, to transgress His Covenant by going and worshipping other gods and bowing to them, and to the sun or the moon or any of the host of Heaven which I have not commanded; and it will be told to you, and you will hear about it. Then you will investigate thoroughly, and if – behold! – it is true, the matter is correct, this abomination has been committed in Israel, then you will take out that man or that woman, who have done this evil thing, to your gates – the man or the woman – and you shall pelt them with stones, so that they will die” (Deuteronomy 17:2-5).

The Ramban picks up on the phrase “in any one of your gates which Hashem your God gives you…”, and states: “This does not mean that this applies solely in the Land of Israel, because even one who worships [idols] outside of Israel is stoned. Rather, the Torah’s intention here is to say that if this occurs in even the most distant of cities that Hashem gives you ‘when He will enlarge your borders’ (Deuteronomy 19:8)…then regardless of which city you are in when you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly; and when you know that it is true, then you shall take them out to the gate [of the same city] in which they worshipped [the idol], and there you shall stone them” (Commentary to Deuteronomy 17:2).

The Ramban proceeds to explain that the phrase “this abomination has been committed in Israel” does not mean “in the Land of Israel”, but rather “among the nation of Israel”.

And he continues: “Furthermore, the Torah had to say ‘in any one of your gates’ to teach that he is to be stoned at the self-same gate at which he worshipped [the idol]; this applies in the Land of Israel, because outside of the Land of Israel he is to be stoned at the gate of the court-house in which he was judged… And in truth, it is quite conceivable that [the Torah] mentions the phrase ‘in any one of your gates’ because it says ‘to transgress His Covenant’ – and this is the abomination that has been committed in Israel: the Torah informs you that the Covenant is in ‘the Land of the Covenant’ [quoting Ezekiel 30:5]; but one who lives outside of Israel is as if he worships idols”.

Rabbi Meir Kahane Hy”d explains the Ramban’s words: “The Torah could not describe idolatry outside of the Land of Israel with the words ‘to transgress His Covenant’ and ‘this abomination has been committed’, because even those who do not literally worship idols outside of Israel are nonetheless as if they do” (Peirush ha-Macabbee, Deuteronomy 17:2-3).

The Targum Onkelos and the Targum Yonatan (Deuteronomy 17:5) both understand that the idolater is to be stoned at the gates of the court-house, which according to the Ramban (as we have seen) applies solely outside of Israel. Rashi unequivocally disagrees with the Targumim: “The Targum, which renders ‘your gates’ as ‘the gates of the court-house’ is mistaken, for as we have learned, ‘your gates’ means ‘the gate in which he worshipped [the idol]’” (commentary to verse 5).

The Sforno gives a magnificent insight into the significance of stoning the idolater precisely at the place where he worshipped the idol: “He is taken to the gate at which he worshipped [the idol] in order to demonstrate that this foreign god who is worshipped there cannot save him”.

This is a truly powerful idea: the purpose of stoning an idolater to death is not merely punishment for his sin, it is the mirror-image of Kiddush Hashem as opposed to hillul Hashem. So to speak, executing an idolater at the self-same location where he worshipped the idol desecrates the name of that idol.

The Name of God is desecrated in this world when He appears to be irrelevant, replaced by impotent idols; the corollary is that His Name is sanctified in this world when His mastery over all His Creation is made clear and unequivocal. That is to say, stoning the idolater to death at the self-same place where he worshipped the idol demonstrates the supremacy of God over the idol.

And this, perhaps, explains a peculiarity in the halakhah. The Talmud says that “one who worships an idol is stoned at the gate where he worshipped it; but in a city where the majority are idolaters, he is stoned at the gate of the court-house” (Ketuvot 45b); and the Rambam brings this as practical halakhah (Laws of Sanhedrin 15:2). The Ramban’s view that the idolater is to be stoned at the gate where he worshipped the idol in Israel, and at the gate of the court-house outside of Israel, is a parallel idea.

If the purpose of executing the idolater is to sanctify the Name of God, then executing a Jew in full public view of non-Jewish idolaters would be counter-productive: for idolaters to see Jews executing other Jews would inevitably desecrate the Name of God. But when the majority of the city are Jews, then executing a Jewish idolater in public is the greatest public display of the mastery and sovereignty of the One true God.

Parshat Shoftim 5774

3 Elul 5774
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

Parashat Shoftim - The Jewish State - Rabbi Meir Kahane

Judges and officers shall you appoint in all your cities – which Hashem your G-d gives you – for your tribes; and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. (Deut. 16:18)

When you come to the Land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you, and possess it, and settle in it, and you will say, “I will set a king over myself, like all the nations that are around me.” You shall surely set over yourself a king whom Hashem, your G-d, shall choose... (Deut. 17:14-15)

It shall be when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself two copies of this Torah in a book, from before the Kohanim, the Levites. (Deut. 17:18)

The Jewish government, the king and the police apparatus were mainly intended to run the Jewish State as a theocracy in accordance with G-d's mitzvot. Regarding the verse, “Appoint yourselves judges and police [officers] (Deut. 16:18), R. Eliezer ben Shamua says (Sifri, Shoftim, 144), “If there are police, there are judges. If there are no police, there are no judges.” The intent is clear: If there are police to enforce the judge's Torah rulings, then the judges' word will endure. Otherwise, it is as though there are no judges. Their rulings are then nothing but a farce. In essence, G-d commanded that there be governmental coercion so as to ensure that the people follow G-d's path. G-d scornfully cast off of Himself and of us the alien non-Jewish opposition to “religious coercion”, opposition that is nothing but rebellion against G-d and His decrees. Sefer haChinuch wrote (Mitzvah 491): To appoint judges and policemen who will coerce mitzvah observance and restore to it by force those who have strayed from the truth. They will command regarding what is appropriate to do and will prevent unsavory acts from occurring, and they will uphold punishments against violators until people cease to relate to the mitzvot and prohibitions according to how they personally interpret them. This concept stands in absolute opposition to the alien culture and to the licentiousness and abominations at its core.

The non-Jews worship many idols and follow many alien cultures, all of them false; and even looking from their point of view, we cannot tell who and which of them they consider “truth”. Therefore, with them there is certainly a need to follow the majority, since they lack any clear truth. This is why the system of majority rule was created. For Jacob, however, there is only one truth, and it does not matter whether the whole world differs with it, because it is impossible to decide against the truth. Even if, to our great chagrin, most of Israel choose falsehood over Torah, that does not matter, since Jacob already has the truth. Thus, it is explicit that among Israel there is just one viewpoint, that of Torah; and even if a majority of the Jewish People differ with it, their view is considered deviant and is discounted. A great rabbi once gave a reason for this: The law is that we do not follow the majority when there is testimony for the opposing view; and since Israel saw the Sinai Revelation with their own eyes, confirming G-d's existence, no majority in the world could decide anything against this testimony (SeeTorah Shlemah, Shemot, 23, se'if katan 38). R. Chama's comment[...] - “If one of them sins, it is attributed to them all” (Midrash HaGadol, Shemot, 1:5) - ...] serves to establish the other side of the rule that there is one truth, and not two. Not only must the righteous minority not surrender to or tolerate the erring majority, but they have a duty to protest against them. Not only must they not accept their viewpoint, but they must also demand that they correct their error and accept G-d's viewpoint. The mutual responsibility which exists among the Jewish People requires every Jew to share in the fate of his fellow; and if he does not protest the sins of the individual, let alone those of the community, he, too, will be punished.

[Regarding “You shall surely set over yourself a king whom Hashem, your G-d, shall choose...” (Deut. 17:15)] Rambam wrote (Hilchot Malachim 1:3), “Initially, a king is appointed by the Sanhedrin of seventy-one following a prophetic decree.” Initially, such is the law, but if in certain circumstances it proves impossible, then we satisfy our requirement of a regime to ward off licentiousness and enemy attack via a president rather than a king – without a Sanhedrin or prophet. Rambam taught (Ibid. 1:8): If a prophet appointed a king from another tribe [rather than Yehudah], and that king followed the path of Torah and mitzvot and fought G-d's battles, he is a king, and all the mitzvot of the monarchy apply to him, even though the main monarchy is through David. Thus, even when there is no Davidic dynasty for whatever reason, we still continue with a monarchic regime, rule by one man. [And further,] even when there is no prophet or Sanhedrin, there clearly remains a need for a one-man regime, a single leader, a president, and not the utter chaos of dozens or hundreds of representatives and parties, every one of which tries to extort money and power, leaving the county paralyzed while they try to reach agreement on matters of paramount importance. Presumably, the appointment must approximate the ideal format, in that it should be implemented by a court of the great rabbis of the generation. This is clearly the type of regime that G-d desired; and when there is a prophet and Sanhedrin, then together with the king who stands at their head, they comprise a Torah regime of “one leader to the generation, not two.”

The king or ruler is obligated to view himself as G-d's representative to herd His holy flock, Israel, and to conduct himself with them in ways that will be beneficial to them, and all in accordance with the ways of the Torah, as I have written. He must listen seriously to their complaints. The ruler must conduct himself with humility, as a servant of the people, yet he must know that he is king or president, G-d's representative not only to defend the Jewish people, but also lead and direct them on the path they must follow. He must fear no man and be deterred by no one, and he must not try to curry favor with the people or flatter them. Of this it says, “Do not flatter the land in which you live” (Num. 35:33). Rather, where necessary, he must take a staff and smite their skulls. Then G-d will be at his side.

Clearly, the government's whole worth is solely as a means towards the proper running of G-d's state. It is inconceivable that there could be any valid authority to a government that does not conduct itself this way. The monarchy, or whatever government there may be, was intended only to fulfill the Divine mission assigned it by Divine decree. Thus, all the rights and authority of Jewish governments stem solely from the Torah. A Jewish government must not resemble any regime of the nations, because the government, state and people, themselves, were created only to obey G-d. Rashi explains (Sanhedrin 49a, s.v. Achin veRakin): “If the king sets out to nullify Torah pronouncements, we do not heed him.”

[As Rabbi Kahane explains in Peirush HaMaccabee – Devarim, Parashat Shoftim:] "Judges and officers shall you appoint in all your cities... and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment." (Deut. 16:18) The Sforno writes: “After the mitzvot which apply to the masses [the three pilgrimage festivals, at the end of the previous Parasha] the Torah gives the commandments which apply to their leaders, who are the kings and the judges and the Kohanim and the prophets. As long as they act properly, the masses, too, will behave properly; but if they are corrupt - then they will corrupt the masses.” We learn from this that the way to a just and proper society does not depend upon the method of government – that is, a specific political or economic idea – but rather the essence and nature and quality of the people who are the society's leaders. If the judges are just, then a fair and just society will be created; and if they are corrupt, then society as a whole will be corrupted; whatever its form of government or its ideology.

[Rabbi Kahane also refers to this in “Why be Jewish”: ] It is illusion to believe that one can make a people better by [just] changing the form of government. No change in the system of society will make that society better, for there is no such thing as “government” or “society”. There are only the individuals who comprise the government or the society and the whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts. If the parts are rotten and corrupt, the whole must emerge the same. If the people are selfish and egotistical, society will emerge the same, regardless of the form of government that it uses. An ugly world will never be made beautiful by attacking the symptoms. It is man himself who must be changed and made better. Then and only then can the world which he makes up become better, too. The holiness of the human being guarantees the holiness and beauty of his world. Even if this is a long and difficult process, it is the only way. Of such things did the rabbis say: “There is a long way that is short and a seemingly short way that is in reality long.” And how does one change man's natural inclination to be selfish? “The commandments were given to Israel to purify people”. Here is the way the Almighty, creator of man who knows all of his workings and ways, knew that man could be brought to holiness and purity. The mitzvot, the commandments – they are the way, the only way. “And you shall fulfill all my commandments, and then shall you be holy unto your G-d."
[Source: compiled by Tzipora Liron-Pinner from Rabbi Meir Kahane's "The Jewish Idea", Perush HaMaccabee" on Shemot and "Why be Jewish"]

28 August 2014

Great Video Here!

3 Elul 5774
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

Rabbi Mordechai Kraft - A Kabbalistic View Of The Gaza Conflict

It's Elul and the News Isn't Taking a Break

2 Elul 5774

Baruch Dayan Emet, Aharon Sofer has been found a niftar. Baruch Hashem, that his body will now be brought to kevurah and his parents now know his fate. Preliminary reports say that he might have fallen over a cliff. He was not found in the area where he was last seen, but farther away in another direction.

While we've been davening for Aharon, a"h and condemning the failed policies of the Israeli government vis a vis Hamas, ISIS is approaching the Golan. They have reportedly kidnapped UN peacekeepers and have executed 250 Syrian soldiers.

Russia has invaded Ukraine. And the Ebola virus just isn't letting up.

"...who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time;...."

27 August 2014

Birthpangs of Mashiach?

1 Elul 5774
Rosh Chodesh Bet

I was thinking about how I've never seen a conflict like this that was interspersed with so many ceasefires and calls for ceasefire. The stopping and starting - on again, off again - character of this latest war made me think of labor contractions (otherwise known as "birthpangs"). 

I wondered what it would look like if I could graph a timeline of the ceasefires, so I went about collecting the data. And let me tell you, it wasn't easy to tell when it was ceasefire or not because more often than not, firing went right on during the ceasefires.

I couldn't figure out how to make a graph, but from this chart that I made and pictured above, it is clear that the duration of the ceasefires were getting longer, while the interval between them tended generally towards getting shorter. This reflects the character of contractions as labor progresses.

Maybe this is another sign to encourage us - to show us that we really have entered into the time period known as "the birthpangs of Mashiach."
Note: * On the chart above indicates proposed ending date and duration.

Is the World of Sheker Ready to Fall?

1 Elul 5774
Rosh Chodesh Bet

In the past, lies, generally speaking, had to contain some kernel of truth to be swallowed. But, today, the big lies seem to be completely disconnected from reality. 

Hamas leaders stand in the rubble of destroyed cities with none of their demands as yet fulfilled and declare victory over Israel. The Israeli government announces a big win for the IDF as the southern towns sit empty and everyone waits to see when the quiet will break once again.  The public believes none of it - on either side. 

It's clear to the whole world that there are no winners here. I hope that means the World of Sheker is getting ready to fall for good!

26 August 2014

We're Moving Into a New Phase of the Conflict

30 Menachem Av 5774

I don't know if you've been keeping up with the matzav today, but, as could have been expected for Rosh Chodesh Elul - damage and injuries have increased to a level not yet seen on this side of the conflict.

The morning began with a direct missile hit on a house in Ashkelon which injured 59 people.

A rocket landed in an Ashdod kindergarten playground. Six people had to be treated for hysteria.

A rocket exploded on a road in S'derot damaging a number of cars in the area. One person was treated for hysteria.

A rocket struck a house in Eshkol killing (updatedtwo and injuring six - two seriously.

That's as of 6:50 pm. And those are just the missiles that scored hits. 

A few minutes ago, it was announced that Israel has agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire which is scheduled to go into effect "tonight." All this time, Israel has been negotiating under fire.

However, it's not over until HASHEM says it's over. With the month of repentance just beginning, I'm guessing that it's only gonna get worse from here. People are gonna wake up to the fact that it was HASHEM protecting us all this time and not Kipat Barzel!

The Feiglin Plan for Gaza

30 Menachem Av 5774
Rosh Chodesh Elul Aleph

Shared on Moshe Feiglin's Facebook page...
PM Netanyahu did not accept my proposal for an emigration basket for the Arabs of Gaza. Instead, an emigration basket is now being put together for the Jews of the towns bordering on Gaza. Who knows? Maybe Tel-Avivians who tire of the rockets will also request government aid to migrate elsewhere. Why not?
It is history's Law of Connected Vessels. The question is not if people will be forced to emigrate. The question is simply who those people will be...
(Jerusalem Post: Likud MK Feiglin Proposes Paying Arabs to Leave Gaza)
Or to put it another way...
...you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their temples, destroy their molten idols, and demolish their high places. You shall clear out the Land and settle in it, for I have given you the Land to occupy it.
...But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land from before you, then those whom you leave over will be as spikes in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you in the land in which you settle. And it will be that what I had intended to do to them, I will do to you. (Bamidbar 33:52-56)

Israelis flee in droves from Hamas fire

25 August 2014

Gaza District, Palestine

30 Menachem Av 5774
Rosh Chodesh Elul Aleph

It has come to my attention that there are maps showing the alottment of land given to the twelve tribes of Israel with the Gaza area labeled as Philistine territory. If one didn't know better, one would think that the land had been designated for them by G-d, rather than to shevet Yehudah.

Furthermore, there are actually good Jews who believe that Gaza is not part of Eretz Yisrael and this erroneous thinking caused no small amount of confusion among good Jews everywhere when the regime in Israel decided to expell all Jews from that area in 2005.

Let's go back just a bit and find out more about this people who contests our right to this land to this day.
(Encyclopaedia Britannica) Philistine, one of a people of Aegean origin who settled on the southern coast of Palestine in the 12th century bc, about the time of the arrival of the Israelites. According to biblical tradition (Deuteronomy 2:23; Jeremiah 47:4), the Philistines came from Caphtor (possibly Crete). They are mentioned in Egyptian records as prst, one of the Sea Peoples that invaded Egypt in about 1190 bc after ravaging Anatolia, Cyprus, and Syria. After being repulsed by the Egyptians, they occupied the coastal plain of Palestine from Joppa (modern Tel Aviv–Yafo) southward to the Gaza Strip. The area contained the five cities (the Pentapolis) of the Philistine confederacy (Gaza, Ashkelon [Ascalon], Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron) and was known as Philistia, or the Land of the Philistines. It was from this designation that the whole of the country was later called Palestine by the Greeks.
The Philistines expanded into neighbouring areas and soon came into conflict with the Israelites, a struggle represented by the Samson saga (Judges 13–16) in the Old Testament. With their superior arms and military organization the Philistines were able (c. 1050) to occupy part of the Judaean hill country. They were finally defeated by the Israelite king David (10th century), and thereafter their history was that of individual cities rather than of a people. After the division of Judah and Israel (10th century), the Philistines regained their independence and often engaged in border battles with those kingdoms.
By the early part of the 7th century, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, Ashdod, and probably Gath were vassals of the Assyrian rulers; but during the second half of that century the cities became Egyptian vassals. With the conquests of the Babylonian king Nebuchadrezzar II (605–562) in Syria and Palestine, the Philistine cities became part of the Neo-Babylonian empire. In later times they came under the control of Persia, Greece, and Rome.
There are no documents in the Philistine language, which was probably replaced by Canaanite, Aramaic, and, later, Greek. Nor is much known of the Philistine religion, since all their gods mentioned in biblical and other sources have Semitic names and were probably borrowed from the conquered Canaanites. Until their defeat by David, the Philistine cities were ruled by seranim, “lords,” who acted in council for the common good of the nation. After their defeat, the seranim were replaced by kings.
The Philistines long held a monopoly on smithing iron, a skill probably acquired in Anatolia. At sites occupied by the Philistines at an early period, a distinctive type of pottery, a variety of the 13th-century Mycenaean styles, has been found.
The first thing that pops out immediately is that Tel-Aviv, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gat - all major Israeli cities today - were occupied by the Philistines no less than Gaza City and yet no one today would imply that these areas are not part of Eretz Yisrael. (More on that later.)

The second thing that pops out is the confirmation that the name Palestine is indeed a reference to the Philistines and that it was not the Romans who first used it in reference to Eretz Yisrael, but the Greeks, and then, of course, the Romans perpetuated that lie for another two thousand years, right up until the present time.

The final item of interest is the fact that the Philistines were a "non-people" from the very beginning. Having neither a language nor a religion of their own, they "borrowed" from surrounding peoples who had actually developed their own cultures. I find that to be very significant.

Now, about Gaza not being part of Eretz Yisrael, besides the argument I made above about the rest of the Philistine territory being accepted by all as being Eretz Yisrael today, I'll prove to you that it is so from the Torah.
(B'reishit 26) And there was a famine in the land, aside from the first famine that had been in the days of Abraham, and Isaac went to Abimelech the king of the Philistines, to Gerar. And the Lord appeared to him, and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land that I will tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and I will bless you, for to you and to your seed will I give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham, your father. ...And Isaac dwelt in Gerar.
Furthermore, Yitzchak had been offered as a korban to Hashem and as such was not allowed to leave the borders of Eretz Yisrael. That's why Hashem told him specifically not to go down to Egypt as his father had done before him. 

So, there you have the irrefutable proof that the so-called land of the Philistines - Gaza - IS Eretz Yisrael.

One has to wonder, though, how it is they possess such power even to the present day; even to the fact that the Greeks and Romans, right up to the United Nations, prefer to call this entire land by their name. I think you'll be amazed, as I was.

Avraham Avinu had some dealings with the Philistines...
(B'reishit 21) Now it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phicol his general said to Abraham, saying, "God is with you in all that you do. And now, swear to me here by God, that you will not lie to me or to my son or to my grandson; according to the kindness that I have done with you, you shall do with me, and with the land wherein you have sojourned." And Abraham said, "I will swear." And Abraham contended with Abimelech about the well of water that the servants of Abimelech had forcibly seized. And Abimelech said, "I do not know who did this thing, neither did you tell me, nor did I hear [of it] until today."
And Abraham took flocks and cattle, and gave them to Abimelech, and they both formed a covenant. And Abimelech said to Abraham, "What are these seven ewe lambs, which you have placed by themselves?" And he said, "For these seven ewe lambs you shall take from my hand, in order that it be to me for a witness that I dug this well." Therefore, he named that place Beer sheba, for there they both swore. And they formed a covenant in Beer-sheba, and Abimelech and Phicol his general arose, and they returned to the land of the Philistines.
Wait a minute! Weren't we told never to make a covenant with any of the people living in the land? I found some information at a website called The Strange Side of Jewish History to be very enlightening...
A medrash (Bereishis Rabba 54:5) seems to indicate that the resilience of the Plishtim was on account of an act of Avraham Avinu that wreaked harm upon his descendants. Of course, we must try to understand this according to Avraham’s unfathomable madreigah.
“The Holy One said to him (Avraham), ‘You gave him seven sheep; by your life, I will delay the joy of your sons for seven generations (in Egypt). You gave him seven sheep; corresponding to that, they will kill seven tzaddikim among your offspring, and they are: Shimshon, Chofni and Pinchas, Shaul and his three sons. You gave him seven sheep; corresponding to that, they will destroy seven sanctuaries of your sons, and these are: the [original] Ohel Moed, [the mishkan at] Nov, Gilgal, Givon and Shiloh, and the two Batei Mikdash. You gave him seven sheep; corresponding to that, my aron will circle the fields of the Plishtim for seven months.”
In a similar vein, Rashi (Shoftim 1:21) states that Avraham’s treaty with Avimelech prevented Klal Yisroel from gaining possession of Yerushalayim until Dovid HaMelech’s reign.

Commenting on the verse, “The sons of Binyamin did not disinherit the Yevusi who dwelled in Yerushalayim(Shoftim 1:21), Rashi writes, “[The Yevusi] were descendants of Avimelech and [the Jewish people] did not disinherit [the Yevusi] because of the oath [Avraham had made] until Dovid [HaMelech] came, because [Avimelech’s] grandson was still alive and [Avraham] had sworn [a peace treaty also with Avimelech’s] great-grandson and his grandson.”
Rashi’s statement seems puzzling: why should there be a connection between Yerushalayim in the middle of Eretz Yisroel and Eretz Plishtim in Gaza towards the southwest?
Actually, this question is a geographical misconception. Although the southern border of Gaza lies on Egypt’s border, its northern tip is about thirty miles south of Yerushalayim. As the crow flies, Yerushalayim is only 48 miles northeast of modern Gaza City and, in olden times, when Gaza stretched north to Ashdod, it was even closer. In fact, Gaza was part of shevet Yehuda – if the Jews could only get their hands on it.

Extrapolating from the medrashim and Rashi, one could argue that the tenacity of the Plishtim and Gaza’s subsequent residents also stems from Avraham’s covenant with Avimelech.
And somehow, the world, on some soul-level has always known that and this is the reason, when they wanted to deny our right to the land, they named it for the Philistines, who held the power that they lacked. And now, we can understand better why Yerushalayim is the sticking point to every agreement the regime tries to make with these present-day P'lishtim.

It's more than a little interesting that it was David HaMelech who finally defeated the Philistines and it will, apparently, be his offspring Mashiach Ben David who will be the one to finish them off in the future. From the same source as above...
Commenting on how the Plishtim plugged up Yitzchak’s wells the Radak writes, “All these episodes about digging the wells and giving them names are to tell us that, in the part of Eretz Yisroel that he had a hold on, he dug wells as he pleased without objections. All this was a forewarning concerning what Hashem had set aside for his descendants.
“But the land of the Plishtim, even though it is part of Eretz Yisroel, was not held in the hands [of the Patriarchs] and therefore [the Plishtim] quarreled with them about the border, and all this was to inform [the Patriarchs’ descendants] that not all [of Eretz Yisroel] would be held in their hands. Even though it was apportioned, it would not be held until the end, in the days of Moshiach, like the land of the three nations – the Keini, the Knizi and the Kadmoni” (Bereishis 26:23).
Now, we  can see why the Erev Rav regime is helpless to do anything with Hamas and this just points up how close we really are to the revelation of Mashiach Tzidkeinu as everyone knows this situation cannot go on much longer.

Getting a Head Start on Elul 5774

29 Menachem Av 5774
Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul

Today is a Yom Kippur Katan before Rosh Chodesh Elul which begins the 40 days of repentance before Yom Kippur itself. In order to get a head start on Elul 5774, take a look at this wonderful article from the OU's Jewish Action magazine...

Why Is It So Hard to Change? The Six Obstacles to Teshuvah
by Abraham J. Twerski | September 19, 2012 in Jewish Living

“Of course a person should do teshuvah, but I am a bit puzzled. I observe Shabbos, I keep kosher and taharas hamishpachah. I daven every day, I attend a Daf Yomi shiur and I am honest in my business dealings. What exactly should I do teshuvah for?”

People may not actually say this, but some certainly think this way. Yet King Solomon said, “For there is no man so fully righteous that he always does good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Even the greatest tzaddik is not free of sin. How, then, can a person who is quite far from being a perfect tzaddik not feel a need to do teshuvah?

Several psychological defense mechanisms tend to discourage an individual from changing, from doing teshuvah. The obstacles to teshuvah are denial, rationalization, trivializing, projection, habituation and ego.

1} Denial
Throughout Tanach, the prophets repeatedly exhorted the Jewish people to abandon their errant behavior, but as is evident from the Scriptures, they were not very successful. Isaiah explains why. “Surely you hear, but you fail to comprehend; and surely you see, but you fail to know. This people is fattening its heart, hardening its ears and sealing its eyes, lest it see with its eyes and hear with its ears and understand with its heart, so that it will repent and be healed” (Isaiah 6:9-10). No psychology text can improve on Isaiah’s description of denial. Because people are intent on doing whatever they wish, they resort to denial, one of the best-known defense mechanisms so that they are unaffected by the reality of what they see and hear.

We are creatures of habit, and we are comfortable when we can do things without the need to exert much effort. Change is uncomfortable, and in order to avoid this discomfort, our minds block out those realizations that would call for change. The natural state of all matter—including human beings—is inertia, but one must force himself to overcome inertia in order to grow and change.

2} Rationalization
Denial enables a person to maintain the status quo. When reality threatens to overcome denial, the mind employs other defense mechanisms to reinforce the denial—such as rationalization. One of the themes in Proverbs is the tendency to rationalize. Ramchal says, “If a person is confronted with one’s laziness, one will doubtless come back with many quotations culled from the sages and the Scriptures and with intellectual arguments, all supporting, according to his misguided mind, his leniency with himself” (Mesillas Yesharim, Chapter 6).

Denial is not always possible, so the mind is very clever in rationalizing; in other words, justifying one’s actions by giving logical-sounding reasons for them. The Torah stresses the gravity of speaking lashon hara, for example, which requires both teshuvah vis-à-vis Hashem and forgiveness from the victim. Oftentimes one who speaks lashon hara may attempt to justify his behavior by claiming “But it’s the truth!” Defamatory speech is lashon hara, even if it is true.

3} Habituation
The Talmud says that when a person does a forbidden act several times, it loses its opprobrium. Habituation enables one to think that these transgressions are permissible. His conscience is lulled into thinking, It’s really not so terrible. Thus, even though the morning minyan begins promptly at 6:30 am and ends at 7:05, there are some minyannaires who habitually show up at 6:45 and leave before everyone else. They are so accustomed to arriving late and davening at breakneck speed, they see nothing wrong with it.

4} Projection
One who projects onto another will not be able to do genuine teshuvah. Sins committed against another person are not forgiven on Yom Kippur unless one has obtained forgiveness from the offended individual. The defense mechanism of projection turns things around: I did not offend him. He offended me. He should really be apologizing to me.

5} Trivializing
The tendency to trivialize halachah is another impediment in the road to teshuvah. I missed Minchah, but I was so busy at the office. Anyway, it’s not a big deal. Or, I chatted with my friend during the Reading of the Torah, but doesn’t everybody? (This is the only sin for which the Shulchan Aruch says, “There is no forgiveness.”)

6} Ego
Inasmuch as teshuvah for an offense against another person requires that one make amends and ask forgiveness, there is ego resistance to humbling oneself, apologizing and making restitution where required.

One of the axioms of human behavior is that a person will always choose to do that which is most comfortable for him. We find that an addict will not agree to change until he hits “rock-bottom,” i.e., that the pain incident to the addiction is greater than the pleasure it provides. This is equally true of the non-addict. Therefore, oftentimes individuals only agree to change when they have reached rock-bottom.

But what can constitute rock-bottom for the non-addict? A person who contemplates his life goals and sees that his behavior is jeopardizing his reaching those goals may reach rock-bottom. But this requires giving serious thought to defining one’s goals and purpose in life. Confronting death can usually lead to such introspection. I recently attended the funeral of a great talmid chacham. A man next to me said somewhat somberly, “Reb Z. is taking along with him much Torah and mitzvos. What will I be taking along?”

The first chapter in Mesillas Yesharim is entitled “A Person’s Obligation in His World.” The theme of Mesillas Yesharim is the refinement of one’s character. Changing one’s character traits is a major challenge and is usually met with great resistance. Many times real change won’t happen until one realizes that unless one does so, his life is meaningless.

Uncompromised honesty is necessary to see through the psychological defenses that are a barrier to teshuvah. Rosh Hashanah, the Ten Days of Penitence and Yom Kippur are days in which one should be inspired to evaluate the meaning of one’s life. Only when we are aware that we need “fixing” will we do teshuvah.

The founder and medical director emeritus of Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Rabbi Abraham Twerski, MD, is one of the country’s leading experts on drug and alcohol rehabilitation. He is the author of numerous books and his column is regularly featured in Jewish Action.

This article was featured in Jewish Action Fall 2012.

24 August 2014

Aliyah - Is It A Mitzvah?

29 Menachem Av 5774
Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul

Just because a mitzvah cannot be performed - for whatever reason - that does not nullify the mitzvah. If a Jew has no access to tefillin, the laying of tefillin does not cease to be a mitzvah. If a Jew cannot find an etrog, arba minim does not cease to be a mitzvah.Why then do we want to pretend that yishuv Eretz Yisrael is not a mitzvah - escpecially in a time period when its gates are wide open to every Jew on the planet.

Just as it's true that there were periods in our history when yishuv Eretz Yisrael was an impossbile dream for most of world Jewry, it's just as true that there were always a handful of Jews who managed it. Our Holy Land was never completely bereft of Jews. And how much more so now, should there be no question of the validity of the mitzvah. Truly, there is nothing preventing any Jew from fulfilling it except the real desire to do so.

While the Ramban included yishuv Eretz Yisrael on his list of the 613 mitzvot, the Rambam has been famously (yet erroneously) quoted as not considering it as such since he did not include it in his own list.

But, consider this. Most recipes begin by telling you to mix a list of ingredients. Rarely do they tell you first to get out a bowl and spoon. That's a given, is it not? What are you going to mix your ingredients in, if you don't use a bowl and spoon? It might sound silly to your ears, but it's the same with the 613 mitzvot. They were meant to be performed in Eretz Yisrael, so it's simply a given that the recipe for fulfilling all the other mitzvot begin with yishuv Eretz Yisrael. Until then, it's all a mental exercise.

Frequent Questions about Mitzvat Yishuv Eretz Yisrael

נערך על ידי הרב

The Megilat Esther, R. Chaim in Tosafot, and R. Moshe Feinstein
Although it’s a famous question, the issue of whether Mitzvat Yishuv Eretz Yisrael is one of the 613 mitzvot is just about the most irrelevent of all the so important aspects of Er.Y. It’s usually raised by those looking for an excuse to justify their not making aliya, and if that’s the best they can come up with, it proves the point better than anything!

The Vilna Gaon says there are several thousand (!) mitzvot m’doraita, and the technical question of how to settle that with the mesorah that counts 613 (Makot 23b) provides some interesting pilpulim but there’s no Nafka Mina (practical ramification) whatsoever (מעלות התורה, עמ' סו במהד' י-ם, תשנ"א). Everyone agrees there must be a menora in the Beit HaMikdash, but there’s no difference whether it’s 1 of the 613 or included in the mitzva of "v’asu li mikdash" (see Sefer Hamitzvot, shoresh 12)! Everyone agrees one must believe in Hashem but many don’t consider it one of the 613 (see Ramban on mizva 1). 

Only the Megilat Esther, who is not considered by any accounts a posek, suggests that maybe the reason the Rambam doesn’t count mitzvat yishuv haAretz as a mitzva is because it’s not applicable during galut (and the Rambam only counts mitzvoth which apply in all times, Sefer HaMitzvot, shoresh 3). This is only one of many possible reasons suggested - although for those living in America it is obviously popular! It is clearly wrong (something I would never say about any opinion of a rishon on any issue, but the Megilat Esther can hardly be considered a halachic authority, surely not a rishon - there is not even one (!) halacha in his name brought in the entire Shulchan Aruch and not everyone who lived in the period of rishonim has that status). The mistake of the Megilat Esther is self-evident in the Rambam himself in hil. Avadim 8,8, where the Rambam takes the trouble to state explicitly that the mitzvat to live in Eretz Yisrael is in all generations, also during galut, even if the Land is in the hands of the gentiles!

Additionally, in hil. Mlachim 5, 12, the Rambam says "a person should always live in Eretz Yisrael, even in a city of gentiles, and not in chu"l even in a Jewish city". The Rambam should have sufficed with his opening statement ("a person should always live in Eretz Yisrael), yet again he goes out of his way to give an example ("even in a city of gentiles, and not in chu"l even in a Jewish city", clearly referring to the period of galut), where we (or the Megilat Esther!) may have thought otherwise! 

Another unquestionable proof regarding the Rambam’s opinion is in hilchot Mlachim 7, 14, that the only p’tur (exemption) from the Israeli army (in milchemet r’shut- an optional war) for one who planted a vineyard (and didn’t redeem it in the fourth year) or one who built a house (and has yet to dedicate it) is if they ‘re in ErY. As usual, the Rambam takes his halachot straight from the Talmudic sources, in this case from the Yrushalmi Sotah 8, 4, which explains the reason is because only in ER.Y is planting a vine and building a house a mitzva, that of yishuv ErY. This exemption from the army is a halacha m’doraita, and there is no other way to explain the Rambam but that he holds mitzvat yishuv ErY is a mitzvah d’oraita.

I personally think that it is not kavod to the Megilat Esther even to quote his opinion which he clearly did not check up in the Mishneh Torah, where the Rambam’s consistent shita (see footnote 1 ) is that it’s a mitzva D’oraita 2 in all times, explicitly contradicting the Megilat Esther’s suggested explanation of the Rambam. 

[Ironically, today with the advent of the State of Israel, even the Megilat Esther who was often cited as the opinion who justifies living in chu"l, apparently holds that the mitzvah has returned! For he opines that according to the Rambam there is no mitzvah until the Land is in our hands ("… after we were exiled, this mitzvah is not practiced until the coming of the Machiach… that conquering the Land is a mitzvah when we are not subjected to non-Jewish rule". And as the Rambam himself writes, hil. Tshuva 9, 2; Milachim 12, 2, we know we are in the times of mashiach if we have an independent state, and we’re not under foreign rule. In other words, today, even the Megilat Esther would agree, for even if the mashiach has yet to come, we are already in what the Rambam terms (ibid) "the days of Mashiach"!].

If so, why doesn’t the Rambam count aliya as one of his 613 mitzvot? The following are several, among many explanations: 

1. The Chatam Sofer (shu"t Yoreh De’ah, 234): the chova to live in Aretz is based on the exceptional kdusha here, and there is therefore no need to call it "just" a mizva.

2. The Avnei Nezer (shu"t Orach Chaim, vol. II, 535, 8) says its included in the mitzva of kibbush haAretz ("haCharem Tacharimem"). 

3. Rav Kook quotes the Or haChayim (end of p. Nitzavim), that living in Aretz encompasses all of the mitzvot in the Torah, and need not be counted as "only" one mitzvah (shoresh 4).

4. Eretz Chemda (R. Shaul Yisraeli, p.33): it’s included in "v’achalta v’savata uverachta et Hashem Elokecha al haAretz haTova" if we thank Hashem for (literally: "on") the Land which He gave us, we obviously must be here!

5. The Gadol of Minsk: Shoresh 2 of the Rambam’s rules for what he counts in the 613 and what not: Inferred Mitzvot aren’t among the 613. For example: all agree with the gmara in Ktuvot 72a, that it’s asur m’doraita for a married woman not to cover her hair, yet no opinion counts it as a mitzva because it’s so pashut, the Torah infers it as a given ("when a Sotah is brought to the Mikdash, her hair is then uncovered"- inferring that it obviously was covered, as is obvious to any tzanu’a women in modest countries (not America!- to this very day). So too, anyone who reads the Tanach sees that it is obviously addressing Am Yisrael who is living in Eretz Yisrael. Ex.: Even when Moshe or Y’hoshua are on the east bank of the Jordan river, it’s still called "ever haYarden" (="the other side of the Jordan"), because the reader is living on the west bank, in Eretz Kna’an. Similarly, the western wind is called "yam" (literally: "from the sea") even in Egypt where "the sea" is north- not west! Because for the reader, who is expected to be living in Israel, west is called "from the sea" (see Rashi, Shmot, 10’ 19). 3 It is inferred as a "given" and need not be commanded as 1 of the 613.

6. Rav Yissachar Teichtel, Em haBanim Smecha (p. 151): It’s a basic necessity for our national survival to have Eretz Yisrael, just as there’s no mitzva to breathe because it’s simply a necessity, and the Rambam himself (Sefer haMitzvot, aseh 153) infers this point.

In addition to the Megilat Esther, the other common halachic opinion cited for not making aliya is the opinion of R. Chaim HaKohen in Tosafot Ktuvot 110b who is quoted as if there is no mitzvah today to live in Israel because it’s difficult to fulfill the mitzvoth haTluyot baAretz. 

On the other hand, the ba’alei haTosafot in Gittin 8b, Bab Kama 80b, and many other places, agree with Ramban that it’s a mitzva today. See also the Mordechai at the end of Ktuvot who goes so far as to say that the printed edition of Tosafot citing R. Chaim, is just "a miscopy of a mistaken student". A proof can be drawn from the fact that the Tosafot on this part of Ktuvot is edited by R. Shimshon of Shantz (see Ktuvot 90a) who himself led the aliya of 300 rabbanim, who risked their lives under dire conditions to fulfill this mitzva. The Shla (Sha’ar haOtiot 75b) adds that the quote from R. Chaim is illogical, as if we should run away from the mitzvot hatluyot baAretz (!), for there’s no reason we can’t fulfill them today. On the contrary, we are supposed to run after mitzvot, not away from them! The Chida (Yosef Ometz 52) suggests that he must be referring to the time when there was a machloket which year was shmitta, an uncertainty which was already decided several hundred years ago! Alternatively, the Chayei Adam (Chochmat Adam, sha’ar Mishpitei HaAretz, 11, 3) suggests that it is referring to times when people did not know how to fulfill the agricultural mitzvoth, something which surely doesn’t apply today when consumers can easily buy produce with rabbinic supervision that the trumot and ma’asrot etc. have already been tithed.

Additionally, it’s wrong to pit R. Chaim HaKohen against the other rishonim as if they are two equal but conflicting opinions. The Pitchei Tshuva (Even haEzer 75, 5) points out that between the two opinions, the Shulchan Aruch as well as " all the poskim Rishonim vAchronim" hold like the Ramban in this issue. In other words, the sugya has already been decided several hundred years ago. In my opinion it’s even unwise and uneducational to spend so much time on the rejected minority opinions of this particular Tosafot (which we saw even contradicts other Tosafot) and Megilat Esther because it lends legitimicy to the da’at yachid as if it were a legitimate halachic opinion which can be relied upon (see the klalei psika of the Shach on Yoreh De’ah 110, that such a minority opinion isn’t even considered an opinion). Since when do we learn halacha from the Megilat Esther (or even the Rambam, for that matter)? Since their time (about 750 years ago), the universally accepted Shulchan Aruch and Rama have been published and are the definitive halachic decision. They hold that aliya is a mitzvah in all times (Even haEzer 75,3, Orach Chaim 248,4). The only time you’ll hear someone pasken like a rejected da’at yachid against the Shulchan Aruch regarding any mitzvah m’doraita (!) is when he’s fishing for that yearned-for excuse to live in the beloved gashmi’ut of America. 

Regarding the opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein in his Igrot Moshe (Ev. Ha. ,I, 102) , his chiddush that it’s a mitzva d’oraita but not a chova is exactly that, an innovative chiddush not mentioned by the previous generations. There are over 30 rishonim and achronim who davka explicitly use the word chova or "issur dirat chutz laAretz" (prohibition to live in chu"l) for ex. Rashi Yvamot 64a, Ramban (Aseh 4), Ran (end of Ktuvot), Ra’avad (ibid), Sifre Dvarim (11, 10), Chatam Sofer (above), Gra, Chazon Ish, Avnei Nezer, R. Ya’akov Emdin, etc. etc. (compiled in MeAfar Kumi by my friend, R. Tzvi Glatt HYD in an entire chapter on the topic, pp. 66-70). The klal in halacha is "kol hamishaneh, yado al hatachtona = whoever leaves the accepted opinion, the burden of proof is upon him to prove why he left the accepted opinion, to differ. See the aforementioned sources and you will see that the norm is to say that it’s a chova. Not only the rishonim, but even Chazal themselves use this term, Sifre Dvarim 11, 10, "Coming to Eretz Yisrael is an obligation".

Rav Ovadia Yosef also rejects R. Moshe’s opinion based on the fact that if it were just optional, why would we break up a great marriage, or write a contract on Shabbat for yishuv haAretz? If it’s just optional, the gmara would say in such situations: "just don’t opt for that option and stay married, or don’t m’chalel Shabbat!

R. Avraham Shapira, former Chief Rabbi and Rosh Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, adds that there is no such thing as an optional mitzvah. If you eat, you are obligated to "bench". If you wear a four-cornered garment, you are obligated in tzitzit. So too, if you "live", you’re obligated to live in Eretz Yisrael. Chazal stress this as well in the Mechilta (midrash halacha on Shmot 23, 13), "and all that I told you to do you must observe", this teaches that there is a prohibition to refrain from doing any positive commandment. 4 

If one follows all of the leniencies and stringencies of R. Moshe (e.g. his prohibition against using liquid soap on Shabbat) and the Satmar Rebbi (e.g. that a mechitza must reach the ceiling), then this approach is acceptable. But why utilize their opinion on a mitzvah d’oraita which is "equated with the rest of the mitzvot put together" (Sifre Dvarim Re’eh 12 (=midrash halacha), and Tosefta Avoda Zara 5, 2), just because it’s convenient?! Would they be so lenient regarding not observing Shabbat, Brit Milah, Avoda Zara, Talmud Torah, and Tzedaka, which are similarly "equated with the rest of the mitzvot put together"?

In addition, elsewhere, the Rambam writes (Igeret haRambam, p. 64, Mossad HaRav Kook edition) that even if there were two Jewish states, one is obligated to live in that which is "more Jewish". Kal vaChomer if one lives in a non-Jewish state, he must leave and live in a Jewish state. That’s how we know about the Kuzari nation, because R. Hasdai ibn Shiprut inquired one thousand years ago to the land of Kuzar, saying, "we heard that there’s a Jewish State there, and if so, we all should live there! 5 

Another common halachic excuse cited for not making aliya is that it’s difficult to make a living in Israel. Nevertheless, here too, upon examination of the sources, we see that this does not apply today.

No one says "if you can’t make a living you’re exempted" from aliya. To the contrary, all agree that only if you have to beg for a living then you’re patur. There’s a big difference! I published an article in Tchumin (Torani Journal, vol. 22, תחומין כב (תשס"ב), עמ' 355-368) bringing the sources on the topic. The Rambam adds that even during famine (!) when one is allowed to temporarily leave, he shouldn’t do so, for Machlon and Chilyon (Meg. Ruth) were punished with death for leaving during such circumstances (hil. Milachim 5, 9).

The legendary R. Ya’akov Emdin, Sulam Beit-El, p. 14, summarized the issue well when he wrote (more than 200 years ago) "it is truly a recurrent riddle on the holy people of Israel. Regarding other mitzvoth they are extremely strict… spend great sums and make the effort to observe them as meticulously as possible. But why are they lazy and degrade this beloved mitzvah (of aliya), the peg upon which the entire Torah hangs?!" 

R. Hillel m’Shklov, a primary student of the Vilna Gaon (Kol haTor p. 534), complains about even the very religious, who twist and turn and even go so far as to revive the rejected opinion that there’s no mitzva today of yishuv Eretz Yisrael, that they are simply the modern day version of the cheit hamraglim, who were the very learned leaders of Israel, yet they were blinded by the yetzer to live in chutz laAretz! 

^ 1. וכן בהל' מכירה יד, ח; שמיטה ד, כז; שבת ו, י-יא; אישות יג, יט ועוד.
^ 2.כדמוכך מהמקורות הנ"ל. הגר"מ פיינזטיין, אגרות משה, יו"ד ג, קכב, דוחה את האפשרות שמדובר על מצוה דרבנן, משום שאין זה הגיוני שיתקנו רבנן גזירה כזאת בתקופה שקשה כל כך לגור בארץ, וגם אם תיקנו, זה לא היה תקיף.
^ 3.להוכחות נוספות והרחבה, עיין במאמרי, "ארץ ישראל יסוד התורה", עלוני ממרא 106, ניסן תשמ"ט, עמ' 97-133.
^ 4.עיין בשפתי חכמים על רש"י שם שמסביר על פי זה מדוע מצוות עשה דוחה מצוות לא-תעשה, כי כל עשה הוא גם לא תעשה!
^ 5.האגרת מופיעה בע' 5 בהקדמה למהד' וילנה, תרס"ה.