11 June 2020

Truth in Advertising

20 Sivan 5780
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Sh'lach

There are many lessons to be learned from the incident of the spies in this week's parashah - Sh'lach.  Not the least of which is that the spies discouraged the people from entering Eretz Yisrael to the point that they preferred to return to Egypt.  Like the Diaspora rabbis of today, they told the people that they could not succeed, that their children and even their own lives would be at risk, that they would be better off remaining in the wilderness than trying to conquer Eretz Yisrael.  And to add insult to injury to HKB"H, they told the people that they would actually descend spiritually by entering God's Holy Land in comparison to their level out in the wilderness.

I was shaking earlier from what I heard this afternoon from another American Rabbi on the subject of aliyah.  At least now I think I understand what is going on.  I actually thought Rabbi Wallerstein was telling people to make aliyah even though he didn't think he could do it.  The title of his shiur was "It's Time to Go."  Today, I listened to another shiur entitled "You Must Make Aliyah NOW!!!"  (If you choose to listen, although I do not recommend it, see particularly 0:07:06 - 0:13:28 and 1:38:03 - 1:40:35.)

The rabbi explains that unless you listen to his whole shiur (2 hrs, 12 mins), you won't be able to properly understand what he means by the title.  He says if we take his words literally without commentary, we are being like Christians and heretics.  He claims that another American rabbi famous for kiruv has also been misunderstood by the masses of listeners who thought he was endorsing aliyah when that was not the case at all - so he claims in this shiur.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, these American rabbis are titling their shiurim to draw in people who think it means they have changed their positions on the subject of aliyah, but instead, they go about discouraging it.  In the end, this American rabbi admitted that for a few select people, aliyah is ok, but it's not for the majority.  In true kiruv fashion, he concludes that supporting kiruv is the most important mitzvah of all and it "guarantees" Divine protection wherever you are. "This is the real aliyah," he proclaims.

He says that the very first thing you have to have to make aliyah is a way to make money.  It seems to be a common misunderstanding among American Jews in general that HKB"H can deliver their parnassah in America, but can't manage to do it in Eretz Yisrael, the land on which His eyes are focused continually; the only land that is not served by a ministering angel but by HKB"H Himself.  (Who knew a thin dollar bill could be such a stumbling block?)  The rabbi finishes by suggesting that "spiritual" aliyah is for everyone while "physical" aliyah is not always possible or desirable or successful.
This [spiritual] type of aliyah is guaranteed to work.  All you have to do is commit - commit a certain amount of time, commit a certain amount of money, commit a certain amount of effort to make sure that helping other Jews do teshuvah is a serious part of your life.  That is the greatest type of aliyah a person can do because that type of aliyah is guaranteed to work.  (2:06:14)
So, even though the rabbi vehemently discourages "physical" aliyah, the title to his shiur is no lie because he is talking about "spiritual" aliyah, i.e. "You Must Make [Spiritual] Aliyah NOW!!!"  And he says further:
...HKB"H says, "[If] you do it, I'm gonna help you succeed.  And not only am I gonna help you succeed, but on top of that, I'm gonna give you the reward, because you sanctified My Name before the Mashiach came, that means you're gonna have protection.  Because you made aliyah - the REAL aliyah - the type of aliyah that Hashem wants, regardless of where you are in the world
The claim that remaining in the Diaspora and earning reward by supporting kiruv is a sanctification of God's name totally contradicts the words HKB"H put into the mouth of his holy prophet Yechezkel (36:23-24):
And they entered the nations where they came, and they profaned My Holy Name, inasmuch as it was said of them, 'These are the people of the Lord, and they have come out of His land.' But I had pity on My Holy Name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they had come.

Therefore, say to the house of Israel; So says the Lord God: Not for your sake do I do this, O house of Israel, but for My Holy Name, which you have profaned among the nations to which they have come. And I will sanctify My great Name, which was profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst;
and the nations shall know that I am the Lord - is the declaration of the Lord God - when I will be sanctified through you before their eyes.  For I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your land.
Going into exile outside the Land of Israel was a desecration of God's Name and His Name will be sanctified - according to HIS own words - when He returns us to our Holy Land!!  And anyway, this is not an either/or proposition.  It's not move to Israel OR support kiruv work.  What?  There is no kiruv in Eretz Yisrael?  No support for kiruv worldwide by Jews in Eretz Yisrael???  The shiur continues...
You could be in Africa, you could be in Australia, you could be in Israel, you could be in America, in England, wherever you are.  I have people watching shiurim in Japan, people watching in Australia, people watching in Indonesia, people watching in California, in Oregon, all types of places in the world, why?  Because somebody cared enough to make aliyah - to share the video, to send a CD, to send a kiruv package, to send a book, to share a website, to share a text with one of our videos, the next thing you know, another Jew is watching, or another Noahide who wants to get close to Hashem is watching!  Someone is watching to get close to Hashem?  Guess what?!  THAT'S ALIYAH!!"   (0:07:43 - 0:08:50)
How is this any different from the original sin of the meraglim whom we read about this Shabbat?  These words we've heard this week from various American rabbis exactly demonstrate the way the meraglim spoke when they returned with their evil report...
They returned from scouting the Land at the end of forty days.  They went, and they came to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the desert of Paran, to Kadesh. They brought them back a report, as well as to the entire congregation, and they showed them the fruit of the land.
They told him and said, "We came to the land to which you sent us, and it is flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.  However, the people who inhabit the land are mighty, and the cities are extremely huge and fortified, and there we saw even the offspring of the giant.
The Amalekites dwell in the south land, while the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountainous region. The Canaanites dwell on the coast and alongside the Jordan."  Caleb silenced the people to [hear about] Moses, and he said, "We can surely go up and take possession of it, for we can indeed overcome it."
But the men who went up with him said, "We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.  They spread an [evil] report about the land which they had scouted, telling the children of Israel, "The land we passed through to explore is a land that consumes its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of stature.  There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, descended from the giants. In our eyes, we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes.  (Bamidbar 13:25-33)
From the Stone Edition Chumash Commentary... 
As the nation stood at the threshold of Eretz Yisrael and Moses told them that it was time for them to conquer it (Devarim 1:22), a pivotal incident took place.  Twelve of the truly great leaders of the nation, one from each tribe, went to survey the Land - and came back with a report that demoralized the people and caused them to lose faith in their ability to occupy their Divinely ordained inheritance.  As a result, the entire generation was condemned to death in the Wilderness and Israel's entry into the Land was delayed for nearly thirty-nine years.
...Although the spying mission took place shortly after [Miriam's] experience had taught the nation the gravity of malicious gossip; nevertheless, the wicked spies did not learn their lesson and were not deterred from slandering the Land (Rashi).
Think deeply on how grievous a sin it is to reject God's gift of Eretz Yisrael.  It is such an egregious sin, that we have a special day set aside upon which we cry over it and we've been crying for more than 3000 years already!!

If HKB"H shows mercy and allows aliyah to continue, make a tikun today for your part in this ongoing national sin.  Make teshuvah for rejecting HKB"H's precious gift of Eretz Yisrael.  Make aliyah without any further reservations or delays.  Trust HKB"H, ain od milevado.

RELATED: Please be sure to also read: Deal of the Century vs the Torah



  1. thank you for twisting my words, misunderstanding the message, ignoring the actual Halacha regarding living in Israel or the needs of Am Yisrael and calling me a Meragel who doesn't have Olam Haba. It's very good for my Neshama and also gives me clarity about your whole premise for writing this blog.

  2. thank you for twisting my words, misunderstanding the message, ignoring the actual Halacha regarding living in Israel or the needs of Am Yisrael and calling me a Meragel who doesn't have Olam Haba. It's very good for my Neshama and also gives me clarity about your whole premise for writing this blog--satisfy your growing ego. Everyone loves the truth until it affects/obligates them.

    1. What a surprising way to dialogue with someone. Edpecially from a rabbi. So combative. I myself was insulted by your talk. And I listened carefully. K'val...what you are doing...truly...so sad. Hashem yishmor.

  3. Which words did I "twist" Rabbi Reuven? And who says the meraglim didn't get Olam Haba?

  4. you said I am telling people not to make aliyah, and that we're motivated by money. Shame on you. Secondly, regarding the Meraglim that you compared me to, The Gemara Sanhedrin says that the meraglim have no share of the world to come. Baruch HaShem that you have no clue what you're talking about. Maybe you should spend more time learning actual Torah and less time writing lashon hara about someone who's dedicating their life to save people without charging a penny or even taking a salary for 6 years. Your write up is full of your emotions and distorted understanding of Torah because you chose to live in Israel and therefore are just assuming that everyone else is a wicked Rasha if they do not agree with doing the same thing as you. We supported your work on a number of occasions and you highlighted our shiurim on your site, yet the minute you heard something you disliked or didn't agree with, you did not spare a moment before publicizing falsehood and ERASING the same past posts of our shiurim that are full of Emet that is saving people from getting hurt. Your ego got the best of you, and you have more teshuva to do than your readers. I wonder if you'll erase this too, just like you did the past posts.

  5. Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:3 says the Meraglim have no share in the World to Come. And Rabbi Yaron Reuven was only saying you shouldn't do aliya if it will cause Shalom Bayis issues and the like. He didn't speak badly about Eretz Yisroel like the Meraglim, in fact he praised Eretz Yisroel and said if you could you should make aliya. But he said the main aliya is a spiritual aliya.

  6. For that matter, every Yiddishe neshama has a portion in Olam Habah. But Devash is right, the way things are going, it is very similar to what happened in pre Nazi Europe and then it was too late to run. The only difference is that this time, I believe H' will not allow what happened to the Jews in WWII to happen again, but it will be scary enough for Jews to wake up. We are at keitz hayamim and we are back home so Jews need to wake up and come home if they can (there are those who really can't, so H' will lead the way for them; no Jew left behind). The more G-D fearing Jews who fill up the Land, the more strength we can have against our internal enemies (the Erev Rav). Praying for immediate Geulah! Amen!

  7. She's 1000% correct. Why do you and other speakers twist yourselves into pretzels to justify the decision to stay put? You must ask yourselves this question. Stop with the lamdus! It's pashut and emunah issue!

  8. You two are so rich Jews, don't let those little details confuse you.

    I just received from a master of mine who was teaching about the introduction of Shaarei Kedusha (Rabbi Chaim Vital of blessed memory) and was talking about Bnei Aliyah. Men of spiritual ascension. And, in fact, spiritual ascension precedes physical ascension.

    But avoid this machloket, it delays Geula, please

  9. Bottom line, the *American* rabbis need to wake up and smell the chummus. Enough is enough. The golden medina is dead. The cushion is dead. The villa-living, fancy dinners reality is dead. Every moment you put off Aliyah, every moment you put your listeners into a false lull of security, you're endangering lives. How long do you think you can prolong getting out of this golden cage? The winds are now shifting towards the Jew blaming. We know how this goes. It's the old formula. Do not waste your words and energy on empty lectures, start the process of moving out of your comfort zone. The hardest thing you'll have to do.

  10. Rabbi Reuven,

    I have not watched your video, but I do have a question on Devash's quotes from you, which I think are straightforward and with enough context to ask on.

    You mention the pesukim in Yechezkel about Jews causing Chilul Hashem in golus. Are you saying it's possible to be in golus, to remain in golus, to justify doing so, by instead being, as you see it, a personal Kiddush Hashem?

    I am familiar with those pesukim, as well as several that add important context.

    So said the Lord God: Because they say to you, 'You are a devourer of men and you were a bereaver of your nations,'
    Therefore, you shall no longer devour men, and you shall no longer bereave your nations, says the Lord God.
    And I shall no longer let you hear the disgrace of the nations; the taunt of the peoples you shall no longer bear, neither shall you bereave your nations any longer," says the Lord God.

    Even if all the openly Orthodox adhered to the ideals you ascribe, when you are among a vast sea of devourers and bereavers among our people, do you think you will remain aloof? Hashem is going to bring them home, but not you? That's kind of what you are saying.

    Those words (devourers and bereavers, as translated) are surprisingly apt, and in my experience there is not much correlation to being observant and not being a scheming boor who irritates their hosts. Having grown up assimilated and steeped in the entertainment business in Los Angeles and become observant in college 30+ years ago, I have seen or heard it all.

    Personally, I could understand the rationale in the 1990s, say, when I found myself in a well-known community on Sukkos in 1996 hosted by a well-known rav who asked if my wife and I were relieved to be in safe [American city] rather the Old City, where we lived at the time, when the tunnels were recently reopened and used as a pretext to incite riots.

    I'm the quiet type, and I think I said a simple no and something about missing home, but my wife could not resist explaining (rebuking, really) that she was only glad to be there and not home, to tell him that if one million American Jews made aliyah, this would not happen anymore.

    At that point, this very big rav got all huffy and and surprisingly defensive, and told my wife she had no right to talk like that, that he lived in Israel for a time and didn't have "two nickels to rub together" when he left. He was a major posek in the region, and tremendously involved in kiruv. His means weren't so meager in America.

    He was very defensive, surprisingly so. To this day my wife thinks less of this rabbi for his reaction to her exhortation. It was the 1990s. So it was an understandable attitude. We both knew people who left for parnassa reasons as well as fear over the terrorism of the time.

    Is today the same or different?

  11. In Eim HaBanim Semeicha, HaRav Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal describes Hungarian Jewry as being convinced, due to their unquestioned piety and visceral opposition to aliyah, right on into 1944 that they would emerge from the war intact. They were indeed saved from many a wartime calamity. It seemed like a safe bet for a long time. But before the year was out, they were practically wiped out.

    He exhorted, using copious sources recalled from memory, all Jews, especially the most devout, to make aliyah, and use that zeal for kiruv in Israel.

    Whatever anyone thinks of the halacha vis a vis aliyah in a time of calm, according to Rav Teichtal, when the storm comes, only Eretz Yisrael is a refuge. That is the only guarantee. It's not so much about money as leadership.

  12. Rabbi Reuven @ 1:13 AM: "we're motivated by money"

    Rabbi Reuven in the shiur: "If a person, first of all, is gonna have a way to make parnassah, or has enough money, to live, that’s one. Why? You can’t go and expect your life to be ok if you are used to making a certain living over here and over there, your doctor’s degree is irrelevant, your accounting degree is irrelevant, your business is no longer valid because it is here, and you’re gonna sew clothes or something over there, maybe hopefully make a hundred bucks a week and you think that’s gonna be ok for the rest of your family. Like you have to have a way to make money. That’s first of all." (1:39:55 - 1:40:35)

    Not "motivated," but lacking faith in this area. It's the first thing every Diaspora Jew says. How will I make parnassah? And too often it's not even about adequate parnassah but the same parnassah they are accustomed to.

    I'm the first one to admit my lack of knowledge in the realm of Gemara. That's why I asked. And thank you for enlightening me. But you know what I do know, Rabbi Reuven? I know the Tanach. I know the words of the prophets which are the words of HKB"H Himself and I note that you have yet to address the points I raised in this regard.

    I also know that when we pray for the ingathering of the exiles and when all the prophets spoke in regard to the ingathering of the exiles, it was not speaking in a "spiritual" sense.

    Regarding "you highlighted our shiurim on your site,yet the minute you heard something you disliked or didn't agree with...."

    Yes, I try to support kiruv work in whatever way I can and try to share lectures through this blog. It pains me tremendously when an important source of that work proves itself to be unreliable for the future. When I hear such a distortion of the Torah - to tell people that supporting kiruv work - YOUR work - is the "real aliyah that HKB"H wants," it makes me wonder whether other things have been distorted as well. I removed your lecture from the other day because, quite frankly Rabbi Reuven, you've lost my trust.

  13. Shame on you Rabbi Reuven for attacking the author of this blog. She has more knowledge in her little pinky than I have with all my years of growing up frum (which she did not). In all the years of reading her blog I have never detected any ego issue. Just the opposite--I felt that she was determined to bring the truth. There's something about the aliyah issue that makes the Americans (including you) go crazy--it's like you just can't hear it. However, when Rabbi W got criticism for his aliyah call, at least he responded civilly and even with humor. You got all bent out of shape and wrote things that are not befitting a frum Jew, and certainly not a rabbi. I will not be listening to your shiurim any more, bli neder.

  14. Rabbi Reuven, I just want to reiterate, in case I did not make myself clear before, that I removed your video about Manis Friedman because I have doubts whether it was the right thing to do now considering what I feel is a lack of judgment on your part with regard to redefining the meaning and importance of aliyah. I did not delete it. I made it invisible until I can verify with my Rav whether it should remain up or not. He is checking it out for me with people he knows.

    I'd also like to clarify that I did not accuse you of being one of the spies out of the parashah, but of speaking words to the people in a similar way which have the same effect in our times as what those people did back then.

    Like them, you paid lip service to the concept of physically making aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, but the overall result was one of discouragement from doing it. I hope you will seriously consider whether my assessment might be accurate.

    I wish you Shabbat shalom.

  15. A true rabbi would be crazy not to make aliya at a time like this. Even 70 years ago. We have been praying for 1000's of years to return to Israel and now we finally have the chance and you say no? Its worse than the spies. Its equivilent to the generation of joshua after the forty years in the desert not wanting to cross the Jordan .

  16. I would just like to say:

    I made aliyah many years ago, a single mother, no family, no career, no training, no parnassa, no savings and deathly ill.

    Hashem provided for me with miracle after miracle. I now have a good career and all the comforts of live I could want, need or desire.

    Throw your cares upon Hashem and he does provide.

  17. The USA is 26 TRILLION dollars in debt. That gravy train will not last. It's impossible. And when that debt bubble explodes, inflation in the the United States will reach zimbabwe levels. The social unrest we see now will pale in comparison to what will happen.

    The standard of living for Jews in America will fall when the US debt bubble pops and American anti semetism will explode.

    We have to face that fact.

    We are getting hints what life will be like for American Jews when the US debt bubble pops: Poway, Pittsburgh, Monsey, Newark. The slow exclusion of Jews from public life in the United States. The armed guards and security at Jewish institutions.

    It's happening here. It's happening now.

    The worst possible thing the US Jewish community could do is retreat into isolation and hope the goy will go away and leave us alone while we elevate ourselves spiritually.

    Friends, that will not happen. That debt bubble will pop and the US will fall apart. And when this happens it will happen quickly. And the goy will blame us.

    Truthfully, the American culture is so debased, unless someone lives in a totally isolated community with no internet and never leaves that community, the hashpa from the American culture is devastating for yerai shomayim. This may be why haShem is
    starting to increase anti semetism to push Jews out of the US, but that's a separate discussion.

    We have to make plans what to do prior to, and after the US debt bubble pops. Make plans to shift your life to Israel. If you have a plan, execute one part of the plan. Visit Israel, Invest in Israel, Buy property in Israel. Learn the language. Make professional contacts. Something to move the plan along to ultimately live in Israel.

    Let's not make the mistake of the Satmar in WW2 and lose an entire community to uphold a shita.

  18. Rabbi Yaron Reuven was quoting Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch. It wasn't his opinion, he was quoting a gadol.

  19. Regarding what you said, Devorah, at 9:10 AM "Not motivated, but lacking faith in this area. It's the first thing every Diaspora Jew says. How will I make parnassah? And too often it's not even about adequate parnassah but the same parnassah they are accustomed to." I agree with you on that last point you said. Regarding the people that don't want to make aliyah because they don't want to part with their fancy cars and houses and fancy lifestyle, for sure that's a wrong attitude for them to have. And even the people that aren't crazy rich, but don't want to make aliyah because of a few trivial things that they'll lack in Israel, I also agree that that's a bad attitude to have.

    However, I don't think Rabbi Reuven was addressing those sorts of people in his shiur. I think he was talking about people who really genuinely don't have enough money to move to Israel or people who really haven't found a way to get a decent job in Israel or someone whose spouse doesn't want to move to Israel. It doesn't say anywhere in the Torah that one is obligated to come to Israel even though he knows that as of yet he has no way of making money there. It's not like money is gonna miraculously fall down from heaven into his backyard once he makes aliyah. Hashem never made such a guarantee. There's a concept in Judaism of hishtadlus, I.e, that Hashem expects every person to make an effort to make money, as well as to make an effort in other areas of life. No one ever said that you're obligated to move to Israel if that means your kids will be crying from starvation and their stomachs will be caved in. If this wasn't what you were saying then please clarify to me what you were in fact saying.

    Now, make no mistake, I'm not saying necessarily that the majority of Jews or even close to that would fall under that category of people who genuinely don't yet have a way to make money in Israel. I don't know what the percentage is but that's not the point, the point is that whatever that percentage is, whether it's 30% of jews or 10% or even less, it's only those Jews that Rabbi Reuven was addressing in his shiur, not one jew more and not one jew less. He wasn't discouraging making aliyah in general, he was just discouraging it for that percentage of jews that don't have a way of making money there or people whose spouses don't want to move, whatever that percentage is.

    By the way, Devorah, I do think you're doing amazing work over here on your blog spreading Torah and the real truth. I've gained a lot from all you've written and especially deep yearning for Mashiach, so for all that I thank you and I express yasher koach to you. I just think that Rabbi Reuven was not wrong in what he said over here.

  20. Unknown, anyone can go listen to the entire 2+ hr lecture and draw their own conclusions, and for those who don't want to make this investment of time can get right to the crux of the matter that most concerns me and that is the complete redefinition of "aliyah" that no one has ever heard before now. It's completely made up.

    Quoting verbatim...

    This [spiritual] type of aliyah is guaranteed to work. All you have to do is commit - commit a certain amount of time, commit a certain amount of money, commit a certain amount of effort to make sure that helping other Jews do teshuvah is a serious part of your life. That is the greatest type of aliyah a person can do because that type of aliyah is guaranteed to work. (2:06:14)

    ...HKB"H says, "[If] you do it, I'm gonna help you succeed. And not only am I gonna help you succeed, but on top of that, I'm gonna give you the reward, because you sanctified My Name before the Mashiach came, that means you're gonna have protection. Because you made aliyah - the REAL aliyah - the type of aliyah that Hashem wants, regardless of where you are in the world!

    This is all a lie.

    The Ramban lists aliyah to EY as one of the 613 mitzvot. Beyond saying that, I am not going to waste my time arguing with anybody about a Jew's obligation to live in EY. For those who really love HKB"H, nothing can keep them away. For those who trust HKB"H implicitly, nothing bars their way.

    Unless things have changed, money should not be a barrier to any Jew making aliyah. A completely destitute American Jew has an advantage, he has nothing at all to lose. Once his application has been approved and his eligibility determined, he is given free passage to EY and a free ride to his destination of residence. If they still have absorption centers, everything is provided for the first six months - free insurance, free housing and a stipend for living expenses plus free ulpan to learn Hebrew.

    Applying and arriving and learning the language IS your hishtadlut. It's on Hashem to provide your parnassah, which every human being requires, and whatever was determined for you on Rosh Hashanah is still yours. You have to trust Hashem to forward it to your new address in EY. That's all. You'll learn how to interview for a job and you'll apply and you'll get hired just like you did in America or wherever.

    If it were really so hard to live here, how did the other 6 million Jews succeed? Even more to the point, how do the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants continue to thrive here??? Some of them run their own businesses and their children attend gan in Tel Aviv and speak Hebrew!! Our enemies manage to survive and even thrive here but you doubt Hashem will come through for one of His children?

  21. It has never been easier to have parnasa in EY. Working from home has become the new normal all over the world. Even some kinds of surgery can now be performed remotely. Native English speakers are guaranteed parnasa. You can either teach English in Israel or online worldwide. And of course there are tons of other online opportunities. So too there are already enough native English speakers in Israel to allow many people to work purely in English. I know a plumber who can't speak Hebrew who works only with English speakers, and he is doing well. A lot of companies outsource work to Israel to benefit from the population of educated native English speakers. The point is to think creatively, each person for their situation and not be defeatist. For example, if someone has a business in the diaspora they are unwilling or unable to sell that they find a genuine and trustworthy bnei noach to manage it for them. The whole issue of not being able to make parnasa in EY really applied way back, when it was pretty much a wasteland, when the only people who came had already raised their families and came to live out the last few years of their life, or in the earlier years of the state when only idealists came from the west. B"D now that's all changed.

  22. Regarding what Rabbi Reuven said "because you made aliyah - the REAL aliyah" I don't think that he was, God forbid trying to imply that doing physical aliyah by moving to Israel is fake aliyah. I think he was just trying to say that if you're a person that moved to Israel, but you also do aveiros left, right, and centre, then you've missed the whole point. A person who didn't move to Israel but keeps Torah and mitzvos down to the most minute detail is a thousand times greater. He was just trying to highlight that point.

    And when Rabbi Reuven said "the type of aliyah that Hashem wants, regardless of where you are in the world" I don't think that he was God forbid trying to imply that Hashem doesn't want people to do physical aliyah, I think he was simply saying that there is a type of aliyah that Hashem wants people to do no matter where they are in the world, I.e, spiritual aliyah, which has that ability that it can be done from anywhere in the world. Meaning, he was just trying to say that if a person didn't move to Israel for whatever reason, Hashem will still expect him to do a spiritual aliyah no matter where he is in the world. I think it was pretty clear that he was agreeing that doing physical aliyah is a good thing to do because he said more than once in the shiur that doing spiritual aliyah is the "most important" aliyah and the "greatest" aliyah. Obviously, you can imply from that that doing physical aliyah is important and great, it's just not the GREATEST and the MOST important, not greater than spiritual aliyah.

    Now, regarding what you said, Devorah, at 9:29 on motzai Shabbos "the Ramban lists aliyah to EY as one of the 613 mitzvot. Beyond saying that, I am not going to waste my time arguing with anybody about a Jew's obligation to live in EY." Although it is true that the Ramban lists it as one of the 613 mitzvos, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's an obligation. Rav Moshe Feinstein, who was arguably the gadol hador and leading posek of the previous generation said that although most poskim hold living in Israel is a mitzvah, even according to those poskim, for sure it's not an actual obligation but rather an optional mitzvah (Igros Moshe Even Ha'ezer volume 1 siman 102). According to Rav Hershel Shachter, this was also the opinion of Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, that living in Israel is an optional mitzvah and not an obligation. Now, make no mistake, obviously I'm agreeing that living in Israel is an extremely, extremely great mitzvah, and our seforim hakedoshim are replete with numerous statements about how amazing the land is and all the benefits one who lives in Israel gets physically and spiritually. I just wanted to point out that it was an obvious thing to Rav Moshe Feinstein that it's not an obligatory mitzvah, but rather an optional one, and according to Rav Hershel Shachter apparently Rav Soloveitchik also believed in that. By the way, sorry my name got displayed before as "unknown", now I changed it so that it says my name, and even in that post.

  23. Netanel Simcha, I'm sure you would agree that someone who takes upon himself to address a worldwide public should be very careful not to play word games but to say very clearly what he means so as to minimize any opportunity for misunderstanding. And certainly not require the investment of over 2 hours to understand the real meaning behind the words. Another short shiur came out yesterday entitled "MaShiach Or Erev Rav Choose A Side." However, neither "Mashiach" nor "Erev Rav" are ever mentioned. I think it used to be called "bait and switch" and now in the age of the internet it's called click bait. It's dishonest and the first step down a very slippery slope. I can't trust anyone who uses such tactics even for what they think is a good cause. The ends DO NOT justify the means.

    I did invest that time and even more as I went back through and transcribed the rabbi's words verbatim. The overall message was to undermine and negate the very idea of physically going up to Eretz Yisrael and to plant the idea that a spiritual aliyah is superior to a physical aliyah. Not once did he happen to mention that being outside the Land imposes a barrier to the limit of heights one can reach in their spiritual aliyah. Prophecy is only attainable in the Land of Israel.

    Right now, in the current environment, when Jews in chu"l are particularly looking for guidance on how to respond to the crisis they find themselves in, it is even more important not to pretend to have the answer they are looking for and then substitute it for something else.

    Tell me, can you name one other mitzvah that is "optional"? The opinions of two modern American rabbis cannot overrule the Ramban. HKB"H allows contradiction to exist in order to preserve free will and to set up tests for us. It's a constant battle to keep our minds aligned with the Truth.

  24. Regarding what you said, Devorah, "to plant the idea that a spiritual aliyah is superior to a physical aliyah." Yes, he was indeed saying that, but I don't understand something, why would you not agree with that?!! Like I said before, if someone keeps the whole Torah but doesn't make aliyah, isn't he much greater than someone who made aliyah but does aveiros left, right, and centre? Clearly spiritual aliyah IS greater than physical aliyah. And regarding what you said "The overall message was to undermine and negate the very idea of physically going up to Eretz Yisrael" again, I'm not sure where you saw that in the shiur, he wasn't anywhere in the shiur saying that making aliyah is a bad idea, he was just trying to say that for people who would have a very hard time with making aliyah either because of job-related reasons or family-related reasons, they shouldn't feel like they're absolutely forced to do it because after all, spiritual aliyah is more important than physical aliyah, and like I said before, making aliyah isn't an obligation but rather an optional mitzvah. And regarding the sentence that he said that may have sounded wrong at first, I think I adequately explained how he wasn't actually saying anything wrong over there.

    I think he didn't talk about the greatness of making aliyah only because it wasn't the focus of his shiur, but not because he doesn't believe in it. I do agree with you, though, that he should have at least minimally spoken about it to make absolutely sure that people wouldn't get the wrong idea that making aliyah isn't important. As for what you said that he just came out with a shiur entitled "MaShiach Or Erev Rav Choose A Side." Although, he didn't explicitly mention mashiach or the erev rav, I don't think there was anything wrong in making the title with those words. Mashiach and erev rav were just code words for the side of good and the side of evil, which he did indeed talk about. And besides, it's not like anyone was gonna get all upset after the video because they thought it was gonna be a super detailed shiur about mashiach with all the different chazalim about it. I think it was pretty clear after like the first minute or two that it was just a dramatic type of video meant to inspire people, and not a shiur meant to delineate all the different aspects of mashiach. The fact that it was a 10-minute video also helped to dispel any false assumptions that maybe it was a shiur where he was gonna enumerate all the different details about mashiach and the erev rav.

    As for the fact that he entitled his other shiur "You Must Make Aliyah Now" I can certainly hear where you're coming from that maybe that was misleading, but personally I don't think what he did was wrong. He WAS talking about aliyah. Not the way it's colloquially used, but he was still indeed talking about a type of aliyah. I don't remember off the top of my head exact names, but I'm pretty sure I've listened to other shiurim from different people that had titles that made it seem like the shiur was gonna be about something that it really wasn't exactly about. That's just the way of the world, you have to take titles of shiurim with a grain of salt. I've never actually sat down and learnt the official halachos of "geneivas da'as", but I wouldn't think that this would fall under that category.

  25. You asked me for an optional mitzvah. Here's an example: In parshas Ki Seitzei, Sefer Devarim, perek 25, the Torah says that if there's a married couple, and the husband dies without yet having any children, the brother of the dead husband has a mitzvah to marry his dead brother's wife. This mitzvah is called yibum, and it's one of the 613 mitzvos. The Torah even says itself that doing this mitzvah is up to him, he doesn't have to do it if he doesn't want to. It's an optional mitzvah. If he does it, Hashem will reward him for his mitzvah, but if he chooses not to do it, Hashem is not gonna punish him because after all, he had a choice in the matter, and therefore his not doing the mitzvah is obviously not an aveira. Another example is the mitzvah of sukkah. On the first night of Sukkos there's an obligation for a person to go into his sukkah and eat a little bit. However, for the entire rest of Sukkos it's his option whether he wants to do the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah or not. The only times during these days when he's obligated to be in the sukkah is when he wants to eat food comprised of grain or when he wants to go to sleep, but besides for that, it's up to him whether he wants to go in the sukkah and fulfill the mitzvah or not. If he does, then Hashem will reward him, but if he doesn't, then Hashem's not gonna punish him either. Another example is the mitzvah to immerse in a mikvah when one is tammei. This is also one of the 613 mitzvos. One might have thought that if you become tammei which is loosely translated as "spiritual contamination" then you would be obligated to get off that spiritual filth by immersing yourself in a mikvah. However, that's not the case. Hashem says that it's your option whether you want to make yourself tahor or not. Once again, if you do it, Hashem will reward you because you did a mitzvah, but if you don't do it, Hashem won't punish you either because Hashem never commanded you to do it, he left it up to you whether you want to do it to get the reward or not. Although if you're tammei and you don't go to the mikvah you won't be able to do certain things, that's irrelevant, the fact is that Hashem still gave you an option whether you want to do it or not, it's up to you whether you want to give yourself the ability to do those things or not. These are 3 examples of optional mitzvos but there are more examples also.

  26. I do have a response for you Netanel Simcha, but it will take me some time. Please be patient until I can get back to you. It has just taken me 4 hours to write my most recent blog post and I have other responsibilities to take care of before I will be free again to write here. Thanks!

  27. Netanel Simcha, it's a bad example. Yibum is "optional," because the mitzvah opportunity never occurs on its own. Either yibum must be done, or chalitza must be done. Some act in the event of the childless widow MUST be done.

    Sukkah has an obligatory period, and an optional period. Even then, it is a chiuv to be in the sukkah for certain things at all times during the chag. It is not 100% totally optional. It's same for the arba minim. Required the first day, optional every other day.

    One cannot ascend to Har Habayit in a state of tumah, by which one fulfills the obligatory mitzvah of regel. A woman can remain in a state of tumah indefinitely...unless she is married. Ongoing refusal to go (it's optional, right?!) puts her in a situation where a husband might be considered obligatory to divorce her. Again, an "optional" mitzvah paired in some way with one or mitzvos which renders its optional nature moot.

    A mitzvah that stands on its own, not paired with another, where the second required mitzvah is impossible to do without the first "optional" mitzvah.

    Likewise, not a mitzvah that arises simultaneously along with an alternative, both of which are "optional" but one of which must be done.

    Further, a totally either/or situation. Not an example like Sukkos with a period of the chag mandating mitzvah, and a period of optionality.

    Ben Sorer u'Moreh might be such a mitzvah. The parents have no obligation, and can even recant at any time. But then again, Chaza"l said it was never carried out and never will be. Does it count? Is there another?

  28. I'm not totally buying this optional thing. Yishuv Haaretz is more likely optional in the way that t'cheiles is "optional" today. An actual d'oraisa that first was lost, and has now among certain groups, fallen out of favor, but is meeting a growing revival of interest. A hundred years ago, what it was was a big question mark. In 5780, we have a pretty good idea, backed by the mesorah and even independent scientific and archaeological evidence that we know what it is. Increasing numbers of poskim recognize it. I see it more and more today. It is optional only in the sense that it is not widespread enough in the tzibbur yet. Further, regarding the optional mitzvah of yishuv haaretz, until recently, it really did require a nearly super-human level of emunah beyond most people to perform this optional mitzvah. How long has it been since that has been the case?

    Speaking of which, perhaps tzitzis itself can be consider an optional miztvah. Still, it is considered nearly obligatory for men to don the tallis katan in any case. Who goes out without it? If you feel a little under-dressed without them, is it any different for living in Israel?

    The Gemara itself says mitzvos outside the land are, or like (I can't remember), practice. It is also optional in that sense. So, all your mitzvos in chu"l don't count (to the same degree), just like your optional mitzvah of yishuv haaretz doesn't count.

    Fellow Jews, come home and get the full s'char for all mitzvos, including the optional ones.

  29. ...if someone keeps the whole Torah but doesn't make aliyah, isn't he much greater than someone who made aliyah but does aveiros left, right, and centre?

    To add on to what Devash says, this is not our place to judge, let alone ask such a question. The Torah itself says the land vomits out the unworthy. Leave that to Hashem, Who many means at His disposal to carry out His will. If they're here, for the time they are here, and until they are not here, they are worthy. Are they greater or lesser? Who knows? Who cares, really? Do you? If so, why? We can know they are worthy to live in the land, by mere virtue of their presence. To turn this question around, given what the Torah says, what does it mean if you are not here, and they are?

  30. Netanel Simcha: "...if someone keeps the whole Torah but doesn't make aliyah, isn't he much greater than someone who made aliyah but does aveiros left, right, and centre?"

    Not being Hashem, I can't answer that. It makes me think of the Rambam that says it is preferable to live in a city mostly of goyim in EY rather than a city mostly of Jews in chu"l. But you tell me, how does your chutznik Jew who keeps the whole Torah compare to a Jew in EY who keeps the whole Torah? Ws it also Rambam who said that Jews only perform mitzvot outside the Land of Israel so that they won't forget how they are done upon returning to the Land of Israel? That meantime they are only for practice?

    "Clearly spiritual aliyah IS greater than physical aliyah."

    Such is the nature of the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael that the spiritual level attainable in EY is above and beyond what is possible in chu"l. It's like the difference between swimming in a crystal clear pool and a cesspool. No matter how high a Jew tries to ascend spiritually in the lands of dispersion, he won't be able to shed the stink of exile that clings to him.

    The remainder of your comment I will refrain from responding to other than to say that it ("That's just the way of the world.") speaks volumes about your Torah education. Shimshon spoke well. I can't add anything to what he already said except to point out that it was also a mitzvah to publicly humiliate the brother-in-law who refused to perform yibum.

  31. Sorry, my latest comment is a bit out of order. I deleted it and reposted it in order to fix the misspelling of Shimshon's name. I called him Shimon. Sorry for that, Shimshon. So it should be read just above Shimshon's reply at 6:30 pm.

  32. I just have to add one more thing that has been on my mind all day...

    When we pray 3x/day ["...raise the banner to gather our exiles and gather us together from the four corners of the earth. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who gathers in the dispersed of His people Israel."] are we talking about a purely "spiritual" aliyah or physical aliyah? And how has "aliyah" been understood for thousands of years? Now, tell me which one is the "REAL" one. In actuality the two go hand-in-hand.

    And when we pray during Birkat HaMazon ["We thank You, Hashem our God, because You have given to our forefathers as a heritage a desirable, good and spacious land,... As it is written, 'And you shall eat and you shall be satisfied, and you shall bless Hashem your God, for the good land which He gave you....'"] do we really mean it??? And if we don't??? What does that make us???

  33. Netanel Simcha, your most recent is moving too far from topic. Let's move on. This post now closed to further comments.