Connecting to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
“ועתה בני שמע בקולי וקום ברח לך… חרנה… ימים אחדים עד אשר תשוב חמת אחיך… ושלחתי ולקחתיך משם”
“Our God and God of our Fathers, because of our sins we have been exiled from our Land, and we are unable to ascend… to Your Chosen House, because of the hand that has been sent at Your Temple. May it be Your will HaShem… that You build it build it speedily… quickly ingather our exiles and raise us to Zion with rejoice and Jerusalem City of Your Temple with eternal happiness…” (Musaf three festivals)
“The hand that had has been sent at Your Temple” simply means the hand of the Roman Empire, who, according to our Sages, are the descendants of Esau, twin brother of Yakov our Father. This exceedingly long exile (close to 2000 years), called by our sages ‘the Exile of Edom (i.e Esau)’ seems to have its prototype hinted to in this week’s parsha, ‘as the actions of our Forefathers are signs (prototypes) for their descendants’, when Yakov is sent by his parents, in fear of Esau’s wrath, into exile, to what becomes the longest exile known by all our Forefathers (20 years). Nevertheless, this exile, already at its onset, is given its limits – “a few days, till the wrath of your brother subdues”. Similarly, according to the Zohar and the Kabbalists, the period of time for the ‘Exile of Edom’ was pre-determined for a thousand years after the Destruction of the Temple and no more.
According to many halachic opinions as well, once ‘the wrath of our brother’ Edom subdues and no longer forces Jews out of their Land, the decree on exile, known as the ‘three oaths’, ceases to have any halachic validity (many opinions hold that it never had halachic validity), and Jews can and should return to our Holy Land. When examining this episode, we notice that not only does Esau’s wrath have a dominant role in causing this exile, but with the same token, the command of Yakov’s parents, Yitzhak and Rivka, also have a dominant role in this exile. As such, one halachic question that arises from this episode is: does one need to listen to one’s parents to leave the Land of Israel in the commandment of ‘honoring parents’, or is one exempt to do so, because of the mitzvah or importance of living in this Land?
To begin with, in regard to ‘honoring one’s parents’, when it negates committing a different mitzvah, halacha’s stance is clear: one is obligated to commit the mitzvah even if it negates the parent’s command. Therefore, if settling the Land of Israel is a positive mitzvah, as is the opinion of much of the poskim, then it is clear that one is not to listen to one’s parents to abstain from or stop committing this mitzvah, even if Rabbinic. If settling the Land is not enumerated as one of the 613 mitzvot, as is the opinion of the Rambam, which value supercedes? According to Rambam one is to leave the Land only for the purpose of Torah study, marriage, salvation from enemies, and livelehood, and afterwards return to the Land, while ‘honoring one’s parents’ is not mentioned. Many ask why Rambam did not include ‘honoring one’s parents’ since both the Babylonian and Yerushalmi Talmuds mention a story (albeit unclear) in which it seems that one of the Amoraic masters was given permission to go to the Diaspora to greet his mother. One of the dominant answers to this question explains that this story/passage comes in the Talmud in context of Rabbinic impurity in the Diaspora that a Cohen is bidden not to be defiled by. It is known that the fore-mentioned Amoraic master was a Cohen, and his question was specifically on a permit to be Rabbinically defiled for the sake of greeting his mother, after already having received a permit for leaving the Land in general for Torah study, marriage, etc.
Therefore, it seems that if we are to infer anything from the story of Yakov’s flee to the Diaspora, we cannot infer that one must listen to one’s parents to leave the Land, but rather that one can leave for the sake of marriage (one of the major motives in Yakov’s flee) and also in case of life-danger (Esau’s wrath). As for our primordial parents, our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, their ‘will and testament’ for their descendants, as shown in their prayers from Hebron in Midrashic literature, is clear – to return their offspring from the corners of the earth to the Land of the Holy Presence.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #97:
“At one wedding I randomly and jokingly said about one of the guests ‘Yeah, this is my ‘hatan’ (son-in-law)!’ ‘It turns out’ that he really became my ‘hatan’! (BILLER)
Sources: Kiddushin 31b, Yerushalmi Nazir ch 7, Rambam Mlachim veMilchamot 5, 9 and Mamrim 6, 12-13, Yoreh Deah 240, 15, Zohar Shlah 172a-b, Intro. to Etz Haim, Prayer at Maaras HaMachpela
Comments, questions, and/or stories, email firstname.lastname@example.org