כ״ח במרחשון ה׳תשע״ג (November 13, 2012)

Shabbat 41a-b: The Challenge of Moving to Israel

Should one move to Israel?

The Gemara relates that there was a disagreement among of the Gemara regarding this question.

Rabbi Zeira was avoiding being seen by his teacher, Rav Yehuda, as Rabbi Zeira sought to ascend to Eretz Yisrael and his teacher disapproved. As Rav Yehuda said: Anyone who ascends from Babylonia to Eretz Yisrael transgresses a positive commandment, as it is stated: “They shall be taken to Babylonia and there they shall remain until the day that I recall them, said the Lord” (Yirmiyahu 27:22). Based on that verse, Rav Yehuda held that since the Babylonian exile was by divine decree, permission to leave Babylonia for Eretz Yisrael could only be granted by God. Rabbi Zeira did not want to discuss his desire to emigrate with Rav Yehuda, so that he would not be forced to explicitly disobey him. Nevertheless, he said: I will go and hear something from him and then I will leave.

The Gemara in Massekhet Ketubot (daf 110b) relates a similar incident regarding Rabbi Zeira who was a student of Rav Yehuda. That Gemara argues that the proof-text brought by Rav Yehuda from Sefer Yirmiyahu was understood by Rabbi Zeira as referring specifically to the Temple vessels that had been looted by the Babylonian troops. According to his approach, those vessels would not be returned until the time of redemption, and the passage does not relate at all to moving to Israel.

Tosafot point out that in any case, the context of the passage in Yirmiyahu clearly relates to the period following the destruction of the first Temple; nevertheless Rav Yehuda chose to apply it to his time, as well. Apparently even according to Rav Yehuda’s understanding, the prohibition – which is unique to Babylonia – did not apply while the Temple was standing, for then there is clearly a mitzva to immigrate to the land of Israel and fulfill the mitzvot that are connected with the land of Israel. However, Rav Yehuda maintained that after the destruction of the Temple it was forbidden to leave Babylonia.

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