Mike from Virginia keeps repeating his mantras and slogans that he is not coming on aliyah because he imagines it to be suicidal, and because “The mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael is not one of the three mitzvot for which we are commanded to accept martyrdom.”
Mike is totally wrong. Lest his diatribes discourage serious Jews from coming on aliyah, we will quote Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook on this issue. Rav Tzvi Yehuda, the only son of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook, was the founder of the Gush Emunim settlement movement in Israel, a giant of Torah, and Rosh Yeshiva of the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva for more than thirty years.
Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook (center) after conquest of the Kotel.
“The situation is clear in Israel today,” Rav Tzvi Yehuda taught. “We are fighting a ‘milchemet mitzvah,’ a compulsory war. This is true in the mitzvah’s two meanings. Firstly, this is a compulsory war as defined by the Rambam, who states that a milchemet mitzvah is a war to save Israel from the hand of an enemy (Rambam, Laws of Kings, 5:1). Our army is called the Israel Defense Forces. Thank G-d, this is a very successful name. It would be wonderful if we didn’t require military engagement, but for the time being it is forced upon us.”
“The second fundamental definition of a compulsory war is added by the Ramban, in the Torah obligation to conquer Eretz Yisrael in every generation (Ramban, Supplement to “Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam, Mitzvah #4). Among all of the precepts of the Torah is this military command. It does not enter our minds to choose which precept to do and which to ignore. This is a commandment of the Torah!”
“The Ramban clearly determines that conquering Eretz Yisrael to ensure Jewish sovereignty here is the milchemet mitzvah of the Torah. This is a precept of the Torah and there is no way of getting around it. There is no nation without a land, and the concrete, living, here-and-now Israel is compelled to hold on to its Land. This precept applies in every generation, and the Ramban emphasizes this three times. The mitzvah includes possessing the Land and dwelling there. Possession of the Land means conquest, and from this the mitzvah of living in the Land is made possible, so that the Land will not lie in desolation.”
“The danger of being killed (pekuach nefesh) exists in all wars. This is also the case in the milchemet mitzvah of keeping all of Eretz Yisrael in our hands. We enter into war knowing that lives will be endangered. This is the only precept of the Torah that demands this. With every other precept of the Torah which states: ‘Allow yourself to be killed rather than transgress,’ there is absolutely no justification to stand at the outset in the face of certain danger and be killed. If it is possible to escape, one escapes. But the precept to conquer the Land of Israel and rule over it, comes even at the risk of one’s life. As the ‘Minchat Chinuch’ states, danger is not a factor in this mitzvah” (Minchat Chinuch, 425).
“Furthermore, the Torah commands us to conquer Eretz Yisrael and to establish our sovereignty here. There is no option to abandon any territory, for any reason whatsoever. It is well know that the principle understanding of the ruling of the Torah, ‘To be killed and not to transgress,’ only concerns murder, incest, and worshipping idols. If someone compels us to commit one of these sins at the threat of our lives, we are to be killed rather than do his bidding. This is true in normal situations, but in times of decrees and acts of compulsion against us, even a small matter assumes serious proportions, and one is to sacrifice one’s life. It doesn’t matter where the compulsion comes from, even if, G-d forbid, it comes from other Jews. When forced to violate a commandment of the Torah, a Jew is obliged to give up his life, even regarding a light precept. All the more so over a precept that is equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah combined – the mitzvah of living in Israel (Sifre, Reah, 12:29).”
So, Mike, if you don’t understand what the Torah requires from us regarding the obligation of living in Israel, then listen to someone who does. And if you are afraid of living here, then stop discouraging others, as HaRav Tzvi Yehuda makes clear:
“In our time, we are in a situation of war, and we must be careful of what we say. We must strengthen the conquest and settlement of the Land with wisdom, boldness, and strength, and by guarding our speech. We must guard against language that leads to discouragement. The Torah forbids this, saying, ‘Lest his brother’s heart melt like his heart.’ The Torah tells us, ‘Let your heart not be faint, fear not and do not tremble, nor be terrified because of them (Devarim, 20).”
The Talmud states that Hashem gave three wonderful gifts to the Jewish People and all of them are acquired through sufferings: Torah, Eretz Yisrael, and the World to Come (Berachot 5A). Mike, if you are not willing to suffer for your homeland, then stay in Virginia, but don’t spill out your diarrhea on us.
(Quotes of Rabbi Kook were taken from the book. “Torat Eretz Yisrael,” Chapter Seven, “The Precept of Living in Israel.”)