Aliyah is a Torah Commandment

For Jews who have yet to return to Israel or have left it, the Torah demands of them to make Aliyah. Op-ed.

Yshai Amichai ,

Making Aliyah
Making Aliyah
Flash 90

I was challenged by a friend to show where in the Torah it says that Jews need to make Aliyah, to move to Israel. I thought about it, and the truth is that there are many examples, some more direct and others that need to be argued. A complete list would require some effort, but would certainly make for a good book, should anyone be interested in helping.

For now, I will focus on only one chapter from the Book of Deuteronomy: Chapter 4. I recommend reading the whole chapter, although for this article I will discuss only five passages. I think they make a powerful argument in favor of Aliyah, although I will leave that up to you to decide.

Deuteronomy 4:1

“Now, O Israel, listen to the Laws and to the Decrees that I teach you to perform, so that you may live, and you will come and possess the Land that the Lord, the God of your forefathers, Gives you.”

Based upon these words, which Moses commanded Israel, it seems that the purpose of keeping the Torah, other than living, is to merit in the possession of the Land of Israel, which God Gives us. This is an essential and underlying part of the Torah that must not be overlooked.

Deuteronomy 4:5

“See, I have taught you Laws and Decrees, as the Lord my God has Commanded me, to do so in the midst of the Land to which you come, to possess it.”

The Torah was clearly meant to be followed in Israel, particularly the Commandments of the Book of Deuteronomy, which are more specific to the Land of Israel in their directives. These Laws and Decrees were clearly Commanded to be followed in Israel, which requires us to personally come to and possess the Land in order to observe them.

Deuteronomy 4:14

“And the Lord Commanded me at that time to teach you Laws and Decrees that you are to follow in the Land to which you are crossing to possess it.”

From this passage it seems that the Laws and Decrees, particularly those from Mount Sinai, are perhaps secondary to the necessity of coming to Israel and living there. If those Laws and Decrees are to be followed in Israel, then obviously Jews must first make Aliyah to keep them.

Deuteronomy 4:30

“When you are in distress and all these things have befallen you, at the end of days, you shall return unto the Lord your God and obey Him.”

This passage speaks of what will happen to us after we have suffered sufficiently for all our sins in exile, namely that we will return to the Lord our God, where else but in Israel? The words used here, the “end of days,” are claimed by many, and for good reason, to refer to our times; meaning this was a prophecy delivered by Moses of what would happen. The fact that we shall return (to Israel) and obey Him (the Lord our God) indicates that it is more than just a prophecy and speaks of a Commandment.

Deuteronomy 4:40

“And you shall keep His Laws and His Commandments which I command you this day, so that it may go well with you and your children after you, and so that you may prolong your days on the Land that the Lord your God Gives you for all time.”

This is an interesting passage because it says that God Gave us the Land of Israel for all time, or for all days, depending on the translation you use. If the Land is Promised to us for all time, what use is there in prolonging our days upon it?

The fact is that our perspective of space and time is not the same as God’s, Who is beyond space and time. This passage should serve as reassurance to us that even in those long years of exile, when few Jews lived in Israel and our possession of the Land was clearly contested, this did not change anything from God’s Perspective. God Gave us the Land and never retracted His offer. We just didn’t return to possess it.

We failed to keep the Lord’s Laws and Commandments in the past, so we shortened our days upon the Land, until we were evicted from it. As you can see from the aforementioned passages, one of those Commandments is to make Aliyah, to fully return to God and to the Land of Israel.

As a prerequisite for prolonging our days upon the Land for all time, as we are Commanded, we must obviously be present in Israel to begin with. For those Jews who have yet to return to Israel or have left it, the Torah demands of them to make Aliyah.

Yshai Amichai made Aliyah from Los Angeles in 2001, settling in Israel, where he met his wife and where they raise their six children. He may be contacted at: yshaia@gmail.com



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