Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ביאת כולכם

Today another Nefesh B’Nefesf flight arrived in Israel, and we’d like to welcome all these new Israelis who are fulfilling a dream of generations.

For those readers who have not yet made Aliya, please stop for a minute to think what your great-grandparents (or their grandparents) would have given for the opportunity to live in Eretz Yisrael. 75 years ago who would have dreamed that Aliya would be as easy as booking a ticket on an airline and driving to the airport.

We are certainly living in historic times; a few years ago Israel surpassed the US as the World’s biggest Jewish community. This is the first time since the destruction of the 1st beit HaMikkdash that the world's biggest Jewish community as been in Eretz Yisrael.

According to Bibi at the airport today, we are rapidly approaching another milestone – Bibi said that very soon the majority of the Jewish people in the world will be in Eretz Yisrael:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed a planeload of olim on Tuesday at Ben Gurion Airport, telling them "we're close to a tipping point."

According to the prime minister, "for the first time in 2,000 years, there are going to be more Jews in Israel than outside it."

Speaking to a terminal full of olim from the United States and Canada, who came with Nefesh B'Nefesh on the organization's 38th chartered aliya flight since the first one in July 2002, Netanyahu noted that Israel's Jewish population was nearing the six million mark.

It is hard to gauge the number of Jews in the Diaspora. In the largest community - the Untied States - the only effective tool is a telephone poll. Nevertheless, Diaspora Jewry is usually estimated at between six and seven million, though some demographers and scholars consider this a low figure.

Source: Jerusalem Post

The concept of the majority (or possibly all) of the Jewish people living in Eretz Yisrael is a Halachic concept known as “ביאת כולכם”.

According to some opinions, various mitzvot in Eretz Yisrael, such as Truma, Challah, or Shmitta which are D’rabanan today will become D’oraita when we have fulfilled the requirement of ביאת כולכם

For example in Hilchot Truma (1:26) RamBaM says the following:

כו] התרומה בזמן הזה, ואפילו במקום שהחזיקו עולי בבל, ואפילו בימי עזרא--אינה מן התורה, אלא מדבריהם: שאין לך תרומה של תורה אלא בארץ ישראל, ובזמן שיהיו כל ישראל שם, שנאמר "כי תבואו" (ויקרא כה,ב), ביאת כולכם כשהיו בירושה ראשונה וכמו שהן עתידין לחזור בירושה שלישית; לא כשהיו בירושה שנייה שהייתה בימי עזרא, שהייתה ביאת מקצתן--ולפיכך לא חייבה אותן מן התורה. וכן ייראה לי שהוא הדין במעשרות, שאין חייבין בהן בזמן הזה אלא מדבריהם כתרומה

[26] Truma in these days, even in the places that were conquered by the “Olei Bavel”, and even in the days of Ezra, is not a Torah obligation, rather it is Rabbinic. Because the Torah obligation of Truma only applies in Eretz Yisrael at a time when all of the Jewish people are there, as it is written “When you will come” (Lev. 25:2), …

(RaMBaM also seems to say that we require the restoration of Yoval and for the tribes to return to the inheritance in order for these Mitzvot to become De’oraita, but that is a separate discussion)

According to many authorities, (probably including the RamBaM), “ביאת כולכם” does not require all of the Jewish people to be in Etetz Yisrael, just a majority. For example, Sefer HaChinuch in Mitzva 385 says the following with regard to the Mitzva of Challah:

ונוהגת בזכרים ונקבות, בארץ ישראל בלבד מדאורייתא, שנאמר באכלכם מלחם הארץ. ודוקא בזמן שכל ישראל שם, כלומר רובם, שנאמר "בבואכם

[The Mitzvah of Challah] applies to men and women as a Torah obligation only in Eretz Yisrael, as it is written “When you eat from the Bread of the Land”. And specifically at a time when all of the Jewish people are living there; that is to say The Majority of them, as it is written “when you come”…

If we are in fact about to fulfill the Halachic definition of “Biat Kulchem”, there may be many Halchic implications (for example would we still be able to rely on the Heter Mechira or other leniencies).

I’m not a Halachic or demographic expert, however the fact that the Jewish people may be approaching a status that we have not achieved for well over 2000 years is very exciting and hopefully another step in fulfilling our Destiny.


Elan said...

"Israel surpassed the US as the World’s biggest Jewish community. This is the first time that this has happened since the destruction of the 1st Beit Hamikdash."

NOT TRUE! America was only the world's biggest Jewish community for about sixty years - from the end of the holocaust until now.

I advise you edit your blog, correcting the text to read: "Israel surpassed the US as the World’s biggest Jewish community. This is the first time since the destruction of the 1st Beit Hamikdash that Israel's Jewish community has been the biggest in the world."

Other than that, an excellent point - it's an incredible chutzpa that people remain in chutz la'aretz given the lengths people in previous generations went to in order to live in the Holy Land.

Michael Sedley said...

Thanks for the correction Elan, I updated the text.