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*** THE ALIYAH REVOLUTION ALBUM ***

Monday, November 30, 2009

TLATD #3: Living in Israel During a Recession



The discussion of the Gemara (BB 91a) turns to the economy of Eretz Yisrael. It explains that to protect the economy of Eretz Yisrael certain staples (wines, oils and fine flours) were not allowed to be exported. The concern is that exporting these items could lead to a shortage and a price hike which would create hardships for the local population of Eretz Yisrael.

It is important to note how focused not just Tanach is on Eretz Yisrael, but even the Talmud Bavli which was written in Babylonia. The Gemara continues to explain that we are equally concerned about the economy in Eretz Yisrael if prices dropped too much (60% of its original value) and a special prayer would be recited on Shabbos in such an event. This seems much like the way Jews all over the world pray for rain in Eretz Yisrael and on Shabbos for the well-being. The Jewish people are always focused on our true Homeland.

The Gemara then makes an extraordinary statement about living in Eretz Yisrael. "One may not leave the land of Israel to go live outside the land unless two se’ah of wheat cost a sela." In other words inflation would have to reach a whopping 100% before one would be permitted to leave Eretz Yisrael according to the Rabbis. Rabbi Shimon however disagrees and holds this is only true if one can not even find wheat to purchase but otherwise, even if wheat costs double leaving the Land is forbidden.

A proof is brought for R’ Shimon's strict position from the Meggilas Rus. Artscroll's translation: "And similarly R’ Shimon ben Yochai used to say: Elimelech, Machlon and Chilyon [who left the Land of Israel during a famine and moved to Moab where they died not long after,] were the great men of their generation and the caretakers of their generation. And for what reason were they punished? Because they left the land of Israel to go live outside the Land."

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

TLATD #2: The Fantastic Tales of Rabbah bar bar Chanah


Daf Yomi this week discusses the Fantastic Tales of Rabbah bar bar Chanah, twenty or so stories that Rabbah heard or witnessed that are just so unbelievable it’s obvious they are allegories.

In one tale, Rabbah witnesses a giant frog, the size of “sixty houses” swallowed by a sea-monster which is in turn swallowed by a giant raven. The raven lands on a massive tree. Rabbah exclaims “come, see how strong that tree was!” Rav Pappa remarks that if he hadn’t been there he never would have believed it!

The Gra explains (see "The Juggler and the King" for a detailed discussion of the Gra's explanations) how the frog is symbolic of the Torah Scholars (who make noise day and night studying Torah.) The sea-monster is the evil
inclination which can doom the scholar. The raven, a bird that abandons her young to the good will of Heaven, symbolizes the solution to defeating the evil inclination sea-monster. Put all your faith in Hashem.

The tree symbolizes all those that support Torah. In Babylonia, where Rav Pappa was from, the people did not support torah learning as much as the Jews of Eretz Yisrael did. In was only after Rav Pappa came to Eretz Yisrael that he saw the incredible philanthropic acts of the people of the Land of Israel. If Rav Pappa hadn’t seen it with his own eyes he wouldn’t have believed it.

The truth is, the hand of Hashem is much more visible here in Eretz Yisrael. The entire survival of the State of Israel is completely dependent on each year’s rainfall. In short faith is a little bit easier to come by here and it’s this faith that leads to so many acts of kindness people living far away from Israel would have to come and see to believe.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Land and the Daf #1: Olive Oil



Last year I joined up with countless others on the noble project of learning Daf Yomi. We learn a daf, two side of a page, of Gemara (Talmid) every day. The beauty of this is you can discuss what you are learning with Jews all over the world no matter where you go since everyone learns the same thing at the same time.

One of the things I noticed right away was how many times the subject matter somehow relates to living in Eretz Yisrael. Sometimes the connection is quite obvious and jumps out of the page and other times it's more subtle but it’s still there. I thought it might be nice to share some of these thoughts as I came across them.


In today's daf for example (on B.B. 67B) the Mishna discusses what is included in the sale of an olive oil factory if nothing was explicitly specified. The Mishna actually uses very mysterious terms like “the sea” and “the maidens.” When learning this difficult Mishna I actually understood it a lot better today, now that I live in Israel than I would have before I made Aliyah.

The reason is because Yishai was nice enough to show me an ancient olive oil factory that was discovered right behind his home in Beit El. Actually there are many of these ancient olive presses all over Israel. Having become familiar with that it was a lot easier to understand all the parts of the press the Mishna is describing.

It’s very easy to learn Gemara, Mishnayos or even Chumish in America and to feel completely disconnected from the subject matter as if it’s only theoretical and not “real.” However when you live here in Israel the Torah really comes to life. I can't imagine how anyone that loves Torah wouldn't want to live in the land of the Torah.

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