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Presence in the Holy Land demands an increased level of piety.

The Problem of Sinning in the Land

The Problem of Sinning in the Land

Chapter Six, Part 2

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The Problem of Sinning in the Land
Presence in the Holy Land demands an increased level of piety.

[Regarding whether the Land of Israel really has the power to atone for one's transgressions] the following should bother us:

1) The verse: "Behold, Even His holy ones, He doesn't have faith in" (Job 15:15), implying there is no guarantee of remaining free of sin.

2) The statement of the Mishna, (Avot 2:4) "A man shall not have faith in himself until the time of his death", implying, again, that there is no guarantee of remaining free of sin.

The perspective we must have is as follows: The above passages make it quite clear that there are no guarantees of never sinning. Yet the merit of residing in Eretz Yisrael will cause you to have your [prior] sins removed as in, "the burden of sin is lifted off", as well as being protected from sins being availed to you as in, "No iniquities shall befall a tzadik (righteous one)." (Proverbs 12:21) He who dwells in Chutz LaAretz worships idolatry in purity This is also what is meant by, "He who walks four cubits in Eretz Yisrael is guaranteed entrance to the world to come", that is because G‑d is protecting you from sin. (This doesn't preclude the situation of one who lusts after sins, for he will find it. This only offers us protection from sins approaching us, and possibly gives us extra power to survive tests of loyalty.) That is what is meant by the verse, "A righteous person through his faith shall live [in Hebrew Tzadik b'emunaso yechye]". (Habakkuk 2:4) The first letters of those words spell "tzvi" meaning "deer", for another name of Eretz Yisrael is "Eretz HaTzvi" — "The land of the deer". Someone who is a tzadik in his actions is guaranteed that he will live through his faith and not sin. This is also hinted to by the verse, "G‑d the righteous one is within it [in Hebrew, YKVK tzadik b'kirba] He commits no corruption"; (Zephaniah 3:5) again, the first letters spell tzvi, implying that he who lives in Eretz Yisrael is protected from corruption.

Whereas, in Chutz LaAretz, the verse, "There is no tzadik in the land that shall do good and not sin" (Ecclesiastes 7:2) applies. In other words, it is not sufficient for him to avoid sin, for he will not gain forgiveness until he repents and does teshuva. Even when he is "doing good", in that very act of goodness, he sins (sin here doesn't mean transgression, rather it means being off target). This is as the sages have stated, "He who dwells in Chutz LaAretz worships idolatry in purity". (Avoda Zara 8a) For the greater his (a tzadik outside Eretz Yisrael's) righteousness is, then the greater amount of divine influence is granted to the ministering angel in charge of his (the tzadik's) country. That is considered idol worship —serving a foreign power in purity. Eventually he will have to experience suffering in order to rectify that. Anyone who lives in Eretz Yisrael is considered a tzadik even if it doesn't seem to be so…

Rav Moshe Cordovero writes the following, "Anyone who lives in Eretz Yisrael is considered a tzadik even if it doesn't seem to be so. For if he weren't a tzadik, then the land would spit him out, as is written, 'And the land shall spit out its inhabitants'. (Lev. 18:25) Therefore, regarding even those who act as evildoers, if they aren't spat out of the land then G‑d calls him a tzadik. (This is a title as opposed to a description of his true spiritual standing)

This is what is meant by the verse, "This is the gate to G‑d, the righteous shall enter it". (Psalms 118:20) The "gate" of G‑d, refers to Eretz Yisrael, as we see Our Father Jacob calling it "the gate of heaven". (Gen. 28:17) Also the end of the verse in Psalms "…the righteous will enter it [in Hebrew tzadikim yavo'u vo"] has the first letters spelling tzvi, implying that Eretz HaTzvi is the gate to G‑d and that all those that enter it are called righteous, for once they enter they don't leave.

This is the opposite to those that arrive in Eretz Yisrael and don't pay attention to the fact that they are living in the palace of the King. They who are rebellious, transgressing, and abound in their drunkenness and feasts of vanity, frivolity, emptiness and hedonism, are described by the following verse, "But you came and contaminated My land, and made My heritage into an abomination". (Jeremiah 2:7) The verse, "When you come up to appear before Me, who sought this from your hands to trample in My courtyards" (Isaiah 1:12) also applies to them. These people shouldn't deceive themselves thinking that they will remain in the Holy Land after their deaths. Rather even in their death they shall be cast out of the land like dogs. As is stated in the Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer chapter 33:

"All evildoers who die in Eretz Yisrael, their souls are cast out to Chutz LaAretz as is written in the verse, 'And He shall cast out the soul of your enemy as a stone is shot out of a slingshot' (Samuel I 25:29). For in the future G‑d will grasp the corners of the land, and will shake off all contamination to Chutz LaAretz, as is written, 'To grasp the edges of the earth, and shake the wicked from it'". (Job 38:13) Any person coming to Eretz Yisrael should…constantly be cognizant of his dwelling in the King's palace

Therefore, any person coming to Eretz Yisrael should tremble upon his arrival to the Land, and should resolve himself to be doubly fearful of heaven than how he was in Chutz LaAretz, and constantly be cognizant of his dwelling in the King's palace.

Rav Cordovero wrote further, "For if an inhabitant of Eretz Yisrael was to leave to dwell in Egypt, that very sin will cause the (female) demon Rahav to rule over him. Yet, if he resolves himself never to go down to live in Egypt, he is considered as being cautious his entire life, as if unifying the unity of G‑d upon himself. As was said before, "A righteous person through his faith shall live [in Hebrew, tzadik b'emunato yechye]". (Habakkuk 2:4) The first letters of those words spell tzvi. That implies that by means of his living in the Eretz HaTzvi, he lives his entire life with "holy faithfulness" which is the unity of the malchut, which is called "the Land" together with tiferet, which is called Yisrael. (End of Chapter Six.)

Rabbi Nathan Schapira, an honored member of an eminent Polish rabbinical family, came to Eretz Israel from Cracow during the 17th century, where he became part of a consortium of kabbala scholars. It is reported that he wrote the volume Tuv Haaretz during a trip to Italy, where he was encouraged to print it by R. Moshe Zaccuto, as an effort to ease the emotional and financial hardships of the people at that time of great pogroms.
Rabbi David Slavin is an American long-time student of Torah who now lives in Israel
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