Torah Tidbits

22 August 2014 / 26 Av 5774
Issue 1020
Shabbat Parshat Chayei Sara
November 08, 2012

Chizuk and Idud

CHIZUK and IDUD for Olim not yet Olim respectively

In this week’s parsha a seemingly inordinate number of words are used to describe the negotiations for the purchase of Me’arat HaMachpela, Sarah’s ultimate burial place. According to Ibn Ezra this is intended to stress the elevated value the Torah attributes to Eretz Yisrael in death as well as in life.
After making Aliya, some friends from overseas visited us at the Absorption Center. Knowing of their own desire to make Aliya, I asked “When are you planning to make the move”? They sheepishly answered, “Well, we decided to postpone our Aliya for a few years so as to come with enhanced pension benefits.” “Why wait for only a few years”, I remember thinking to myself, why not wait until you are 65 years old, or better yet why trouble yourself at all when you can wait until 120 years and make horizontal Aliya?”
This raises the question of what our Rabbis have to say about posthumous Aliya, Aliya La’Kever. The Yerushalmi (Kelayim 9:3) relates that two Amoraim (Talmudic Sages) witnessed some coffins being brought from Babylon to the Holy Land for burial. One Rabbi caustically remarked “During their lifetime the Land was an abomination to them. In death the Land is being defiled.” The other gave a more welcoming reply, stating that, “Nonetheless, the Torah itself says “The Land atones for its people.” This latter view seems to be the more prevalent one. Of course it is desirable to make Aliya in one’s lifetime, and perform the mitzvot in the Land. However, if one couldn’t or wouldn’t make Aliya, they should at least do it after death as the land atones even then.
Just as there is a sacred moment in time, Yom Kippur, when one can receive atonement, so too, there is sacred space, Eretz Yisrael ,where one receives atonement. This unique quality of the Land seem to be behind the halacha that while one is not permitted to move a grave from one city to another, yet, transferring a loved one’s remains from the Diaspora to Eretz Yisrael is permitted (Yoreh De’ah 363:1). The acknowledgement of this special quality of the Holy Land caused the Jews of Prague to delay burials for several days last year. The age old custom followed by the Prague community is to add earth taken from the land of Israel to every coffin upon burial. The earth of Eretz Yisrael was mistakenly disposed of and they refused to bury anyone until their source of earth from Israel was replenished.
May our prayers all be fulfilled, and “May the Almighty lead us upright to the Land” - upright and not lying prone…

Rabbi Yerachmiel Roness, Ramat Shiloh, Beit Shemesh

TORAH THOUGHTS as contributed by Aloh Naaleh members for publication in the Orthodox Union’s ‘Torah Insights’, a weekly Torah publication on Parshat HaShavu’a

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