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Parshat Ki Tavo- David Tanner

Kedushas Ha’aretz vs Chibas Ha’aretz:
Are They Codependent?

by: David Tanner (Shana Aleph)

Much of the following is taken from shiurim by Rav Shlomo Friedman shlit”a
Moshe Rabbeinu repeatedly davened to Hashem to be allowed entry to Eretz Yisrael (Devarim 3:23). Why did he do so? Chazal tell us that Moshe wanted to have the opportunity to perform the Mitzvos Hateluyos Ba’aretz, such asterumah, ma’aser, bikkurim, and so on. Parshas Ki Savo discusses a few Mitzvos Hateluyos Ba’aretz, specifically bikkurim and ma’aser ani. We know that Eretz Yisrael is the “Holy Land”; when the Olei Mitzrayim entered Israel during the times of Yehoshua, they sanctified the land (Kibbush Rishon). According to most opinions, this holiness was subsequently nullified due to Galus Bavel, only to be reinstated upon the return of the Olei Bavel (Kibbush Sheini).
In Maseches Gittin, which the Yeshiva is studying this year, the mishnah on 2a describes the borders of Eretz Yisrael as applicable to hilchos gittin. The opinion of the chachamim in the mishnah is that the City of Akko is considered outside the borders of Israel. Tosafos (s.v. Ashkelon kedarom) challenges this assertion, drawing support from Kesubos 112a, which relates that Rebbi Abba would kiss the stones of Akko—certainly an indication that Akko was a holy city and part of Eretz Yisrael!
The Ritva gives a fascinating answer to this question. The Ritva suggests that Akko was not sanctified in Kibbush Sheini, causing it to be considered outside of Israel according to Halacha. However, since it had been part of Israel in the time of Yehoshua, it still retained its chavivus even in the absence of itskedushah. Though the holiness is gone, the love of the land still remains.
Most opinions hold that, regarding Kibbush Sheini, “Kidshah lesha’ata vekidshah le’asid lavo”—Israel was sanctified for that time and forever on, meaning that the Land retains its kedushah even today. However, as Rav Hershel Schachter points out, the majority opinion on this issue has swung back and forth over the years. What the Ritva teaches us is that in any event, the chibas Eretz Yisrael remains. Be it for sentimental reasons, because it was the Land promised us by Hashem and settled by our forefathers, or because all of Kibbush Rishon (and more) will one day become part of Israel again, an absence of the land’s holiness does not detract from its beloved status to us.
The above leads us to ask, why is Eretz Yisrael so precious to us? The simple answer is that Eretz Yisrael is the one location on Earth where the Jewish people can develop an ideal Torah society. Only in Eretz Yisrael can we have the Beis Hamikdash, the Mitzvos Hateluyos Ba’aretz, and a theocratic monarchy where the king’s main purpose is to inspire his people to the service of God (for example, through the mitzvah of Hakhel). And of course, as ourparsha says repeatedly, Israel is an “Eretz zovas cholov u’devosh,” a Land flowing with milk and honey, a beautiful gift from Hakadosh Baruch Hu which serves as our one and only national homeland.
Though Israel today may be lacking some of the components that make it as ideal as just described, it is still incredibly conducive to Torah and mitzvos. Where else is marriage nationally performed according to halacha, Shabbos the national day of rest, treif restaurants exceedingly rare and a basic agreement with Orthodoxy even by non-religious Jews (for most, it  is “the shulthey don’t go to”) overwhelmingly common?
We are fortunate enough to have a year or two to learn in the Holy Land, about which Chazal comment “ein Torah ke’toras Eretz Yisrael (Bereishis Rabbah 16:2).” We should feel an incredible affection for the land we are privileged to be spending time in, and gratitude to Hashem and our parents for this tremendous opportunity.