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It Is Worth The Pain

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 31/8/2019

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It Is Worth The Pain

The Gemara teaches that Eretz Yisrael is acquired through suffering.[1] If this is the case, why would anyone want to live in Eretz Yisrael?


There is a certain amount of suffering that one must have. However, he gets to choose what it is. It can be in the spiritual or in worldly matters. This is consistent with the concept of זה לעמת זה.[2]


Torah requires effort and toil. The more one suffers in Torah and Avodas Hashem, the less he suffers in other areas.[3] This is how we can explain כל המקבל עליו על תורה...; one who takes upon himself the yoke of Torah, the yoke of government and worldly responsibilities are removed from him…[4]


Another example is the Kohanim who are not given a portion in the land so that they can devote themselves to spiritual endeavors. Thus, the Torah provides for their livelihood by assigning them gifts from the people, says the Ibn Ezra (1089-1164). [5]


This concept also applies to Chessed. A woman once lent clothes to someone. Upon receiving it back in worse condition than when she gave it, she complained to her husband. His reaction was- this is what we want our suffering to be in. This is the meaning in חסד ירדפוני[6] as we should want our suffering to be in Chessed. Let the Chessed be that which pursues us in suffering. Since this suffering will come anyway, it is better if it is through Chessed since we get an eternal Mitzva with it.[7]


Rebbitzen Henny Machlis once instructed an American woman who came to her for advice to have another child. The woman rejected her suggestion saying she can’t afford another child. She made the calculation that it would cost, just at the beginning, $7,000 to have another baby. “All money comes from Hashem,” Henny retorted. The woman returned to America. A short time later she called Henny telling her that when her family arrived home, they discovered in their absence a pipe had burst. The damage cost $7,000 to fix. “So, I will have another child,” she said.


In light of this, we can answer our original question. The Chidushai Harim[8] explains that the suffering one gets because of Eretz Yisrael saves one from other suffering. This is obviously the preferable suffering. Looking at it from this viewpoint, it gives us a new perspective on יסורי ארץ ישראל.[9] This is because many people think one must give up a lot to live in the holy land whereas he wouldn’t have to deal with it if he didn’t live there. With this explanation, we now see that not only does he not lose out on living in Eretz Yisrael, but he also gains.[10]


During the gulf war, an American who was studying in Israel left Israel at the time for America since he was scared. Upon arriving on American soil, he was told that he was eligible for the draft which they were doing then because the American army was calling up reserves. This landed him in the heart of the gulf war, now as a soldier. So, in the end, he found himself in the place he was trying to avoid.

R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] Brachos 5a. An Avreich that moved to Eretz Yisrael and found the adjustment difficult was consoled with the following words of the Gra (to Yeshaya 4:2): He writes of those dwelling in Chutz Laaretz that they will have מדות טובות; (good character) and good deeds whereas those in Eretz Yisrael have חכמה and Torah.

[2] Koheles 7:14

[3] Likutai Harim, Brachos 6b, s.v. אגרא דכלה

[4] Avos 3:6. We are taught that Talmidei Chachamim increase peace in the world (Brachos 64a). How are we to grasp this since the Gemara is filled with Machlokes? The Chassam Sofer (Drashos Chassam Sofer, 1, Parshas Zachor) explains that through the מלחמתה של תורה, other Machokeses are nullified. Consequently, Talmidei Chachamim increase peace in the world.

[5] Devarim 18:1. It is known that the Ibn Ezra lived in poverty. The Ibn Ezra married the daughter of R’ Yehuda Halevi.  His sons died in infancy except Yitzchak who went to Baghdad and converted to Islam. However, Yitzchak eventually came back to Judaism.

[6] Tehillim 23:6. See Ruach Chaim 4:22 that one who has יראת ה' won’t have fear of other things like animals and the like.

[7] This is in addition to לפום צערא אגרא; the reward is according to the pain (Avos 5:26).

[8] Likutai Harim, Brachos 5a, s.v. שלש

[9] The Lechivitzer (Toras Avos, דרכים בעבודת ה', 3, 182) translates this Chazal that יסורין means to be bound, connected, as in מתיר אסורים. This is because it is a land of ארץ אשר ה' אלה-יך... בה; it is a land that Hashem seeks out, the eyes of Hashem are always upon it (Devarim 11:12).

[10] One benefit of living in Eretz Yisrael is that it is more spiritual in addition to acquiring the Mitzvah of ישוב ארץ ישראל. However, this does not determine our being a nation as it is the Torah that determines that as it says in our Parsha (27:9) היום הזה נהיית לעם; today- at Matan Torah- you became a nation to Hashem.  

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