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ZIONISM / OATHS-----the basics

Renée Posted - 16 January 2001 19:35

What's up with the oath the Jews said not to take Israel while in Golus?

And what is golus exactly? Wouldn't golus be over now that we have taken over Israel? Or do we have to wait for Moshiach?

What's the source for the oath? When did it happen? And who gave it?

And as for the punishment for transgressing it, is that happening now or can we expect worse yet?

MODERATOR Posted - 16 January 2001 20:28

The Gemora says in Kesuvos 112a that G-d made the Jews swear that they would

(a) not take a stronghold on Eretz Yisroel before Moshiach comes,

(b) not rebel against the nations of the world before Moshiach comes, and

(c) he made the Goyim swear that they would not overly hurt the Jews.

The punishment for violating these oaths, it says, is that Hashem will "allow your flesh to be hunted down like game in the field".

The tribe of Ephraim violated this Oath when they left Egypt before the time of the redemption. Their punishment was that they were all annihilated in the desert.

The Maharal writes that even if the nations of the world would force us under threat of death and torture to violate the Oaths, we should rather submit to death than violate them.

The reason for the Oaths was to maintain the integrity of the Golus, that is, to ensure that the purpose of the Golus is not violated. The purpose of the Golus is to sanctify the world by making the various countries of the world their homelands (that is, they will not have their own homeland), submitting to the authorities of those countries. By being connected to the lands of the world in that way the world becomes sanctified to the level where it can be a receptacle for the Light of Moshiach, which will turn the world into Olam Habah.

Had the Jews not sinned, this job could have been accomplished "long distance", by the Jews being in Eretz Yisroel. Their holiness would have reached out and sanctified the world from there. Unfortunately, because of our sins, we now have to sanctify the world this way.

but it has to be done. By creating a sovereign Jewish State in Eretz Yisroel, we upset the relationship between the Jews and their Golus homelands. We are not supposed to have a sovereign homeland during Golus.

The Golus is what maintains Hashem's plan for the world until Moshiach comes. Taking Eretz Yisroel before the proper time is like removing a patient from life support before he is ready. We cry that he is confined to a machine. We pray and cry daily for his deliverance. BUT we dare not remove him from it before the proper time.

So too the taking of Eretz Yisroel before Moshiach comes to redeem us is like pulling the plug on the spiritual life support system on all of the world - especially the Jews - before they are ready.

There are many details and Halachic ramifications and applications of the Oaths, but this is the basic idea.

An example of a Halachic issue that surrounds this is the Mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel. Many authorities hold that nowadays, without a Bais HaMikdash, there is no mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel more than anywhere else. The question is why.

One of the authorities who omit the Mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel in their roster of Mitzvos is the Rambam. The commentary Megilas Esther on the Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvos explains why the Rambam holds there is no Mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel nowadays.

He says that even though the Oaths do not preclude individuals from living in Eretz Yisroel under foreign sovereignty, and therefore it is possible for the Mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel to coexist peacefully with the Oath, nevertheless, in the opinion of the Rambam, if everyone would fulfill the Mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel during Golus what would eventually happen is that we would end up with our own homeland whether we intend to or not. Therefore, the Rambam holds it is illogical to obligate even individuals in the Mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel during Golus.

Others disagree with the Rambam and hold that individuals could be obligated to live in Eretz Yisroel, and such a commandment would not necessitate the violation of the Oaths.

Ibrahim Posted - 06 February 2001 23:51

So ex post facto what is to be done about the state of Israel?

Does this mean Hashem may not keep his oath also b/c we didn't keep our part?

How do we deal with such a danger to Jews if we were to not enforce sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael?

Are these unanswerable questions? Must we wait for Eliyahu to answer them? But if we broke our promise how can we expect to wait for Him to?

MODERATOR Posted - 07 February 2001 1:44

Good question. The Satmar Rebbe ZT"L wrote his magnum opus on the topic of these Oaths. In there, he answers your question of what to do ex post facto:

"It is clear from the above sources that before Moshiach arrives, this unfortunate State [of Israel] will be undone and that it will be impossible for Moshiach to come otherwise, and it is preventing the Redemption. And a similar idea is contained in the Rambam's Igeres Taimon. However, we need Hashem's mercy that the State should be undone only and exclusively through the strength of Hashem, and not through the nations of the world, because if it will be [undone] by the nations, there will be a great danger to Jews, as is understood by everyone. May Hashem have mercy on us and on all of Klall Yisroel." (Vayoel Moshe, p.8)

So in other words, we were put in an untenable position. Violation of the Oaths is a great danger, but allowing the Arabs to take over is also a great danger. The creation of the State was a no-win situation. Ex post facto, we have no choice but to defend ourselves and our brothers in Eretz Yisroel from our newly created enemies.

Hashem will never violate His Oath, no matter what we do. The Oaths are not dependent on each other.

However, the punishment for violation of the Oath is terrible, even without Hashem c"v breaking His Oaths.

Capone Posted - 11 March 2002 20:18

What about the Zohars prophecy that G-d will begin "ingathering of the exiles" in 1990

MODERATOR Posted - 13 March 2002 18:46

No such thing.

Achiezer Posted - 15 March 2002 15:29

This from R Pinchas Winston...

The Zohar (Midrash Ne’elam, Toldos 140a), says that Techiyas HaMeisim, “Resurrection of the Dead,” will begin no later that 210 years before the year 6000 from creation, or by the Jewish year 5790 (2030 CE)—28 years from now at the time of this writing.

In other words, according to the Zohar history as we know it comes to an end within 28 years. And, though other predictions have already passed, Kabbalists seem to accept this date as the final and real one.[1] That makes our period of history even more important since Moshiach will have had to already come and prepared the world for Techiyas HaMeisim by that time.

The Zohar also states that this 210-year period will only begin after 40 years of Kibbutz Goliyos—the “Ingathering of the Exiles” from the Diaspora to the Land of Israel (Midrash Ne’elam, Toldos 139b). Hence, according to this calculation, Kibbutz Goliyos began in the year 5750, or 1990, just after the Soviet Union “mysteriously” collapsed and allowed one million Jews to finally emigrate after decades of trying.

MODERATOR Posted - 15 March 2002 16:59

Such statements are not meant literally and they are not prophecies of future events but rather Kabbalistic knowledge stated by a specific Tanna that may or may not come out that way in real life.

As Rabbi Winston points out, there are already numerous "zmanim" that have passed without Moshiach, but what he did not point out is the reason they did not happen can also apply to the one he brings.

First, these zmanim are not unconditional. The Gemora Sanhedrin 98a says that R. Yehoshua ben Levi asked Moshiach himself when he is coming, and got a direct answer.

"Today", Moshiach said.

The next day when Moshiach didn’t come, Eliyahu Hanavi explained to RYBL that Moshiach meant today, IF Klall Yisroel will be zocheh. Hayom im bkolo tishma'u.

So even though there was no condition stated, and the zman was stated clearly, it has to be understood that there can be conditions tacked on to the zman.

There is no reason to believe any Zman is more unconditional than the one stated by Moshiach himself.

(The statement "Kabbalists seem to accept" I cant accept. What Kabbalists "seem" to do does not mean they do it. Especially since it only "seems" this way to someone who is not an expert in Kabbalah himself. And it also does not explain how our holy sages would give us the other zmanim which were "untrue.")

Secondly, a Rav Shach points out in his letters, all these statements in Zohar about signs and times of Moshiach's coming are useless l'halachah since there may be (and there are) numerous contradictory statements about such signs in other chazals. Like all Chazals, we need to look in the Rishonim, he says, to see how they "pasken." And the Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva) writes that when Klall Yisroel will does Teshuva, they will be immediately redeemed. This is the only sign in the Rambam, and so we cannot rely on the others, he says.

Besides which, there is a rule that whenever a date is designated for a specific event to take place, in real life, it may not actually take place at that date. This is because of the rule of "machlif es hazemanim." Example:

The Jews got out of Egypt after 210 years. Yet it says explicitly in the Posuk Vayehi Miketz Shloshim V'arba meos shana, vayehi b'etzem hayom hazeh, yetzu... Meaning, the Jews got out of Egypt after 430 years.

The Medrash says that Hashem let them out early, before the 430 years was up.

But then why does the Posuk say they were there for 430 years?

Explains the Nezer Hakodesh (Vayechi), Hashem designated a certain day - a "ketz" - for the redemption from Egypt. That day was to take place in 430 years. But Hashem can manipulate time streams just like he manipulates everything else in nature. So what Hashem did was, He took that specific day, that was supposed to come out 430 years in the future, and He "moved" it to a place elsewhere in time, which happened to be only 210 years in the future. Its like "cut and paste". You have a specific day on the calendar that something has to happen, and Hashem cuts that day off the calendar and "pastes" it wherever He wants it to go. SO all the events that are supposed to come out on that day do, but during a different time than was expected.

In Loshon HaKodesh it is called Hashem being "Hamachlif es Hazemanim" - The "switcher of times".

So even if you know for a fact that the Geulah is going to come out on a certain day - and maybe there’s even a vital reason for that, which cannot be changed - you still don’t know when that "day" will happen.

It happened with the redemption out of Egypt and it can happen with the redemption out of the final Golus. A statement in the Zohar is not to be taken as more literal than a statement in a Posuk in Chumash. The Posuk gives us a Zman for Yetzias Mitzrayim. That zman was fulfilled. But not when we thought it would be. And I am sure that the Zohar's zman will be fulfilled too. But it doesn’t have to be when we think.

In Rav Shach's letter, he tells us that we have to look in the Rishonim to interpret Chazal. That is of course, true. Every student of Torah knows that even if it appears that Chazal say something contrary to the psak of the Rishonim, we trust that the Rishonim had a way to explain it, even if we currently have no idea what it is.

And so Rav Shach is telling us to trust the Rambam even though it seems to contradict the Chazal. That is of course, what we should do.

But I found in the Divrei Yoel (Tzav) reconciliation between the Rambam and all the specific Zmanim our sages gave. That is, according to the Nezer Hakodesh above, we can say that Hashem definitely has a specific date that the Geulah is destined to fall out on. But when the Jews do Teshuva, Hashem will make that day into the day designated for the Geulah.

I also hold that it is very dangerous to say on the internet, to non-educated, semi-educated, and non-and-semi religious Jews, what Rabbi Winston said. That is, to guarantee to people that according to the Zohar, things will happen in this and this way. Because what’s going to happen in 28 years from now if Techiyas Hameisim does not happen? People will say that the Torah was wrong; that the Zohar was wrong; that the whole thing is a scam.

Rav Yehoshua ben Levi had that happen to him -- the Zman he heard didn’t come true. But he understood that there must be an explanation, and Eliyahu Hanavi told him what it was. If so, there can be explanations in this case, too. So you cannot give people guarantees that this will happen the way you think it will.

A non-religious woman once came to Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky ZTL and said she wants to become religious because she heard Moshiach is coming soon.

Rav Yaakov told her "I'm not so sure Moshiach is coming so soon."

So the woman left, "relieved" that she didn’t have to become religious yet.

Afterwards, Rav Yaakov's wife asked him why he couldn’t, like, not tell her his opinion, since because if he would have not told her, she would have totally become religious.

Answered Rav Yaakov, "Right now, this woman believes in nothing except the coming of Moshiach. Not Shabbos, not kashrus, but one thing, moshiach, she still 'holds from.' If I were to tell her that Moshiach is coming soon and then she sees he didn’t come, even that one thing she believes in now, she will no longer believe."

michaelk Posted - 24 June 2002 17:56

I remember hearing somewhere that it is asur to predict when moshiach is going to come. Is this true, or am I remembering wrong?

Also, I heard that in Ani Maamin #12 when it says "v'af al pi shehismameah" it is talking about all the wrong predictions that have been made about the coming of moshiach. (This I definitely did hear from Rabbi Sulzer of Johannesburg, South Africa)

MODERATOR Posted - 24 June 2002 18:03

Yes, it is assur.

However, all the predictions of when Moshiach is coming are not unconditional, plus, they always predict the "date" that Moshiach will come, but that "date" can be switched. For an explanation of that, please see my post of March 15th on

The prohibition to revel when Moshiach is coming refers to the actual time it will happen. None of those predictions say that.

mo Posted - 27 April 2003 18:15

Can you please more logically explain, why it's wrong to HAVE a state after it is already established? The Zionists use this argument repeatedly.

Twerpchicago Posted - 18 August 2004 11:47

I’ve heard that because the goyim broke their side, with the holocaust, the agreement was then nullified, aside from which it is obvious that god has been helping the state of Israel, and maybe that shows his approval.

MODERATOR Posted - 18 August 2004 12:25


I don’t understand. The Gemora says that if you have it, Jews will be killed. You want to know what’s wrong with that?

The Bar Kochba government was abolished by the Chachamim when they found out that Moshiach was not here, even though it offered innumerous benefits to the Jews. Rav Tzadok says they killed Bar Kochba because of the violation of the Oaths, and that includes the abolition of his government.


Please see the Zionism forum - this has already been addressed, and squashed.

mo Posted - 15 November 2004 21:17

**Explains the Nezer Hakodesh (Vayechi), Hashem designated a certain day - a "ketz" - for the redemption from Egypt. That day was to take place in 430 years.**

Do you mean Nezer Hakodesh on Medrash Rabo? I couldn’t find it.

MODERATOR Posted - 15 November 2004 21:27

Yes, the Nezer Hakodesh on Medrash Rabbah 98:6.

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