Swept Away Olive Trees and Settling in Eretz Yisroel

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The Mishna had stated: A river swept away a person’s olives trees and deposited them (together with their roots) in someone else’s field. The owner of the trees says, “My olive tree grew this,” while the owner of the land says, “My land grew this.” They should split the olives.

The Maggid Mishnah writes that that if the olive trees were not uprooted together with their clods of earth, the trees would be regarded as a lost article that is permitted to all. This would be similar to the Gemora above (22a), which states: If a river washed away someone’s beams, timber, or stones, and has deposited them in someone else’s field, they belong to the field owner because the owner has given up hope. Accordingly, in our case, the trees would belong to the landowner, and he would not be required to pay the original owner of the trees at all. However, if they were uprooted together with their clods of earth, since the trees`are growing as a result of his land, it emerges that the tree owner is also contributing towards the growth of the olives; they therefore would divide it.

Alternatively, it can be said that if the trees were uprooted together with their clods of earth, the river cannot sweep them a great distance away from their point of origin, and therefore, the owner does not despair about getting them back.

Settling in Eretz Yisroel Nowadays

The Mishna had stated: A river swept away a person’s olives trees and deposited them (together with their roots) in someone else’s field. The owner of the trees says, “My olive tree grew this,” while the owner of the land says, “My land grew this.” They should split the olives.

A Tanna taught: If he said, “I wish to take back my olive trees,” we do not listen to him.

The Gemora asks: Why is that?

Rabbi Yochanan said: It is because of the significance of settling Eretz Yisroel.

Rabbi Yirmiyah said: For such an answer, a great man is necessary (for we would not have said like this using our own logic).

The Ramban says that this mitzvah is a Biblical commandment. The Rambam omits this mitzvah is his Sefer Hamitzvos. There are those that explain that the Rambam holds that it’s only a Rabbinical mitzvah. Other say that the Rambam holds it is not a mitzvah at all; the only reason why a man can force his family members to move to Eretz Yisroel is because this way, they will be able to fulfill the mitzvos which are dependent upon the Land of Israel.

The Ritva writes that the applications of the Mishna apply to nowadays also. Proof to this is from the fact that Rebbe incorporated these halachos into the Mishna even though he was living in the times after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh.

Tosfos (Kesuvos 110) cites Rabbeinu Chaim Kohen that there is no mitzvah nowadays because there are many mitzvos there which entail many punishments, and it will be impossible for one to be careful regarding all of them. This can be simply understood to mean that although there might be a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel, it is simply not worth it, for one will lose out by transgressing many aveiros there. Reb Avi Lebovitz (and afterwards I found this logic in the Beis Halevi) explains a little differently: Rabbeinu Chaim is actually describing the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel to be for the purpose of fulfilling the mitzvos that apply there. If one were to live in Eretz Yisroel without properly performing the mitzvos, they are not only losing out on these additional mitzvos; they are also not fulfilling the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel.

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