Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Three Oaths

Sorry for the long delay since the last post. I have been back from my "break", but I have not wanted to post until I had what to say.

The source text for this topic is a Gemara at the end of Ketubot, on page 111a. Starting on the prior page (110b) there are a few statements brought down in the Rambam about Eretz Yisrael, but these are not 100% on topic today.

Based on the phrase "I have imposed an oath on you, daughters of Jerusalem" from Shir HaShirim, which occurs three times throughout the book, it is taught that there are three oaths which have been imposed on Am Yisrael and the Nations of the World upon our entry to Exile.

  1. That Am Yisrael will not go up "in a wall" (usually meant to mean "as" a wall, i.e. in great numbers)
  2. Not to revolt against the Nations of the World
  3. That the Nations of the World are not to enslave us too greatly (the word, shi'bud, is the same word used for the slavery in Egypt, and what we seek freedom from by the hand of Moshiach ben Yosef)

Note there are two oaths put upon us, one upon the Nations of the World.

For those of you who are not familiar, the Three Oaths are the halachic block that some groups use to say that Jews shouldn't make Aliyah until Moshiach comes.

Rav Chaim Vital, in the introduction to Etz Chaim, writes that the oaths had a duration of one millenium, and he brings a few sources for this opinion, which we can take as the Ariza"l's opinion on the matter as well.

From what I have seen, the GR"A does not say that the oaths expired, but he does interpret them differently. It says not to go up as a wall. The Gemara does not say "where" we are going up to. In his commentary on Tikkunei Zohar (Tikkun 26, Daf 157, on the words ובמה וכו' בימינא), he says that the oath about going up as a wall is referring to the Beit HaMikdash. We are not permitted to use force to build the final Beit HaMikdash. The oath does not apply to creating a political entity who sovereignty over part or all of the Land of Israel.

This leads me to the Churvah synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. It was either in Mosad HaYesod or Chazon Tzion, which come in the same set of 3 books (If you have this set and would like an exact reference, please let me know, its been a while and I'll have to dig it up). It said that in building the Churvah synagogue, the Jews were on one hand building a community and religious center. On the other hand, they were calming the fears of the Ottomans and the Arabs that they had immediate aspirations to the Temple Mount.

When the time is right, Hashem will bring down the Final Beit HaMikdash, around which the physical building will be built by human hands (thus fulfilling the two opinions, one that it is built by us, the other is that it is built Above and descends to earth, see the Ramcha"l, Mishknei Elyon. I don't have a page, but search for the words הבית העליון יתפשט. For online text, go here and click on משכני עליון on the right side of the page). This will be with the agreement of the nations. Their agreement will not necessarily seem to come from such pure intentions, much as it was in 1947, nor will it last for long, as it did then.


  1. Perhaps, by the hand of H', the arabs are even now unwittingly clearing the subterranean remains and rubble in anticipation of the final Temple's arrival...

  2. There is definitely an issue of certain actions that must take place during the process of Geulah. If we, that keep Torah, don't do them, then someone else will in an unkosher way.

    I'm not aware, however, of there being an issue that the remains of the prior Beit HaMikdash need to be moved.

    It is very important when thinking of things like this that we not downplay the aveirot and Chillul Hashem that is inherent in these actions. The issue of Gentiles on the Temple Mount is clear in the Rambam.

  3. The Arabs are digging to reveal the proper position of Beit HaMikdash, though they think they do the opposite. There are Arabs who know the proper position of Beit HaMikdash exactly, because of underground pathways that they know. These Arabs are the ones leading the digging around the Dome to show the Jews that there is nothing there...