Monday, October 23, 2006

Daf Yomi - Sukkah 51 - Returning to Egypt

The Gemora states that the Bais Hakneses in Alexandria was a sight to behold and was able to contain 600,000 Jews at one time. The Gemora relates that there was a tragic ending as they were all killed by Alexander Mokdon. The reason given is because they violated the commandment in the Torah of returning to Mitzrayim.

The Rishonim and Acharonim deal with the issue of people presently living in Mitzrayim. How is this permissible?

We discussed this question before and it is always an interesting one, so we will post what we wrote on Yoma 38 and more.

Nikinor went to get the doors for the azarah from Alexandria, Egypt. The Ritva asks that there is a prohibition in the Torah to go back to Mitzrayim? He answers that this applies only if his intent is to dwell there, but for businees it will be permitted. He proceeds to ask on the Rambam and others who lived in Mitzrayim on a permanent basis? The Rishonim give different answers on this question. Some say that the cities were destroyed and rebuilt and therefore the issur does not apply. The סמג answers that סנחריב mixed up the world and the people living there are not מצריים and the reason behind the prohibition is not to emulate the Egyptians actions. Reb Eliexer MiMitz answers that the issur is only if one goes back to Mitzrayim in the same way Bnei yisroel left there. (That could explain how the passuk in the תוכחה says that Hashem will take us back there on ships, for that is not the way we left.) The Ritva concludes that the prohibition is only when Klal Yisroel are all living in Eretz Yisroel, however now that there is a decree of exile, all lands are equal. The גבורת ארי seems to hold that it is אסור even nowadays. The חידא says that there is a מקור to what the Ritva says from the Arizal. It is brought down in some seforim that the Rambam used to sign his name "I am Moshe the son of Maimon who is transgressing three aveiros every day." Obviously, he held that under the conditions, he was compelled to stay.

David said...

The statement of the rambam you refer to ( " transgress 3 aveiros every day") has been conclusively proven to be the stuff of legend. There is a very good annotated edition of the letters of the Rambam, edited by R. Daniel Shilat, and none of them contain this. I suppose it is theoreticaly still possible that the Rambam woudl have once written it, buit if he did, it was only an anomaly, and not a practice of his. At any rate, of his many surviving letters, none of them say this.

Reb Dave, can you give us the sources for this conclusive proof?

Rabbi Solovetchik answers this question on the Rambam differently. He states that in those days, Mitzrayim was a haven for the Karaaim and they were convincing many Jewish families to convert to their way of life. The Rambam went to Mitzrayim to save these Jews from the Karaaim's missionary tactics and it is well documented that the Rambam saved many families who remained G-d fearing Jews.

In a footnote to the sefer, a student explains that Rabbi solovetchik did not mean that the permissibility of the Rabmam to live in Mitzrayim was hatzolas nefoshos which overrides all prohibitions, rather the issur of returning to Mitzrayim is only if one's intention is to dwell there, but to go to conduct business will be permitted. Travelling to Mitzrayim with the intention of saving Jewish sould is no worse than going for business purposes and therefore will be permitted.


ben said...

You wrote: "That could explain how the passuk in the תוכחה says that Hashem will take us back there on ships, for that is not the way we letf." The Ramban writes in Bashalach that the Jews will never go back to Mitzrayim willfully, so the passuk in the Tochacha is speaking about against their will.