"I shall bestow glory upon the land of life."
Both those buried in the Land of Israel and those buried in the Diaspora will be resurrected in the Land of Israel. Why should this be necessarily so?
The Gemara records a classic exchange on this subject, conducted entirely on the non-literal level of Biblical interpretation known as derush.
It opens with the following declaration by R. Eleazar: "The dead of the Diaspora will not be resurrected, for it is written, 'I shall bestow glory upon the land of life.' [This implies that] the dead of the land which houses [G-d's] glory shall be resurrected; the dead of a land which does not house [G-d's] glory shall not be resurrected."
To this R. Abba bar Mamal objects: "It is also written, 'The dead men of your people shall live; my dead body shall arise.' Does not 'the dead men of your people' refer to the dead of the Land of Israel, and 'my dead body' refer to the dead of the Diaspora?"
After noting the reactions of these two Sages to other verses that their colleagues then cite in support of either stance, the Gemara asks: Is it not unthinkable to suggest (as does R. Eleazar) that the righteous buried in the Diaspora will not be resurrected?
R. Ilaa answers this by saying that they will be resurrected "through gilgul"; i.e., their bodies will be (lit.) rolled through the ground.
The question is then asked, "But is this not painful for the righteous?"
To this Abbaye answers: "Subterranean channels (mechilos) will be made for them."
This, however, raises a question: If the righteous dead of the Diaspora will be included in the Resurrection, why did Yaakov and Yosef wish to be buried in the Land of Israel? The answer is given, that they were not sure that they would be found worthy of being brought there through the subterranean channels.
Which of these two positions does the Halachah define as authoritative?
The author of Nodah BiYehudah rules (though without citing proof) according to the view of R. Abba, that those buried in the Diaspora will also merit Resurrection. However, since the discussion of the Talmud is based on the statement of R. Eleazar, and is supported by many of his colleagues, then according to the principles by which the Halachah is derived from the Talmud, the Halachah is established according to his view. And indeed, this ruling is backed by sources in the Jerusalem Talmud, the Midrash, and numerous statements in the Zohar.
According to this opinion, the body will be reconstructed in the Diaspora, and only after making its way to the Land of Israel through the underground tunnels will it be invested with a soul.
Moreover, since the Gemara says that the righteous buried in the Diaspora will be found worthy of gilgul, this implies that even according to R. Eleazar, the verse, "I shall bestow glory..." does not exclude the Resurrection of the dead of the Diaspora. It only tells us that the Resurrection will take place in the Land of Israel, so that all those who are brought there may also be termed the "dead of the Land of Israel" (with the difference that the righteous will be brought there painlessly by gilgul). When understood in this way, the view of R. Eleazar is in harmony with the universally-accepted statement of the Sages in Sanhedrin, that "all Israel have a share in the World to Come."
relates that R. Yehudah the son of R. Elazar asked this question of R. Chizkiyah: "The dead that the Holy One, Blessed be He, will resurrect, - Why will He not return to them their souls in the place in which they were buried and then bring them to live in the Land of Israel?"
R. Chizkiyah answered: "The A-mighty has sworn to build Jerusalem and never to destroy it, for R. Yirmeyah has said: 'The Holy One, Blessed be He, will reconstruct His world and build Jerusalem and lower it ready built from above so that it shall never be destroyed; moreover, He has sworn that He will never again send Israel into exile, and He has sworn never to destroy Jerusalem.' ...The dead will thus receive their souls in a place that will exist forever so that the soul will exist in a body forever."
The Midrash teaches, moreover, that in time to come Jerusalem will diffuse its sanctity over the whole of the Land of Israel, and the Land of Israel will diffuse its sanctity over the whole world.
- (Back to text) Yechezkel 26:20.
- (Back to text) Kesubbos 111a.
- (Back to text) Yechezkel 26:20, and see the Targum and commentaries there.
- (Back to text) Yeshayahu 26:19, and see the Targum and commentaries there.
- (Back to text) The Zohar (I, 128b) asks: "Who will take the bodies to the Land of Israel? - R. Yitzchak said, '[The angel] Gavriel will take them.'"
- (Back to text) In the original Heb., mechilos.
The Rebbe points out that since the ground in which a tzaddik is buried will eventually be connected to the Land of Israel by channels, according to halachic criteria (set out in Sefer HaSichos 5714, Yud Shvat) it may even now be considered part of the Land. An awareness of this enables one to better appreciate the value of praying at the resting place of a tzaddik. See also Kuntres HaHishtatchus, Maamarei Admur HaEmtzaei Kuntreisim (translated by Sichos In English, 5755).
- (Back to text) Bereishis 47:29-30; 50:24-25.
- (Back to text) This answer is problematic, for if this is the reason, then all the righteous men of all the generations should have expressly asked to be buried in the Land of Israel. Were they all so certain that they would be found worthy of being brought there by means of the channels?
The author of Noda BiYehudah (Mahadura Tinyana, Yoreh Deah, sec. 206) was once challenged with this question with regard to the baalei haTosafos. He replied that perhaps it was not within their power to request that they be transported to the Land of Israel after their passing. Since, however, they were perfectly righteous, they would no doubt be preserved and would be found worthy of being brought to the Land in the way described.
The same author then proceeds to quote an alternative solution offered by his son. According to the opinion of Tosafos in Kesubbos 110a, there is no obligation in the present era (when there is no Beis HaMikdash standing) to migrate and live in the Land of Israel, since it is not yet possible to fully maintain the holiness of the Land and observe all of its distinctive mitzvos. For this reason, he argues, the baalei haTosafos did not want to be buried there.
This answer is difficult to understand, for the merit of being buried in the Land of Israel is independent of one's ability to observe its mitzvos during one's lifetime, as we clearly see from the requests of Yaakov and Yosef.
(By way of resolution: Perhaps this answer means that the baalei haTosafos did not choose to emigrate to the Land of Israel in their lifetimes because in our era one cannot fully observe its mitzvos.)
On the value of burial in the Land of Israel, see also the teaching of R. Anan in Kesubbos 111a: "If anyone is buried in the Eretz Yisrael, it is as if he were buried under the very altar." One of the prooftexts quoted is the verse (Devarim 32:43), Vechiper Admosoi Amo. Paraphrased in the spirit of the above-quoted Gemara, this means, "His Land will atone for His people." The same verse is cited by R. Eliezer in Bereishis Rabbah, sec. 96, in defense of an individual who lived his life in the Diaspora, but sought to be buried in the Holy Land: "Once he is buried in Eretz Yisrael, G-d will grant him atonement." And since actual burial in the soil of the Holy Land is not always feasible, members of burial brotherhoods in the Diaspora are accustomed to place a little soil from the Holy Land in the coffin of the departed. On the sources and significance of this practice, and in particular its connection with the aspiration of the departed to be ultimately resurrected, see Gesher HaChaim by R. Yechiel Michl Tukatchinski, Vol. I, p. 299-301.
- (Back to text) Op. cit., sections 205 and 206.
- (Back to text) Some authorities hold that these principles apply only to matters arising in the days of the Talmud. (See Maharik, Shoresh 185, cited in Tosafos Yom-Tov on Kelim 3:2; Melo HaRo'im, Vol. II, 300:21.) However, even those authorities concede that (a) these principles should be applied wherever possible, and that (b) the above restriction is relevant only when it is known that one of two disputants was more expert than the other in the field under discussion and for that reason the Halachah was fixed according to his opinion. (See, for example: Bava Basra 65a, with regard to R. Nachman's judicial experience; Tosafos on Eruvin 32a: the Halachah follows R. Sheshes in ritual prohibitions (Aram.: issurei) and R. Nachman in financial matters (Aram.: dinei); Yad Malachi, sec. 162: the Halachah follows Rav in issurei and Shmuel in dinei because, as the Rosh explains in Bava Kama 4:4, each was considered an expert in his field.) However, when discussing a principle such as a majority ruling (as in the case arising in our text), all agree that the above principles apply.
- (Back to text) Kilayim 9:3; Kesubbos 12:3.
- (Back to text) After citing one view that those buried in the Land of Israel will be the first to be resurrected, and another view that they alone will be resurrected, the Midrash (in Bereishis Rabbah, sec. 96) quotes the objection of R. Simmon: "If so, could it be that the righteous who are buried in the Diaspora should be deprived?! What, then, will G-d do? He will make subterranean caverns and they will roll to the Land of Israel, where G-d will infuse in them a spirit of life and they will arise. And how do we know this [i.e., that the Resurrection will take place in the Land of Israel]?"
In answer to his own question, R. Simmon cites the Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones (Yechezkel 37:12-14): "Therefore prophesy and say to them: Thus says the L-rd G-d: 'Behold! I shall open your graves and raise you up from your graves, O My people, and I shall bring you to the Land of Israel.'" Only then, observes R. Simmon, does the passage go on to say: "I shall put My spirit into you and you shall live...."
Resh Lakish adds: "It is explicitly written that as soon as the bodies reach the Land of Israel, G-d will infuse a soul in them, as it is written (Yeshayahu 42:5), 'He gives a soul to the people upon it [i.e., upon the Land]....'"
- (Back to text) I, 34b; II, 3b. However, the Ramaz comments on the former source that first the body will be resurrected in its place with the same soul it had in this world. Then, after undergoing the journey to the Land of Israel, it will receive a new soul. The difficulty in this explanation is that the Ramaz is commenting on a statement of R. Yitzchak, whereas on p. 128b, the Zohar quotes R. Yitzchak as saying that it is the angel Gavriel who will escort the body to the Land of Israel, and only after arriving there will it receive a soul.
- (Back to text) Zohar II, 3b.
- (Back to text) Sanhedrin 11:1; see also Shaarei Geulah (Heichal Menachem), p. 296. This concept is supported by the Shelah (Shaar HaOsiyos, end of the letter kuf), who paraphrases the Gemara (Kesubbos 111a) in these words: "R. Eleazar said, 'The dead of the Diaspora [i.e., not only the righteous] will be resurrected through gilgul.'" The same concept also answers the question of Tosafos in Sotah 5a.
- (Back to text) I, 114a.
- (Back to text) See Rashi on Sukkah 41a; Tosafos on Shabbos 15b; Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Noach, sec. 11; Zohar I, 183b, and II, 221a.
- (Back to text) Yeshayahu, ch. 62.
- (Back to text) Yalkut Shimoni on Yeshayahu, sec. 503.