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Jul 14, 2009

Has Rav Elyashiv changed his position on the use of the Heter Mechira?

The Israel Lands Authority is preparing to reform its systems in an effort to free up lands for construction, and to make land development much cheaper for buyers. A major component of the land reform is privatizing a lot of land - instead of the continued use of the 99 year lease that has been in effect until now, land will be released and sold to private hands.

The plan has led to opposition by some people for various reasons. Some are concerned that just like prime real estate in the US has been bought up by foreign concerns, in Israel the same might happen. We might be witness to Arabs buying up large tracts of Israeli land, changing the dynamics of the State of Israel. Another concern, is that the Land of Israel is nobody's to sell to private hands, but belongs to all the Jewish people. Another concern, held by a number of prominent rabbonim, is that this is in direct opposition to the Torah statement that says the Land cannot be sold forever, as well as the prohibition of selling land - Lo T'chaneim.

According to this article on the Haredim news site, Arial Attias, the Minister for Housing and Construction who is leading the implementation of the reforms went to rav Ovadiah Yosef to get direction on the halachic issues, and Moshe Gafni went to Rav Elyashiv to get his direction. Both, after researching the issue, paskened, supposedly, that nowadays there is no problem with selling the land. They each said that today the land has no holiness today because we do not observe the Jubilee any longer. That gives the status of the holiness of Eretz Yisrael the same as the status of Chutz La'Aretz.

Far be it from me to argue on these great poskim, but I have hard time believing this was really what they said. Today the land has no kedusha? They argue on the accepted psak that the holiness was never voided? How can Rav Elyashiv possibly be so vehemently against keeping the heter mechira during the shmitta year, even as a b'dieved (for example, he paskened one must kasher pots that were used to cook heter mechira produce), if he also holds the land has no holiness and can be sold to whomever wants to buy it? One of the major reasons for opposing the land sale during shmitta is because of the prohibition of Lo T'chaneim, but now he is saying that there is no prohibition against selling land.

There were other reasons as well to oppose the heter mechira, such as the idea that the sellers really had no intention to treat the sale as a real sale. Perhaps the land reforms will render those oppositions meaningless as well, as now, if this goes through, land in Israel can and will be sold like anything else.

Rav Ovadiah is at least more consistent, if this is really what he holds. Rav Ovadiah paskened during shmitta that heter mechira is acceptable. So this is not in complete opposition to his other decisions as it is with Rav Elyashiv.

So either the article got it wrong, or the psak does not make much sense on the surface of it. At worst, next shmitta year I would expect Rav Elyashiv to be a major supporter of the use of the heter mechira.

(thanks to Jameel for pointing me to the article)


  1. Where a good profit is to be found, there is always a halachic solution. Isn't that how we got the Rabbinic haskamos for Oslo 1 and 2.

  2. Rafi, This doesn't sound right. Do you have a copy of the original psak?

  3. no. I agree it does not sound right.

  4. Rav Eliyashiv also supported the disengagement. And he has no problem with doing mechirat chametz even though you sell the location along with the chametz. He is consistent in his inconsistency, and the obvious explanation is to look at who benefits from each psak.

    This is why some of us do not feel at home in the charedi community, because we cannot find leaders who lead according to the values the Torah requires from us. Being frum in your personal life is not sufficient for this.

  5. No one sells their land for mechiras chametz in EY; it's always leased. Read your forms more carefully next time...

  6. Shlomo - I feel sorry for you that you feel RYSE paskins on a whim, and his main concern is "who benefits from his psak."

    Of course, if you thnk in this convaluded way, you wont be chareidi. You dont understand how psak halacha works, and when you think you understand a little bit of it, you build upon those mistakes instead of correcting them.

    Hopefully when it comes to medicine you are more careful in your research, and dont just throw out highly respected opinions, simply because you dont understand how they were reached

  7. Of course if Shlomo or really any Shlomo doesn't agree with something Rav Eliyashiv is saying or in any way suspects an alterior motive involved, then said Shlomo "must not really understand." We are all incapable of understanding the truth or any reality and so we just don't realize how right the gedolim are and how wrong we are. They are the only ones, these select gedolim, who understand anything because everything is so incomprehensible. Afterall, they are our popes, and what would we do without them?

    And so Oslo 1 Oslo 2 and any other terrible tragedy perpetrated against the Jewish people of course was really the right thing to do and no alterior motives were involved. At all. You just don't understand why it was right and never will. And I, of course, cannot explain to you why it is right, but I certainly will go on hammering away at why you should accept that it is, anyway.



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