June 10, 2022

Yevamot 83

In today’s daf (Yevamot 83a), reference is made to Mishna Shevi’it 2:6 which discusses the permitted timeline for planting and grafting prior to a Shemitta year – with the halachic requirement being that the seed must already be established in the ground, or the graft sufficiently fused to a tree, before the start of the Shemitta. Given this, the question addressed by the Mishna is how long does it take for a seed to sufficiently grow, or for a graft to sufficiently fuse, for it to be considered ‘established’? According to the Sages, this process requires 30 days. According to Rabbi Yehuda it takes 3 days. And according to Rabbi Yosi and Rabbi Shimon, the period is two weeks. Significantly, we follow the opinion of the Sages (see Rambam, Hilchot Shemitta V’Yovel 3:11) with the understanding that it takes around 30 days for a seed to fully take root.

Interestingly, we find a parallel principle in the halachot relating to mezuzah where, if someone rents a property outside of Israel, they have up to 30 days to put up a mezuzah (see Yoreh Deah 286:22). This is because it takes this period of time to ‘take root’ in this new location. In contrast, someone who rents a property within Israel is obliged to put up a mezuzah immediately. And why? As the Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) explains, it is due to the mitzvah of ‘dwelling in the Land of Israel’ which I understand to mean that it is because a Jew naturally feels rooted when they are in Israel.

Though this law applies in rentals throughout Israel, it is in Jerusalem – whose reunification we celebrate today – where this feeling is undoubtedly most palpable. As Elie Wiesel powerfully explains, “when a Jew visits Jerusalem for the first time, it is not the first time, it is a homecoming.” What this means is that when Jews come to Jerusalem, even if they’ve never visited there before, they automatically feel rooted and reunited with a place where their soul feels profoundly at home.

It has been said that ‘home is where the heart is’, and though many of us do not live in Jerusalem – which means that that our individual hearts are not necessarily in Jerusalem but are, instead, where those we love can be found, there is a national heart of the Jewish people whose home is rooted by our heritage, our prayers, and our hope for a future redemption. And what this means is that Jerusalem is the home of the Jewish people because that is where our national heart is, and has always been.

Yom Yerushalayim Sameach! 

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