The Israeli Legislation as both Halakhic Problem and its Solution: The Complicated Case of Heter ha-Mekhirah

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A decisor’s attitude to using the heter mekhirah (hereinafter: “heter”) in relation to land in Israel as a solution for agricultural labor during the shemitahyear1would appear to be a good litmus test for his attitude toward Zionism. The heterhas become one of the more, if not the most, evident signs of halakhic creativity, shaped by a weltanschauungthat has a positive view of the Zionist undertaking to resettle the Land of Israel, which began at the end of the nineteenth century.2Although the heterdid not originate as a specifically Zionist idea, the decisor with whom the heteris most identified, and who wrote the most significant treatise surrounding this heter (Shabbat ha-’Aretz)and who defended it with all his might, despite his own reservations about it, was Rabbi Abraham Isaac Ha-Kohen Kook.3Thus, it did not take long before the heter became identified with the Zionist outlook, leading in turn to the bitter struggle against the heter by those opposed to Zionism. n this article, I shall claim that decisors who, generally speaking, oppose the State of Israel and its laws have ascribed halakhic status to the latter in order to impugn the halakhic validity of the heter. This action has in turn spurred Religious Zionist elements to act towards amending legislation in such a way that would undercut the arguments of the heter’s opponents. This is an interesting case of using the law to advance a halakhic agenda, something that was raised—as we shall see, based on archival material—in discussions held in the course of the legislative process.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
Journal Jewish Studies Internet Journal
StatePublished - 2018

IHP Publications

  • ihp
  • קוק, אברהם יצחק -- אורות
  • דינא דמלכותא דינא
  • שמיטה
  • Sabbatical year (Judaism)
  • היתר מכירה (שמיטה)
  • שטרנבוך, משה -- רב
  • Sternbuch, Moshe
  • טיטלבוים, יואל -- 1886-1979
  • יהודים ואומות העולם
  • Gentiles
  • הלכה
  • Jewish law


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