Melachim uMilchamot - Chapter 5
A king should not wage other wars before a milchemet mitzvah. What is considered as milchemet mitzvah? The war against the seven nations who occupied Eretz Yisrael, the war against Amalek, and a war fought to assist Israel from an enemy which attacks them.
Afterwards, he may wage a milchemet hareshut, i.e. a war fought with other nations in order to expand the borders of Israel or magnify its greatness and reputation.
There is no need to seek the permission of the court to wage a milchemet mitzvah. Rather, he may go out on his own volition and force the nation to go out with him. In contrast, he may not lead the nation out to wage a milchemat hareshut unless the court of seventy one judges approves.
The king may burst through the fences surrounding fields or vineyards to make a road and no one can take issue with him.
There is no limit to the road the king may make. Rather, it may be as wide as necessary. He need not make his road crooked because of an individual's vineyard or field. Rather, he may proceed on a straight path and carry out his war.
It is a positive commandment to annihilate the seven nations who dwelled in Eretz Yisrael as Deuteronomy 20:17 states: 'You shall utterly destroy them.'
Anyone who chances upon one of them and does not kill him violates a negative commandment as ibid.:16 states: 'Do not allow a soul to live.' The memory of them has already been obliterated.
Similarly, it is a positive commandment to destroy the memory of Amalek, as Deuteronomy 25:19 states: 'Obliterate the memory of Amalek.
It is also a positive commandment to constantly remember their evil deeds and their ambush of Israel to arouse our hatred of them, as ibid.:17 states: 'Remember what Amalek did to you.' The Oral Tradition teaches: ...Remember' - with your mouths; ...Do not forget' - in your hearts.' For it is forbidden to forget our hatred and enmity for them.
All the lands which Israel conquers in wars led by a king and approved by the court are considered as conquered by the people at large. Thus, they have the same status as Eretz Yisrael which was conquered by Joshua in every regard. This only applies if they were conquered after the conquest of Eretz Yisrael as described in the Torah.
It is permitted to dwell anywhere in the entire world with the exception of the land of Egypt. Its territory includes a square of 400 parsah by 400 parsah from the Mediterranean Sea proceeding westward, bordering on the land of Kush and the desert. It is forbidden to dwell in this entire territory.
In three places, the Torah warned against returning to Egypt:
a) 'God has told you, you must never again return on that path' (Deuteronomy 17:16);
b) 'You shall not see it again' (Deuteronomy 28:68);
c) 'You shall never see them again forever' (Exodus 14:13).
Alexandria is included in this prohibition.
It is permitted to return to Egypt for the purpose of trade and commerce and to pass through while conquering other nations. The prohibition consists of settling there.
Lashes are not given as punishment for the violation of this prohibition because at the time one enters, there is no prohibition. Should he decide to settle there, there is no deed involved.
It appears to me that if a king of Israel would conquer the land of Egypt with the approval of the court, it would be permissible to settle there. The prohibition against returning was only given to individuals or to dwell there while it is under the rule of the gentiles for their behavior is more depraved than that of the peoples of other lands as can be inferred from Leviticus 18:3: 'Do not follow the ways of Egypt....'
It is forbidden to leave Eretz Yisrael for the Diaspora at all times except:
to study Torah;
to marry; or
to save one's property from the gentiles.
After accomplishing these objectives, one must return to Eretz Yisrael.
Similarly, one may leave Eretz Yisrael to conduct commercial enterprises. However, it is forbidden to leave with the intent of settling permanently in the Diaspora unless the famine in Eretz Yisrael is so severe that a dinar's worth of wheat is sold at two dinarim.
When do these conditions apply? When one possesses financial resources and food is expensive. However, if food is inexpensive, but a person cannot find financial resources or employment and has no money available, he may leave and go to any place where he can find relief.
Though it is permitted to leave Eretz Yisrael under these circumstances, it is not pious behavior. Behold, Machlon and Kilyon were two of the great men of the generation and they left Eretz Yisrael only out of great distress. Nevertheless, they were found worthy of death by God.
Great sages would kiss the borders of Eretz Yisrael, kiss its stones, and roll in its dust. Similarly, Psalms 102:15 declares: 'Behold, your servants hold her stones dear and cherish her dust.'
The Sages commented: 'Whoever dwells in Eretz Yisrael will have his sins forgiven as Isaiah 33:24 states: 'The inhabitant shall not say 'I am sick.' The people who dwell there shall be forgiven their sins.'
Even one who walks four cubits there will merit the world to come and one who is buried there receives atonement as if the place in which he is buried is an altar of atonement as Deuteronomy 32:43 states: 'His land will atone for His people.' In contrast, the prophet, Amos [7:17, used the expression] 'You shall die in an impure land' as a prophecy of retribution.
There is no comparison between the merit of a person who lives in Eretz Yisrael and ultimately, is buried there and one whose body is brought there after his death. Nevertheless, great Sages would bring their dead there. Take an example, from our Patriarch, Jacob, and Joseph, the righteous.
At all times, a person should dwell in Eretz Yisrael even in a city whose population is primarily gentile, rather than dwell in the Diaspora, even in a city whose population is primarily Jewish.
This applies because whoever leaves Eretz Yisrael for the Diaspora is considered as if he worships idols as I Samuel 26:19 states 'They have driven me out today from dwelling in the heritage of God, saying 'Go, serve other gods.' Similarly, Ezekiel's (13:9) prophecies of retribution state: 'They shall not come to the land of Israel.'
Just as it is forbidden to leave the chosen land for the Diaspora, it is also forbidden to leave Babylon for other lands as Jeremiah 27:22 states: 'They shall be brought to Babylon and there they shall be until I take heed of them... and restore them to this place.'
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