The Torah occasionally says “when you come into the Land you shall do something.” We might have thought that mitzvoth that are dependent on the Land means mitzvoth about which the Torah uses such a phrase. The problem is that the Torah uses this phrase in relation to two mitzvoth that appear together—tefillin and the redemption of the first born donkey (Exodus 13:11-16), two mitzvoth that are obligatory outside the Land.
Therefore, R. Judah interprets the phrase to mean literally you need land to perform the mitzvah. Thus for instance the rules of tithing need land—they refer to produce that grow on the land. Therefore, they are obligatory only in the land. Other mitzvoth such as tefillin that are not connected to the land are obligatory everywhere.
The Talmud now asks how we know the rule that mitzvoth dependent on land (soil) are obligatory in the land of Israel and those not dependent on land are obligatory everywhere. The section expounds on Deuteronomy 12:1 which reads in full:
אֵ֠לֶּה הַֽחֻקִּ֣ים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים֮ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּשְׁמְר֣וּן לַעֲשׂוֹת֒ בָּאָ֕רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֩ נָתַ֨ן יְהוָ֜ה אֱלֹהֵ֧י אֲבֹתֶ֛יךָ לְךָ֖ לְרִשְׁתָּ֑הּ כָּל־הַיָּמִ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּ֥ם חַיִּ֖ים עַל־הָאֲדָמָֽה׃
These are the laws and rules that you must carefully observe in the land that the LORD, God of your fathers, is giving you to possess, as long as you live on earth.
The baraita interprets each phrase in the verse as referring to a different aspect of rabbinic Judaism—study and practice. The key section for the issue at hand is the end. The phrase “in the land” makes it seem that all mitzvoth are obligatory only in the land. On the other hand, the phrase “on the earth” refers to those living anywhere. So which is it?
Now that we have the phrase “in the land” and “on the earth” we have to figure out which commandments are obligatory everywhere and which only in the Land. The baraita determines this from the first mitzvah mentioned immediately thereafter—the mitzvah to uproot idolatry. This is considered a personal obligation—a mitzvah that one does with one’s body, not with the Land. Therefore it is a paradigm for all mitzvoth—any mitzvah that is a personal duty is obligatory no matter where one lives.
I might add that this sugya prevents a limiting of Judaism to those living in the Land, a notion that might have been catastrophic for the history of Judaism. Had rabbis decided that mitzvoth need only be observed inside Israel, one might wonder if Judaism would still exist.
Today’s section begins to discuss the relationship between R. Elazar and the first opinion in the mishnah—is R. Elazar more stringent or more lenient? For convenience sake I reproduce here the mishnah.
Every commandment which is dependent on the land is practiced only in the land [of Israel]; and every commandment which is not dependent on the land is practiced both in and outside the land, except orlah and kilayim.
Rabbi Elazar says: also [the prohibition of] new produce.
The section discusses the meaning of the last word in Leviticus 23:14, which prohibits eating new grain before the omer sacrifice is brought after Pesah. The verse reads:
Until that very day, until you have brought the offering of your God, you shall eat no bread or parched grain or fresh ears; it is a law for all time throughout the ages in all your settlements.
The first possibility is that R. Elazar is stricter than the first opinion. The first opinion says that the prohibition of eating new grain is prohibited only in Israel. The word “settlements” implies that Israel has taken possession and settled the land. Thus the prohibition is only applicable in a place that Israel takes possession of and settles—the Land of Israel. It is unlike orlah and kilayim which are obligatory everywhere.
R. Elazar says that the prohibition of eating new produce applies everywhere, even outside the Land. The word “settlement” implies all settlements, wherever Jews may be living.
According to this reading, the first opinion holds that the prohibition of “hadash” applies everywhere, like orlah and kilayim. R. Elazar would say that hadash is obligatory only inside the land. The word “also” in the phrase, “also new produce” refers back to the beginning of the first tanna’s opinion---like most soil related prohibitions, new produce too is prohibited only in the Land. The word does not relate to its immediate antecedent, “except orlah and kilayim” for according to R. Elazar hadash differs from orlah and kilayim.
In yesterday’s section, the Talmud debated the relationship between R. Elazar and the tanna kamma—was R. Elazar more lenient or stringent vis a vis the prohibition of new produce outside the land of Israel. Today’s section determines an answer to the question.
To prove that R. Elazar is more stringent than the first opinion, and holds that new produce is prohibited everywhere, the Talmud cites a statement made by Abaye. Abaye said that R. Yishmael disagrees with R. Elazar. R. Yishmael holds that wherever “settlement” is stated it means that the mitzvah is obligatory in the land, after Israel has conquered it and settled it. R. Yishmael is therefore lenient—he would rule that the prohibition of new produce is practiced only in the land. If R. Elazar disagrees, that means that he holds that new produce is prohibited everywhere.
Within the baraita, R. Akiva argues that “settlement” is not a sign that the mitzvah is observed only in the land. After all, in Leviticus 23:3, the word is used in reference to Shabbat, and Shabbat is observed everywhere. R. Yishmael seems to think that Shabbat is an exception to the rule because it can be derived through a kal vehomer.
In any case, this proves that R. Elazar holds that new produce is prohibited everywhere. The first opinion holds that it is observed only in the land.
In the baraita, R. Yishmael was referring to the libations brought with offerings (Numbers 15:2). But in this verse two words are used to indicate that the obligation occurs only in the land—תבואו, which means “enter” and “מושבותיכם” your settlements. For the rule to apply both of these words need to be used. If only “settlements” is used, then the mitzvah might apply outside the land.