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Concerning the capture of Kiryas Sefer, the Torah relates that Yehoshua set 5.000 men and made an ambush. The Torah says that, that night, Yehoshua "went that night into the midst of the valley" (Yehoshua 8:13).

The Gemara in Megillah explains "went that night into the midst of the valley" to mean that Yehoshua studied the depths of halacha:

“And Joshua lodged that night” (Joshua 8:9) “in the midst of the valley [ha’emek]” (Joshua 8:13), and Rabbi Yoḥanan said: This teaches that he spent the night in the depths [be’umeka] of halakha, i.e., that he spent the night studying Torah with the Jewish people.

The Shivlei Pinchas, Rav Pinchas Fridman, quotes the idea from Rav Pinchas Koritzer and says (Shivlei Pinchas, Parshas Shelach 5782):

every single place on earth has its roots and sustenance in the Torah. Based on this premise, the Maggid of Mezritch, zy”a, asserts the following: During the conquest of Eretz Yisrael, Yisrael would study the particular halachah or Torah-portion associated with each and every city; that is how each city was conquered.

The Shivlei Pinchas continues to bring another idea from Rav Pinchas Koritzer:

When Rabbis in earlier times were appointed to serve in a new city, they would give a speech steeped in pilpul, Gemara, and halachah. Presumably, the halachah chosen was germane to the roots and sustenance of the particular location. This enabled the local inhabitants to conquer and sustain the city by adhering to the pertinent precepts of the Torah. Undoubtedly, these earlier Rabbis acted solely l’shem shamayim, intending only to fulfill the will of Hashem.

My question is as follows

  1. Where does the idea come from that every place in Eretz Yisroel has a part in Torah (וכל מקום יש לו חלק ושייכות בתורה). Does this mean that in order to conquer a specific area in Eretz Yisroel, you must first master that corresponding cheilek in Torah.

  2. What is the exact location of the quoted explanation from Rav Pinchas Koritzer?

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  • (1): See google.co.il/books/edition/… perek 18.
    – The GRAPKE
    Feb 8 at 15:35
  • @TheGRAPKE ty. What sefer is that, and what does it say?
    – Shmuel
    Feb 8 at 16:22
  • It seems to be a sefer that was compiled on the praises of Eretz Yisrael about 140 years ago. Chapter 18 says that "the Torah is 'in' Eretz Yisrael", which relates to your first point.
    – The GRAPKE
    Feb 9 at 8:15
  • @TheGRAPKE could you elaborate a bit more? What does it say, what are the sources etc.. I am specifically looking for the two points mentioned in my question.
    – Shmuel
    Feb 11 at 15:49
  • It doesn't address exactly your question which is why I didn't give it as an answer. To wit, it says the place of the Torah is Eretz Yisrael, which implies that each part of the Torah must be associated with a specific part of Eretz Yisrael.
    – The GRAPKE
    Feb 12 at 18:53

2 Answers 2

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The exact location you're looking for is Sha'ar HaTorah, #10 in Rav Pinchas Koritzer's Imrei Pinchas, which is very close to the Rabbi Wolfson book you quote. Here's the original:

אשר יכה קרית ספר וגו' וילכדה עתניאל בן קנז וגו' (יהושע טו,טז). אמר בשם המגיד ממזריטש, דהנה בתורה נברא העולם (זח״א ה,א), וכל מקום יש לו חלק ושייכות בתורה, וכשרצו לכבוש ארץ ישראל עסקו באותה הלכה ששייך באותו מקום ועי"ז כבשוהו. וזהו שכתוב גבי עי וילך יהושע בתוך העמק (יהושע ח,ט) ודרשו רז״ל (מגילה ג,ב) בעמק בעמקה של הלכה, דעסקו באותה הלכה ששייך לעי. והכא לא היו יכולין לכבשה, שזה היה שייך לאותן שלש מאות הלכות שנשתכחו באבלו של משה, עד שבא עתניאל בן קנז והחזיר בפלפולו אותן שלש מאות הלכות וכבשה (עיין תמורה טז,א). וזה קרית ספר, פירוש, עיר שצריך לכבשה על ידי ספר ולימוד. ואמר הוא ז"ל אפשר שזה היה כוונת רבנים הקודמים כשנתמנו בעיר חדשה אמרו להם הלכה תוספות, כדי שיוכלו לכבוש העיר, ומן הסתם זו הלכה היתה שייכת לאותה העיר, כי הקדמונים וודאי כוונו לשם שמים

"And Caleb said: To he who smites Kiriath Sefer, and takes it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter as a wife. And Othniel, son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it" (Joshua 15:16-17). It was said in the name of the Maggid of Mezeritch: Behold, for the Torah was the world created (Zohar 1:5a), and every place has a part and belonging in the Torah. When they sought to conquer the Land of Israel, they dealt with the specific Halacha belonging to each specific place and in this way, they conquered it. As it is written regarding Ai and Joshua spending the night in the valley (Joshua 8:9-13), as our blessed sages expounded (Meg. 3b), "this teaches that he spent the night in the depths [be’umeka] of halakha," dealing with the very halakha regarding Ai. And so they weren't able to conquer it, as it belonged to those three hundred laws that were forgotten after Moshe's death, until Othniel son of Kenaz came and brought back those three hundred halakhot with his argumentation and conquered it (see Temura 16a). And this is Kiriath Sefer, meaning, a city that requires conquering through book and study. And blessed R. Pinchas said: perhaps this was the intention of the early rabbis when they settled in a new city. They were told additional halakha, so that they could conquer the city. This halakha would belong specifically to that city, as the ancients' intentions were for the sake of heaven.

The Chasidic teaching builds upon a baraita in Temurah 16a (with Steinsaltz commentary below):

במתניתין תנא אלף ושבע מאות קלין וחמורין וגזירות שוות ודקדוקי סופרים נשתכחו בימי אבלו של משה אמר רבי אבהו אעפ"כ החזירן עתניאל בן קנז מתוך פלפולו שנאמר (יהושע טו, יז) וילכדה עתניאל בן קנז אחי כלב (הקטן ממנו) [ויתן לו את עכסה בתו לאשה]

It is taught in a baraita: One thousand and seven hundred a fortiori inferences, and verbal analogies, and minutiae of the scribes were forgotten during the days of mourning for Moses. Rabbi Abbahu says: Even so, Othniel, son of Kenaz, restored them through his sharp mind [pilpulo], as it is stated: “And Caleb said: To he who smites Kiriath Sefer, and takes it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter as a wife. And Othniel, son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it; and he gave him Achsah his daughter as a wife” (Joshua 15:16–17). The name “Kiriath Sefer,” which literally means the village of the book, is homiletically interpreted as a reference to those parts of the Torah that were forgotten, while the phrase “took it” is referring to Othniel’s acumen and learning.

The Maggid takes this homiletic interpretation of the name of Kiryat Sefer further, saying that a city is conquered through book (sefer) and learning. And it is out of this that Rav Pinchas brings down the teaching of learning halachot related to a conquered city.

I'm unfamiliar with the deeper kabbalistic literature about conquering land, but the Rav Pinchas teaching does cite a Zohar that makes some connection between the holiness of the earth and learning, saying that words of Torah rise up to become "lands of the living" before they come back down to form a new land:

וכל אינון שאר מלין דאורייתא דמתחדשין, קיימין קמי קב"ה וסלקין ואתעבידו ארצות החיים ונחתין ומתעטרין לגבי ארץ חד ואתחדש ואתעביד כלא ארץ חדשה, מההיא מלה דאתחדש באורייתא

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  • Wonderful @Aryeh. Several points: 1) would you like to provide an English translation for the piece of the Imrei Pinchas? 2) Where is the exact location of that Maggid of Mezeritch? 3) Can this Imrei Pinchas be found online, or do you have a physical copy of it? Thanks!
    – Shmuel
    Feb 13 at 16:26
  • @Shmuel 3) I have a physical copy of it. 2) The Imrei Pinchas gives a citation for the Maggid (Arvei Nahal, parashat shelach, second drush), but I don't see any explicit reference to the Maggid there. This needs further investigation. 1) if I have time, I'll work on a translation
    – Aryeh
    Feb 13 at 19:19
  • Thanks. I'll accept the great answer if you could maybe find the exact words of the Maggid of Mezeritch.
    – Shmuel
    Feb 13 at 20:10
  • This Arvei Nachal?
    – Shmuel
    Feb 13 at 20:16
  • care to provide an English translation as discussed? If you will be able to help me locate also the location of the Maggid, then I will accept the answer.
    – Shmuel
    Feb 22 at 19:17
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The bounty is still active, but I would like to point in a certain direction.

Rabbi Moshe Wolfson quotes Rabbi Pinchas Koritzer in his sefer "Tzion V'areha" (Hakdama, p. 9), which is a sefer that specifically talks about Eretz Yisroel. He writes:

"אשר יכה קרית ספר וגו' עתניאל בן קנז וגו'" (יהושע טו:טז). אמר בשם המגיד ממזריטש, דהנה בתורה נברא העולם, וכל מקום יש לו חלק ושייכות בתורה, וכשרצו לכבוש ארץ ישראל עסקו באותה הלכה ששייך באותו מקום ועי"ז כבשוהו. וזש"כ [גבי עי] "וילן בעמק" - בעמקו של הלכה, דעסקו באותה הלכה ששייך לעי. והכא [גבי קרית ספר] לא היו יכולין לכבשה, שזה היה שייך לאותן ש' הלכות שנשתכחו באבלו של משה, עד שבא עתניאל בן קנז והחזיר בפלפולו אותן ש' הלכות וכבשה. וזה "קרית ספר", פי' עיר שצריך לכבשה ע"י ספר ולימוד. ואמר הוא נ"י אפשר שזה היה כוונת רבנים הקודמים כשנתמנו אמרו להם הלכה תוס' כדי שיוכלו לכבוש העיר, ומן הסתם זו הלכה היתה שייכת לאותה העיר, כי הקדמונים ודאי כוונו לשם שמים

He seems to be quoting the Imrei Pinchas, a sefer by Rav Pinchas Koritzer (seemingly).

He says, and quotes the Magid of Mezeritch, that since the world was created by the Torah, every single place has a part in the Torah. When they wanted to conquer Eretz Yisroel, they needed to learn and master the halachos, the cheilek of Torah that city was associated with.

But then again, where does this idea come from (was the Magid of Mezeritch the first, was it his idea?) and what does it mean in a clear language. Is it considered kabbalistic, or do we need to see it in the most plain meaning?

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