Behar-Bechukotai: "And I will lead you upright" (Vayikra 26:13)

Question: Should an individual living in the Land of Israel say in the Bircat Ha-Mazon, "and lead us upright to our Land (le-aretzenu)"?

Answer: I have seen three answers to this question:

1.      Rabbi Yaakov Chagiz (Shut Halachot Ketanot #185) was asked: Should an individual living in the Land of Israel say, "and lead us upright to our Land (le-aretzenu)" or should he change it to "and led us upright IN our Land (be-artzenu)"?  He responds, "This is how people customarily recite it [and lead us upright IN our Land], but if one says "le-artzenu - to our Land," he does not lose out" (Rabbi Chagiz also rules that this is the correct wording in the blessing recited before the Shema in the morning, "Ahavah Rabbah," i.e. it should read "And lead us upright in our Land" instead of "And lead us upright to our Land."  This ruling is also quoted in Minhagei Eretz Yisrael of Rav Yaakov Galis, p. 31).  And Ha-Rav Dov Lior, Rav of Kiryat Arba-Hevron, was once asked the correct formula to recite in the Bircat Ha-Mazon, and he answered: "In Israel, we recite 'in our Land.'"

2.      When asked this question, Ha-Rav Chaim David Halevy (Shut Aseh Lecha Rav 3:13) expressed surprise that people ask about this sentence in the Bircat Ha-Mazon, whose recitation is not obligatory, but do not ask it about a phrase in Musaf, which was established by our Sages in the Anshei Knesset Ha-Gedolah (the Men of the Great Assembly during the Second Temple) and of which one may not omit even one word: "May it be Your will Hashem…that You bring us up in joy to our Land and plant us within our boundaries."  Ha-Rav Halevy explained that this prayer was established for the entire Nation.  As long as the majority of Jews remain in the Exile, it is possible to say "And lead us to our Land," "plant us within our boundaries," etc. since it applies to the entire Nation and not only to those of us who dwell in Eretz Yisrael.  The same idea applies to the phrase in the Bircat Ha-Mazon (i.e. we continue to say "and lead us upright to our Land").   

3.      In this week's parashah, as part of the blessings we will receive for following the Torah, Hashem promises: "And I will lead you upright" (Vayikra 26:13).  Our Sages explain this verse: "With upright posture, so that you do not fear any creature" (Sifra).  But there is something problematic here: Doesn’t the Shulchan Aruch rule, "It is forbidden to walk with upright posture" (Orach Chaim 2:6), which the Mishnah Berurah (#9) explains: "Because you will press against the feet of the Divine Presence of the Omnipresent"?  However, this is not a contradiction: The one refers to the individual who is required to be humble and modest, while the other refers to the entire community which is required to walk upright.  Through this posture the honor of the Divine Presence will be revealed. In practice, the prayer books in Israel say, "le-artzenu - to our Land," since it also means that Hashem should lead the Nation to act in an upright posture.

Conclusion: Even in Eretz Yisrael, one should recite "lead us upright to our Land" in the Bircat Ha-Mazon since it also refers to all of the Jewish People and to the upright posture of the Nation.  One who wishes to change it to "and led us upright IN our Land" may do so, however, since its recitation in the Bircat Ha-Mazon is a custom and not an obligation.