[from Rav Greenberg, Rosh Yeshivah KBY]
The sages taught us at the end of the Tractate of Ketuvot that “anybody who lives outside of the land is like one who does not have a G-d.” The Baal Hahafla’ah writes that the use of the phrase “is like one” is problematic, because it seems to imply that one who lives abroad has a G-d and merely appears as if he does not have one, while one who lives in the land does not have a G-d but only appears to have one?!
The answer is that we are talking about two different people, a righteous one who lives abroad and an evil one who lives in the land. “The one who lives abroad, even though he studies Torah and performs mitzvot, is like one who does not have a G-d, since he is lacking the mitzva of living in the land, and outside of the land he is under the control of the government and the signs in the Zodiac. But the one who lives in Eretz Yisrael, even if the only mitzva that he has is that of living in the land, appears as if he does have a G-d, since his life is directly under the guidance of the Holy One, Blessed by He.”