The Day That Satmar Became Mainstream

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114 Responses

  1. Rocco Lampone says:

    It is incorrect to state that the Satmar Rav’s views regarding the sources of the nissim are becoming mainstream; whether those views are predicated on the tenets that miracles brought out via the Zionists came from other sources or, not accepting or suspecting, the Zionisitic version of the imperative self-defense nature of the war. (Surely, if the main purpose of an IDF military endevour was to broaden the boundries as part of the Zionist dream, there is little room for dispute regarding the propriety of the sacrafice of Jewish lifes. When some members of the Israeli government question the necessity of military actions, we must ask ourselves why we unquestionably excepted the official reasons for the actions; is it based on objective reasoning, is it based on naivete, or, especially in circumstances where reasonable people can disagree, are we biased by our subconsious or conscious Zionistic tendencies, that we fill simcha by the fact that Jews have more control/superior military might and we can ‘take the gulos by the horn’s’ thinking. This should lead to introspection, to the contraty, how many of us, even in yeshivishe circles, are adversely affected by Zionisim. Is the elation fealt when one sees the pictures of Goren with the shofer purely one of releif from immenent harm or is it deeper then that. No wonder that the Satmar Rav spoke disparagently said that anyone who feels simcha regarding the IDF’s victories and attending the Kosel can proximately cause one to have those type of feelings)
    It is also incorrect to imply that R’ Yoilish’s views regarding the three oaths were exclusively representative of the views of the Hungarian Gedolim. The Brisker Rav and many others, had similar views. Regardless, most the Gedolim were admantly against the estblishment of the state and the Brisker Rav famously lamented ‘who takes responsibility for the Jewish lives that were lost in the War of Independence’. Therefore, celebrating the creation of the state, on its anniversery or at other times, is not the Torah approach.

  2. Jacob Suslovich says:

    Who are the “we” referred to in this article? Not changing nusach hatfillahs is a protest against the secular government. It is not seen by most as a rejection of the idea that klal Yisroel should rule Eretz Yisroel and that all Jews should feel hakoras hatov for soldiers who fight for klal yisroel.

  3. Joel Katz says:

    I hope your readers will take note of the most powerful words in your post (did you save the best for last?) “…is it possible that we subconsciously realize that we are incapable of offering practical solutions to the inevitable dilemmas and challenges of self-government and therefore prefer to retreat into a ghetto and wait for mashiach.”

    Joel Katz
    Editor, Religion and State in Israel

  4. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    The thing people forget is that even R. Yoilish zt”l was not nearly as militant as people today ascribe him to have been. For a “Zionist” was not so much a person as much as an abstract embodiment for what was wrong with klal Yisrael. Yes he was fiercely opposed to politcal Jewish nationalism. But his opposition was purely religious and never political. Thus he consistently refused to participate in anti-Israel rallies out of fear that pro Arab elements would be there and politicise the issue, and thus dilute the religious message he wanted to impart. Moreover, his ahavat Yisrael transcended even his deep seated religious opposition to the Medinah. I don’t recall which presidential candidate it was who visited R. Yoilish zt”l and asked him what would pleasea the rav were this candidate to eb elected. The Satmer Rav grabbed his arm and said “Sell weapons to Israel.” Religious doctrine was one thing. Jewish lives quite another.

    [Editor’s note: It was Hubert Humphrey]

  5. shloi says:

    We should never underestimate the influence of Satmar on traditional charedi hashkofo. Also Rav Shach’s influence was significant.

    The cooperation with the state’s institutions is seen as unavoidable in order to benefit from the resources that enable the continuity of the charedi way of life,and the charedi world really feels guilty in not following Satmars ideology re the state.

    To me this explains the sympathy towards Satmar vs. the reservations towards Rav Kook, although both approaches were rejected by the majority of charedi gedolim.

  6. joel rich says:

    You might find the answer to your last question here:
    http://www.csstorage.org/audio/downloadaudio.php?audio=21

    Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks: After Modern Orthodoxy, Then What?

    My comments follow:

    Sometimes you hear someone articulate what for you is an inchoate ( imperfectly formed or formulated ) inner voice. In the attached audio link, you’ll find a beautiful (IMHO) articulation of one of my favorite themes combining the Rav (among others) [our mutual covenant of destiny ] and Thomas Cahill (Gift of the Jews) and the concepts of cyclical (halachik) time {clock related} and historical {covenantal} time. While we may be good at the clock stuff (e.g. daily prayers) where do we stand in our role as members of a people who have a covenantal destiny (e.g. bringing the ultimate redemption)?

    Why did Jews stop recording history in any real way after churban? Perhaps we became cyclical and lost our historical/prophetic voice – Rabbis Hirsch, Kook and Soloveitchik all were moving back to covenantal/prophetic approach which hadn’t been seen in millennia (no wonder they were opposed ).

    His charge to us: build a modern (chochma) chesed society in Israel but listen to the music of time (The Rav called this – “God’s psak through history “) and always ask – what does God want of me/us (as individuals and as members of a covenantal community) now?

    KT

  7. lacosta says:

    >While we might differ as to the permissability of benefiting from the State, we do not challenge the contention – at least openly – that we consider ourselves to be legal aliens in its confines. We vote in its elections to protect ourselves rather than to try to exert real influence…

    —this is no doubt the source of animosity to the haredi israeli community, who by their own admission seek only as much benefit as they can accumulate; without taking on any of the burden of a Statehood that is too problematic to deal with. as odious as the charges of ‘parasitism’ are, r landesman must admit that they emerge from the dilemma he writes about….

  8. Jewish Observer says:

    “While we might differ as to the permissability of benefiting from the State, we do not challenge the contention – at least openly – that we consider ourselves to be legal aliens in its confines”

    – This touches on a very important point. The fact that we get so upset when the govenment does things that we consider irreligious necessarily implies that we hold of the government in a nationalistic way. Otherwise why do we feel so compelled and justified to speak out more against e.g. chillul shabbos than we would if some foreign government wouldn’t respect shabbos. The Brisker Rav, in fact, “got” this and directed his students davka NOT to get more wound up about the goings on in Israel than they would have in Poland. But, as you point out, we, are are not noheg like this, so are minei ubei reinforcing the system we claim to decry.

  9. Gershon says:

    “Or is it possible that we subconsciously realize that we are incapable of offering practical solutions to the inevitable dilemmas and challenges of self-government and therefore prefer to retreat into a ghetto and wait for mashiach.”

    The closest parallel is Dayan Waldenberg ZT”L with the reprinting 2 years ago (or was it 3 already?) of his “Hilchos Medina.” On one hand, he wrote an entire sefer of teshuvos how to deal with a modern government/society within a halachic framework, yet his family had to publicly insist that he wasn’t a tzioni.

  10. dovid landesman says:

    Mr. Suslovish
    Not changing nusach hatfillahs is a protest against the secular government.

    Adding a misheberach for chayalei Tzahal [even more than omitting the misheberach for the medinah] is not seen by most as a rejection of the idea that klal Yisroel should rule Eretz Yisroel and that all Jews should feel hakoras hatov for soldiers who fight for klal yisroel [your words, not mine]. Please! The absence of “any” kind of acknowledgement of these historical events [see my previous post about yom ha-zikaron] seems to be a clear choice to adopt the Satmar hashkafa – not necessarily out of identification – but out of an inability to formulate an alternative.

    I do not want to enetr into a halachic discussion when additions may be made and by whom. Rather, I would like to focus on the question of motivations for what has clearly been a change of position. Many said Hallel or at least marked Yom Yerushalayim at first; few continue the practice. I raised my analysis of the phenomena, I would enjoy hearing yours.

    to Iacosta
    I do admit that the charges emerge from the dilemma. However, I contend that the dilemma itself can be overcome, if it is placed on the agenda.

    Dovid Landesman
    Dovid Landesman

  11. Chaim Wolfson says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Landesman, for a thought-provoking post. (BTW, are you related to the Rabbi Landesman who was once the “s’gan menahel” in TV High School?)

    The problem I have with posts like this is that the issue of Zionism and the State of Israel is a very emotionally charged one, on both sides of the coin. Emotions, however, play a minimal role in how we must relate to events from a Torah perspective. And those who are most qualified to offer a Torah view generally do not spend time blogging. Nevertheless, since this is, after all, a blog, I refuse to allow my lack of qualifications to deter me from offering a few comments. You take as a given that the lack of enthusiasm for Yom Yerushalayim in the “yeshiva community” is proof of the mainstream acceptance of the Satmar Rav’s “shitah”. You question only WHY that “shitah” became mainstream. But that hypothesis implies that the reason R’ Dov Schwatzmam reinstated the saying on “tachanun” in his yeshiva (where, I assume, he was the one who made decisions of this sort) just three years after the six-day war was that he accepted the Satmar Rav’s “pronounced and total antipathy toward medinas Yisrael.” Obviously, I can hardly claim to know R’ Dov as well as you do, but I still find that hard to believe. A pity you didn’t ask him for an explanation.  
    Could you elaborate on the basis for your interpretation of the reactions of R’ Yaakov and R’ Schorr? Couldn’t it simply have reflected their profound relief at the removal of the mortal danger with which millions of our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael were faced? Not to mention the fact that the holiest spot on earth was now once more accesible to us (the words “haKotel b’yadeinu” still send shivers down MY spine; how much more so did those “gedolei yisrael” recognize the significance of the event).
    From what I heard, the Satmar Rav did not prohibit his chassidim from going to the Kosel because it was “freed by the kochos hatumah.” Rather, he was concerned that the natural “hakaras hatov” they felt toward the IDF (which, as relatives of mine who lived through the events tell me, was shared by the ENTIRE SPECTRUM of Jews in Eretz Yisrael), which would undoubtedly be reinforced by a visit to the Kosel, would cause them to identify on some level with the State.

    Finally, are there really any Chareidim who feel like “aliens” within Israel? Perhaps some or most don’t feel like citizens of the State, but they don’t feel that their right of residence in Eretz Yisrael derives from the State either. Which, of course, it doesn’t.

  12. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    The difficulty of the position of hareidi Jews toward the state of Israel is composed of two parts: first, the intrinsic question of whether there should be Jewish sovereignty in EY before Mashiach; and second, the issue of the Jewish state in EY being ruled by reshaim, wicked people whose standards and laws are opposed to Torah and mitzvot. The position of Rav Kook was that the very return to the land and movement toward sovereignty was a first step toward returning to Hashem, therefore it would be possible to be positive toward political Zionism and its practical arms, settlement and the military. He was aware, as he expressed in various places in his writings, that there would eventually be a divide between those who would draw nearer to G-d and Torah and those who would pull away from nationalism as well. He was not naive about that. In the religious zionist public the sensitivity to this problem has been growing in recent years for various reasons, not only the expulsion from Gaza and the pogrom at Amona. The public has been chastened and has begun to see that being fellow-travelers of secular Zionism is not enough, we must work to bring Jews back to Torah and we must struggle to bring the state to Torah. Israel and Jews are seen vis a vis the gentiles as religious Jews are seen opposite secular Israel. Israel takes US money with questionable economic gain and earns enmity as a result. Independence is preferable. The haredim who are in the middle between R. Yoilish and R. Kook are losing their appeal because they a defending a position of “safek”, doubt, rather than clarity. Eventually there must be “birur”, clarification, and history will inevitably lead us there.

  13. Chardal says:

    Perhaps an answer can be gleaned from a statement attributed to Yisrael Meidad (who, while not observant himself, was close to tradition and had contacts with thinkers from all sides of the religious spectrum).

    He once said that he understood the positions of the students of Rav Kook … and he understood the positions of the Neturei Karta … but for the life of him, he could never understand the position of anyone in the middle of that religious spectrum.

    Perhaps that is the answer. Certain circles of chareidi gedolim in EY (R’ Shach, the Steipler) felt a natural kinsship with the Eidah – a kinship they did not share with religious zionists for many many cultural and religious reasons. These thinkers formulated their division with religious zionism in ideological terms while formulating their division with the Eidah in terms of practicality – not ideology. This means that there is only one direction to go in (especially since after the passing of R’ SZ Auerbach, these circles were the dominant ones in EY). So, in a community that is tending more and more towards extremes – while at the same time feeling farther and farther away from the open miracles of 40 years ago. Isn’t what we see the logical result?

  14. Nachum says:

    “Not changing nusach hatfillahs is a protest against the secular government.”

    Being a confirmed and unconflicted Zionist, this isn’t really my discussion to insert myself into, but I can’t help but point out that tefillot for Tzahal, Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut, etc. etc. are about as far from actions of a “secular government” as you can get. Either they have nothing to do with the “secular government” (remember, a State is not a government) or that government isn’t so “secular” after all. You can take your pick, but you can’t have it both ways.

  15. aron feldman says:

    Why did R”Dov Schwartzman discontinue the seuda?

  16. Jewish Observer says:

    “Finally, are there really any Chareidim who feel like “aliens” within Israel? Perhaps some or most don’t feel like citizens of the State, but they don’t feel that their right of residence in Eretz Yisrael derives from the State either. Which, of course, it doesn’t.”

    – Thing is, they take it a step further. They look for the state to act religiouly, even when it doesn;t enhance their own person relgiosity (e.g. El Al on shabbos). Veist Ois, they are machshiv the government as a having religious import.

  17. Loberstein says:

    One of the tragedies of contemporary Jewish life is not only the ignorance of history but the active rejection of truthful accounts of the past. The gedolim that I knew were much more tolerant . Rav Ruderman told me and I quote”the medina is not a bad thing, where would Jews have gone if there were no Medina, the Medina saved lives.” I never heard the anti-medina talk until I met such people in Israel. Today, we take Jewish strength for granted. Just think, Israel evacuated thousands of Ethiopian Jews in a 48 hour non stop airlift. Imagine if there had been a medina in 1939 and we could have evacuated the Jews of Warsaw. It is only a 3 hour flight to Israel from Poland. If we would have had a state, how different it could have been. Who in his right mind doesn’t want an independent Jewish State in Eretz Yisroel. I couldn’t care less if it is “reishit tzmichat geulateinu” or not, I just want a place where we Jews can build our lives as normal people, religion being one part of that, and no longer be “nebechs” adrift and abandoned. Thank G-d for Israel and how in the world can anyone not feel that way!

  18. Jewish Observer says:

    “I couldn’t care less if it is “reishit tzmichat geulateinu” or not, I just want a place where we Jews can build our lives as normal people, religion being one part of that, and no longer be “nebechs” adrift and abandoned”

    – It is hard to separate the two. How can we assume we are past the time of being nebechs – a period that lasted thousands of years – without believing that the state represents we are somehow a step closer to the geulah?

  19. cvmay says:

    For those who have leisure on hand and want to understand this issue in depth, I would recommend a book by Aviezer Ravitzky, “Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism”.
    Insightful, honest, factual with all quotes foot noted from the Satmar Rebbe, Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Kook, Rav Grozovsky, Rav Shach and onward.

  20. LazerA says:

    In connection to the story about the Satmar Rav mentioned by Daniel Schwartz (in which the Satmar Rav urged Hubert Humphrey to sell weapons to Israel), see the commentary of R’ Zalman Sorotzkin in his Oznayim L’Torah, Devarim 13:14 (I think) regarding the prohibition of destroying a border city as an ir hanidachas.

  21. aron feldman says:

    Hagaon Harav R”Dov Schwartzman is a Chevron product,and an original thinker,not a Satmar satelite.I imagine he was put off by the indifferent and Kefera type attitude that was expressed by Moshe Dayan and Golda Meir etc..

  22. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    >> We draw ourselves further and further into isolation – ostensibly because the external world has become more dangerous. But is that the real reason? Or is it possible that we subconsciously realize that we are incapable of offering practical solutions to the inevitable dilemmas and challenges of self-government and therefore prefer to retreat into a ghetto and wait for mashiach. <<

    Neither are the real reason. The reason is because Charedi governing of a Jewish State without acceptance of Halachah as its constitution is not viable.

    As a hypothetical, let us propose Rabbi Landesman as the Prime Minister. Rabbi Landesman happens to think that Rabbi Sherman’s approach to Giyur is correct, but he is bound by the Supreme Court’s injunction, should it come to that (the State has 90 days to respond), to accept Rabbi Druckman’s approach.

    Do you resign or sacrifice your Halachic principles?

    In terms of competence – do you have any particular reason for preference of Ehud Olmert over Moshe Gafni? Practical solutions to dilemmas? Who asks who whether to exchange live prisoners for dead bodies – Rav Ovadya Yosef asks the Cabinet, or the other way round? Who do you think is more likely to get it right? War or compromise? Do you advocate a secular-based solution or a Halachah oriented one? Why do you think the Torah has no answer to this?

    Media spokesmanship and foreign affairs- who would you prefer – Avigdor Lieberman types or Reuven David Miller, a Pittsburgher Chosid? Who was the first Israeli ambassador to Great Britian (a very, very delicate and demanding position at the time)? A Charedi!

    In determining facts on the ground, no group is more effective than the Charedim.

  23. cvmay says:

    “I imagine he was put off by the indifferent and Kefera type attitude that was expressed by Moshe Dayan and Golda Meir etc..”

    They were ONLY hashem’s messengers to test the strength of our emunah and bitachon.

  24. Loberstein says:

    CV May brought up the name of Avi Ravitzky, a truly great man and someone who could have been a leader of Israel. Tragically, he was hit by a bus several years ago and though alive, is a shadow of his former self. I heard a shiur by Rabbi Moshe Lichtenstein last week and went up to him afterwards and said something I have rarely said.”I agree with you 100%”. We briefly talked about Meimad, the normative, tolerant, ethical ,accepting brand of Religious Zionism preached by the leaders of his yeshiva, Har Etzion. He told me that the Meimad experiment proved two things,”we exist and we are a minority”. In his shiur he balanced many social justice and live and let live values with “ani ve afsi od” ( I only care about myself). If only we had leaders like that, we could build a viable Jewish State. My hope and prayer is that, with time, the extremes will lose their dominance and normality will become more the norm. I think I am part of the silent majority in the “orthodox’ world. However, as long as the meshugaim run the institution, I guess I wouldn’t be orthodox enough, so maybe I will have to call myself something else.Any suggestions?

  25. Steve Pudell says:

    I think that in many ways — the Charedi world (possibly more so in America than in Israel) — does not know what they believe in regard to the medinah. Anecdotally, I would point to the pages of coverage on the IDF that are in each week of the (American) HaModia. I think this means more than just the fact that the Charedi community here has relatives living in Israel for whom they are concerned.

    I agree with the posters who have pointed out that there was never a doubt historically (except maybe for Satmar) that the return of a Jewish Government to the land of Israel had at least some religious significance. At least for me, in the US, looking at Jewish history as a whole, it is impossible to believe that the founding and daily existence of the Medinah is devoid of religious signifcance — and I would find such a view (ie. that the events of 1948 and 1967 are not religious events) to be depressing.

    I would point out — on the lighter side — that a “charedi” relative of mine who actually lives in Israel quipped that — he doesnt think much about these issues because he actually lives in Israel. But if it didnt work out for him in Israel — he could always move back to the states and be a Zionist.

    Steve Pudell

  26. Jewish Observer says:

    “Why did R”Dov Schwartzman discontinue the seuda?”

    – It’s no bigger of a kushya why he stopped than why he started in the first place. As implied in his words, quoted above, to ignore it that first year, given the total mood of the country and the incredible change, would show incredible callousness. Those factors aren’t necessarily the same the next year. It isn’t at all a diminishment of his greatness or a sign of charata that he changed his practice the next year (not that you were implying otherwise).

  27. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    #12 Chardal — Have to call you on an error. Yisrael Meidad (Winkleman) is alive and frum and living in Shiloh. You meant Yisrael Eldad (Scheib) z”l, some of whose writings just came out in a Hagada edited by Yehuda Etzion.

  28. cvmay says:

    “Why do you think the Torah has no answer to this?” The torah has all the answers (yet in this case the Charedei world is waiting for the Mashiah to formulate the solutions)

    Since the publication of the sefer of Rav Waldenberg zt”l on ‘Malchus and Medinah’, there has been no serious halachik attempt within the Charedei world to delve into the working details of the future malchus Dovid in Eretz Yisroel.

  29. aron feldman says:

    I heard a shiur by Rabbi Moshe Lichtenstein last week and went up to him afterwards and said something I have rarely said.”I agree with you 100%”. We briefly talked about Meimad, the normative, tolerant, ethical ,accepting brand of Religious Zionism preached by the leaders of his yeshiva, Har Etzion. He told me that the Meimad experiment proved two things,”we exist and we are a minority”. In his shiur he balanced many social justice and live and let live values

    R”Leonard,

    I heard from Rabbi Rakefet,that the Gush was a 50/50 split between the Realistic Zionists and the Messianic camp.RAL being realistic and Rav Amital being of the latter.Over the years the Realists won out

  30. Robert Lebovits says:

    Dodi,
    As mentioned by one commentator, the Satmar Rebbe, zt”l, was much less strident in his anti-Zionism than his chassidim would have it believed.
    A true story: My uncle, Moshe Weiss z”l, was a chasid of the Rebbe from the time he became a hausbochur by the Rebbe in Krula, even before the Rebbe arrived in Satmar. He remained a faithful & most trusted chasid his entire life & had an exceptionally close kesher to Rav Yolish. Immediately after the Six-Day War he left Los Angeles to visit Israel for the first time, stopping in Brooklyn to visit with the Rebbe before his trip. At that time a Kol Koreh has gone out from Satmar forbidding chassidim from going to any of the Holy Sites including the Kotel, Kever Rachel, Chevron, etc. Some of the chassidim warned my uncle that he must follow the Rebbe’s authority & avoid the forbidden places. My uncle was not a timid or heartless man. As soon as he arrived, he hired a private car & driver to take him EVERYWHERE there was to go. (He once said someone who does not go to Kever Rachel to say Tehilim with all his kevanah is not a Jew). At no time did he hide his actions. In fact, when he returned to the States he went to the Rebbe for a bracha before travelling to LA – only to be physically impeded from entering the Rebbe’s home by some young chassidim who had heard about his violation of the Kol Koreh. He argued loudly until the Rebbe could hear the tumult outside and called out “Vos geit du for?” (What’s going on?). My uncle answered, “Rebbe, zei los mir nicht arahn!” (They won’t let me in!). “Fahr vos Moshe?” (Why Moshe?). “Vahl ich hab gegangen oif de Makomos Hakedoshim.” (Because I went to the Holy Sites). After a pause, the Rebbe called out, “Moshe, du bist gegangen oif ergehrer pletzer. Kim arahn shoin!” (Moshe, you’ve been to worse places. Come in!).
    Sadly while the chareidi world may have adopted the Rebbe’s Gevurah in regard to the Medinah, his intense Rachamim for all of Klal Yisroel has been lost in the process.

  31. Nachum says:

    “We briefly talked about Meimad, the normative, tolerant, ethical ,accepting brand of Religious Zionism preached by the leaders of his yeshiva, Har Etzion. He told me that the Meimad experiment proved two things,”we exist and we are a minority”.”

    Meimad might have gotten someplace if they didn’t have such a Pollyannish view of the peace process. (That’s taking a generous view of their view.) And if they didn’t view everyone else as not normative, tolerant, ethical, and accepting.

  32. Chardal says:

    >#12 Chardal — Have to call you on an error. Yisrael Meidad (Winkleman) is alive and frum and living in Shiloh. You meant Yisrael Eldad (Scheib) z”l, some of whose writings just came out in a Hagada edited by Yehuda Etzion.

    You got me. I was thinking Eldad. Don’t know why I wrote Meidad.

  33. aron feldman says:

    Comment by Nachum — May 19, 2009

    Pardon my ignorance,but what are their veiws on the Peace Process?

  34. Yaakov Menken says:

    Chardal… Eldad & Meidad, isn’t it obvious? [Numbers 11:26]

  35. Esther says:

    Um, might the middle-of-the-roaders have been somewhat disappointed in the medina? By the second or third Yom Ha’atzmaut Yemenite Jewry was all but lost to Judaism.

  36. cvmay says:

    This is a long post full of essential information for those who strive to understand past events as they occurred (not rewritten history for publication):

    in 1968 Agudat Yisrael held a major convention, known as a Knessiah Gedolah. It was not long after the SIx_Day War and the main topic of discussion was how to explain Israel’s victory in the war theologically. In essence, they were debating ‘Was the victory a miracle or not?’
    ……After a number of speeches by very prominent Torah leaders, it appeared that the assembly was going to adopt a resolution accepting the Satmar Rebbe’s view that the State of Israel and her victory in the Six-Day War was an act of Satan to test the Jewish People and pull us away from Hashem. Sensing what was coming, Rabbi Itzche Meyer Levine, a long time, loyal Agudaist who had also been a member of the Polish partiament, asked for the microphone and said, “How is it that when tragedy strikes, when calamity falls, we explain with certainty tht it is Yad Hashem punishing us. Yet when something good happens, when three and a half million Jewish lives are saved, we say it is not the hand of G-d, but of Satan?”
    Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky zt”lws very moved by Rabbi Levine’s words, and he wrote a note to the chairman of the conference to the effect that the final notes of the proceedings should reflect Rabbi Levine’s remarks. Rabbi Kaminetsky expressed this opinion again at another Knessiah Gedolah in 1977, Speaking on the issue of zealotry, the venerable rabbis said: “There is a need for a tempering of kanaout with a well-rounded view, for all our misgivings with the motivation behind the creation of the State and the leadership that guided it, we must realize that were it not for the creation of the State in 1948, a million Jews would have become assimilated as result of the despair that followed the destruction of World War II…. Similarly, the miracles in the 1967 war also had their place. (I refute again the idea that miracles can emanate from a satanic source. Miracles of such magnitude can only be performed by a force for good). In response to the 1967 war, hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews awaoke from their forced slumber and accepted their Jewishness with a pride and a sense of purpose, starting another miracle of their own.”**

    **This sentiment, though, was not the general attitude in the yeshiva world.

  37. Loberstein says:

    Satmar and its fellow travellers have grown large due to internal growth. Who would have imagined this 60 years ago? They had a great leader who was a father to his people.Yehi zichro boruch. The Yeshiva world also had great leaders who rebuilt the olom hatorah. Something went wrong with the National Religious , I still don’t quite get it. Why aren’t they bigger? Why has their party disappeared? Why don’t they have more influence on the State of Israel? Is it a lack of great leaders? The MIzrachi should be much bigger than the Agudah, but it isn’t, that is counter intuitive. How have the mighty fallen. Who is closer to the original Mizrachi,Meimad or the settlers in downtown Hebron, the ones who belileve in peaceful coexistence with the rest of the Jews of Israel or the ones who live isolated by their messianic dreams . Who is closer to Rav Shmuel Mohilever or Rav Reines?

  38. Chardal says:

    >Um, might the middle-of-the-roaders have been somewhat disappointed in the medina? By the second or third Yom Ha’atzmaut Yemenite Jewry was all but lost to Judaism.

    Wow, that would be a major surpize to all the members of our local yemenite shul.

  39. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Rav Yisachar Teichtal has a very insightful statement in his “Eim Habanim Semeicha” which has always helped me deal with the cognitive dissonance caused by the negative position of so many gedolei Torah.

    Rav Teichtal said, in regard to the Meraglim:

    Even the greatest gadol in Torah and righteousness should not trust himself when he opposes the movement to build the Land. He should not think that his intentions are fully for the sake of Heaven, for he is certainly no greater in Torah and righteousness than the princes whom Moshe sent.

    This enables one to wonder if maybe those satanic forces where at work veiling some of our greatest Rabbis rather than trying to (or having the power to) openly manipulate world events in order to dupe the entire Jewish nation.

  40. cvmay says:

    Mr. Loberstein, Who is closer to Rav Shmuel Mohilever or Rav Reines?
    The teachings of neither of these great leaders was duplicated upon arrival in Eretz Yisroel.
    The majority of the present day National Religious kehillas are followers of Rav Avrohom Yitzchak Hacohen Kook zt”l and his prominent talmidim (all who added/subtracted from his original thoughts), Rav Mordechai Eliyahu & Rav Lichtenstein shli”ta, etc. This kehilla rates larger in numbers than the the Agudah block, except due to its diversity you will find NR adherents in every community and political party. They do not participate in block voting which diminishes its strength and purpose.

  41. Esther says:

    The mighty have fallen because the medina looks less and less like an atchalta d’geula. Thus the premise upon which Mizrachi was built is crumbling.

  42. dr. bill says:

    Something went wrong with the National Religious , I still don’t quite get it. Why aren’t they bigger? Why has their party disappeared? Why don’t they have more influence on the State of Israel? Is it a lack of great leaders? The MIzrachi should be much bigger than the Agudah, but it isn’t, that is counter intuitive. How have the mighty fallen. Who is closer to the original Mizrachi,Meimad or the settlers in downtown Hebron, the ones who belileve in peaceful coexistence with the rest of the Jews of Israel or the ones who live isolated by their messianic dreams . Who is closer to Rav Shmuel Mohilever or Rav Reines?

    Comment by Loberstein — May 20, 2009 @ 11:40 pm

    Loberstein, neither meimad or the settleers in downtown Chevron represent the vast majority of dati leumi, a group that has significant rabbinic leadership across what we would call the MO/CO spectrum. They are to their communities every bit as revered as the leaders of the various chareidi communiites. That leadership includes heads of communities, Yeshivot and professors almost all addressing a broad set of issues where a torah perspective on contemporary issues is needed. As has been pointed out, many issues confronting the state, that religious leaders on the right most often do not address, are places where a torah perspective is needed.

    But unlike the groups you mention, they actually are part and parcel of the nation where they reside in. their political adgenda is broader and they participate across the board. while mizrachi, as the rav ztl predicted almost 30 years ago would consume itself by excessive messianism, it disappearance is the natural result as well of a maturing state whose political parties are more than just expressions of their religious beliefs or agendas.

    i might support meimad’s platform or even some descendant of mizrachi on the right, but in the larger scheme of things choosing between Likud, Labor, Kadima, Yisrael Beiteinu, etc. may be more critical.

    sadly, in the view of most israelis and as was pointedly expressed by R. A. Lichtenstein, parties who believe their positions on major issues can be traded for stipends and the like, may be numerically large but hardly respected by the general population. In all due respect, your POV has a tinge of galut mentality.

  43. simairkodesh says:

    Who is closer to the original Mizrachi, Meimad or the settlers in downtown Hebron, the ones who belileve in peaceful coexistence with the rest of the Jews of Israel or the ones who live isolated by their messianic dreams.

    There are many more divisions, subdivisions, and micro divisions bt Meimad and Messianic dreams among Religious Zionists and where would you place the Chardalniks and American Torah Zionist olim?

  44. Steve Pudell says:

    Thank you to Loberstein for his (or her) number 36 post.

    With respect to why the “National Religious” isnt bigger — I have thought — without any proof mind you, that the National Religious “doveishness” with respect to the 1967 war (at least in the way described by Michael Oren in his Six Days of War)– may have led to some sort of dimunition of credibility leadership wise. I could be 100% wrong though.

    BUT — with respect to why “the Mizrachi isnt bigger than the Agudah” I think you answered your own question. Even here in America, the “charedi world” is wielding more and more influence as opposed to the MO world. First, its demographics. The population is just growing faster. Second, its philosophic(al). The MO World (Mizrachi in Israel) has never been homogeneous to the extent the Charedi world is or at least to the extent the Charedi world has become. Indeed, by definition — the Charedi world has strong, non-challenged leadership. That is not so within the Mizrachi world. Can you — in modern times — think of a protracted battle within the charedi world for leadership or direction (except for the odd chasidic succession battle)? You give a perfect example as how the Mizrachi vision is now split between “Meimad [and] the settlers in downtown Hebron.” Third, by definition, the Modern Orthodox/Mizrachi world will not be as singular minded as the Charedi world. Therefore, there are many other disciplines pulling potential leaders into many different directions. Yet, the pool of talent is relatively small.

    Steve Pudell

  45. Joel Rich says:

    Perhaps one should consider the following hypothetical:
    Group A only cares whether Uganda accepts molech as its official religion
    Group B would like Uganda to accept Molech II as its official religion but also has some who are concerned about capitalism and others about socialism.

    which group will wield a larger voting block?
    KT

  46. Esther says:

    Wow, that would be a major surpize to all the members of our local yemenite shul.

    Comment by Chardal

    Are the members mostly BTs or recent immigrants or is your shul one of the exceptions that prove the rule? I don’t think anyone can deny or minimize the tragedy of Yemenite Jewry. Yemenite rabbis have composed beautiful and heartrending kinos to commemorate the terrible loss of their youth.

  47. dovid landesman says:

    SATMAR II
    The comments have strayed off the path of the discussion I had originally wanted to engender. However, the postings about the dimunition of strength of the Mizrachi/MO/Religious Zionist camp seem to me to be totally oblivious to the facts on the ground. I am not a socioligist/anthropologist nor do I have statistics at hand other than an analysis based on Knesset voting. Nevertheless, certain trends seem to be clear to me.
    In the years since the Six Day war, the Mizrachi/HaPoel HaMizrachi has shrunk from twelve seats to three even though the potential electoral base should have increased considerably given the fact that the birthrate in this sector is also way above the national norm. Interestingly, and to my mind even more importantly, the number of members of the Knesset from the Agudah and PAI [since merged into one party along with Degel ha-Torah] has remained absolutely static even though there was very siginificant population growth in this sector. The influx of secular olim from Russia is not a factor because their vote has been absorbed either by or at the expense of the Likud and Labor {Yisrael Beitenu].
    Where have all the voters gone? As a paranthetical remark, remember the levaya of RSZA when almost 300,000 gathered. The question was then raised: “where are all these peiople on election day?”
    There are a number of answers to these questions.
    A] the majority of people who identify themselves as RZ no longer feel a reason to vote for religious parties – either because of the impossibility of effecting any change from within given the undemocratic manner in which candidates are chosen or more likely, because religious issues are no longer as important to these voters as are national/economic and political questions. Simply put, the leadership lost touch with its constituency. Additionally, many of the children and grandchildren of the RZ world, especially those who did not attend the hesder yeshivot or the mechinot, have left the fold and no longer identify themselves as RZs- see what happened to the kibbutz hadati and the religious moshav movement. The settler movement – Gush Emunim – has left the Mizrachi because their rabbinical leadership – Rav Tzvi Yehudah, Rav Avraham Shapiro zt”l and yiblcht [is that how you would abbreviate it] Rav Mordechai Eliyahu – has been totally ignored by the party in reaching decisions. This segment has also concluded that Eretz Yisrael issues [shleimut ha-aretz] is the single most important issue facing the nation.
    B] in the Agudagh world there is a similar phenomena as many potential voters have a deep sense of goel nefesh for the political leadership [see the results of the elections for mayor of Jerusalem]. This translates itself into avoidance of the polls, or voting for Shas [see next paragraph] or in the very best case, placing a gimmel in the ballot box while holding one’s nose. Additionally – and this was the contention that I wanted to present in my original posting – the litvishe yeshiva world, the chassidishe world and the Sefardkenazi wannabees have moved toward Satmar ideologically. As evidence, remember how a sizeable percentage of Gerrer chassidim used to vote PAi with the blessing of the Beis Yisrael. I dare say that were PAI to be reconstituted, this would not be the case. Similarly, the famous Ponovezh flag raising would never be initiated in today’s religious climate in Bnei Brak.
    C]Some of the missing representation has been picked up by Shas which has succeeded in a number of areas; among Sefaradim who used to vote Mizrachi, among Sefaradi bnei yeshiva who identify with Rav Ovadiah shlitah and among those who used to vote Likud when Begin was alive but are now turned off by the pareve leadership of that party. I suspect that there are a great deal of chardalniks who vote Shas [hard to prove without election statistics but apparent in the fact that in polling places without any significant Sefardi registration, there are still quite a few votes for Shas.
    D] Meimad – which was created to present Israeli voters with a party that was not limited to narrow religious issues – never has come close to accruing the necessary votes to win a Knesset seat; their representation was a gift from Labor who wanted to present themselves as representing all sectors of the population. Although there might be a considerable number of potential voters who agree with the views of Meimad, I think that the majority of Israelis view them as a bunch of hopelessly naive Polyannas.
    Again, I would love to hear your comments.
    Dovid Landesman

  48. cvmay says:

    Dear Dovid,

    “remember how a sizeable percentage of Gerrer chassidim used to vote PAi with the blessing of the Beis Yisrael. I dare say that were PAI to be reconstituted, this would not be the case. Similarly, the famous Ponovezh flag raising would never be initiated in today’s religious climate in Bnei Brak”.

    Is today’s religious climate affected by the increase in ‘kanoim le’dvar hashem’? Is there an undercurrent of fear to state a derech hatorah that does not jive with Satmar? If so, why?

  49. aron feldman says:

    >>Although there might be a considerable number of potential voters who agree with the views of Meimad, I think that the majority of Israelis view them as a bunch of hopelessly naive Polyannas.
    Again, I would love to hear your comments.
    Dovid Landesman<<

    Pardon my ignorance but what is polyannish about Meimad?

  50. Esther says:

    “…the Satmar Rebbe’s view that the Six Day War victory was an act of Satan…”
    (cvmay)

    The Satmar rebbe zt”l explained his view in his famous “Naso Torah” of that year, from which I condense and translate the following points:

    1. The victory was not miraculous. The Zionists were militarily superior by far and defeated the Arabs by derech hateva. (He remembered how the Zionists boasted that they have no fear of the Arab cowards.)

    2. H’ does not perform miracles through reshaim. The army is “ervas davar”, full of sin and kefirah, where H’ says he does not dwell.

    3. If it can possibly be attributed to miracles, it’s clearly from the sitra achra, a nisayon to test our faith.

    Each of these points is based on extensive research in gemara, rishonim and acharonim, as explained in his monumental works, V`yoel Moshe and Al Hageulah V’al Hatemurah.

    As a P.S. let me point out that the Satmar chassidim and schoolchildren said tehillim fervently all during those scary days, begging H’ to save the Jews in peril.

  51. cvmay says:

    Esther, you have just confirmed the shitahs of zealotry which was NOT accepted by Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky zt”l.

  52. dovid landesman says:

    Pardon my ignorance but what is polyannish about Meimad?
    Aron Feldmman

    Perhaps referring to Meimad as “kumbaya” Judaism would be a more accurate description. In any event, Pollyanna as defined by Merriam Webster – a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything.

    I characterized Meimad as Pollyanna because their platform and their spokesmen refused to admit that there are irreconcilable problems connected to religious vs. secular visions of Israeli society and tried to sell the public a vision of mutual co-operation born out of respect rather than political exigencies. Despite their feel good politics, and I too would love to feel good, I think that any honest observer of the situation understands that there are some issues that can simply not be solved in establishing a Jewish state without one side or the other compromising their principles. Our fealty to halachah means that there are red lines that we cannot cross no matter how much we want to live with our brethren.
    An earlier poster wondered how Prime Minister Landesman would react if the Israeli Supreme Court ordered him to recognize the Druckman conversions. I would refuse to obey the court order at the risk of going to jail. However, if Landesman were Prime Minister, I would assume that it was a result of being able to create coalition that supported his views. Accordingly, my fist act of parliamentary business would be to legislate severe limitations on the power of bagatz to interfere in areas outside their purview; i.e., halachic questions et al. This is not as implausible as it would seem for there is already considerable opposition within the secular legal community to the power that Chief Justices Barack and Beinish have usurped.

  53. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Eshter, yes what happened to the Yemenite children was tragic and despicable. Governments, all governments, do horrible things at one time or another. (Think Tuskegee or Japanese internment.) But this just highlights the importance of understanding and appreciating the difference between the Medina and any particular Memshala. Rav Ruderman and other Gedolei Torah understood the distinction.

    If I were to start a political party my bumper sticker would be:
    המדינה מדינה מה’ והממשלה נתן בידי אדם

    Your statement that Yemenite Jews were “all but lost” is more than a bit of exaggeration. There are entire communities of Yeminites here including many aging non-BTs. (You don’t often here about BT Yemenites now do you?)

    Further, it is the height of hypocrisy for a group of people to dissociate themselves from a “project” and then stand on the sidelines and carp that the project didn’t turn out the way they wanted while at the same time benefiting greatly from that project. (Think shul politics 101.) Which is precisely what a huge segment of our orthodox brethren have done, and continue to do.

    As for your statement that, “The mighty have fallen because the medina looks less and less like an atchalta d’geula.” My Rosh Yeshiva says “don’t assume what you’re trying to prove”. Those of us who believe, in a non-fanatical-messianic mode, that enough prophetic Rubicons were crossed at the founding of the state to indicate the beginning of the redemptive process understand that it’s a “process”. It is likely a multi-generational process that will include ups and downs, steps forward and backward. We’re not so haughty in a “we want Mashiach now” sort of way as to demand of G-d what he should do and how he should do it. Therefore, giving up a piece of land here or there for pragmatic reasons, no matter how painful, does not sound the death bell of this process for us.

  54. JC says:

    This is what the Gaon was always afraid of. Chasidisha `values` becoming mainstream.

  55. Chardal says:

    >Are the members mostly BTs or recent immigrants or is your shul one of the exceptions that prove the rule?

    My local yemenite shul has enough BTs to count on one hand. Nor is it any exception. There are similar shuls anywhere that there is a sizable Yemenite population – Rishon, Rosh HaAyin, Gadera, Ramat Gan, Ashdod.

    >I don’t think anyone can deny or minimize the tragedy of Yemenite Jewry. Yemenite rabbis have composed beautiful and heartrending kinos to commemorate the terrible loss of their youth.

    Nobody denies the attempt by the mapai party to secularize the Eidot HaMizrach. However, their attempts were not nearly as successfull as the Satmar types like to believe. The vast majority remained – to one extent or antoher – traditional. In many ways, the eidot haMizrach were much more successfull in preserving their traditions than the ashkenazi chareidi world where the traditions of Lita, Galitzia, Germany, Russia were mostly lost and merged into a chulent of minhagim.

    > The victory was not miraculous.

    Now who is saying Kohi VeOtzem Yadi

    > H’ does not perform miracles through reshaim

    This was the opinion of the Satmar Rav – but it was not the opinion of chazal or the rishonim – as proven extensivly by R’ MM Kasher in HaTekufa HaGedolah – which was mostly written in response to VaYoel Moshe and Al HAgeula v’Al Hatemurah – in order that people do not come to believe that the selective scholarship in those books are normative rabbinic thought throughout the ages.

  56. dovid says:

    Esther, are you implying that despite “Satmar chassidim and schoolchildren said tehillim fervently all during those scary days, begging H’ to save the Jews in peril”, the sitra achra had the upper hand? Can it be?

    “The Zionists were militarily superior by far and defeated the Arabs by derech hateva.”

    Not true. Militarily, they were painfully inferior to the combined Arab forces. The one advantage Israel had was good intelligence (we owe endless הכרת טוב to Wolfgang Lotz and Eli Cohen for that). The government of the time prepared 30,000 k’varim in public parks throughout EY in expectation of very heavy casualties. Esther, באמת לאמתו, everyone who had some involvement with the defence of EY during the Six Day War or during the Yom Kippur War, frum or not frum, will testify willingly or reluctantly that incredible נסים גלוים that thook place. sitra achra does not perform נסים.

  57. dovid says:

    Esther, Satmar Rav’s position is based on the opinion of one of the Rishonim. There are two other opinions, also held by Rishonim, which are different and oppose the opinion of that Rishon that the Satmar Rav espouses. The NZ camp can show you in defence of their position that the Ramban held that ישוב ארץ ושראל is mitzva from the Torah that obligates us to live in EY. He himself lived and died in EY. Neither you, nor I, nor any of the readers of this blog, nor even the Satmar Rav ז”ל are qualified to decide which of the three positions is correct.

  58. Esther says:

    cvmay – Don’t you know, everyone to the right of me is a zealot and everyone to the left is a sheygetz.

    M. Lipkin – the Yemenite kinos tell a different story. And I haven’t even touched upon the tragedies of the Teheran children, Morroccan children, Iraqi children, and yes, the thousands of Ashkenazim lost to Judaism through secular and anti-religious Zionism. Nevertheless, I’m grateful to hear that it’s an exaggeration. However, we cannot and will not forgive them for even one lost soul any more than we can forgive the Germans ym”s for even one lost life. You will understand this only if you believe in גדול המחטיאו יותר מהרגו.

    There are b”H many Yemenite BTs led by Yemenite rabbi Amnon Yitzchak shlita. (You can ask him what the Zionists did to his generation.)

    “The mighty have fallen because the medina looks less and less like an atchalta d’geula” – in a spiritual sense. As an anti-Zionist, I don’t believe in holding on to any of the territories. I meant the increasingly secular character of the medina and its population. As the Brisker rav used to say, the medina would be asur even if the Chafetz Chayim himself stood at its helm. I was merely trying to guess the cause of mizrachi disintegration.

    “…benefiting greatly from that project…”
    That’s why Satmars don’t go to the kosel or take government funds for their schools, and some refuse even bituach leumi. This is also one reason why many have left Israel altogether, though their ancestors lived there long before their Zionists.

    chardal – so it’s R. Kasher against Satmar rav. Let the public judge who is right (which it already did, according to the auther of this post).

    “Now who is saying Kohi VeOtzem Yadi”

    Hashem saved us, of course, but it was by natural means (thanks to the many tefillos, we might add). Hashem causes everything, but not everything is miraculous in our sense of the word.

    dovid – I’m neither a talmid chacham nor historian. If you want to debate this issue with more knowledgeable people, there are other forums to do so. But my common sense tells me (besides the opinion of the Satmar rav which I trust because of his undisputed greatness) that it was no more miraculous than, say, George Washington’s victory. But hey, you’re saying, this is Isreal we’re talking about! Well, according to Satmar shita we have no right to our land until Moshiach’s day, may it come soon.

    To the editors: Thank you for allowing this open and civil discussion.
    And thank you everyone for keeping your tone decent and respectful. Gut shabbos.

  59. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    >> However, if Landesman were Prime Minister, I would assume that it was a result of being able to create coalition that supported his views. > Accordingly, my fist act of parliamentary business would be to legislate severe limitations on the power of bagatz to interfere in areas outside their purview; i.e., halachic questions et al. This is not as implausible as it would seem for there is already considerable opposition within the secular legal community to the power that Chief Justices Barack and Beinish have usurped. <<

    Bagatz would strike down any such legislation before you could blink. Any move toward Halachic jurisidiction in the State of Israel would absolutely contradict its raison d’etre in the thought of her founders and the secularist minded Supreme Court. There is little doubt in my mind that bagatz would sooner rule that the entire State be handed over to Palestinian control.

  60. Shiras Schmidt says:

    Hodesh tov. The weekly MISHPACHA Magazine had the current Satmar Rebbe, R. Aharon Teitelbaum, on the cover of the English and Hebrew Pesach issues. I could not find one anti-Israel statement by the Rebbe in the twelve-page article, except a mild answer to a question about whether the financial crisis would lead Satmar “to accept Israel govenment financial assistance.” The oblique answer, “Regarding the financial crisis– Hashem has not declared bankruptcy in the past, nor will he declare bankruptcy in the future…” The article was remarkable almost no comment at all on the anti-Israel stance Satmar was known for in the past aside from a few sentences in a sidebar on the history of Satmar and Rav Yoel’s extreme position (which seems to be passe today).

  61. Tal Benschar says:

    The premise of this post — that the anti-Zionist view is the “Satmar” view is simply incorrect. The mainstream view among the Charedi world today is not that of Satmar but that of the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rov — who were the gedolei ha Dor in Eretz Yisroel at the time when the State was founded. (Indeed, I find it astounding that in 56 posts no one has yet mentioned either of these two gedolim.) There are differences between their views and that of the Satmar Rov, but their views were decidedly more negative than that of the other gedolim who have been mentioned in this thread. Over time, their views have become the predominant one, at least in the yeshiva world. (I can’t speak for the Chassidic world).

    One definite areas of disagreement is whether Hashem can work miracles through reshaim. The Brisker Rov famously stated: Hashem can work miracles through whatever he wants, even snakes and scorpions.

    He also made another, sharper mashal which will discomfit the Religious Zionists. The Rambam at the end of Hilkhos Melakhim states that Hashem brought about Christiantity and Islam into the world so as to wean the nations of the world away from paganism. (Some versions of the Rambam censor these comments.) This despite the fact that the Rambam himself holds that Christianity is Avodah Zarah and and both are heretical.

    You see from here, said the BR, that Hashem can act in history even throgh heretical or idolatrous ideologies if they suit His ultimate purpose. Yet would a God-fearing Jew ever think to join up with or support (let alone be identified with) any of these groups? Of course not — for us they remain idolatrous or heretical, to be kept at a distance. How Hashem uses them for His purposes is His business.

  62. dr. bill says:

    1. I characterized Meimad as Pollyanna because their platform and their spokesmen refused to admit that there are irreconcilable problems connected to religious vs. secular visions of Israeli society and tried to sell the public a vision of mutual co-operation born out of respect rather than political exigencies….

    An earlier poster wondered how Prime Minister Landesman would react if the Israeli Supreme Court ordered him to recognize the Druckman conversions. I would refuse to obey the court order at the risk of going to jail.

    Comment by dovid landesman — May 21, 2009 @ 10:50 pm

    Your two statements are related. i assure you that R. Amital is neither Pollyannish on secular / religious cooperation nor would have necessarily have to go to jail. as Nachum stated above you can criticize his and Meimad’s view of the piece process as pollyannish. However, the hard lines you assume that make coexistence in israel between the secular and religious subject to irreconcilable differences, is something that many of the DL community believe can be worked slowly over time. given your view of r. druckman’s conversions, it is understandable why you cannot see anything but what you call political exigencies between those groups. you are consistent but not necessarily correct according to the views of others.

    2. I heard from Rabbi Rakefet,that the Gush was a 50/50 split between the Realistic Zionists and the Messianic camp.RAL being realistic and Rav Amital being of the latter.

    Comment by aron feldman — May 19, 2009 @ 7:07 pm

    then listen again – i have not heard the shiur but i strongly suspect that he was not asserting 50% of yeshivat har etzion were EVER RZ messianics of the modern ilk; that would be sheer innumeracy. R. Amital was government minister from Meimad. there are major differences between the Rav ztl and R. Kook ztl on their approaches to religious zionism that was (and still is) present at Har etzion. I suspect that is what R. Rakefet was addressing. in any case, R. Rakeffet is politically much closer to the right than either R. Lichtenstein or R. Amital.

  63. Chardal says:

    >The mainstream view among the Charedi world today is not that of Satmar but that of the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rov

    I would not conflate these two views at all. The Brisker Rov was much more critical of zionism than the CI was (hence he headed the Eidah haChareidis). In my opinion, the shift in chareidi society is not due to either of these two leaders but rather occured later due to the leadership of R’ Shach and the Steipler.

    After many of these types of debates, I am today more convinced than ever that the main points of dispute between RZ and chareidism is not Zionism – but rather how to reply to modernity. This is the gap that is simply not bridgable (at least not here in Israel). The irony is that the enabler of Israeli chareidi isolation from the challenges of is the very Zionist state they so dispise. The Israeli Chareidi lifestyle and ideology is only sustainable through the good graces of the very Zionists they so dispise.

  64. Daniel B says:

    *sigh*

    – Lo tisna achicha bilvavecha
    – Lashon Hara
    – Motzi Shem Ra
    – Rechulus
    – Sh’lo lisno achim

    I recommend we seek out that which is the root cause leading us to the above listed aveiros and eliminating that root.

    Then Moshiach will come and “hayinu k’cholmim” we won’t remember why we were debating “He said she said” in the first place.

    (Unless one holds, ch’v, that these bein adam l’chaveiro halachos are only applicable to ones own brand of Jews, while the rest of the communities are free game to be slandered…since obviously they’re all reshaim anyways…oy…)

  65. Yehoshua Mandelcorn says:

    When I was much younger I was very fascinated by Star Wars and its focus on spirituality and the battle between good and evil.
    Looking back I now realize that Star Wars contains two aspects of Kefirah (apostasy – denial of G-d).
    One is the concept of a “force” as opposed to our belief in a personal G-d. The other is the heavy emphasis on the “dark side” as if every supernatural phenomena must be questioned whether it comes from the “light side” or the “dark side”.
    Our Pashut Emunah (simple faith) is that when good happens to us as the Jewish nation that it comes from G-d and we are obligated to bless “HaTov v’HaMeitiv” (He who is good and does good). This is true even if some future potential harm may result in the future (per the Gemara Berachos).

  66. dovid says:

    “according to Satmar shita”
    “the opinion of the Satmar rav which I trust because of his undisputed greatness”

    Esther, I don’t believe anyone questions the greatness of the Satmar Rav (I am referring to Reb Yoilish). Even his chiloni adversaries grudgingly gave recognition to his stature. That’s why the Tzionim included him in the Kastner transport in 1944 that saved him and his family from almost sure death. I would like to make you aware that there is no intention in rubbing dirt to your face and to those who hold like Reb Yoilish, or to prove him or you wrong. Even if wanted, we couldn’t as you will soon see. But I would also like to make you aware that there have been Gedolim in his generation of equal stature in learning and צדקות, not one of them a Tzioni except for the holy Rav Kook, that held different opinions based on Rishonim, other that the Rishon whose views Reb Yoilish espouses. Your camp’s ignoring this fact, does them and כלל ישראל a great disservice. Let’s have more שכל than some foolish Chasidim who argue with each other as to whose rebbe is a greater tzaddik. This is not what the Aibeshter wants from us. We live in a time of incredible הסתר פנים. Neither the Rishonim, nor the Gedolim of the past or current generation can clear up for us the issue of ישוב ארץ ישראל until Eliahu HaNavi comes. Until then let’s show each other the כבוד that most of us deserve. As a case in point, I would like to call your attention to the fact that the NZ camp beats us all in the midda of love for EY and for our fellow Jews, and they have been truly מוסר נפש ומוסר גוף for these causes. We should honor them. Let us not make light of their sacrifices.

    “I haven’t even touched upon the tragedies of the Teheran children, Morroccan children, Iraqi children, and yes, the thousands of Ashkenazim lost to Judaism through secular and anti-religious Zionism. Nevertheless, I’m grateful to hear that it’s an exaggeration.”

    It’s not an exaggeration. It really happened. The medina inflicted heavy and long lasting damage on the Jewish character of כלל ישראל.

  67. Charlie Hall says:

    “As a hypothetical, let us propose Rabbi Landesman as the Prime Minister. Rabbi Landesman happens to think that Rabbi Sherman’s approach to Giyur is correct, but he is bound by the Supreme Court’s injunction, should it come to that (the State has 90 days to respond), to accept Rabbi Druckman’s approach.”

    Here is a more likely scenario: Rabbi Druckman as Prime Minister (he did serve in the Knesset for 12 years), pledging to follow halachah to the letter, following the opinions of his Dati Leumi poskim who are unquestionably outstanding talmidei chachamim. His approach to conversions are made binding on the entire Medinah, as is the heter mechirah and brain death as the official definition of death.

    Now what do the religious Jews who disagree with these halachic points do in response?

    “The victory was not miraculous.”

    However you define a miracle, it, like everything else, was the work of H’K’B’H.

    “The Zionists were militarily superior by far and defeated the Arabs by derech hateva.”

    The Wikipedia article on the Six Day War claims that the IDF was outnumbered over 2 to 1 in troops and 3 to 1 in aircraft and tanks. Of course, we had HaShem on our side so the numbers were irrelevant.

    “it was no more miraculous than, say, George Washington’s victory”

    Trapping Cornwallis at Yorktown required an confluence of unusual events, too! For example, the first British relief fleet was defeated by a French fleet that had to immediately return to the Carribean. And the second British relief fleet arrived five days too late.

  68. Robert Lebovits says:

    Essentially the question posed is: Does the chareidi/yeshivish community’s disregard for Yom Yerushalayim reflect an anti-Zionist sensibility akin to the Satmar rejectionist position or might there be other, less philosophical causes for their lack of celebration of the reunification of Yerushalayim? And more broadly, what, if anything, does this behavior say about the “frum olam” stance regarding the Medinah?
    I believe the absence of Yom Yerushalayim celebration reflects a modern-day phenomenon in the frum world that has little to do with Zionism. Rather, it is our reluctance to generate any communal recognition of the historic events of our times. One counterpoint to Yom Yerushalayim is the Holocaust. Here we have the greatest tragedy to Klal Yisroel of at least the past three centuries – rivaling Tach V’Tat, the Crusades, & every other tragedy since the Churban – and yet only the Bobover Rebbe & Rav Shimon Schwab, zt”l, produced ANY kinus to memorialize the destruction of European Jewry. Furthemore, in how many shuls, even where Holocaust survivors or their families play prominent roles, are these kinus said on Tisha B”Av? The frum world has not accepted the responsibilty that was perceived in past generations to recognize calamities and salvations as opportunities to be Migaleh Yichud by communally acknowledging the Divine character of such occurences. I don’t understand why recent history has been placed outside of our daily lives in this manner. Perhaps with the loss of the kehilla structure there isn’t the mechanism for achieving consensual normative practice. In any case, the dimunition of Yom Yerushalayim may hardly be about Zionism.
    One aspect – of a purely pragmatic nature – regarding the chareidi/yeshivish community’s antipathy toward the Medinah has not been addressed. Simply put: the frum world is notoriously entrepeneurial, much more comfortable with capitalism than socialism. The Medinah in very real ways is a serious drag on day-to-day life for many in this community. Yes, we’ve all heard the familiar stories of how the chareidim “live of” the State (typically described in frankly anti-semitic terms). In fact, the socialist economic policies of any welfare state creates dependencies that are destructive. I wonder how the chareidim & yeshivaleit would have thought of the Medinah if from its inception it had been economically open to all comers much as the US was after WW II. Maybe they would have found it more palatable even with its Zionistic flaws.

  69. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    dr bill #41 wrote:

    while mizrachi, as the rav ztl predicted almost 30 years ago would consume itself by excessive messianism

    Please clarify who the rav ztl is that you are referring to. American MO Jews refer to RYBS as “the Rav”, whereas Israeli RZ yeshiva-educated Jews automatically understand the term to refer to Rav Kook, which caused tremendous confusion in the early days of RAL’s tenure as rosh yeshiva in the Gush.

    [Editor’s Note: Not to mention the sizeable yeshivah communities where it means neither, but is universally attached to a different member of the Brisker family from which R JB Soloveitchik hailed!]

  70. Esther says:

    Over Shabbos I thought of a better analogy than GW’s victory: the Maccabis. Their battles were faught over 30 years, with ups and downs and ultimately the miracle of rabim b’yad meatim. But when was Chanuka instituted? Somewhere in the middle, with many difficult battles with the chashmonaim falling one by one. Why then? Because the bais hamikdosh was purified and the menorah lit! That was the real victory – the victory of kedusha over tumah! That’s why the gemora makes no mention of the wars in its answer to the question “Mai Chanukah”. When we’ll be zoche to that – that’ll be cause for celebration.

    dovid – “Esther, are you implying that despite “Satmar chassidim and schoolchildren said tehillim fervently all during those scary days, begging H’ to save the Jews in peril”, the sitra achra had the upper hand? Can it be?”

    I think Tal answered that better than I could. Let me add to his comment that the Brisker rov used to say (half in jest, I assume) that R. Amram Blau is not kanoyi enough; He dares protest against the Zionists because he overestimates them. “I’m afraid to go,” he said, “because I’m sure they’ll kill me.” And when R. Amram was arrested, the Chazon Ish went to visit him in jail.

    I heard R. Yudel Segal zt”l (Manchester rosh yeshiva) in his hesped on Satmar rov sobbing bitterly, “Fun vemen veln mir meire hobn?! Who will we be afraid of? We used to ask ouselves before every decision [regarding Israel], ‘Vos vet der Satmar rov zogn?’ but now, fun vemen veln mir meire hobn?!”

    Shira – “…Satmar and Rav Yoel’s extreme position (which seems to be passe today).”

    It seems to be passe because Zionism is passe. It’s like saying that Orthodoxy’s “extreme position” against Reform is passe. There’s hardly anything to fight against anymore.

    In the same vein let me add, as an answer to the general question of this post, that with the passage of time and wisdom of hindsight the Satmar-Brisk-Chazon Ish shita seems to make more and more sense.

  71. aron feldman says:

    Comment by dr. bill — May 23, 2009

    I meant to say that these 2 POV’s were prevalent in the Gush and the realists won out

  72. Esther says:

    Correction:
    But when was Chanuka instituted? Somewhere in the middle, with many difficult battles *ahead*, with the chashmonaim falling one by one.

  73. dr. bill says:

    1) Yehoshua Friedman — May 24, 2009 @ 11:57 am

    I meant R. Joseph B. Soloveichik ztl of Boston and NY. I realize that both R. Kook and R. Yitzkhak Z Soloveitchik ztl were also referred as the Rav. However, as i wrote: “while mizrachi, as the rav ztl predicted almost 30 years ago would consume itself by excessive messianism” i assumed that since only one of the three were was alive thirty years ago, this would not be confusing.

    2)and the realists won out.

    Comment by aron feldman — May 24, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

    I had not heard the rav ztl’s position/brand of RZ spelled out in Kol dodi Dofek and his various drashot referred to as the POV of realists. i think about it differetly. the Rav’s point is that the events have religious significance even absent messianic overtones. we may all hope that this is the beginning of the redemption, but our obligation to be thankful does not derive from (only) that.

  74. Nachum Lamm says:

    Esther, based on what happened to them eventually (actually, within about one generation), you can hardly describe the victory of Chanukah as a final victory of kedusha over tumah. The Chashmonaim, alas, quickly degenerated into Hellenism and fratricide and were wiped out and succeeded by the Herods, who were worse. And then came the Churban…

    …and yet, strangely, we continue to celebrate Chanukah to this day. Go figure.

    A few factual points to you:

    -If, as you claim, Yemenite Jewry was “all but lost,” who, pray tell, is writing and reciting these kinot of which you speak? The simple fact is that Yemenite traditions and “frumkeit” are alive and well throughout Israel and beyond, and it is a gross slander to ignore it.

    Then again, I hope I’m not being too un-PC by pointing out that Satmar has been accused to forcing Yemenite Jews to leave their traditions as well in favor of becoming Yiddish-speaking Chassidim.

    -Zionism is older than Satmar Chassidus; hence, there were no Satmar Chassidin in Israel before Zionists.

    As Dr. Bill pointed out, I used “pollyanna” in reference to the peace process. I imagine Meimad would have a lot more supporters if it wasn’t so closely linked to the Labor Party.

    I’d like to echo Chardal’s point that the Brisker Rav and the Chazon Ish had very different attitudes toward Zionism. This led to a famous incident in YU in the 1950’s, והמבין יבין .

    Menachem Lipkin, R’ Meir Kahane beat you to it with one of his election slogans in 1977: !אם אתה אוהב את מדינת ישראל, אומר לממשלת ישראל: לא

    R’ Kahane used to have a funny response to anyone who would start criticizing “the medinah” to him. He would pause and say, “YOU hate the Medinah? I’ve been arrested 53 times [at the time, far more later] by the Medinah, and somehow I don’t hate it!”

  75. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    >> Here is a more likely scenario: Rabbi Druckman as Prime Minister (he did serve in the Knesset for 12 years)<> pledging to follow halachah to the letter, following the opinions of his Dati Leumi poskim who are unquestionably outstanding talmidei chachamim. <<

    Really? How is he going to run Dinei Mamonos? Is he going to continue to abide by decisions of the secular courts ( read, Haramas Yad B’Toras Moshe and Gezel)? Is he going to close the books on the Mihu Yehudi question? With or without the Supreme Court? It is impossible to ignore that Halachah is not the constitution of Israel.

    >> His approach to conversions are made binding on the entire Medinah, as is the heter mechirah and brain death as the official definition of death. Now what do the religious Jews who disagree with these halachic points do in response? <<

    How will that change anything from the way it is now? Unless he is a Bolshevik, people who don’t like those decisions will abide by their own Poskim and maintain their own records of what they consider valid conversions.

    All this is in the realm of the theoretical and hypothetical anyhow. The notion of a religious PM voted in on a platform of moving the State in the direction of Halachic jurisdiction is not a pragmatic discussion for the foreseeable future. This problem suffices in explanation of why Charedim do not think in terms of governance – though they are very active in trying to move the populace, as much as possible, in that direction. So in a very real sense, without speaking in pie-in-the-sky theoretics along the lines of making sure that we always have a Charedi chief-of-staff at the ready for the day he is called upon to serve in that capacity (it is well-known that RZ officers’ army careers were curtailed due to their outlook), they are the laying the groundwork for the day of Halachah reigning supreme.

  76. Chardal says:

    >If, as you claim, Yemenite Jewry was “all but lost,” who, pray tell, is writing and reciting these kinot of which you speak?

    I think I know what Ester means. Most Yemenite Jews are more comfortable in religious Zionist communities than in hareidi ones. In Satmar-speak, Yememite Jewish being religious Zionist is the same as being “lost.” 🙂

  77. Loberstein says:

    Wow! This post inspired a lot of comments. Historically, all Jews have a love for Zion. This wasnt political, it was deeply religious. Secular Zionism translated this yearning into a political platform and the Religious Zionists tweaked it to suit their views. But, love of Zion is more than socialism, which is what built the modern state. Maybe, with time, we will shead some of the externals and just be Jews, not divided by Poalei Zion alef vs. Poalei Zion Beis. These two parties were very angry at each other in the pre-state period and nobody knows what their differences were. I would like to just be a Jew who loves Jews, not have to carry a card of affiliation. Unfortunately, I don’t see the frum world going that way. If anything, the definition of who is inside the camp and who is chutz lamachane is getting more rigid.
    A colleague told me yesterday that the Jewish Observer Magazine (not exactly left wing) is out of business because it’s constituancy has disappeared. I asked who that was and he said “non Lakewood frum Jews”. Of course he has 5 married children in Lakewood and he defines Judaism as whatever is normative there. He said, they don’t have secular studies in Eretz Yisroel so why should we have them in America, it isn’t the Torah way. He says that his personal hashkofos are based on growing up in assimilated America where he learned Shakespere in high school. His grandchildren will never hear of Shakespere and he says that maybe they are closer to Hashem. I have some grandchildren in Israel who keep Yom Haatzmaut and some who haven’t got a clue it exists. Why can’t we all just be Jews?

  78. Esther says:

    “Esther, based on what happened to them eventually (actually, within about one generation), you can hardly describe the victory of Chanukah as a final victory of kedusha over tumah.”

    I never said final. The final victory of kedusha over tumah will be in Moshiach’s day. We observe Pesach even though dor hamidbor died out in the dessert, and we observe Shavuos even though most Jews today don’t keep the Torah. But the first thing Moshiach will do is return klal israel to torah, while the first thing Zionism did was turn klal israel away from torah.

    “-If, as you claim, Yemenite Jewry was “all but lost,” who, pray tell, is writing and reciting these kinot of which you speak?”

    R. Yehudah Aryeh Durani and his son R. Avrohom of Rosh Haayin. There are photos in the book “Genocide in the Holy Land” (out of print, by R. Moshe Schoenfeld of Agudah) of these Yemenite rabbis as well as of the Yemenites sitting on the ground mourning and reciting these kinos, some ashkenazim sitting with them. I don’t know where or when this photo was taken or if the kinos are still recited, but the text (also in the book) sends chills down one’s spine.

    The fiasco with the Yemenites in Monroe was shameful, but, as usual, grossly exaggerated by the media, and NO comparison to what the Zionists did. I think the Yemenites would acclimatize much better in Israel, if only those wouldn’t be so vicious in driving them off the derech. For instance, in Monroe it’s mandatory for women to shave their heads while in Yemen it’s unheard of. Now they’re nicely settled in Monsey, where there’s a pretty large Satmer kehila to help them, but the place is much more open and multicultural. They have their own shul and rav (a chashuv Yemenite Israeli brought from Israel by Satmar) and recently they had a hachnasas sefer torah for their first sefer torah written according to their very own ancient customs. It was a simcha for the whole Satmar Monsey kehila as well as the Yemenite one, with the torah going out from Satmar rav’s house to the Yemenite shul. That’s the way to help our precious Yemenite brethren: Let them live like they did in Yemen as much as possible. Their children go to Satmar and other schools, speak Yiddish and dress like their ashkenazi friends, but they have their customs and pride intact.

    “Zionism is older than Satmar Chassidus; hence, there were no Satmar Chassidin in Israel before Zionists.”

    Satmar did not invent anti-Zionism. Since the birth of Zionism up until the Holocaust almost all rabbis were fiercely against it, including Lubavich (RASHAB), Ger (R. Avrohom Mordche), R. Samson Raphael Hirsch, R. Elchanan Wasserman, and the leaders of the old yishuv. When Satmar Rav came along as a great leader, the descendants of their followers gravitated towards Satmar.

  79. dovid landesman says:

    Why can’t we all just be Jews?
    Comment by Loberstein

    Gee whiz, Mr. Oberstein! Can I get you a guitar and teach you and Rodney King how to play kumbaya?
    We live in a generation when we have to make some hard choices. To remove ourselves from the dialogue and allow Lakewood/Brisk/Bnei Brak to make or limit those choices by default is national suicide. In case you haven’t noticed, all of the above are bleeding internally and it might only be a matter of time before they hemorrhage.
    If we as a society allow the focus of attention to remain on mehadrin bus lines or fathers attending girls’ graduation, then l’fi aniyut da’ati, we deserve what we get. If the worst transpires, chas veshalom, I suggest that you join me in investing in a chain of stores selling clothing to the burka ladies.
    I wrote the original post because I felt that the lack of any recognition within the charadei community of either Yom Yerushalayim or Yom ha-Zikaron [previous post about Yankel zt”l] is symptomatic of a larger problem. Having read many of the comments, I am now convinced that this is true.
    There are those who would contend that the current that is pulling rightwards is indicative of a greater level of yiras Hashem among the hamon am – that the tzibbur is now prepared to accept a l’chatchilah level of observance and not a b’dieved. In many ways that might be true, but in others it is a misreading of history which can lead to misinterpretation of ratzon Hashem [see Netziv to z’chor yemot olam]. One brief example: the halachic shitot of the Chazon Ish have become mainstream in Eretz Yisrael. They were not when they were first formulated. They were rejected on halachic grounds by his contemporaries in Yerushalayim. Does the acceptance of the Chazon Ish’s position on kedushat shvi’is or the use of electricity on Shabbos represent a desire to act in a l’chatchilah fashion or might it perhaps reflect that following Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank is no longer frum enough to pass muster. I personally find fault in a system wherein kirvat Elokim is measured by whose chickens I don’t eat!

  80. cvmay says:

    “He said, they don’t have secular studies in Eretz Yisroel so why should we have them in America, it isn’t the Torah way”.

    The new model of frumkeit is called, “If it’s NOT made in Israel it ain’t kosher.” Israel is looking desperately to import some of the kiruv knowledge that is rampart in the USA to help the increasing #’s of kids at risk that have turned to aggression and violence (the vandals of the shul and cars in BB were home-grown ‘kids at risk’).
    The lack of confidence in your mesorah and past gedolim causes an adoption of the extreme way of life. Ravs Elyashuv and Steinman shlita”s are noted as makill in the eyes of various sectors. Stand up and honor rabbanim that are able to balance halacha and hashkafa to benefit klal yisroel eg: Bostoner Rebbe, Rav Yisroel Lau, Rav Yisroel Grossman, Rav Simcha Kook, Rav Asher Weiss and several rebbes.
    As soon as R. Landesman posted this article, my prediction was at least 100 comments. Due to the arrival of Shavout it may not reach that #, this high # is an indication of the love that we have for Eretz Yisroel and our discomfort in the situation evolving within klal yisroel.

  81. Esther says:

    I think I know what Ester means. Most Yemenite Jews are more comfortable in religious Zionist communities than in hareidi ones. In Satmar-speak, Yememite Jewish being religious Zionist is the same as being “lost.”

    Comment by Chardal

    Chardal, you get the Medal for First Uncharitable Comment on this controversial, lively, informative thread. If only most Yemenites would end up being religious Zionist!

  82. Esther says:

    “Esther, I don’t believe anyone questions the greatness of the Satmar Rav… But I would also like to make you aware that there have been Gedolim in his generation of equal stature in learning and צדקות… that held different opinions based on Rishonim, other that the Rishon whose views Reb Yoilish espouses. Your camp’s ignoring this fact, does them and כלל ישראל a great disservice.”

    I pondered this comment long and hard, and I think I found the answer right here, as well as in the first few sentences of this post: “Nothing in this submission should be taken as criticism of the Satmar position vis-a-vis Zionism and/or the State of Israel. I have no pretensions of being worthy of critiquing what is clearly a valid halachic perspective.”

    You write: “Even if wanted, we couldn’t [prove Satmar Rav wrong.)” Exactly. Since, as of this writing, the geula unfortunately hasn’t yet arrived, and things seem only to be getting worse, H’ yerachem, it’s impossible to prove that the medina is an atchalta d’geula. But it is possible to assert with fair certainty that Zionism was a violation of the three oaths (שלא יעלו בחומה, שלא ימרדו באומות, שלא ידחקו את הקץ), and that the Holocaust was the fulfillment of the fearful punishment foretold in gemora (אני מתיר את בשרכם כצבאות וכאילות בשדה).

    IOW, while it doesn’t say anywhere that we *must* believe in Zionism, it’s reasonable for us to assume that we *must not* believe in it and that whoever believes in it is in error. Surely the great Torah leaders who believe in Zionism aren’t greater than R. Akiva, who mistook Bar Kochba for mashiach.

    As an analogy, let’s take the machlokes between chassidim and misnagdim. The chassidim revered the vilna gaon no matter what he said about them, because it doesn’t say anywhere that we must be chassidim. But the misnagdim couldn’t say the same about the chassidic gedolim because chassidus was a new thing and they had reason to suspect it as an offshoot of Shabbateanism etc.

    Zionism, too, is something new. We are sure it’s wrong, and nobody can be sure it’s right. Can you understand why we cannot acknowlege conflicting opinions on this matter, no matter how great their proponents? In our eyes it’s not a question of minhag or chumra; it’s one of the very bases of emunah. Please don’t take it in the wrong way. I respect the people in your camp as sincere, religious Jews (and this thread certainly helped). But in this regard I feel like you probably do about Chabad Messianists. They’re also sincere and well-meaning, but… don’t we just wish they’d see the truth?

    Pehaps this is another answer to the question of this post. Perhaps the middle-of-the-roaders decided to err on the side of caution. If the medina turns out to be an atchalta d’geula after all, they can always turn around and join it.

  83. aron feldman says:

    Comment by dovid landesman — May 25, 2009 @

    Wow R”Dovid! You hit the nail on the head,I really like your approach,and find it refreshing.You are really on the elusive Shvil Hzahav.You don’t share the cynical Brisker POV while OTOH you don’t have the “Even if the Secular Zionists spit on us we will say it’s raining”POV either

  84. Rocco Lampone says:

    The Brisker Rav’s views gained acceptance in the yeshiva world, due largely, to the fact that most of the present RY and magedey shiur are talmidim of his descendants.

    FYI, Rav Shach’s views were way more to the left than the Brisker Rav’s

  85. dovid says:

    ““Even if wanted, we couldn’t [prove Satmar Rav wrong.)” Exactly. Since, as of this writing, the geula unfortunately hasn’t yet arrived,..”

    Esther, just we don’t try to prove the Reb Yoilish wrong because his shita relies on authorities that we are unable to debate, IMHO I hold that by the same token, Reb Yoilish cannot dispute that other two shitos because they were espoused by equally reliable authorities.

    I would like to express my sincere thanks to Rabbi Dovid Landesman for this article and the one on his chavrusa and friend, Yankel. Both exude menschlichkeit and scholarship at their best. In the same breath, I would like to thank Esther for her lucid and brave comments and replies to comments. Not one of Esther’s posts conveyed hatred of the side that she criticized. At the end of the day, we should remember בנים אתם לה’ אלקיכם.

  86. dovid says:

    שלא יעלו בחומה, שלא ימרדו באומות, שלא ידחקו את הקץ

    Esther, I heard it from Rabbi Shlomo Pearl in the name of Rabbi Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky that our presence in EY is not a violation of the above shvuah. We didn’t attack or rebel against the world. The Balfour declaration granted us a Jewish Homeland. It was later confirmed by the vote at the UN. When the neighboring Arabs attacked, we defended ourselves. Rav Yaakov wasn’t a Zionist. Neither was his rebbe, the Alter of Slobodka who transferred his yeshiva to Chevron, nor the Chazon Ish, the Brisker Rov, or Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz who all lived and died in EY.

  87. Chardal says:

    >Chardal, you get the Medal for First Uncharitable Comment on this controversial, lively, informative thread. If only most Yemenites would end up being religious Zionist!

    Ester, there is something you need to understand. The Yemenite community in Israel is possibly the most traditional ethnic community around. They have assimilated less than any other group. Rosh HaAyin, where you have found some Yemenite rabbis who recite kinnot, is also home to a huge yemenite population most of whom are observant and mostly lean towards religious zionism.

    Programs to secularize Jews have been around for 200 years both in zionist circles and non-Zionist circles. The fact is, the the sephardic and yemenite communities proved more resiliant in their responses to modernity and enlightenment than their ashkenazi counterparts. Possibly, one of the reasons for this is that sephardi communities did not have such an extreme “Hadash Assur Min HaTorah” reaction to modernity and therefore were able to allow people to maintain the ikkar while not being stiklers for the taffel.

    Now, as for your assertion that “the first thing Zionism did was turn klal israel away from torah.” is patently false. The early zionists were uniformily relgious Jews. From Rav Kalisher to Rav Guttmacher. From the Kovner Rav to the Malbim to Rav Alkelai. These leaders saw in their political plans the seeds of the Geula. The secularism came later and did not spring out of zionism as much as attach itself to the movement after certain groups of socialists became disillusioned with the ability of assimilation to solve the Jewish problem.

  88. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Chardal writes that “The fact is, the the sephardic and yemenite communities proved more resiliant in their responses to modernity and enlightenment than their ashkenazi counterparts. Possibly, one of the reasons for this is that sephardi communities did not have such an extreme “Hadash Assur Min HaTorah” reaction to modernity and therefore were able to allow people to maintain the ikkar while not being stiklers for the taffel”

    A more important reason is that Ashkenazi communities were far more exposed to non-religious and anti-religious influences before they came to Eretz Yisroel than the Sephardim and Eastern Jews. For most of the latter, the first exposure they had to these influences was in Eretz Yisroel itself.

  89. Rocco Lampone says:

    Dovid

    You can quote the Avney Nezer as support fo the argument that they didn’t violate the oaths. The Sakmar Rav used a creative an elaberative argument to explain why the ‘force’ mentioned by Rashi was not actually phyiscal force, but any form of pressure. However, the simple reading of Rashi, is like the Avney Nezer, that ‘force’ is literal.

    It is interesting how the Mahral interprets the ‘oath’ literaly. Many who quote the Maharal when he adopts a non-literal approach to a Maamar Chazal, are quick to dismiss this particlur interpratation of the Maharahl on this issue. One can question the consistency of that

    Regardlles of the oaths, the Gemara is teaching us how a Yid should interact with the non-Jews in Golut. It is a warning against instigation.

    Others who understood that Zionism violates the oaths, don’t necessaraly state that was ‘the cause of the Holocaust’. They say that it was a kitrug. I don’t know if R’ Yoel ever said that it was the sole cause, or he merely stated that in itself could’ve been a cause. Maybe someone more knowledgabel on the subject matter can illuminate us

  90. Yisrael Medad, Shiloh, Israel says:

    Chardal, check out Bamidbar 11:

    24 And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the Tent. 25 And the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and put it upon the seventy elders; and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, but they did so no more. 26 But there remained two men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad; and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were recorded, but had not gone out unto the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp. 27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said: ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’

  91. Esther says:

    dovid – thank you for acknowledging my efforts and listening patietly to my criticism. I have no idea though why anyone would expect hatred. Hatred is reserved only for those about whom Dovid Hamelech says הלא משנאיך ה’ אשנא ובתקוממך אתקוטט, and none of the commenters here seems to fit this description.

    “…our presence in EY is not a violation of the above shvuah.”

    Now this I cannot understand. Why are the Arabs excluded from the אומות? There are many other problems with Zionism, but first let’s hammer this one out.

    Chardal, I’m pleasantly surprised to hear that. I’m wondering, though, are they traditional in the sense of masorti, or are they full shomrei torah umitzvos?

    I’ve heard it say that the sefardim were never as religious, and never as irreligious, as the ashkenazim. Your comment seems to bear this out. (I’m not confusing taimonim with ashkenazim but in temperament they’re pretty close.)

    The book I mentioned was written while the terrible scandal was being perpetrated or shortly thereafter, so it is possible that things got better later on. Still, I personally heard enough stories from first or second generation Yemenite, Moroccan, and other immigrants to make you hair stand on end.

    “The early zionists were uniformily relgious Jews. From Rav Kalisher to Rav Guttmacher. From the Kovner Rav to the Malbim to Rav Alkelai.”

    There were some problems with that kind of “Chovevei Zion” pre-Zionism, and most rabbis were opposed to it. Even among those who supported it, many dropped it as soon as the secular Zionists jumped on the Zionist bandwagon and took the reins in their hands. So the best you can say about Zionism is that turning Jews away from torah is the second thing it did, or the third, or whatever. Sure doesn’t sound like the echoes of mashiach’s footsteps to me. But what’s completely beyond me is how religious Jews, and even kiruv organizations, can identify with and support a movement that is diametrically opposed to everything the torah stands for.

    Now I’m going to put a question to you, Rabbi Adlerstein and commenters:

    These posts ask why we don’t celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, Yom Zikaron, Yom Haatzmaut. I ask you: Why don’t you commemorate the terrible crimes commited by Zionism?

    You ask the non-Satmar non-Zionists: You don’t agree with Satmar on the question of statehood, so why aren’t you grateful to those who gave their lives for the State?

    I ask the non-Zionists and religious Zionists: You agree with Satmar on the question of the crimes of Zionism, so why aren’t you angry? Why aren’t you lamenting the terrible losses klal yisrael suffered at their hands? The generations of every boy who had his peyos cut off by force, every girl who had her modesty compromised, cry out to us. Why is nobody talking about it? How can any torah-true Jew praise Zionism? Could you bring youselves to praise German culture or music? You do believe in גדול המחטיאו יותר מהרגו, don’t you?

    I’m not asking these questions in an antagonizing way. I’m really trying to understand your POV.

    How in the world can kiruv organi

  92. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Esther, there’s another position that hasn’t really been discussed much here. The position is most eloquently elucidated in Rav Soloveichik’s “Kol Dodi Dofek”. In that essay (actually part of a speech given by the Rav in 1956) he uses part of Shir Hashirim as a metaphor for the founding of the medina. Just as the “beloved” (G-d) in Shiur Hashirum knocks on the young maiden’s (Israel) door to awaken her from her slumber, so too the Rav sees and enumerates 6 miraculous “knocks” to awaken us.

    This idea is one notch below that of the beginning of the redemption. What the Satmar Rebbe saw as some sort of “set up” by the Satan, the Rav saw as an opportunity provided to us by G-d in the aftermath of the Holocaust. This outlook becomes much more troubling for those who are either against or neutral to the founding of the state. Where the ‘aschalta d’geula’ ideology sets the redemptive process on an effective auto-pilot, this idea puts the outcome squarely in our hands. To the extent that a large segment of the Chareidi community basically decided to “sit this one out”, they have become complicit in a self-fulfilling prophecy which may actually cause a catastrophic end to that which began as G-d’s outstretched hand to us in our time of need.

    Strip away, for a moment, the idea of modern Zionism. What you’re left with is a chain of events that can either be viewed as unprecedented fulfillment of prophecy relating to the Jewish people and their land or as one big “trick”. Understand, that in light of Rav Teichtel’s statement it’s quite possible that the thought processes of the Satmar Rebbe and other Torah greats were compromised in this area, just as those of the meraglim. We are obligated, as such, to question whether their line of thinking was/is truly for the sake of heaven.

    In addition, no matter how great in Torah the Satmar Rebbe was, he was still human, susceptible to human foibles. He staked out a very strong, radical position for himself. Isn’t it just possible that as events unfolded, and he was face with growing cognitive dissonance, that rather than give up his position, he just dug in his heels and fought harder? This may have been done to the point where, regarding the 6 day war, he was forced, as you enumerated above in comment 50, to posit a series of rationalizations that were not only at variance with reality but also strained the pillar of Hashgacha Pratis to which the Chareidi world pays homage in the extreme.

    I’m not trying to sway you over to my side. But I think it’s important for you, and others who hold like you, to realize the consequences of your being wrong. If we are wrong all we’ve done, essentially, is fulfill the mitzvah of Yishuv Haaretz. If you’re wrong, you may possibly have abetted in delaying the redemption by rejecting G-d’s (not Satan’s) magnificent overtures and in the process given Him a huge, virtual smack across the face.

  93. simairkodesh says:

    Reb Menachem,
    Tremendous words of CHIZUK.
    Chazak chazak v’nischazek.

  94. Tal Benschar says:

    “If we are wrong all we’ve done, essentially, is fulfill the mitzvah of Yishuv Haaretz.”

    The arrogance of this statement is simply breath-taking.

    In the first place, one can fufill the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz without being a Zionist. Tens of thousands of Charedi Jews fulfill that mitzvah every day without being Zionist. Even the members of the Edah Charedis fulfill that mitzvah.

    And, second, if the Zionists are wrong, then one can think of quite a bit they have done beyond Yishuv ha Aretz. That word “essentially” covers a host of sins.

    This is why I find these discussions pointless. Almost everyone is so emotionally wedded to their position, that they are incapable of giving an honest assessment of history or the facts on the ground.

  95. dovid landesman says:

    In the first place, one can fufill the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz without being a Zionist. Tens of thousands of Charedi Jews fulfill that mitzvah every day without being Zionist. Even the members of the Edah Charedis fulfill that mitzvah…Tal Benschar
    The error of this contention is also breathtaking … at least according to the shita of the Chasam Sofer who had grave doubts as to whether one could fulfill the mitzvah of yishuv ha-eretz by being supported by the kolelim of the time rather than actually “working” [see commentary to parashas Shoftim s.v. mi ha-ish and his teshuvos – sorry I don’t have a copy in front of me so I cannot cite source)]. The Chasam Sofer, by the way, was not alone in his views. If anything, the Eidah yidden are somewhat better than the olam ha-yeshivos in this in that many of them do work.
    You may find these types of discussions pointless, I find them heartening for I discover more and more that there are many of the brothers who are dis-satisfied by what is happening in the chareidi world.
    Rav Nachman Bulman zt”l – a devoted student of history – once told me that in retrospect no change in chareidi Jewry ever came from the top. Rather, a popular groundswell began from underneath and eventually brought about fundamental and long lasting change.
    The examples he provided to prove his thesis were chassidus, mussar and education for girls. Notwithstanding the greatness of the Bal Shem/the Maggid and R. Yisroel, they were not the top tier of religious leadership of their generations. Moreover, he pointed out, they created movements that gave expression and direction to populist sentiments that threatened the status quo. Chassidus, Rav Bulnman explained, was a reaction to the isolation of the rabbanim from the hamon am whereas mussar was the raection to a feeling of loss of ethical direction. The revolution that Sarah Shnierer unleashed was fiercely opposed by many gedolim at first. Rav Bulman concluded that the fact that these changes were not spearheaded by the gedolei hador is not a criticism of them. Their role is to be conservative and watchful [chadash assur min haTorah in the Chasam Sofer’s articualtion] in changing the status quo but that does not mean that we are not dutybound to re-examine what is transpiring.
    Sixty years after the creation of the medinah, has the time not come to try to determine where we stand? Forty two years after Yerushalayim and the mekomos ha-kedoshim were placed before us and we still don’t consider the implications? I find it amazing that in the beis yaakovs and yeshivos across America [in Israel the public celebrations make it harder to ignore] the subject is completely ignored.
    I’ve said it before but I will repeat myself. It is a travesty and perversion of our values that we have self-appointed va’adei rannabnim for transportation, va’adei rabbanim for cell phones and va-adei rabbanim who burn clothing in Kikar Shabbat.
    B’mechilah, these are not the vexing issues that face our tzibbur. We have a parnasah crisis but our response is full colored inserts in the media and mail with pictures of gedolim writing checks and stories of segulos and yeshuos instead of a concrete plan to solve the problem. Where is a vaad harabonim for the creation of mekomos parnasah?
    I am waiting for the issue of these ads that informs me of the avreich who has nothing to eat, no clothes for his children and no place to live and who pledges 180 and then goes to the race track to place his last shekel on a horse called kupat ha-ir.
    Rabbasoi, the house is on fire!

  96. dovid says:

    “The arrogance of this statement is simply breath-taking.”

    Tal Benschar, are you OK? Are you breathing?

    Menachem Likpin is not Ben-Gurion or Golda Meir. He is a G-d fearing, ehrliche Yid. Have you considered the possibility that you might be the arrogant one by posting such a comment? Have you considered the possibility that you might be mevaze a kosher Jew in public? If Menachem Lipkin is arrogant for subscribing to the shita of the Ramban, then one could use your argument in stating that the Satmar Rav is arrogant by not subscribing to that shita. Start breathing, cut out PC statements and grand standing, or else you arrive at conclusions contrary to your intentions.

  97. dr. bill says:

    Menachem Lipkin, I believe that the Rav ztl would find some of the language you use to describe his position a tad troubling. I doubt he would ever have made a definitive statement like “This idea is one notch below that of the beginning of the redemption.” He also cautiously avoided statements that deign to create linkage that might be seen as providing a hint at a “why” for Darkhai Hashem like “the Rav saw as an opportunity provided to us by G-d in the aftermath of the Holocaust.” His point in KDD was to focus on the “what” we are obligated to do in response to events witout attributing a definitive “why.”

  98. Moishe Potemkin says:

    The arrogance of this statement is simply breath-taking.

    The arrogance of this accusation of arrogance is simply breath-taking.

    The fact that charedim fulfill the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz is wonderful, but it doesn’t at all diminish the fact that much of this yishuv ha’aretz – even that of the Edah Charedis – is largely or completely the result of Zionism.

    And pointing out the “quite a bit” that the Zionists have done simply ignores Menachem’s point – the assumption that the anti-Zionist stance is theologically risk-free is incorrect.

    This is why I find these discussions pointless. Almost everyone is so emotionally wedded to their position, that they are incapable of giving an honest assessment of history or the facts on the ground.

    That’s a very valid point, which would have been much better made without the preceding flaming. Yes, you have gedolim to follow. So do we.

  99. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Tal,

    Notwithstanding your harsh words, I see where you’re coming from. However, I didn’t say that one has to be a Zionist to fulfill the Mitzvah of Yishuv Haaretz. Also, the “we” I was referring to was religious Zionists, not Zionists in general. I would hope you would agree that Religious Zionists are not involved in a “host of sins”. And, of course, I know many fine Yeshivish folks who have made aliyah and who certainly put America’s armchair Zionists to shame.

    I was just trying to point out that the downside of following RZ ideology, in general, is more benign than the downside of actively trying to undermine the state. I’m sure the Esthers of the world would say that that just by making Aliyah being part of the system I’m sinning and pushing off the Geulah. But it’s really hard to make the case that my living in Israel, in fulfillment of at least a Mitzvah Kiyumis is at the same time a sin.

    I agree that these discussions seem fruitless. Not so much because people can’t be honest, but because the fundamentals of the extremes are so completely and diametrically opposed. However, the Tachlis, especially in a well run forum like this, is the hope that people with these divergent opinions can at least exchange them without the acrimony that usually accompanies such discussions.

  100. Yitz Turner says:

    The purpose of exchanging ideas is not to convince those with extreme view points to change, rather to educate and explain to the hundreds of readers who fall in the middle who do not have strong emotional preconceived notions of what the different valid shitos are and for this I am grateful.

  101. Esther says:

    “I’m sure the Esthers of the world would say that that just by making Aliyah being part of the system I’m sinning and pushing off the Geulah.”

    Menachem, please don’t paint me a bogeylady. There are plenty of Satmars living in EY, with mosdos, shuls, and a shikun, and as far as I know the Satmar rav didn’t think it was a sin to live there. He just argued that the danger of being influenced by Zionism overrides the mitzva of ישוב ארץ ישראל.

  102. dovid says:

    “yishuv ha’aretz – even that of the Edah Charedis – is largely or completely the result of Zionism.”

    Largely but not completely so. Talmidei HaGra and talmidei Baal Shem came to settle EY, at a time when there were practically no secular Jews in the world, and definitely no secular Jews interested in yishuv EY.

  103. dovid says:

    I will take a stab at explaining Menachem Lipkin’s position for the kannaim of this thread. One shittah regarding yishuv EY states that it is a Mitzva Chiyuvis (like matza on the first night of Pesach). Another shittah holds that’s a Mitzvah Kiyumis (you do it if you can). The third shittah is interpreted by some to the effect that no one should step foot on admas kodesh until Meshiach comes, but actually it is understood to mean that we should not conquer it against the will of the nations of the world. Reb Menachem agrees that no one transgresses by holding any of these shittos because we just don’t know which one is the correct one. Therefore, he holds that in addition that the odds of being correct by living in EY now vs. waiting for Meshiach to do the same thing are 2:1, he also holds that by settling EY now, one has only the upside (fulfilling the Mitzva either Chiyuvis or Kiyumis of yishuv EY) and no downside.

  104. dovid says:

    “the Satmar rav didn’t think it was a sin to live there.”

    But he did think that going to the Kossel or Kever Rochel is an averah, and instructed his chassidim to this effect.

  105. Tal Benschar says:

    Dovid:

    1. Interesting that someone here can attack an entire kehillah of God-fearing Jews by insinuating that they are not mekayem a mitzvah. But when I call him on it, I am the arrogant one.

    2. Whether someone in kollel is or is not mekayem the mitzvah has nothing to do with whether Zionism is a prerequisite to the mitzvah. There are plenty of Charedim who do work in one capacity or another, of every ideology. Whether the kollelniks are or are not is a sideshow.

    3. You raise a number of complaints about the Charedi world, much of which revolves around parnassah. I agree with much of the sentiment, but again what does that have to do with Zionism? There are plenty of people on all sides of the “Zionist question” who work for a living.

    Menachem;

    3. Also, the “we” I was referring to was religious Zionists, not Zionists in general. I would hope you would agree that Religious Zionists are not involved in a “host of sins”

    But that is precisely where I disagree. Really, you cannot think of ANY downside to religious Zionism? Even if it turns out that your shittah is wrong? That is simply astounding.

    I don’t think there is any point in my pointing out the downsides. It will simply not be “heard” by anyone here.

    Moishe:

    4.The fact that charedim fulfill the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz is wonderful, but it doesn’t at all diminish the fact that much of this yishuv ha’aretz – even that of the Edah Charedis – is largely or completely the result of Zionism.

    There is no basis for that statement. The yishuv began well before Zionism came on the scene. It would have continued with or without Zionism. True, the Charedi world has to deal with the fact that the Zionists control EY — but what are they supposed to do? No one asked them, the Zionists took control forcibly. If I want to go to EY, I have to deal with the Stae or I will be arrested.

    Suppose a government (let’s say the former Soviet Union, for those who can remember it) decides to set up a monopoly on matzoh. No one else may bake matzoh on pain of imprisonment. Be leis bereirah, those who want to fufill the mitzvah buy the matzoh from the government at whatever price it sets.

    One would certainly admire those Jews for their mesirus nefesh. But anyone who said, “they owe their kiyum of mitzvas matzoh to the benevolent govt” would be considered foolish. Who asked the govt. to monopolize matzoh in the first place?

  106. cvmay says:

    “I find it amazing that in the beis yaakovs and yeshivos across America the subject is completely ignored”.

    Now, you are talking tachlis. In this avenue there is much to be accomplished. A chashuva & prominent Rosh Yeshiva z”tl asked his talmidim frequently in shiur, “What were the two most seminal acts of the twentieth century for Klal Yisroel?”. His reply was, “the Holocaust and the establishment of the state of Israel”, HOW TRULY IRONIC that neither subject is a serious limud for our children. The majority of bochurim graduate mesivta and know ZERO about either subject, our girls b”h are taught a bit more. These subjects have been relegated to the SILENT curriculum (home study), no teaching, no serious dialogue or discussion. This is the keg of a future explosion!!

  107. dr. bill says:

    Rav Nachman Bulman zt”l – a devoted student of history – once told me that in retrospect no change in chareidi Jewry ever came from the top. Rather, a popular groundswell began from underneath and eventually brought about fundamental and long lasting change…

    Comment by dovid landesman — May 27, 2009 @ 2:17 am

    This point is demonstrated by Prof. Katz ztl in a number of complex areas well before the rise of chareidim in the second half of the 19th century. He speaks with meticulous precision of religious sensibilty that is often popularly born and bounded halkhically, where necessary, by the Rabbis. He also has examples where rabbis invoke religious, albeit not strictly halakhic arguments, to advance their position. (the famous case of R. chaim ztl demanding strict adherence to halakha wrt milah is a perfect example.)

    However, I have not seen this argument broadly demonstrated within chareidi society and it actually suprises me. Did he give other concrete examples? Chassidus is a good example but before the chareidi era. In fact, it illustrates the point of rabbinic shaping. Mussar, as an example, is much less clear to me and I easily could see an opposing view. Beis yaakov is perhaps the best example but i do not know enough of how it developed in more chareidi circles, who accepted it when and and how it was shaped.

    But R. Bulman’s ztl claim of “no change” (no important change) except popularly sounds like a bit of an exaggeration. In any case, this interaction of the religious sensibilities of the people with Halakhic norms as espoused by their rabbinic leaders is a fascinating topic.

    Your last post is bringing you perilously close to MO beliefs; welcome. I wonder if your last four lines would pass moderation if you were anonymous.

    [Editor’s Note: Last time I checked, MO beliefs were more than welcome here, and several of the contributors listed on the front page identify with MO. Far-left Orthodoxy is another matter…]

  108. Moishe Potemkin says:

    There is no basis for that statement. The yishuv began well before Zionism came on the scene. It would have continued with or without Zionism. True, the Charedi world has to deal with the fact that the Zionists control EY — but what are they supposed to do? No one asked them, the Zionists took control forcibly. If I want to go to EY, I have to deal with the Stae or I will be arrested.

    Actually, there is enormous support for this statement, but, as you said, “Almost everyone is so emotionally wedded to their position, that they are incapable of giving an honest assessment of history or the facts on the ground.” Charedim benefit enormously from the protections and economy afforded by the state of Israel. There were yishuvim before – sparse and starving, but surviving – but much of the kemach, and consequently, Torah, of the current charedi world is due to the infrastructure of the state.

    And yes, you’re right, it’s impossible to avoid the state’s monopolization of security and economy. Maseches Avos notes the essential importance of government that you seem somehow comfortable dismissing.

    Besides, we’re told not to despise Mitzri’im, because we were immigrants in their lands. The assertion that somehow they – rotzchim and ovdei avodah zarah who were shetufei zimah – warrant gratitude that is not due to the people and structures of Medinas Yisrael is either laughable or contemptible.

  109. dr. bill says:

    [Editor’s Note: “Last time I checked,” MO beliefs were more than welcome here, and several of the contributors listed on the front page identify with MO. Far-left Orthodoxy is another matter…]

    Far left orthodoxy may be signficantly more important to all of us exploring how we will face the new challenges to orthodoxy from history, lierature, psychology, etc. than the far right. to be blunt, Kugel or Hartman or Greenberg (they are probably close to that far-left Orthodoxy boundary, though i suspect we differ on what side they might be) have relevance to that conversation even as we might reject their POV; but i appreciate that is not your charter. I maintain that fair and balanced would mean rejecting the far right as well, but i understand and appreciate your adgenda.

  110. Moishe Potemkin says:

    I don’t mean to pick specifically on Tal, but I have to point out an important contradiction in his comments:

    Comment #1: Interesting that someone here can attack an entire kehillah of God-fearing Jews by insinuating that they are not mekayem a mitzvah. But when I call him on it, I am the arrogant one.

    Comment #2: (In direct response to Menachem Lipken’s “I would hope you would agree that Religious Zionists are not involved in a “host of sins”.” Tal wrote “But that is precisely where I disagree.”

    By Tal’s own definition, attacking an entire kehilla of God-fearing Jews is a sign of arrogance. I hope that this does not in fact represent his opinion.

  111. Chardal says:

    >Chardal, I’m pleasantly surprised to hear that. I’m wondering, though, are they traditional in the sense of masorti, or are they full shomrei torah umitzvos?

    >I’ve heard it say that the sefardim were never as religious, and never as irreligious, as the ashkenazim. Your comment seems to bear this out.

    I don’t have exact numbers. But as I said, their are MANY thriving frum yemenite communities and shuls. And even those families who are not strictly observant are almost never anti-religious and are often close to tradition – to the extent of sending their kids to religious schools, etc.

    >There were some problems with that kind of “Chovevei Zion” pre-Zionism, and most rabbis were opposed to it. Even among those who supported it, many dropped it as soon as the secular Zionists jumped on the Zionist bandwagon and took the reins in their hands.

    I don’t know how you can say that at that point in history “most rabbis were opposed to it.” Frankly, most rabbis did not publish any opinion one way or another about it. If you want to get a list of some of the gedolim who directly supported the chovevei zion and their entire enterprize – check out the book “Shivat Zion” which was a collection of letters by gedolim supporting chovevei zion and their enterprize.

    Now you are right that several of the gedolim who initially supported the chovevei zion changed their mind after secularizing influences joined the movement, but I think that the point is made. Zionism started as a religious movement and it attracted to it Jews who were far from tradition.

  112. Esther says:

    (sigh) I guess the civil tone and evenhandedness of this thread was too good to be true.

    “But he did think that going to the Kossel or Kever Rochel is an averah, and instructed his chassidim to this effect.”

    Now where did you get this from, dovid? If you instruct your kids not to go somewhere, does that automatically mean you consider it an averah? This instruction was meant for his followers, not as a general psak halacha.

  113. Esther says:

    M. Lipkin – I saw your comment (92) discussed but nobody addressed this point:

    “no matter how great in Torah the Satmar Rebbe was, he was still human, susceptible to human foibles. He staked out a very strong, radical position for himself. Isn’t it just possible that as events unfolded, and he was face with growing cognitive dissonance, that rather than give up his position, he just dug in his heels and fought harder?”

    let me cut & paste your words again and make some slight changes:

    no matter how great in Torah the religious Zionists are, they are still human, susceptible to human foibles. They staked out a very strong, radical position for themselves (and the non-Zionists, overwhelmed by the magnificent Six Day War victory, followed suit). Isn’t it just possible that as events unfolded (Yom Kippur War etc.), and they were faced with growing cognitive dissonance (secularization of the state etc.), that rather than give up their position, they just dug their heels and fought harder?

    Anyway, we can argue back and forth endlessly, which I have no time for erev yom tov. So let me just end with a little story.

    During the craze of Shabateanism, a minister asked a rav whether he believes Shabatai Tzvi is mashiach. The rav asked him, “Well, do YOU believe he is the messiah?”

    No, he said.

    “When the real Messiah will arrive,” the rav said, “you’ll believe in him, too.”

    Correction: In my above comment (91) I should refer to R. Landesman instead of R. Adlerstein.

    Gut yom tov everyone.

    (To the editors: sorry for indirectky accusing you of unevenhandedness. I hadn’t noticed that you did publish my 91 comment after all. Thanks a lot for your evenhandedness.)

  114. cvmay says:

    The yishuv began well before Zionism came on the scene. It would have continued with or without Zionism.—-

    The holy yishuv of Meah Shearim began under the auspices of Rav Rivlin, who was taken to Beis Din by the rabbanim & residents of the Old City for initiating a move outside of the city. Their rationale was ‘we do not mess with the Arabs who are the prime shakers and bakers of those areas’. BTW the Beis Din ruled in the favor of Rav Rivlin. Rav Rivlin with the haskoma of Rav Sonnefeld and others continued buying land (even on Shabbos kodesh for the mitzvah of yishuv haeretz)in the Shaeri Chesed areas. Without the agressive moves and love of Zion (Zionism) of Rav Rivlin there would not be a B”H large, flourishing Charedei kehilla in Yerushayalim.

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