On the Temporary Withdrawal from Eternal Land

I received the following communication, which was written anonymously on an individual level, yet on behalf of all of us on a communal level. In essence, it says that the Government of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in no way compromises our eternal title to all the lands promised to the Jewish People, any more than did the forced exiles under Babylonian and Roman rulers.

Initially, I didn’t really see the point of saying this — especially for those of us in more charedi circles, who never claimed that the modern, secular state was the herald of the Messianic Age. On further reflection, though, with “Disengagement” upon us, I understood what the author perceived all along — that for our own reinforcement, and the understanding of others, we do need to declare that this land, even that piece of it which the state is now leaving, is our People’s.

That is, in essence, what is said, but the full text is printed within.

Political and practical discussions / agreements / actions have taken place, are currently taking place, and/or might (continue to) take place, between and/or involving various parties, including representatives of the government of the State of Israel and representatives of some of the Arab and other non-Jewish peoples found within the boundaries of Biblical Israel.

This entire statement, including the forthcoming declaration, does not imply or establish, in any way or manner, the merits and rights of any of said parties to enter into and/or effect any such discussions / agreements / actions, and is not intended, neither as an endorsement nor as a criticism of any of the said discussions / agreements / actions.

Agreements by proper representatives ot the Jewish People are generally considered with sincerity. Therefore, it is proper to establish the environment surrounding such agreements. At times, practical situations require current practical solutions. Agreements, even when valid, which are reached to facilitate such practical solutions, do not necessarily define or establish the essence of the universal truth of the situation.

One finds, for superficial examples, the legislated ideas, in real estate law, of “eminent domain” and “adverse possession”, which, by legislated law, could be changed or modified per situation. As applicable to either side of the practical solution equation, these types of ideas show that the essence of the universal truth reigns supreme.

As such:

We hereby declare and state, that, irrespective of any and all of said past, current, and future discussions / agreements / actions, the claims and rights of the Jewish People to all of the lands entitled to the Jewish People by Divine and Biblical Proclamation and Establishment, in theory, in essence, in fact, and in actua1ity, were not, are not, and shall never be
affected, in any way, form, or manner, by any and all of past, current, and future said discussions / agreements / actions, and said claims and rights of the Jewish People have continued, do continue, and shall always and forever continue to survive and exist, and are and shall always and forever be, continuously and inherently, completely and totally valid and effective.

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9 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Our daily prayers make specific statements and pleas that establish our permanent connection
    to Eretz Yisrael, notwithstanding what others say and do.

  2. Krum Bagel says:

    “Initially, I didn’t really see the point of saying this—especially for those of us in more charedi circles, who never claimed that the modern, secular state was the herald of the Messianic Age. ”

    This is hostorically inaccurate. As demonstrated here:
    in the aftermath of the War for Independence, the charedi world heralded the establishment of the State of Israel in the same terms that the Daati Leumi does today: as the itchalta degeula.

  3. Netanel Livni says:

    “Initially, I didn’t really see the point of saying this—especially for those of us in more charedi circles, who never claimed that the modern, secular state was the herald of the Messianic Age. ”

    What does the Issur of giving land to the Gentiles have to do with whether or not you perceive the state as being a step in the geula of the Jewish people? Can’t a chareidi person believe that the land belongs to us and we have a mitzva to settle it (Chazon Ish, Iggrot 75 [I think this is the correct siman but I don’t have the book in front of me]) while at the same time not conceiving of the state as Atchalta DeGeula. I get a sense from many chareidim that they confuse the hashkafic issues involved into one amorphous position against anything that has the words “Land of Israel” in it. I do not believe this was the position of the majority of the chareidi gedolim in the past or the present.

  4. Nachum Lamm says:

    Rabbi Menken, are you willing to say that the presence of a State of Israel for nearly sixty years has had no affect on the Jewish people’s hold on the Land?

  5. Micha says:

    Krum Bagel, the communal lines in general were less rigid then they are now. The idea of people being a chulent of what is now disparate communities was a lot less strange.

  6. Krum Bagel says:

    Micha, you are 100% right. Which is why flat statements like “charedi circles…never claimed that the modern, secular state was the herald of the Messianic Age” are false and smack of historical revisionism. The undeniable fact is that the Agudas Harabonim, which included virtually every major American godol of the time, thought the establishment of the state was the beginning of the redemption. They may have subseuqently developed second thoughts based on the failure of the state to evolve into what they had hoped, but they certainly knew of the secular nature of the state’s founders.

  7. Yaakov Menken says:

    Krum, all of this is a side point, and I didn’t intend to start a discussion about this issue in particular. Nonetheless, while the Agudas HaRabbonim may indeed have said this — and this, I believe, was Micha’s point — the Agudas HaRabbonim was not uniquely reflective of what we would call the charedi view. Their statements did not reflect the opinions of such figures as Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld, the Chazon Ish, Rav Aharon Kotler or Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l.

    On the contrary, the charedim of Israel were attempting to divorce themselves from the Zionist movement, and to negotiate a separate and peaceful settlement with the Arabs and British, until the political assassination of the Dutch Ba’al Teshuvah, Dr. Yaakov DeHaan. You can apparently read in Toldot Hahagana that this assassination was plotted by the Haganah itself, in order to scuttle the charedi threat to the Zionist enterprise. Rabbi Mendel Weinbach of Ohr Somayach said that “Political assassination, it should be noted for the record, is nothing new in the history of Zionism. A Jew, Dr. Yaakov DeHaan, was assassinated by agents of the pre-state establishment for the ‘great crime’ of negotiating with Arabs for the sake of national security.”

    Ever since the advent of Zionism, there was a non-Zionist track — not the anti-Zionism of the Satmar Rebbe, but simply a widely-held belief that the secular state had no specific connection to the ultimate Redemption.

  8. Netanel Livni says:


    So now you turn the position of the Eidah Chareidit into the mainstream chareidi position regarding the state and Zionism? That is revisionism at its worst. In the elections for the 1st Knesset, all religious parties in Israel ran on a joint ticket. The rabbanim in Israel wrote a joint proclamation calling on people to vote in which they referred to Israel as the beginning of our redemption. This letter was signed by no less that Rav S”Z Auerbach Zt”l, Rav Z”P Frank Zt”l, Rav I”Z Meltzer Zt”l, and many other rabbanim from the mainstream chareidi world (see the letter in Hatekufa Hagedolah by R M”M Kasher). Also, most of the rabbanim in Europe and in Israel rejected the authority of the breakaway Edah and their ideology. The mesader kidushin for both Rav Auerbach Zt”l and Rav Elyashiv Shlit”a was no less then Maran HaRav A”Y Kook Ztk”l (due to their rejection of the breakaway anti-zionist branch). Also, in Rav Chaim Ozer’s letters to Rav Sonnenfeld, he always addressed the Rav as “An Av Beis Din in The Holy City of Jerusalem.” The Chafetz Chaim, as we know from several witnesses, saw in the return to the land, the beginning of the redemption process. And of course, we all know that the Gerrer Rebbe practically pleaded with his Chassidim to make Aliyah before it is too late. This were the mainstream charedi attitudes before Israel was flooded with non-zionist european rabbanim after world-war 2.

    All this is admittedly an oversimplification since each of the above mentioned gedolim had nuances in their hashkafa that are not listed here. But it is enough to illustrate that the “chareidi” attitudes towards the state, Eretz Yisrael, and the Geula were in no way as monolithic as they are today and were in many ways much closer to the national religious attitude than to the current popular chareidi one.

  9. Yaakov Menken says:


    As I said, I regret the digression, but let’s be clear. What you describe as the “Eidah Chareidit” position was the position of the World Agudah and the vast majority of leading Torah scholars. That’s not “revisionism” but fact. As the article on the Niturei Karta at the Jewish Virtual Library points out, the Orthodox mainstream considered a secular Jewish state a violation of the “three vows” with the nations of the world — and the representatives of Agudath Israel asked the UN General Assembly to vote against the 1947 partition plan. [UPDATE: I stand corrected: despite the text of the Jewish Virtual Library, it seems clear that the objection of the Agudah was not based upon the three vows, but for other reasons. Nonetheless, and this is the key point, they did not consider the modern, secular state the “aschalta d’geulah,” the beginning of the redemption.]

    The ongoing and respectful contact between groups persists to this day, and indicates no endorsement of a position, any more than the ongoing and respectful contact between the Agudah Rabbonim and the Satmar Rav zt”l indicated an endorsement of his position. Since Rav Yosef Ch. Zonnenfeld was, in fact, “an Av Beis Din [Chief of a Rabbinical Court] in The Holy City of Jerusalem,” Rav Chaim Ozer [Grodzinski]’s reference to him as such is hardly surprising, and reflects no political slant.

    On the other hand, we know that Rav Chaim Ozer wrote: “…in the matter of the Zionists and the Mizrachi, I am in correspondence with the Gaonim of this generation, and all of them, have decided that Zionism is the work of the Sitro Achro [evil inclination] with all its seductions and incitements, for the purpose of turning Israel from the good path and, that a great danger arises from it for all the Congregation of the Exile—Heaven forbid—and that all those who venture to defend the Zionists, are no better than they.” Rav Zonnenfeld, of course, accompanied Dr. DeHaan to a meeting with King Hussein, his sons Faisal the King of Iraq, and the Amir Abdullah, in order to clarify “that Torah Jewry is totally opposed to the Zionist sovereignty over the Holy Land.”

    Once the state was in existence, one dealt with the reality of it existing — regardless of whether or not you thought creating it was a good idea or a terrible one. Obviously the religious parties sought to be represented, with all the endorsement of Zionism implied by Agudah’s representation in the Polish parliament a few decades earlier. The fact that Rabbonim signed a letter in which was found something about the beginning of the redemption does not mean that every one of them personally endorsed that expression (and you should closely examine how it was phrased — e.g. Rav Neventzal, the Rav of the Old City, tells his congregation to say “that it should be the beginning…”

    There’s more to say — see Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer’s essay “Dr. Yitzchok Breuer zt”l and World History,” and Ba’ayot Hazeman by Rav Reuven Grozovsky.

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