Apologies, Meaningless and Misplaced

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8 Responses

  1. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Agree entirely with your POV with three comments: 1) You write: “The great ideological divide between Torah-true Judaism and the heterodox movements becomes pronounced in answering this question.” True realistically and numerically but not intrinisically an ideological, Torah-true, halakhic issue, IMHO. One can certainly debate the difference between apologizing for an action as opposed to a regreting a consequence; the possible need for the latter extends beyond the former. I do not know if and how the Halacha explicitly treats this. 2) You write: “there is room to trade land (outside of Jerusalem) for peace.” Purely from a Halakhic perspective, I have never heard a halakhic basis for distinguishing Jerusalem (whatever halakhic defintion of boundaries you might use) from the remainder of EY. I could imagine some, but I have not heard any. The Rav ZTL’s comment on the Kotel is well known. 3) While apologies for the state are one thing, apologies for individual bad actors are another. Given its circumstance, I think the state of Israel does a remarkable job, beyond just apologizing, but prosecuting those individuals who cross the line. That is among the most compelling reasons that Israel should receive the apologies of the World community as opposed to have any need to tender apologies.

  2. Ori Pomerantz says:

    In 1938, Germany had legitimate claims. Germany and Austria had truly wanted to unite after WWI. The Sudetenland were truly populated by Germans. Giving in to Germany on those legitimate claims, however, was a monumentally bad idea. It showed the sane Germans that Hitler knew what he was doing, and that they should support him. It also showed the insane Germans that France and the British Empire were weak. It took the devastation of WWII to turn Germany into a good neighbor again.

    Could Israel have done things better, for example by returning the West Bank to Jordan in the early eighties prior to the Intifada? Possibly. That doesn’t matter. The Palestinians have elected the Hamas. Until they despair of defeating Israel, they’re an enemy.

  3. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Dr. William Gewirtz: The Rav ZTL’s comment on the Kotel is well known.

    Ori: I’m ignorant. Could you please tell me (and other non-Orthodox readers here) what that comment was?

  4. Shalom Rosenfeld says:

    Dr. Gewirtz, I don’t know if this is what R’ Adlerstein was thinking, but there are numerous non-purely-Halachic sources — indicating much stronger (and more sensitive) heartstrings when it comes to Jerusalem than regarding the rest of Israel. For example:

    1.) The dialog between Vespecian and Raban Yochanan ben Zakai in HaNizakin; according to some meforshim’s reading of the “what to do with a snake wrapped around a jar” quandary, Vespecian questions why RYBZ didn’t break a new hole through the wall of Jerusalem to get out. Presumably, the answer would be that the idea was totally unthinkable — even under the most dire circumstances that they were — to RYBZ.

    2.) The “Palestinian” Talmud, thought to be edited somewhere near Cesaria, is of course known as the “Yerushalmi” — so much significance is placed on Jerusalem that we call anything from anywhere in the same country “Yerushalmi.”

    3.) Heard from R’ Herschel Shachter shlit”a a few years ago, when there was talk about negotiating Har HaBayis: when Herod expanded municipal Jerusalem during the late Second Temple period, many people who thought they knew better than the rabbis (“amei ha’aretz”) said “okay, this new neighborhood is called Jerusalem, so we can eat sacrifices here” when in fact, as it hadn’t been annexed to “religious” Jerusalem via a prophet, procession, etc., sacrifices couldn’t be eaten there. But the rabbis didn’t complain about calling these new neighborhoods “Jerusalem”, despite the sacrifice confusion, because they knew that a Jewish soldier would fight harder to defend “Jerusalem” than he would some no-name town.

    4.) Continuing on that theme: according to “nigla” sources, we take knives off the table for benching because of the fellow who stabbed himself while saying “uvneh yerushalayim …” after witnessing the fall of Beitar. But wait, I thought Beitar isn’t Yerushalayim! But it pulled at heartstrings and provided a rallying cry. (Historical indications that Beitar was sparked by the Romans’ indications that okay we could build another Temple, just, oops, it would have to be dedicated to Jupiter, also help explain that Gemara.)

    5.) Archaeological evidence supporting the same idea? Ever been to Gamla? They have a powerful presentation there about “Gamla fell from Jewish hands in the year 67 [according to Traitor Joe, er, um, I mean Josephus Flavius], and was taken back in 1967.” The lead archaeologist describes how he never understood why the people of Gamla fought so hard, to the bitter end, against the Romans; and then he found a coin they minted during that struggle — it said:
    They knew where the Romans were headed next.
    “And at that point”, said the archaeologist, “I felt I had to apologize on behalf of the people of Gamla.”

    (Oops, is that a collective mea culpa?)

  5. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Shalom, my point exactly – these are excellent sources but not strictly halakhic. Believe me I would never part with Jerusalem and the sources you cite (as well as our daily prayers) are indicative of the centrality of Jerusalem to our people for 3000 years. I suspect the best quasi – halakhic rationale, is the use of Chillul haShem in the halakhic process. See article by R. Charlop in techumin25 for a discussion of chillul haShem as a factor in the halakhic process. And I suspect that this attachement to Jerusalem goes well beyond the “Torah – community” narrowely defined.

    Ori, in a Teshuva Drasha in ’67 or ’68 at the 92nd street Y, the Rav ztl, acknowledging the presence of prof. Peli A’H (who would accurately report what he said), in reaction to comments by a particular Gadol, said that the government of Israel, is an assumed (mumchah) expert and were it to decide that the security of the people of Israel required that the Kotel be returned, that would be acceptable halakhically. One could easily argue that recent history and current Fatah/Hamas behavior makes all that moot, but that still does not change RYBS’s theoretical halakhic stance.

  6. mb says:

    Thiece piece of journalistic excellence is somewhat wasted on this blog. No disrespect to the blogmasters but it is preaching to a beloved choir. This should be an op-ed piece (carefully edited) in left leaning journals such as the LA and NY Times.
    Rabbi Adlerstein, use your well deseved clout!

  7. Calev says:

    Ori Pomerantz writes: Could Israel have done things better, for example by returning the West Bank to Jordan in the early eighties prior to the Intifada?

    That assumes that Jordan would have accepted the territory back! Why would it when it has had such a tough time keeping its own Palestinian-Arab population in check? Why would the Hashemite rulers risk their throne by accepting more of these aggressive, victimhood-wallowing people?

    Rather, the Arab strategy of throwing all the hot potatoes into Israel’s hands and then standing back and blaming Israel for its occasionally poor juggling is paying dividends.

    As harsh as it sounds, I think Israel would have done far better to push all the Arabs out of Judea and Samaria in 1967. I’m not suggesting that such a policy be considered today, only that an opportunity was missed.

  8. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Calev, there was a window in 1987 where that appeared possible – see here. I’m not sure the Wikipedia article is accurate, but it does appear to conform with my personal memory (I was in 7th grade at the time).

    Once the Intifada started and the Palestinians learned how to fight against law and order, King Hussein changed his mind.

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