Eis Tzarah Hi Le-Yaakov

This coming week is an explosively dangerous one for Israel. While many of us are very much aware of the possible consequences of the Palestinian statehood vote at the United Nations, it was not the subject of every rov’s derasha this past Shabbos. I hope that it is not too much of an intrusion to remind people of our clear-cut obligation to acheinu Beis Yisrael.

The United Nations vote for partition in late 1947 had halachic as well as historical consequence. The world community declaring that there should be and would be a Jewish state in Mandate Palestine meant, in the opinion of some gedolei Yisrael, that the future State would not per se be a violation of the Three Shavuos of the end of Kesubos. That gemara enjoined Klal Yisrael from forcibly retaking the Land of Israel; the recognition by the United Nations meant that we had not violated that oath. While Torah-observant Jews divided on whether to see themselves as strong supporters of the new State or even the loyal opposition, with the exception of Neturei Karta and its sympathizers, they fully accepted its legitimacy.

The General Assembly vote this coming week to accept a Palestinian state that is bent (whether de jure or de facto depends on whose translation of whose charter you read on a given day) on destroying its neighbor may be the first step in the UN’s undoing of the legitimacy it conferred upon Israel in 1947. It will give broad powers to the Palestinians to pursue lawfare against Israel in the Internation Court of Law and other bodies, which in turn will further embolden the political forces in Europe and elsewhere that are eager to join with the Arabs in undoing a nation they see as conceived in sin.

Even if this turns out not to be the case, the coming week is fraught. Enthusiasm for the new state may produce flashmobs in capitals around the globe, converging on Israeli installations, and bent on destruction of property and worse. It might easily mean similar action against non-Israeli but identifiably Jewish property. Mobs of Arabs may try in larger numbers to try what they did at the Lebanese border a few weeks ago: storming the fences and barriers, and effecting a symbolic “right of return,” knowing that the IDF cannot afford to shoot them all.

If this does not objectively qualify as an eis tzarah, I would be hard pressed to find one. BE”H, the week might pass uneventfully. But our chiyuv in advance is certainly to be mindful of the threat, and to respond the way Torah Jews always respond. The best segulah for Divine Protection is the one clearly required by halachah: davening up a storm.

Speaking with no authority at all but that of a Jew feeling much heaviness of heart and anxiety, I would like to suggest and hope that all of us will stop at the many mentions of Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim in Shemoneh Esreh and in bentsching this week, and take the time to beg HKBH for compassion directed at His people and His holy Land.

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21 Responses

  1. Raymond says:

    The world both tolerates and fully accepts 57 Islamic States, yet cannot stand it that we Jews have our one tiny country. How tragic it is that all the Holocaust seems to have taught the world, is how to hate our Jewish people in a more covert, politically correct manner. Our enemies are always ultimately defeated, but I dread to find out at what cost to Jewish lives.

  2. David Zee says:

    You write: “I hope that it is not too much of an intrusion to remind people of our clear-cut obligation to acheinu Beis Yisrael.” For 26 long years HaShem has waited for Achinu Beit Yisrael to show compassion, effort, and arevut hadadeet to save Jonathan Pollard. As long as we avert our eyes and allow Pollard to rot, as long as the PM ONCE AGAIN meets with Obama and Pollard is once again NOT on the agenda, as long as we are foolish enough to suppose that Pollard is not at the center of everything that is threatening to occur, but is only some marginal issue, what kind of compassion dare we expect from HaShem? What use are our prayers if we continue to bury Pollard alive, and ignore him as his life blood is draining to the last drops. As long as Pollard rots in prison, we do not have a hope of redemption b’rachameem. Wake up!

  3. dr. bill says:

    I question a number of phrases in your article:

    1)”…in the opinion of some gedolei Yisrael, that the future State would not per se be a violation of the Three Shavuos of the end of Kesubos.” Only some?

    2)”That gemara enjoined Klal Yisrael from forcibly retaking the Land of Israel;” A number of stronger reasons were clearly articulated by gedolai yisroel who addressed the issue in depth.

    3)”…with the exception of Neturei Karta and its sympathizers, they fully accepted its legitimacy.” Unless you include many followers of Satmar and others in that category, I would question their full acceptance.

    Many did not learn (fully)the lessons of the holocaust. Instead, they attributed it to causes they can continue to rail against. I have zero-tolerance for them or those who show them even a modicum of respect, especially at times like this.

    Despite my questioning your wording, I strongly applaud your appeal for all of klal yisroel to treat this as an eis tzorah.

  4. David F. says:

    Perhaps I’m missing something, and I acknowledge that I probably am, but I’m not sure this is a bad thing for Israel. As it stands now, there is no one entity that can officially represent the Palestinians because there is no official Palestinian state. This has made any attempts at peace-making an impossibility because there’s always another party that rejects everything the first party agrees to. Furthermore, their lack of an official state makes it that much harder to pin them down on the things on which they’re so grossly negligent. It’s very hard to point out what miserable governments they run because there are no official governments. Additionally, in the current state, they’re all civilians. Once they have their own state, they have an army and it’s much easier to fight an army and to retaliate.
    I assume others have thought of this and can point out why my logic is flawed and I’d be happy to read any explanations as to why that is but until then, let them have it.

  5. Izzy says:

    Well said, thank you.

  6. cvmay says:

    Well said, with heart and head.

    An ‘Es Tzara’ it certainly is, let us all beseech our rabbanim, rebbeim, principals and roshei yeshiva to put ERETZ YISROEL #1 in our tefillos this week. And remember that in the eyes of the world, ISRAEL = World Jewry.

  7. L. Oberstein says:

    Everyone ties in this article with their own concerns. That is the way it is. We believe that the One Above rules the world and in the end, it is His will that will prevail. I think most Jews nowadays have no idea of the precarious situation that Israel is in. They also don’t care that much because they feel very secure in this country and don’t relate that much to Israel in a tangible way. We, the monority that really cares, have to do our all .

  8. lacosta says:

    ….it’s ironic that the haredi community , which theologically has had [ has?] so much trouble with a zionist entity, ultimately has to step forward [either politically , or in a vayechal Moshe sense], to protect its interests—- since ‘eicha oochal veraiti, beovdan moladeti’…..

  9. Caryn says:

    Thank you for bringing up this very important topic. However, I think that this week, if it becomes explosive for Israel, it may very well become explosive for Jews elsewhere, as well. I believe that the “Eis Tzarah Hi Le-Yaakov” is actually an eis tzarah for all Jewry, not just those of us in Israel. The Arabs/Muslims worldwide seem to be getting more brazen every day; it is possible that Jews in chutz la’aretz will not be safe either. It’s very easy when living in chutz la’aretz to think in terms of “them and us” but in reality we are all one – just ask Hashem. My understanding is that Hashem prefers unity among us and bringing up issues of who does and doesn’t believe that we should be in E.Y. with our own state, IMHO, does not bring about achdus. I would think the recent earthquake and hurricane flooding with unfortunate loss of life should be considered Hashem’s wake up call to American Jewry.

    For David F.- Whether or not their is one entity to deal with has nothing to do with the lack of another “Palestinian state”. Abbas and Hamas don’t see eye to eye and many Arabs would rather live as Israeli citizens with the freedom it brings. So, that is the reason there is no one entity. Hamas in particular, thinks this unilateral move is a bad idea since it will tie their hands for future incitement, etc. Neither of them want peace – they’ve said it time and time again. A peace partner has to work for peace – not piece(s) of Israel till they get the whole thing. If the General Assembly agrees to anything it will not be welcome by all “Palestinians” and very likely will not solve any problems; the General Assembly agreement does not change the facts on the ground either, it’s merely a recommendation. I believe it would be highly unlikely that the IDF could fight their army and retaliate. Terrorists with guns and bombs are not now considered civilians and any army they would have will do what they’re doing currently, which is hiding behind civilians.

    Hashem yerachem.

  10. Daniel Wohlgelernter says:

    Shkoyach for your beautiful divrei hisorarus !

  11. Tal Benschar says:

    ….it’s ironic that the haredi community , which theologically has had [ has?] so much trouble with a zionist entity, ultimately has to step forward [either politically , or in a vayechal Moshe sense], to protect its interests—- since ‘eicha oochal veraiti, beovdan moladeti’…..

    I once heard a story, probably apocryphal, that in the early days of the State, the Agudah put up signs saying, in effect, that it is a mitsvah to vote in upcoming elections, a position which the Satmar and other Edah Charedis types strongly opposed. Supposedly, one of them mocked the posters and said, “You mean it’s a mitsvah like matzoh?” To which the Gerrer Rebbe supposedly retorted, “No, it’s a mitsvah like maror.”

    Sometimes mitsvos are sweet like matzoh, sometimes they are bitter like maror.

  12. Baila Pressnik says:

    Daven for Eretz Yisroel? Thousands of American and other Jews have shown clearly that Eretz yisroel and the mitzva to go up to the Land is not important to them. They don’t make aliya, don’t visit even though they vacation in other places, and do not give money to support olim. Perhaps this punishment is deserved, we have shown Hashem we don’t love the Land while the Arabs are willing to blow themselves up for it…we need acts, not just prayer.

  13. David F. says:


    “Don’t give money to support olim”

    I do not believe there’s a single segment of American Jewry – Orthodox and Non-Orthodox – that does not give substantial amounts of money to support the Jewish community in Israel. In this regard, we have NOTHING to be ashamed of.

  14. Tal Benschar says:

    Here are some timeless, yet timely, tefillos:

    אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ. בַּטֵּל מֵעָלֵינוּ כָּל גְזֵרות קָשׁות:

    אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ. בַּטֵּל מַחְשְׁבות שונְאֵינוּ:

    אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ. הָפֵר עֲצַת אויְבֵינוּ:

    אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ. כַּלֵּה כָּל צַר וּמַשטִין מֵעָלֵינוּ:

    אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ. סְתם פִּיּות מַשטִינֵינוּ וּמְקַטְרִיגֵנוּ:

    אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ. כַּלֵּה דֶבֶר וְחֶרֶב וְרָעָב וּשְׁבִי וּמַשְׁחִית וְעָון וּשְׁמַד מִבְּנֵי בְרִיתֶךָ

  15. Mr. Cohen says:

    At the end of my Shemoneh Esrei prayer, in the paragraph that begins with Elokai Netzor, I add in these words: Avinu Malkeinu, hafair atzat oiveinu.

    I add this to my prayer every day except Shabbat and Yom Tov, morning, afternoon and night.

  16. Moshe Hillson says:

    Ever since the disturbances of the year 2000 (I don’t want to use the word “Intifadah”), I haven’t stopped saying daily Psalms #83, 130, and 142.
    Nearby is a Sephardic Shul where the congregants say the 3 Psalms in unison every weekday after Minha prayers.
    It appears that we will need to continually say the Psalms daily until the arrival of the Messiah.

  17. Guy in Israel says:

    If you want to understand the sheer hypocrisy of those demanding that Israel create a Palestinian state, read it from the mouth of a Palestinian, courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Woolf on his obiterdicta.blogspot.com site

  18. YEA says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein,
    If I may ask a question originally posed by R’ Aharon Rakkefet, why is the statement of the Gemara at the end of Kesuvos, which is clearly aggadic in nature, treated as halacha?

    • Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

      The short answer is that halacha IS sometimes derived from aggada. Lots has been written on this. It is simply inaccurate to argue that positions that owe to the aggada are never treated halachically. In this case, the fact that it is omitted by the Rambam is significant – but so is the fact that many poskim did deal with it as a binding reality, and looked for reasons why a Jewish State created with the approval of much of the world community would not be in violation of the Three Oaths.

  19. L. Oberstein says:

    I watched netanyahu’s UN speech on the internet. He is very clear that his minimum requirements include a demilitarized Palestinian State with Israeli troops stationed at strategic locations in the West Bank and Jordan Valley. He demands that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State. This isn’t at all ambiguous. It is also clear that the Palestinians don’t want this as a solution and would prefer to hold out for much more. They do not have the mind set to take what they can get and build a state and wait for the opportunity to expand their borders. I think it is a matter of pride and saving face that is very important to them. It is unheard of that the loser dictates to the victgor but that is what the Arabs want to do.
    I heard Hanan Ashrawi on one of the Sunday morning shows and she is clear that recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is beyond consideration. I don’t know if there is any solution that both sides would agree to. Maybe all the talk is just talk. Many people honestly believe that it is in Israel’s interest to make a deal now and not let things fester. Rabin as assasinated , Barak wasspurned by Arafat,and Sharon had a stroke and Olmert got indicted.I guess Netanyahu deep down is just living from day to day, from crises to crises because he has no alternative.
    The people who don’t see the crisis for what it is are living in a fantasy world,but it is easier to live in denial than to deal with difficult choices. I don’t know what we should do, every path has a lot of snakes and scorpions.

  20. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein, the issue of the role of aggadah and its relevance to psak is a complex one. as you note an aggadah not quoted by (any) major works of horaah is of less import than one that is. in most cases where the debate rages, the aggadah might imply conduct that in a particular context, is being debated/questioned. It is fair to say, that lacking a mimetic tradition and/or a history of halakhic tshuvot/interpretation on a subject, a (aggadic) statement of chazal, which undoubtedly had a context, when invoked as if it were halakha brurah, as some have quoted the three oaths, is not (necessarily) normative. Clearly we must take all statements of chazal seriously. However, if we do not have a tradition oral/mimetic or written to tell us how we can apply it, to assume that one knows categorically is highly questionable.

    a number of prof. katz’s students writing on the chareidi response to modernity in the late 19th century have documented what in their opinion was the overuse of aggadic sources and the criticism of their behavior by many great poskim including Maharam schick. i suspect many would put al geulah ve’al hatemurah in the category of books of that chareidi genre.

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