How Ami Magazine Convinced Me to Celebrate Yom Ha-Atzmaut

The editorial in Ami did not promote such celebration, of course. It provided an original and thought-provoking reason to celebrate its non-celebration, so to speak. Survivors of the Holocaust would naturally take great comfort in seeing the creation of the State as a Divine Hand reaching down to comfort the bedraggled remnant of the Jewish people. It took principled courage, claims the author, to resist what he calls “the comforting interpretation of Jewish history.” Survivors refused the convenience of such an interpretation of the events around them out of fealty to their religious convictions, which had no room for a secular state replacing the yearnings of the Jewish soul. (You can and should read the original, which is posted here.)

The implication is that those who continue to ignore Israel’s Independence Day act in the same spirit today. “It [Yom Ha-Atzmaut] was celebrated last week throughout the world by countless Jewish people, though not by many in the Orthodox Jewish community. Yom Ha-Atzmaut is generally either ignored or treated with disdain by most Orthodox Jews.”

The piece has generated vigorous discussion. Is it true that most Orthodox Jews ignore Yom Ha-Atzmaut? Do not a majority of Jews who accept the Thirteen Principles of Faith, i.e. the Rambam’s definition of who is an “insider,” in fact celebrate the day? (We should probably accept the author’s protestation that by “Orthodox” he meant “charedi,” and was guilty of poor word choice, but not malice.) Is it true that “subsequent…military action stirred additional rabbinic opposition to Zionism, and was seen as proof that the Zionist idea was, from a perspective of Jewish tradition, illicit from the start?” Wasn’t this just the reaction of Satmar and Brisk, and in fact rejected in all other Torah circles? Can the position of Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik be reduced to nothing more than seeing the State as “a buffer against assimilation,” while dismissing “the idea that its creation was in any way associated with the concept of redemption?” Does Rav Kook merit any attention at all? Did the author ever see the newsreels of Novemeber, 1947 (the reaction to the UN partition vote), with circles of charedim and secular Jews dancing together in unbridled joy? They don’t really support the conclusion of a wholesale charedi rejection of the State. Nor does the signature of R Itche Meir Levin on Israel’s Declaration of Independence, nor all of those who did mark the first few anniversaries of the Declaration with joy and thanks to Hashem.

I will leave to others to develop those objections, and turn to one that I believe may be the most serious flaw in the editorial. Even if the facts would have been as the author has them (and I do not believe that this is the case), they would have little relevance to us today.

Yom Ha-Atzmaut is not a celebration of secular Zionism, or any kind of Zionism. It is the celebration of the coming into existence of an independent Jewish community – no, nation – in the land that is ours. Israel is the largest Jewish community in the world. Its continued existence, its thriving against all odds, is a gift from Heaven. It can, should, must be appreciated as an enormous chesed from HKBH, Who allows us to live in our holy Land and work again to slowly build up a Jewish nation. How can we fail to acknowledge the incredible saga, past and present of rov minyan and rov binyan of the Jewish people? What do we do to ourselves when we stand to the side as literally millions of Jews celebrate in their own way (even if not the way we would have designed such celebration), and we do not feel their simple joy of being Jewish? What damage do we foist on future generations of our people, as we propagate division and dissension by not smiling at them and saying “Chag Sameach,” even if it is not mentioned in Parshas Emor?

The author cited Rav Soloveitchik, and I will do so as well. Among other things, I admired (albeit from a distance, since I never attended YU) two elements in his life and thought that are actually intertwined. The first is that he was capable of changing his mind. He was an Agudah firebrand at one point, but he jumped ship. That doesn’t happen to gedolim in our revisionist biographies; it does happen to real people.

The second is his finding that halacha has its protocols of psak, which determine how to decide between competing positions. History, he said, is what sometimes determines the outcome of hashkafic debates. In the debate over the significance of the Jewish State, history was machria that it is significant.

This is not dependent on the ideology that is called Zionism. Many years ago, I heard a young rosh yeshiva argue that all of us were like the Japanese soldiers who remained holed up on Pacific islands many years after the end of World War Two, still keeping guard at their posts. They were living a war that had already ended. There was a war for the heart and soul of the Jewish people between secular Zionists and those faithful to Torah. Secular Zionism lost that battle! We in the Torah community should have declared victory and moved on! We now have a country of our own, and we should take our places in its development, without fear of supporting an ideology that died a long time ago. Yom Ha-Atzmaut is not about ideology today – it is about the privilege of having a place where we need bow to nothing but Hashem. Recall the words of the Rambam (Chanuka 3:1) writing about why Chanuka was important: “Jewish governance returned to for more than two hundred years, till the churban.” Those two centuries were presided over by rulers a good deal more evil than the people sitting in Knesset.

When I left kollel, I was an anti-zionist kana’i. I’m not sure if there is much of the old-style Zionism left to oppose. Today, there is only the reality of a world in which, as the Satmar Rov once said, “When they say Zionist, they mean us.” Like it or not, that exasperating, poorly governed, socially divided patch of land is seen by the rest of the world as identical with world Jewry. I support the State not because of speculative ideology, but because of the certainty that I want to defend Yidden. For many years, I felt jealous of those who could celebrate on Yom Ha-Atzmaut, who could share the thanks, the concerns for the future, and the joy. My previous training left no room for it. Gradually, I made some room. (I don’t say Hallel, because I am not bowled over by the arguments to do so. I do say tachanun, and don’t see any contradiction. I attended the local Consular affair, but left deliberately before the musical entertainment, because of Sefirah.) But I always looked over my shoulder, feeling a bit uncomfortable. As a yeshiva-trained Jew, did I belong there?

Ami’s piece was so wrong, that I now have reason to shake off the discomfort. That is important, because when you cannot bring yourself to sincerely join in the aspirations, dreams and joy of other Jews, it becomes so much easier to write them off as “the other.” It bcomes that much easier to see yourselves as the only legitimate emissaries of G-d. From there, you and your friends can spiral out of control, taking over neighborhoods and schools contemptuously, or wearing Auschwitz uniforms in Kikar Shabbos.

Faced with the choice of celebrating with people whose religious outlook I do not share, or accepting an outlook that is too narrow and off-putting to be true, I will go with the former.

Thank you, Ami, for making life a bit less worrisome.

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80 Responses

  1. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Wow, just wow. Hopefully, more people will be likewise motivated by Ami’s unfortunate editorial!

  2. Dov says:

    Kol HaKavod – this article said much better than many others the simple reality of celebrating TODAY’s reality.

    I would add that Rav Eliyahu KiTov, in the sometimes-censored chapter of Sefer HaToda’ah on Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, cited the opinions for and against the state and its implications for geula, and presented his own very clear statement that bottom line, we have to have hakaras ha’tov for Hashem’s giving us the Land, and (in his words) we should daven for the souls of anyone who cannot feel this hakaras ha’tov.

  3. Rachely Schloss says:

    Thank you, Rabbi Adlerstein, for the beautiful message.
    Coming from and fully embracing Religious-Zionist ideology (and there is such a thing), some overtones are a little difficult for me (“that exasperating, poorly governed, flawed patch of land”), but am grateful for overall statement.
    Yom Ha’atzmaut for me is all about sovereignty, a million times over and the breathtakingly apt Perek 107 in Tehillim, which we say on Leil Chag Ha’atzmaut (before the Hallel with a bracha :)).

  4. L. Oberstein says:

    I found this article most enlightening especially when I followed the links and came across an article by Rabbi Elazar Muskin entitled: “When Unity reigned: Yom HaAtzmaut 1954” about how the rosh yeshiva of Telshe yeshiva in Cleveland, Ohio, Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, participated in a Yom HaAtzmaut event and wrote favorably about Israel when he defended his position.
    The world has indeed changed over the generations.The late Bostoner Rebbe, Rav Moshe Horowitz, once told me that the generation of Rav Aaron Kutler and the Satmar Rov held to their opinions and were not afraid to publicly state their views. On the other hand, he told me,in the later generations the rabbi would first think “what will they think of me if I take this position” and then speak according to the way the wind was blowing.
    Who would have imagined in 1954 that in the orthodox community, that positions like that taken by Ami would become normative and that the once great Mizrachi would basicly cease to exist as a party in Israel? What would have been the reaction of Rav Bloch to refusal to print a picture of any female of any age in any publication, that is becoming the norm today? Would Rav Bloch have sat by silently when a mass rally to combat the internet specifically says that women are not allowed to attend but may watch on video from another location. How did that extreme position on females become accepted without complaint by a complient Litvishe yeshiva world?
    In fairness, for all the protestations to the contrarry, the Agudah and its constituancy lobby hard for Israel, the frum shtadlanim, mostly yeshiva alumni, de facto work for the strengthening of the State of Israel.There is a huge difference between what they do and this ideological hair splitting that publicists like to engage in. There is a huge divide between the loud and strident positoins of the right wing of the Torah world, to use a cliche, and the broad masses of frum Jews. The problem is we have absolutely no leadership that will stand up to the extremists on anything. The more strident intimidate the more reasonable. If only we had Rabbi Bloch and his generation, there would be many points of view but there would not be the victory of extremism and silent acquiesence by the other rabbis. The Bostoner Rebbe was right.

  5. Moish says:

    Boy, Rabbi, God sides with Zionists. But then God sides with Muslims, and communists. And Fidel! Keep God out of it, for Pete’s sake. A group of people wanted a state, they went to war, and won. Period. This is not based on zealotry. But rationalism. Suggested reading, the writings of Yeshayahu Liebowitz and The Rav Thinking Aloud. Ami you got my vote for saying it the way it is.

  6. Dr. E says:

    I think that Rabbi Adlerstein’s sentiments resonate with many, who although they may not celebrate Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Hazikaron with Hallel and Tefillah Chagigit, are fed up with naysayers who year-after-year use the date to pontificate, in a transparent attempt to somehow earn brownie points.

    The Editor is trying to pander to the readership (advertisers and Rabbanim from whom a “cherem of the magazine would be devastating) by validating what has emerged as the prevalent position of the Yeshiva world on Yom Haatzmaut and Zionism. The truth is that for much of the readership of the magazine, the connections with Eretz Yisrael are disconnected from the infrastructure of the land, which is where someone more in touchwith be able to observe the benefits of having a State. For them, the focus is myopic be it The Mir, Brisk, or a handful of Torah luminaries. As such, rhetoric of the State’s irrelevance plays well to that crowd.

    But, given that an editorial with such a negative tone seems unprovoked and therefore an unusual risk on Rabbi Frankfurter’s part, I think that there might be a posture of defensiveness here. This year in particular, I have noted that some in the more RZ world issued a challenge to the American Chareidi world to stop ignoring the obvious and to step back from an ant-Zionistic stance based primarily in ignorance and bubba-meises. And some responded. This year, I even heard Rabbi Reisman and Rabbi Goldwasser publically at least acknowledge the day, each from a different angle and not in a rah-rah celebratory way. So, at least some within the American Chareidi world felt a need to aaddress it in a positive way. I guess Ami felt that ignoring it altogether would make them appear that they are not in the game and better to put literary foot-into-mouth.

    In an attempt to bolster credibility more broadly, the Editor attempts to use Rav Soloveichik as a source. Obviously, not a good idea to put that out to anyone even minimally conversant in his works including the obvious “Kol Dodi Dofek”. (Some really believe that the Rav’s only literary work was “Thinking Aloud”). The Internet has served to remind everyone what went on in Cleveland with the participation of the Telz Yeshiva on Yom Haatzmaut in 1954 or what Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky z”l may have said or written in Emes L’Yaaakov about the Medina. (Maybe that’s why this Sunday’s Asifa at CitiField is so important to attend.)

    A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to hear Binyamin Netanyahu at AIPAC. While it was not Yom Haatzmaut, there was that palpable solidarity. Perhaps even more compelling than the actual speech was the gathering of Jews of all denominations to stand firm with the State of Israel. And that included frum, Yeshiva educated people and Rabbanim who may in fact be among the readership of Ami. Or at least were.

  7. Tzvi says:

    Over thirty years ago I left the Mir in Yerushalayim to learn in a hesder yeshiva, but still could not bring myself to say Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut. One year my parents were vacationing in Israel and I jokingly asked my Father A”H if he had said Hallel that morning. My Father, a holocaust survivor who gave the daf shiur at the gerrer shtiebel in Flatbush said: “Why not? I davened at a minyan where they said Hallel, and HKB”H needed to be thanked for what he gave us.”

    I’ve said Hallel ever since.

  8. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Bravo, R. Adlerstein, for a great article. Perhaps the time may even come when you’ll drop the Tahanun!

  9. Bob Miller says:

    Some of our smug brothers have gone beyond, “every Orthodox Jew ought to think exactly as we do” to “every Orthodox Jew already does think exactly like we do”. It’s easy to think this way while living in enclaves. The definition of Orthodox can be revised as needed to support the point.

  10. Thoughts says:

    Awesome, and right on target. To extend advice I received in a chosson’s class. If the klal forever continues to fight about the issues of the past, how can we ever move on. The State is a fact and the different segments of the Jewish people are married to each other, with all of the brachos and issues that follow from that. We should all enjoy and propogate the brachos, and deal with the issues, but with a realization of the importance of Shalom bayis. And we should always present a united front to the neighbors and the rest of the World. It will be better for us and better for the children.

  11. Chana Siegel says:

    Bless you, Rav Adlerstein! We don’t have to agree on all the details of Zionism, the theory or of Israel, the modern state (which I personally view as a large, disfunctional family, but my own). It is a pleasure and a challenge to realize that we *do* agree on the necessity of gratefulness to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe for allowing the Jewish State to exist, and for us to be present and involved in our history at this time.

  12. Derek Saker says:

    Another thoughtful and illuminating article by Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein.
    How welcomingly to see the blossoming of independent thoughts and perspective on profound issues in our Torah world – to issues too often either considered taboo or where a different perspective was seen as almost blasphemous.

    Personally I have always found the tremendous lack of Hakaras Hatov (tangible and publically expressive) by vast elements of Torah world to a people and system called “Israel” (imperfect as it is)
    as a terrible Chilul Hashem at best.

    This to an entity that has and continues to plough hundreds of millions of dollars year after year into halls of Torah learning. (Paid for by the personal and business taxes of ALL Israel’s)

    Rabbi Alderstein and others drive a discourse that is far more than intellectual. They hopefully stimulate self-introspection and change for the good.

  13. Baruch Gitlin says:

    Excellent article! I went from not acknowledging Yom HaAtzmaut to celabrating it for more or less the same reasons you describe. To me, this day is an opportunity to thank God for what he has given us, and the ideology of Zionism or the current state of the Israeli government is all quite irrelevant to that bsic point. I do say Hallel, but to me, whether or not one says Hallel or Tachnun is far from the main point – the main point is acknowledging that the day marks something special for the Jewish people, something that requires hakarat hatov.

  14. joel rich says:

    The Lord works in mysterious ways – perhaps Ami magazine exists only to bring you completely over to the “right” side 🙂

  15. david a. says:

    I grew up in a (modern) chassidish milieu and saying hallel on Y’H was simply not on our radar, let alone with a brocho. until I heard Rabbi Sholomo Goren ZT”L, staying at his nephew’s house while visiting Canada, remark on this topic….not an exact quote, but to the effect …. My goodness, the Shulchan Orech provides for a brocho when you buy a new suit. That changed my mind.

  16. DF says:

    I’m not sure if its the editorial or your paraphrase of same, but the notion that the survivors resisted any religious interpretation of the rebirth of Israel because of religious convictions is pretty dubious. For most religious people it was simply a sense of conservatism, which opposes new innovations, subsequently justified by halachic arguments. Seems to me conservatism is a good and healthy instinct, but the creation of Israel [like the similar battle over Hebrew, another lost cause] was a case where they should have made an exception.

    Brief note to Rabbi Obsertein – in bemoaning that the position of Ami magazine on Yom Hatzmaut is normative in “the orthdox community”, you are missing Rabbi Adlerstein’s point (as well as the point of Menachem Lipkin, which is where the link brings you.) It is NOT normative in the orthdox community, but only in one segment thereof. In the broader orthodx cummunity there are hundreds of thousands who celebrate it with great fervor, and a great many in between who perhaps dont say Hallel, but also dont say tachnun, or otherwise approve and cheer on the revelers. We all hate labels, but it is funademental to distingusih between “orthodox” and “charedi.”

  17. Etana Hecht says:

    I read through the Ami editorial, and felt such shock and deep sadness that this is how a representative of the Yeshivish (and supposedly open-minded) world feels. I also had numerous online arguments practically begging right-wingers to simply acknowledge and be grateful that we have our Land- after that, this article was TRULY a breath of fresh air!

    It’s so beyond my scope of understanding how any Jew that calls themselves frum can possibly just ignore the anniversary of such a turning point in our Jewish history. The mere fact that the government paved our roads, picks up our garbage and provides us with a healthcare system should be enough for every frum Jew to say “thank you” even if they don’t agree with the politics of our government.

    Thanks for having the courage to state what you believe, even though it may be the unpopular opinion in your community.

  18. Sarah Shapiro says:

    Bless you Rabbi Adlerstein, and Rabbi Frankfurter, for speaking your truth.
    G-d willing, maybe the rest of us will have the courage to say what we really think.

  19. meir says:

    Well said. It seems like you are following in the footsteps of the Rav, turning from the haughty position of fealty to absolute da’at torah (in the face of the holocaust etc.) to the rational understanding of the facts of jewish history (including Israel), as explained by R’ Rakeffet-Rothkoff [available at yutorah as Rav_Yosef_Dov_Halevi_Soloveitchik_an_Agudist] May you be a more vocal leader for our community, as the religious modern orthodox community is sorely lacking a voice as an alternative to the charedi leadership, someone willing to question and hone general “orthodox” positions set forth by the more charedi-ized leadership of US orthodox jewry.

    [YA – Thanks for the compliment, but it is ill-deserved. I have not, to the best of my knowledge, walked out of the haredi world. Nor do I reject daas Torah – in principle or in practice. As I’ve said many times before, tens of thousands of people live somewhere between the two camps, or simultaneously in both. I am a drop in the bucket of all those people, who happen to take a moderate stand on Israel, and still see themselves loyal to Daas Torah, although they may favor a definition not entirely in synch with what some people today presume it to be.]

  20. Charlie Hall says:

    Anyone who implies Rav Soloveitchik z’tz’l was anything other than an enthusiastic Zionist is either an ignoramus or is falsifying The Rav’s torah. Nobody who has read *Kol Dodi Dofek* could possibly think that. A few years ago it was translated into English by David Z. Gordon; I highly recommend it.

  21. Ronnie Sieger says:

    As usual, well thought out and written article by Rabbi Adlerstein.

  22. e-man says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein,

    I don’t think there is anyone that I agree with more than you. I enjoy your perspectives and thank you for sharing them.

  23. Yocheved says:

    Kol Hakavod and Yasher Koiach! This reminds me of the fact that (many years ago) when I was a student in Bais Yaakov High School (outside of NY), our school had an assembly every year on Yom Ha’atzmaut so that our principal z’l, could deliver a speech about Why We Do Not Celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut. The assembly always began with an impromptu rendition of Hatikvah started by some of the girls(when the principal was not present, he never came at the beginning because we started every assembly with singing our school song and Ani Ma’amin), followed by our Rabbi z’l’s speech. I don’t remember the contents of those speeches, but I certainly knew every year exactly when it was Yom Ha’atzmaut because of our Non-celebration Assembly. It is far worse these days, when the chareidi world in America simply treats the day like any other, and that is a true shame. I feel sorry for them.

  24. Joe says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein, I honestly think that you missed the point of the Ami editorial. I’m glad that you’re happy that Israel exists. There are, however, a significant amount of Jews who have other opinions about Israel. The editorial didn’t put forward an opinion about Israel; it explained that the contempt poured out on those who either opposed or were cool in any way to the formation of the state might actually be misplaced. It wasn’t a courageous position to love Israel in 1948 or 1967.
    Ever listen to Rabbi Mordechai Gifter’s speech after the Six-Day War? You might not agree with his opinions about Israel’s victory, but he had guts in going up against the general feeling of the day and an audience that wanted to celebrate, not criticize, one that had its hands on the purse-strings of his yeshiva.
    And your “yeshiva training” instincts aside, you’ve assumed that Israel is presently a place to be celebrated as a religious paradise. We’ve won the battle! Let’s move on. But your point of view explicitly excludes those who refuse to serve in the country’s army, whose position in Israeli society remains precarious. They haven’t go the same things to celebrate that you seem to have.
    And there might even be some religious Jews, even those who generally defend Israel and see large-scale media bias against it, who have questions about some of the Israeli government’s behavior towards the Palestinians. Go ahead with saying Hallel and skipping Tachanun. Are you sure indiscriminate brutality, even when partly justified, really deserves a chauvinistic and unquestioning display of utter allegiance by American Jews? Maybe you should wonder whether your good fortune comes at the expense of others.

  25. Bob Miller says:

    Joe referred above to “a chauvinistic and unquestioning display of utter allegiance by American Jews”. Observing or at least taking appropriate note of this occasion is not such a display for most who do so.

    If it’s not yet paradise on earth, it’s still a whole lot better than elsewhere.

  26. lacosta says:

    rabbi oberstein

    one could contend that the derech of the roshei yeshiva in those early years should not be seen as the correct position to take , but rather the nebach posture of a bedraggled and downtrodden haredi world that was forced to dance Mah Yofis in front of the Zionist jews , both O and not, in order to gain some physical sustenance. fast forward 30 yrs, they had both the numbers and the lucre to no longer fear to call out the Truth to the 90+ % of Jews who are hopelessly off-the-derech…

  27. Phil says:


    I guess you never met Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch, ZT”L or any other Telzer Rosh HaYeshiva. They never “played the nebach” or “danced Mah Yofis” to anyone – never have and never will!

  28. Dovid Begoun says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein,
    Thank you so much for having the “guts” to say something that a lot of us feel. I just came back from Israel, and was there during Yom HaAtzmaut. This was the first time I was there since I was a Kollel yungerman and I was so conflicted. My “training” taught me not to celebrate, my heart and mind told me that this was an awesome day. I got home and saw the headline on the front of AMI and hoped that this would provide me with a license for accepting the day as a positive one. Unfortunately it did not. Then I happened upon your article. Thank G-d someone is still able to think for himself. I agree with you completely and appreciate your willingness to take a “not-so-Haredi” point of view. You should continue to shed light and clarity on a very confused generation.

  29. Charles Hall says:

    In my earlier comment I cited a recent English translation of Kol Dodi Dofek by David Z. Gordon. I should also mention there is also another, earlier, English translation, by Prof. Lawrence Kaplan, published under the title *Fate and Destiny: Fate and Destiny: From Holocaust to the State of Israel”. Prof. Kaplan is well known for his intelligent comments in the Jewish internet and although I have not read his translation it should be very safe to assume that it would be an faithful treatment of The Rav’s thought.

  30. Dr. E says:

    There are many American Mechanchim and Roshei Yeshiva who engage in collective cognitive dissonance. They reinforce themselves by stating that they are “standing firm to our Torah ideals and Hashkafos, even when that’s not popular”. If it were just this instance of lack of hakaras hatov, we might all actually believe that. But, this stance also fits into a whole mindset of entitlement within a one-way relationship of not giving back in other ways (except if one considers merely being on the roster of a Yeshiva “giving back”). Unfortunately, many of our youth in the Bais Yaakovs and Yeshivos have caught on to this. They find the mental gymnastics associated with rationalizing the legacy anti- (and neutral, if there is such a thing) Medinah rhetoric quite uncompelling. It’s hard to reconcile such an untenable intellectual position with what is quite obvious to them. This icnludes the sights of soldiers defending the land seen on their trip to Israel last for their nephew’s Bris in Geulah. Or their newly discovered American-born 2nd second cousins in Efrat, are in the IDF or doing Sherut Leumi, and showed up to the Bris in uniform (with whom they are now connected on Facebook). Or the uncle in Neveh Daniel who works in high-tech for a living, and could not attend the Bris because he was on his Miluim learning Daf Yomi.

  31. dovid landesman says:

    I will pat myself on the back and remind you of the posting on Cross Currents of THE DAY WHEN SATMAR WENT MAINSTREAM [also available in my book THERE ARE NO BASKETBALL COURTS IN HEAVEN]. My personal attitude was very much influenced by Rav Dov Schwartzman zt”l who told us, “who are you to object to the means through which HKB”H has chosen to intercede in history?” Incidentally, the participation of Rav Bloch at a Yom ha-Atzmaut celebration in Cleveland took place in 1950. He was attacked and wrote a memorable response in Shiurei Da’as. Interestingly, when I quoted him in an article I wrote many years ago, I received a number of letters that claimed this was a forgery.

  32. Joe says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein, I have one more comment. I find it disingenuous to disassociate the saying of Hallel from the nationalistic movement that embraces it and treats the Land of Israel as a major pillar of Judaism. Saying Hallel has always represented a specific ideology. Otherwise, start saying Hallel on July 4th. As far as I’m concerned, saying Hallel is as much of a slippery slope to “price taggers” burning mosques as opposition to Zionism is a slippery slope to wearing yellow stars. Just like anti-Zionism has led to fringe behaviors that you don’t like, religious Zionism has led to behavior you shouldn’t like. And if you’d like to argue that the yellow stars aren’t “fringe,” I’ll argue back that price tagging and the violent theology of the settler movement is not fringe behavior either. And anti-Zionists generally don’t condone murder, but the settler movement has a significant number of racist rabbis who have either openly or tacitly condoned the murder of Arabs.
    It’s fine to sit in America and be happy about the existence of Israel, but Yom Ha’atzmaut, as practiced by religious Jews in Israel, means something entirely different.

  33. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “It’s fine to sit in America and be happy about the existence of Israel, but Yom Ha’atzmaut, as practiced by religious Jews in Israel, means something entirely different.”

    Actually, out of the context of the rest of your comment, it’s rather true, because even the most avid US-based Religious Zionists don’t quite celebrate with the gusto than do most Israeli Religious Zionists, not mention that vast majority of the rest of the country. That said, your comment does have a context, and it’s basically to tar all religious Zionists with the actions of a small, yet quite troubling, minority. There are probably about 1 million RZ’s in Israel, give or take. And many, many more “traditional” Jews who fall on the spectrum of Jewish observance. (It’s hard for US Jews to wrap their heads around this concept, I know.) That’s one huge brush you’re using.

    There is no question that both the yellow stars, and many other fanatic behaviors in the Chareidi camp, and Tag Machir, and other extreme positions in the RZ camp, are outgrowths of systemic problems in both worlds. However, the BEHAVIORS themselves are absolutely “fringe” and in most cases are condemned by the leaderships in both worlds. If you’re going to insinuate that properly praising God for, what is perceived by many, as, minimally, a tremendous opportunity to rebuild our nation in our land is “representative” of the fringe then you are also impugning the underlying religious ideology of the entire Chareidi world.

  34. Raymond says:

    Those who know me best, know how passionately pro-Israel I am. No issue excites my passions anywhere nearly as powerfully, as the issue of Israel does. One practical manifestation of this passion, is that my entire political outlook, is based on which political party or candidate, is the more pro-Israel one. One can easily deduce from this, who I plan to vote for in the upcoming Presidential elections on November 6th. Please G-d, save this nation on that fateful day…

    And yet, I agree with those ultra-Orthodox Jews who are anti-Zionist, in the sense that the modern State of Israel does not represent some Messianic redemption. To me, that is not a matter of opinion, as much as fact. Israel is not run according to the dictates of Jewish law, and therefore is more of a place where many Jews happen to live, than it is a properly run Jewish State.

    The second paragraph I just wrote is not at all meant to contradict the first paragraph I wrote here, simply because I have two very solid reasons for being pro-Israel that are to my mind, irrefutable by any Jew who cares about his people. For one thing, having our own State, enables us to defend ourselves. In that sense, Israel is a large scale version of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Had we Jews been able to defend ourselves in Europe the way we can and usually do in Israel, those six million Jews would have never been murdered. Guns in the right hands can be a great peacekeeper.

    My other iron-clad justification for being pro-Israel despite its non-religious government, is because today, in these modern times, more Jews are learning Torah in Israel, than at any point in the long history of our people. Due to antisemitism, such a privilege has too often not even been allowed in our own Jewish land, but this is no longer the case, because now we Jews are the ones in charge of our own Jewish land. So even with its many imperfections, the current Jewish State of Israel is something to marvel at, and be ever so thankful for.

  35. Tzvi S says:

    Rabbi Frankfurter is Satmar. Ami magazine is all over the map.

  36. Meyer says:

    There was a war for the heart and soul of the Jewish people between secular Zionists and those faithful to Torah. Secular Zionism lost that battle!

    Secular Zionism “lost” just like Communism crumbled in Russia, but the ravages of both ideologies are felt strongly until this day. The fact remains that the State was founded on a rejection of G-d and a rejection of the entire saga of Jewish loyalty and fealty to Hashem as superfluous, and, as such, was a very effective tool in creating a society of millions of Jews who feel very comfortable assuming a national destiny, and presenting a face of Jewish national identity, bereft of Hashem.

    In terms of the world identifying Jews, generally, as children of Hashem or as a secular nation, secular Zionism, sadly, won. Passionately loyal Jews, and it matters not at all whether they are Charedi or RZ, are outcasts, on the fringe of the Jewish national visage. And that is perhaps the greatest instance of ongoing Chillul Hashem in Jewish history.

    To quote R’ Yaakov Weinberg of NIRC:

    “We can relate to the Jews in Eretz Yisrael – frum or not – to their needs, their safety, their financial well-being. [I interject – and certainly, to the extent the medinah contributes to those, it is to be appreciated as beneficial! Hakaras HaTov is the most basic of necessities!] But it is impossible for a Jew who has a Ribbono Shel Olam, a Jew who has respect for two thousand years of Jewish history, to relate to the medinah.”

    [YA – Although I was not a Ner Israel talmid, I had the zechus of a relationship with the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l, and his demus remains a significant influence on my thinking. I will concede that his strident rejection of the State bothers me much more than the pronouncements of many others, which are often for effect, and not entirely measures of their real positions. The Rosh Yeshiva was not like that. I have friends who were real talmidim, and have a similar problem. I don’t think that this particular citation, however, conflicts with my point. By now, the State is something very different from what it was when it represented the ideology that you correctly note it once did – at least in the minds of the larger portion of its architects. Today, the State is simply the modality of governance of the world’s largest Jewish community. It also is NOT a showcase of the new, liberated Jew. People are very much aware of that liberated Jew living side by side with two other kinds of Jew: those entirely committed to halacha, and those who are faithful to a good number of elements of observance, including kashrus, mezuzah, partial Shabbos observance, Yom Kippur, Pesach, etc., which in the eyes of the world community make Israelis far MORE religious than the Jews around them.]

  37. Ss says:

    I rarely comment on blog pieces but this one merits praise and endorsement. I have always said hallel without a bracha based on Rav Aharon Soloveitchik ztl’s piece in a Gesher article from the 1960’s and my own halachic research and understanding. I do not “celebrate” with music etc. or any other additional changes to the davening other than not saying tachanun. At this point, if anything tempers my “hakaras hatov” it is the unfortunate behavior of so-called “chareidim” in E”Y. Kol hakavod to Rabbi Adlerstein.

  38. Miriam says:

    Someone once told me that the most divisive people in the world are Orthodox Jews. This post and the various others attacking the Ami editorial prove that point. In Jerusalem, Bnei Berak, Bet Shemesh, Williamsburg, Monsey, London, Kiryas Joel, Lakewood there are thousands of black hatted Jews whose ideology is identical to the one articulated by Ami’s editor. Whther you want to call these Jews charedim, or Orthodox, or Ultra Orthodox these people’s perspective must be recognized and respected, whether you agree with it or not. And a centrist publication like Ami which has presented diverse perspectives on every topic should be given the courtesy to present these people’s perspective as well. If we deny each other’s truths we will end up spitting at each other on street corners.

  39. mb says:

    In 1990, during the Gulf War, Israel came under attack from dozens of Scuds from Iraq. It was a precarious time to be in or certainly to visit Israel. in fact all commercial flights into Ben Gurion airport were suspended, with one exception.
    Plane loads of immigrants from the recently defunct Soviet Union, at long last free to leave and to live a 2000 year old dream, risked that flight to come home.
    As Robert Frost says,paraphrasing, home is the only place, that if you have to go there, they have to let you in.
    Reason to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut

  40. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Is there a transcript of what Rav Elya Meir Bloch said on Yom Haatzmaut in Cleveland? Has it been published? Is there an English version? How about his defense of his appearance in Shiurei Daas? Can we get a copy of that in English? I think that knowing what he actually said would be very helpful in this debate.

  41. lacosta says:

    the import of the editorial is also to remind non-haredi O jews, especially those who went to RZ oriented schools , that there IS a segment within haredi jewry, mostly of the generation shortly after the State , who were educated to believe that the Zionists were and are amongst the greatest Forces of Evil on the Earth. when one meets such people, and didn’t come from their background, one would be shocked at the virulent unbridled hatred they have over crimes against G-d they represent. when MO/RZ people respond blandly to this , it just increases their ire. i frankly doubt that other than the Satmar type communities [ who pointed out this year that 5 iyar is doche erev shabbos ie say tachanun even if there would be a bris] that kids grow up haredi with such a visceral attitude; but i think it reflects in part the shock and awe of a generation that post-holocaust , expected the geula shlema, and instead saw the forces of godless socialism winning in the battle for hearts,minds, and territory……

  42. chana says:

    “Faced with the choice of celebrating with people whose religious outlook I do not share, or accepting an outlook that is too narrow and off-putting to be true, I will go with the former.” That’s my religious philosophy in a nutshell. Great piece!

  43. Steve Brizel says:

    Great article! For those interested in which Gdolei Talmidie Chachamim, Rabbanim, Roshei Yeshiva and Admorim were in favor a united Religious front, which R Velvel ZL and the CI opposed, see HaTekufah HaGdolah by R M Kasher ZL. It is a must sefer in understanding the role of Talmidim of the CS, Gra and Baal Shem Tov in settling the Land of Israel, how most pre war Talmidei Chachamim approached Zionism, and that Geulah can either be a gradual or sudden process, depending on the state of the Jewish People.

  44. Steve Brizel says:

    Lawrence Reisman-see the most recent issue of Hakirah re R E M Bloch and Yom HaAtzmaut in Cleveland.

  45. L. Oberstein says:

    To be fair to non Zionists and anti Zionists, I think that Rav Elchonon Wasserman and others identified secular zionists as fellow travelers of the Yevzekia- Jewish Communits who persecuted observant Jews in the early years of the Soviet Union until they themselves were purged by Stalin. When a boy or girl left Poland to go on aliyah in 1930, there was a reason to sit shiva because they would go to a kibbutz and shed all observance of Torah and Mitzvos.Socialists of the second aliyah wanted to make a new Jew and agreed with Marx. Many kibbutzin of the left had pictures of Stalin and observed May Day with red flags. And, worst of all, they did discriminate against frum Jews getting visas to Palestine.They wanted farmers not parasites, and that is how they viewed frum Jews.
    I write all this as a proud Zionist, who was raised by a family that loved Eretz Yisroel and have never been reticent to express these views even when it aroused ire. Time has softened some of the hard edges, the present State of Israel is not identical with the yishuv in 1930 or even 1950. If anything, the burgeoning chareidi population provides the possibility that in the future Israel will have a much larger observant population. Rav Ruderman told me and this is a direct quote “the State of Israel saved the lives of thousands of Jews, where would Jews have gone if there were no State. It is true that there are some bad people in the state, but that does not mean that the state is a bad thing.”

  46. cvmay says:

    “When I left kollel, I was an anti-zionist kana’i” – Why, exactly?

    For those requesting information on Rav Bloch zt”l and his answer to those that were angered/betrayed by his representation at a Yom Hatzmaut;
    In sefer Mitzvot ha-Shalom written by a Mir-Shanghai talmid, Rabbi Joseph Dovid Epstein, Rav Bloch defends and explains his action. To quote Rav Bloch, “In my opinion, despite all the defects and deficiencies in the leadership of the State of Israel, its mere existence, which happened via revealed miracles, is of great significance that deserves recognition and appreciation. This recognition must be publicly expressed for two reasons. First, because the truth must be expressed. Second, that all should know and recognize that our war against the Government of Israel is not targeted against the existence of the state.

    THE FOLLOWING COMES FROM MY LETTER TO EDITOR OF FJJ (flatbush Jewish Journal): Now a question must be asked……why are these authentic and accurate statements (among others) not well-publicized or known? For one, Rabbi Bloch’s letter appears in the first edition of Mitzvot Ha-Shalom printed in 1969, in the second edition of 1986 the author chose to delete the letter out of concern for personal safety*. (* a group of extremists burned the unsold inventory of his first sefer because of this letter). This was not the first or last time that such a ruckus was made because of positive or favorable actions towards Medinas Yisrael exhibited or written by Gedolim. For instance, there have been at least four biographies written about the exceptional personality of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach detailing his life, marriage, learning, leadership etc. – only one of those sefarim names his Mesadar Keshoshim. Do you wonder why? Our posak hador, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashuv shlit”a was married to Sheina, the daughter of Rav Aryeh Levine…do you know who suggested the shidduch and was the shadchan? Find out… Sort of a rewriting or revisiting of history to avoid any favorable mention of “Tzionim”………

  47. cvmay says:

    “Faced with the choice of celebrating with people whose religious outlook I do not share”

    Experience a Yom Haatzmaut at Yeshiva Mercaz Harav or in the Old City where Rav Nebenzhol participates and you might find those whose ‘religious outlook’ you share SOMEWHAT!!!

  48. Leon Zacharowicz says:

    The State of Israel came into existence as a place of refuge for Jews. Hundreds of thousands of Jews have joined an army to defend the Jewish state. There are tens of thousands of members of various security and intelligence branches. Without the 24 / 7 vigilance of these people, within weeks if not days the barbarians would be at the gate.
    The next time you see someone in uniform, or learn of someone who is in one of these branches, why not go over to that person and say “thank you”? That, to me, would be the best way to acknowledge the historical event of finally having a nation and the ability of Jews to defend themselves.
    Or, we can remain smug.

  49. Michael says:

    Raymond’s post elicits an important question. Can there be religiously grounded support for Israel if it is completely severed from the concept of redemption? The religious Zionists by definition do not need to deal with this question, since for RZ, Medinat Yisrael is “Reishit Tzmichat Ge’ulatenu” (The beginning of the flowering of our redemption). But what are valid approaches of supporting Israel from a charedi perspective? Can one be a charedi supporter of Israel, recognizing all the good that has come since its inception, but be firmly convinced that it has nothing to do with Mashiach or the Geulah? Or does supporting Israel require a less strident approach-we don’t know how Mashiach will come, and it could very well be that the existence of the Medina will have played a role?

  50. Michael says:

    Raymond said:

    “I agree with those ultra-Orthodox Jews who are anti-Zionist, in the sense that the modern State of Israel does not represent some Messianic redemption. To me, that is not a matter of opinion, as much as fact.”

    Just as no human can “know” that the founding of the state is part of a redemptive process, so too it cannot be a “fact” that it’s not. At best, people on both sides of the issue can detect clues as to whether it is or isn’t. Your actual facts, which you state in your third and fourth paragraphs are what really matter. And even those “facts” are open to interpretation. You can either see this incredible opportunity and those amazing benefits as the hand of God or the work of the Satan. I think that’s what a lot of this hinges on. As Rabbi Yoel Bin Nun Said, “[I] can’t understand a philosophy that says that 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis is the hand of G-d but 600,000 Jews defeating 7 arab nations is the work of the devil.”

    Miriam, one of the issues with R. Franfurter’s editorial, either through ignorance or poor communication skills, was that he insinuated that the members of the communities you mention represent a majority of orthodox Judaism with regard to this issue. And that is simply false.

    Nobody argues that there are not differing positions on this issue.

  51. Mike S. says:

    Chazal make quite clear, both in their comments to the last passuk of the Megilla and in the dialogues between Esther and the Chachamim cited in the Gemara Megilla, that there was considerable opposition to Purim among the Chachomim of the time. Although they are worthy of respect, their opposition to Purim is not, and shouldn’t be, normative. The Satmar Rov, zt”l’s opinions on Israel have been thoroughly refuted (or “prefuted” in some cases)by such Gedolei Torah as R. Kook, R. Meshullam Roth, R. Yosef Dov Soloveichik, R. Zevin and Rav Kasher. In particular, I don’t see how anyone who reads both Vayoel Moshe and Hatekufah Hagedolah cannot be completely convinced by the latter.

    The gemara in Sanhedrin relates that God, as it were, thought “to make Chiskiyahu Moshiach and Sancherib Gog U’magog” but didn’t because he did not say shirah. We should respect those who were unable to overcome their rejection of Secular Zionism to recognize the importance of the return of Jewish Sovereignty to the Land of Israel. But we shouldn’t let it become normative.

  52. cvmay says:

    “in the sense that the modern State of Israel does not represent some Messianic redemption”

    The Torah World has never delved intensely into “Messianic Redemption” as a day-to-day affair (besides the Rambam) (& for many reasons*). It is not halacha l’maasah as is; kashrus, tznius, business dealings, ahavas yisroel, shabbos, muktza, etc. The over-all feeling is through YAD HASHEM it will unfold, happen and arrive. THEREFORE…what do we know exactly about the ‘birthpangs’, ‘labor’, ‘C-section’ or almost arrival of redemption. Words of Chazal that describe the details of ‘rays of redemption’ have begun to shine through, is that acceptable enough or do we need a Navi to proclaim it from the hilltops (outposts) of Judaea?

    Through the mouths of G’dolim of the last century we have heard: “End of Galus”, “Beginning of Redemption”, “Sparks of Redemption”, “Wink of an eye”, “Flowering of R”, “the end but not yet the beginning”……wouldn’t you agree that there is indecision regarding what we are experiencing and actualizing today?

    *(Since Chabad has monopolized the term ‘Geulah’ & ‘Moshiach’ the rest of the Torah World does NOT touch it with a 10foot pole)

  53. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    To Steve Brizel:

    With regard to Rav Kasher’s sefer, there are many who aver that it grossly distorts and misrepresents facts, and that one should read it with more than just a grain of salt. I read the HaKirah piece, and recommend it to others. The article seems to translate Reb Elya Meir’s letter in its entirety, and one can see a viewpoint that is decidely less enthusiastic about the state than we have been lead to believe. Allow me to quote part of the letter “The collective meeting for Yom ha-Azma’ut was not particularly festive; it was simply a symposium conducted by all the Orthodox factions and gave everyone the opportunity to express their views. Of course, if we would not have attended, the Agudath Israel
    meeting would have turned into a platform focused on criticizing and its leaders who are the “Gedolei ha-Torah.” Our participation on the other hand caused the speakers to speak politely and allowed Agudath Israel to express its views in front of more than one thousand people. Hence even if we would not have related to the State of Israel in a positive fashion, our participation would still have been of value. However, in my view since the creation of the State of Israel is indeed an important milestone in the life of our nation, our relationship to it, therefore, is positive, and our participation is obligatory.”

    Far more conciliatory to the medinah than the kannoyim would like, but far less enthusiastic than the Mizrachi would like to portray it.

  54. David F. says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein,

    I’m surprised at this article. Not because of your stance – I understand where you’re coming from and why you feel as you do even if I am perhaps not in complete agreement. What took me by surprise was your taking issue with AMI [another area on which we disagree.] You have loudly praised AMI’s willingness to represent a broad spectrum of views and hold a discussion that spans various communities. Certainly in the larger Orthodox world, the position you espoused is the majority. Well, in this editorial, AMI took the position of them minority and attempted to defend/explain it. Isn’t that the type of open-minded thinking that you so frequently laud or is only good when it goes against all conventional “yeshivishe” thinking?

    Note: I’m not debating your position on YH. I would have no problem if you wrote a long article explaining why you think it’s important to celebrate YH. But why insinuate that AMI was wrong to take a contrary position when you and I both know full well that their view is held by a large segment of the Orthodox community. AMI specializes in being hard to peg and inconsistent and you found great merit in that. If consistency is what you seek – read Yated.

  55. Tzvi Samson says:

    Please brush up on your history ! Certainly, if you can make a shechyanu on a new suit – you can make one on the state of israel. But to imply that ,Zionism wasn’t a false idol replacing Judaism for many decades,is naiive on your part. If you believe that times have changed then you can slowly begin presenting your idea in a balanced respectful way. Your article especially the title, makes you seem as much a fundamentalist as those whose viewpoints, you attack.
    Tzvi Samson
    Manhattan N.Y.

  56. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi, Congratulations on your move to the right side or should i say left. Rest assured that we MO will not invalidate your conversion, despite your lack of complete adherence to every detail of our view of expected observance. we may even tolerate occasional back-sliding.

    On a more serious note, i remember hearing from the RAS ztl, who as has been noted differed with his brother even on saying hallel, that saying tachanum is beyond the pale. he spoke of a reason for not saying tachanun on tu be’av since harugai beitar were brought to their final home/buriul, according to some opinions. i do not remember precisely, but I seem to recall him giving a kal vachomer beno shel kal ve’chomer that we cannot recite tachunun on a day representing the still living being brought home. Someone, not he, said at the time, (40+ years ago) and i forget who, that opposition to such logic reflects a position on “zionism” that is mekalkelet es hashurah.

    The celebration of yom hatzmiut by R. Bloch ztl is addressed in RD JJ Shachter’s essay over a decade ago on historical accuracy in the TUMJ. I believe it includes a piece of physical evidence.

  57. YM says:

    It is interesting that this is here at the same time the issues concerning the Tal law are being discussed in the media. There are many salivating over the opportunity to force haredim into situations like the regular IDF, which is not a fit place for a serious eved Hashem. Time will tell whether the Israel majority can accept Haredi service on Haredi terms or is really trying to destroy the Haredim.

    I would call myself a supporter of Israel, but not a Zionist, although if a non-Jew asked me, I would say I was a Zionist.

  58. lacosta says:

    —And a centrist publication like Ami

    that is an assertion that is somewhat incredulous… i would have given Mishpacha that title, as it has featured individuals with credentials like chabad, YU, zionist-wing Young Israel , without slurring or disparaging them or their followers..

    the only way i could see one calling Ami centrist , is by keeping in mind that with Mishpacha to its left [isn’t this ridiculous? it’s a purebread haredi mag–we are judging by how vigourously the content slams,ignores, or writes off other jews], and with Yated a bit to its right, one must concede that it doesn’t house the extreme position…..

  59. Raymond says:

    Since a few people have responded to my original comments above, I feel it is okay for me to make a second comment here, in response to their comments.

    And so, to answer their challenge, no, I do not believe that Modern State of Israel is part of the messianic redemption, simply because it was founded and continues to currently be run largely by secular socialists, a philosophy radically different from Torah Judaism. And so no, even if I were religious myself, I would not say Hallel on Israel Independence Day, as it is not a religious holiday. It is more like what July 4th is here in America. Plus, to me at least, Israel is not 64 years old, but many thousands of years old.

    But all that does not mean I am anti-Zionist. Just the opposite is the case, for reasons I cited above. Having our own Jewish State, gives us the military means to defend ourselves against our sworn murderous enemies. That would be more than reason enough to support the Modern State of Israel, as I want as many of my fellow Jews as possible to not die violent deaths. Once we have that military protection, we can then live freely as Jews in our own land. And, in fact, something like 80% of Jews living in Israel describe themselves as being at least traditionally Jewish, with a significant percentage of that Orthodox or even Chareidi. So even though Israel is not, at least in my view, part of the Messianic redemption, I cannot imagine any Jew who cares about his or her people, not supporting it nevertheless, precisely for the reasons I have stated both here and previously.

  60. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “There are many salivating over the opportunity to force haredim into situations like the regular IDF, which is not a fit place for a serious eved Hashem.”

    This is exactly the type of inaccurate invective that R. Frankfurter’s original editorial was riddled with. Clearly YM either doesn’t live in Israel or, if he does, doesn’t get out much. There are countless b’nei Torah, Chareidi and not, who are “ovdei Hashem” on a level that those of us who haven’t served can’t even approach. But that’s not the half of it. One of the “situations” every serious plan to replace the Tal Law has also included is an option for National Service. Often such ideas include doing volunteer work for Zaaka, Yad Sarah, etc. So really YM? Zaaka too is no place for a serious “Eved Hashem”?

    Unfortunately, it’s the spread of misinformation like this that is mainly hurting the many Chareidim who desire to become functioning members of Israeli society.

  61. L. Oberstein says:

    Pardon what at first glance may be redundant. The reality that one sees all the time is that the chareidi world is supportive of the Medina de facto if not de jure. Every frum person I know who is involved in Federation, AIPAC, etc. lobbies and supports aid to Israel. I saw many times how Rabbi Herman Neuberger used his contacts to help Israel. Only a few people like Satmar are , de facto, against the State . If and this is a big “if” the new coalition actually finds a way to greatly increase Chareidi participation in the army, national service and the work force, you will see a major change on the ground. The chareidim will become part of the Medina and not feel like a hated sub-group.There are valid reasons for chaeidim to have issues with secular zionism, but if one lives in a country one ,certainly over time, becomes part of the fabric of its society. The chareidm are moving in that direction, but there may be detours and bumps on the road. I agree with Rabbi Berel Wein that we have to get over it already and live in the present and not fight battles of another time and place.
    Anyone who thinks that Israel is not a Jewish state is blind to the bonds that tie all Israeli Jews to each other, the chesed, the concern and the sense of family that I feel with every Jew is palpable in Israel and in the Diaspora. Lastly, it is ignorant to blame every ill of the Enlightenment and the Modern Industrial Age on the “Zionists”. Shtetle life was disintigrating without the zionists, they were just one of many groups that tried with some small success to keep Jews part of the people even if they no longer wanted to keep the strictures of the religion. They didn’t invent secularim and the Jews of the United States who aren’t frum didn’t become that way because of secular zionsim. It is like a dysfunctional person blaming all of his problems on his mother. Don’t overdo the blame. There is plenty of blame to spread around. Learn the real history of those times, not the falsified and sanitized stuff that is printed nowadays . We will either all hang together or we will certainly hang together, to quote Thomas Paine.

  62. Ben Waxman says:

    There are many salivating over the opportunity to force haredim into situations like the regular IDF, which is not a fit place for a serious eved Hashem.

    The fact that so many true ovdei Hashem have served and serve shows that the above statement is simply ridiculous (at best). I wonder if the author of this statement served or is simply relying on articles that he read or third hand stories that he heard.

  63. Meyer says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein,

    I guess one can look at things from various vantage points, but the Jewish State is, willy-nilly, the Jewish national visage, not merely the government of its montage of citizens, which would be true even if it were non-Jewish.

    Many state-sponsored events are a slap in Hashem’s face (did you catch a glimpse of this year’s Israel Prize award ceremony? You would have to avert your eyes quite a bit. Poor Rav Druckman…), and, again, passionately loyal Jews are undeniably on the fringes of that national visage. It is certainly well within the parameters of a Torah hashkafah that holds “You shall love Hashem your G-d” dear, to insist that the yardstick for celebration ought to be the extent to which “This nation that I created for Me so that they will recount My praise” is fulfilled by a particular historic event. As a small but salient, painful example, the State’s as yet unaltered national anthem, fails miserably in that regard.

    The Chafetz Chaim’s son envisioned a possibility of Yachin Rasha Vetzadik Yilbash regarding the Zionist enterprise. I prefer to wait until the day when the Tzadik Yilbash becomes a reality, and rejoice on that day, not on the 5th of Iyyar. Rav Wolbe was also a serious thinker not given to bombastic proclamations. He was also “faced with the choice of celebrating with people whose religious outlook I do not share” and expressed major reticence toward Yom HaAtzmaut due to concern for Chanifah to said (ir)religious outlook in doing so.

  64. Joe says:

    Lacosta, I think you are delusional about Ami and Mishpacha. Mishpacha only featured Chabad and YU when Rabbi Yitzchak Frankfurter wrote about them. Ami has continuously written about Chabad and YU and other religious Jews. .

  65. Nachum says:

    “continues to currently be run largely by secular socialists”

    Socialism is a joke in Israel. (Typical attitude: I once attended a workshop explaining Israeli paychecks. We got to one line about mandatory vacation days, and the presenter said “Oh, here’s a little legacy from our Bolshevik past.” The room had a good chuckle.) The Prime Minister is anything but socialist, and Israel hasn’t been for years.

    Over half the Knesset is Shomer Shabbat. (They may not wear kippot, but they are. Avigdor Lieberman is a good example of this.) Many more (including, for example, the Prime Minister) are strongly traditional. If anything, religious people are over-represented in government. A while back, there was a picture of Netanyahu at a meeting in Washington with his closest advisers. At least half of the ten people at the table had kippot. The National Security Adviser (a retired general) has a long beard.

    Is it reflected in practice? Increasingly. But you certainly can’t say that the state is run by secular socialists.

  66. Herschel says:

    Ami’s editor wrote a very moving article this week in defense of the Shomrim boys in Baltimore who happen to belong to Modern Orthodox synagogue. I’ve never seen such genuine ahavas Yisrael. He calls them family. Those who attack him obviously don’t read Ami.

  67. dr. bill says:

    Joe, i think there is a fair claim that the views of YU expressed are to the right in that institution. When i see an article about RAL, gush etzion, or R. Rosenzweig, etc. told accurately, or even the RY who are in the center, i will change my mind. (BTW, I think R. Rosenzweig is closest to the Rav hashkafically.) And this from someone pictured in the article about RHS; i am the one standing next to the rav ztl in a striped/colored shirt, something easy to spot. i expected them to crop me out; but then again you would be surprised who else is in the picture.

  68. cvmay says:

    “What took me by surprise was your taking issue with AMI [another area on which we disagree.]”

    Lacosta, Joe and David: The problems & disgrace of the editors of AMI are many, will focus on one that we can all agree upon. They do not investigate, research or stand behind what they write and publish. Their article on Bet Shemesh for one was completely full of inaccuracies. They apologized twice already on “Hitting the pen/typeboard without asking questions”.

    Raymond: It would be hard to determine if Yom Haatzmaut has any religious significance since the Torah World has never delved intensely into “Messianic Redemption” as a day-to-day affair(& for many reasons*). It is not halacha l’maasah as is; kashrus, tznius, business dealings, ahavas yisroel, shabbos, muktza, etc. The over-all feeling is through YAD HASHEM it will unfold, happen and arrive. Dverai Chazal that describe the details of ‘rays of redemption’ have begun to shine through, is that acceptable enough or do we need a Navi to proclaim it from the hilltops?

    G’dolim of the last century have murmured & stated: “End of Galus”, “Beginning of Redemption”, “Sparks of Redemption”, “Wink of an eye”, “Flowering of R”, “the end but not yet the beginning”……wouldn’t you agree that there is indecision regarding what we are experiencing and actualizing today?

    *(Since Chabad has monopolized the term ‘Geulah’ & ‘Moshiach’ the rest of the Torah World does NOT touch it with a 10foot pole)

  69. Yisrael Asper says:

    A lot of people are still Jewish because of Israel. The real problem will be that once Israel becomes mostly frum in population Hashem will no longer judge us as overall going up spiritually with all the Baalei Teshuva that will choose frumkeit because of increasing exposure to frunkeit, in addition to all those born and perpetuating it. The judgement will then be other measures of frumkeit. Let us hope we pass the judgement better than 2000 years ago.

  70. lacosta says:

    the fact that this is amongst the more commented articles on this site reflects to me the rift in Orthodoxy that Zionism still causes…..

  71. cvmay says:

    Lacosta: The most comments are usually attached to Rabbi Adlerstein’s posts since there is a call for discussion, not “no comments allowed” or “closed to comments”. Also the subjects are objective, unbiased and RA allows respectful dialogue.

    BTW Zionism = Israel = Judaism = klal yisroel. Since its a debate ignored in schools, yeshivos and shuls where else but CROSS CURRENTS can intelligent people add their POV, tidbits, past experiences and challenges.

  72. SL Zacharowicz says:

    I am reminded of the quip the Ponevezher Rav supposedly said when asked, several decades ago, what he does on Yom HaAtzmaut.
    “I do exactly what [then-prime minister] David Ben Gurion does,” he replied, with a wink. “He doesn’t say Hallel and he doesn’t say Tachanun.”

    Interestingly, the Ponevezher Rav also would have the Israeli flag flown about the yeshiva that day.

  73. Jodi says:

    Many of us are hoping you’ll respond to Harold Gans’ article in the May 9th issue of Inyan (Hamodia) concerning your recent dismissal of the Torah Codes?

    [YA – I heard about such an article, but I haven’t seen it to know whether I (really we – there were three authors of the Cross-Currents piece that responded to the first inaccurate description of the Codes – need to or want to respond. It didn’t seem pressing enough to actually go out and buy it…]

  74. Jodi says:

    “…It didn’t seem pressing enough to actually go out and buy it…]”

    It’s a point by point refutation of your article, and has a letter of endorsement from Rabbi Moshe Heinemann of Baltimore. If that’s not “pressing enough”, I don’t know what is.

    [YA They’ve been trying to refute the truth for ten years. Why would anything change now? I’ll look at it when someone sends it to me, but my guess is that it is more same-old same-old distortion.]

  75. cvmay says:

    Jodi, I am with the Rabbi on that one.
    Torah Codes is not a thing of vital interest, concern or heart-throbbing as other day-to-day issues are. (difference of opinion is great and there are audiences on both sides of the fence).

  76. Steve Brizel says:

    Lawrence M Reisman quotedthe following and other portions of a letter from R E Bloch ZL:

    “However, in my view since the creation of the State of Israel is indeed an important milestone in the life of our nation, our relationship to it, therefore, is positive, and our participation is obligatory.”

    The sole critique of R Kasher ZL’s rendition of the events portrayed therein with respect to the Kol Korea was a sefer by a Toen , R M Weinman, which engaged in revisionism of the events leading thereto.

  77. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Sorry, Mr. Brizel. There have been many criticism’s of Rav Kasher’s recounting of the Kol Koreh. In any case, sometimes “revisionism” is simply correcting prior misconceptions.

  78. Bob Miller says:

    With a proper knowledge of codes, one can find ancient references to this blog and its authors.

    [YA I’m sure that this is true, and they can all be found through the Codes in Moby Dick, the New Testament, and the Manhattan White Pages.]

  79. Steve Brizel says:

    Lawrence M Reisman-the only substantive critique of the Kol Koreh as recounted by R Kasher ZL was the use of Aschalta D’Geulah, which despite appearing countless places in Chazal, Midrashim and the writings of Rishonim and Acharonim, has been viewed solely as a slogan for RZ, as opposed to the supposedly more neutral term “Kibutz Galiyos”, which R Kasher pointed out was viewed as a prerequiste for Aschalta D Geulah by the Gra and his talmidim, the Baal Shem Tov and the Baal HaTanya. Viewing the amazing developments of the creation of a sovereign Jewish state, albeit a secular state,in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic events of the Holocaust and the phoenix like rebuilding of Torah life in Israel, as well in the USA, as not representing miraculous events is akin to a yeshiva bachur going on a shidduch date, and blaming the Shadchan for concluding that the Shidduch was , for whatever reason, “not shayach” for him.

  80. Natan Slifkin says:

    I think Bob Miller was joking. Although one never knows.

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