From Yom Yerushalayim to Meron

As a woman in a shiur I gave on Shabbos put it, Yom Yerushalayim, sadly, has become the exclusive province of the Dati Leumi community here in Israel. Secular Jews have lost interest; charedim never got fully behind it. Truly disappointing. Yom Yerushalayim – however it is celebrated – or not – should be a day of pouring our hearts out in gratitude to Hashem for the events of June 1967. Those events changed not only the map, but the flowering of what today is the largest Jewish community – and largest makom Torah – in the world.

Customary wisdom assigns two chief reasons for the specialness of Yom Yerushalayim. The first is physical survival. The Arabs believed that the fledgling State of Israel could be “pushed into the sea.” Documents left behind during their unplanned, hasty retreat showed that they literally meant, in some cases, to murder every Jew – men, women, children – that they could find. Trenches were dug in public areas for the burial of the thousands of dead civilian casualties that the authorities anticipated in face of the impending invasion of the united Arab armies. Jews around the world waited to hear whether the story of a Jewish homeland after 2000 years of exile would end quickly and tragically.

It didn’t happen. We survived, b’chasdei Hashem. It would be cause enough to remember that a huge number of Jews could have been killed, and were brought back from the edge of distraction.

But much more happened. Maharal explains the curious practice of reading the Megillah twice. Once for Hashem saving us from extermination. A second for His elevating our status. The Jewish community at the time was despised and downtrodden. It emerged after Haman’s execution as a respectable and respected group.

That occurred in June ’67 as well. After assuring our survival, it was as if HKBH had leaned down from heaven and put a big smooch on our collective forehead. We tripled our size. We won the admiration of the nations, at least for a while. And we returned to our holy places in Shechem, Hebron, and, of course, in a united Yerushalayim.

That divine kiss launched the Teshuva Movement. It steadied the uncertain stability of the Jewish State, still in its infancy. It led to the transition from a third-world backwater to a first-world power. We went from a shaky Jewish start-up to Start-Up Nation. And it brought the steady influx of Jews who propelled the incredible expansion of the Torah community to what no one (except, perhaps the Chazon Ish) ever dreamed could be possible.

Two strong arguments for stopping on Yom Yerushalayim and thanking Hashem.

It did not end there, I believe. At the beginning of Bechukosai, we read, “I will place My mikdosh among you…I will walk among you.”[1] The Sforno explains that “walking among you” implies to various places. Hashem’s presence will not be limited to a mikdosh or mishkan, but His presence will be sensed wherever Jews live, fulfilling His plan to be King over the entire world. Their tzadikim/righteous ones will evidence His presence; everywhere will be His mikdosh. In other words, while we are desperate for a return of the beis ha-mikdosh (and found the return to us of its remnant in the Kotel in June ’67 to be an enormous source of continued inspiration), there is something even greater (in one regard) beyond that: bathing the entire world with a sense of Divinity.

June ’67 was a clear milestone in that direction. It enabled a combination of Jewish pride and prosperity to drive the twin engines of the growth of a Torah community, and a secular community with a can-do attitude. But we haven’t arrived yet. While we are admired for attracting venture capital, high-tech, medical breakthroughs – and the presence of tech giants like Google and Intel – that is not the achievement with which we can be content. Start-up Nation is a step that is important only if it can lead to Holy Nation.

That’s where Meron comes in.

I’m not going to fix blame, or provide the reason why Hashgacha allowed this terrible, terrible tragedy to occur on Shimon Bar Yochai’s special day. I find it as repugnant to load all the blame on the charedi community as I do to assign it none of the responsibility. I most identify with a few lines in Rabbi Pini Dunner’s important essay:

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea why this terrible event happened, nor whether any of these lofty theological proposals carry any weight. The one thing I do know is that what happened in Meron last Friday wasn’t a hurricane or an earthquake – rather it happened as a result of human negligence. And just as Pharaoh was punished for perpetrating the horrific ill-treatment of Jews in Egypt, despite the fact that the Egyptian slavery was decreed by God centuries earlier, so too, those who bear responsibility for the conditions that resulted in 45 deaths in Meron don’t get off the hook by slipping under the radar, nor by claiming amnesty because it only happened as a result of God’s decree. And let me add this, for good measure – if we are not willing to hold these people accountable, then it is not only they who are guilty, but we are guilty too.

If I have to chose between assigning no guilt to spreading it widely, it is a no-brainer. If we examine the multiple failures, we have a chance at preventing the next one.

That said, the disaster in Meron was not the only failure of the previous year for charedim. Three times as many deaths from COVID for people over 60. Incomparably more than the same cohort, even in places of large population density. One out of every 100 charedim 60+ died. That is the same percentage as Israeli deaths in the bloody War of Independence. All while the eyes of the world were focused not on the majority that complied with health directives, but on the all too large and visible minority communities – both in Israel and abroad – who dangerously and arrogantly ignored them.

Dickens’ oft-quoted “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” does not describe 2020 for the charedi community. Plainly put, the past twelve months was the worst of times for the reputation of charedi Jews, both in Israel and in the US and UK. Full stop. There were some remarkably positive developments – the blood plasma project instantly comes to mind – but they did not put a dent in the negative attention, in the horrible instances of chilul Hashem that did not endear Torah Jews to the larger world. The year did not get us closer to what the Sforno envisioned, where people could point to the genuine righteousness spread throughout the Torah community.

Then came Meron. To be accurate, then came the reactions to Meron. In them, both we and anyone looking in found some measure of that tzidkus. The friction between secular Jews and charedim which had hit a new nadir (as the entire economy took a hit from the lockdowns necessitated by charedi askanim insisting that charedi communities could not be saddled with restrictions unless the whole country was) hit the pause button. The entire nation mourned. Secular Jews in Tel Aviv waited for 90 minutes in the sun to give blood, and had to be turned away because so many came. Every sector of the population pitched in within minutes of the tragedy.

The real turnaround, however, occurred during shiva. People from all walks of life found the urge within themselves to make pilgrimages, not to the kever of R Shimon, but to the bereaved families. They brought nichum aveilim to those whom they thought they had no connection with, and were received appreciatively and warmly. Moreover, they came to offer chizuk, and received a large dose in return.

We read and reread the stories of the precious souls we lost. But we may have overlooked an entire dimension of the tragic episode The messages broadcast by the families of the victims were beyond remarkable. It is if HKBH had engineered into the tragedy the ability of the families to generate enormous kiddush Hashem. The families offered messages of brotherhood, of unity, of acceptance. Above all, they were an open window into the larger-than-life emunah and bitachon/ belief and faith of ordinary charedim. The world – which was watching and listening – got a glimpse of what the Sforno was talking about.

Maybe what we learned was that if and when we learn the full extent of failures that made Meron inevitable bederech ha-teva, we will discover that they had to do with issues of power and privilege, something that assuredly is not a charedi or a Jewish problem alone, but a universal one. We will appreciate that Lord Acton’s “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” certainly applies to the charedi community, alongside all other groups. We will learn how the charedi insistence on isolation creates suspicion of science and any outside authority – leaving them easier to be controlled (or silenced) by the power brokers.

But we have also learned already that there are beautiful aspects of charedi like that others have under-appreciated. And some charedim have seen the beauty in the souls of secular Jews they had written off as “the other.”

Perhaps all this will drive forward the process set in motion 54 years ago in Yerushalayim. We are quite some distance away from achieving what the Sforno wrote about. Yet, amidst the wreckage of Meron, we find ourselves a significant step closer. May it be His will that the process will continue only in a single direction.

  1. Vayikra 26:11-12

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71 Responses

  1. Natan Slifkin says:

    Surely the last year was the “worst of times” for charedi Jews not because of the reputation that they earned, but rather because of the actual things that led to that poor reputation. The way you wrote it, you sound like those people who are very concerned when frum Jews steal from non-Jews because of the terrible chillul Hashem that it creates – as opposed to because of the terrible thing that was done.

    • Excellent point – except that it is not entirely true. Your main point is 1000% accurate. The deed is worse. The exception is chilul Hashem. Not every aveirah has to lead to chilul Hashem. Last year, however, was a banner year for chilul Hashem. Moreover, calling attention to problems largely is an exercise in letting off steam, unless it is part of a strategy to bring about change. I don’t have a clue as to how to quickly change certain behaviors – especially the root causes that you believe you’ve identified. I’d rather work on strengthening the (not in significant) people in the community who partially or completely get it. Besides, I’m less of a tzadik than you. The actual deficiencies don’t bother me as much as they should. What they do to image DOES bother and affect me – because they amount to a bizayon ha-Torah

      • MO says:

        “Besides, I’m less of a tzadik than you. The actual deficiencies don’t bother me as much as they should. What they do to image DOES bother and affect me – because they amount to a bizayon ha-Torah”

        I don’t understand. As long as people don’t hear about aveiros like stealing, molestation, etc.. you’re not so worried about it because it doesn’t affect you as much? I find that deeply troubling.

      • william l gewirtz says:

        Punting on whose tzidkut is greater 🙂 , I too am more bothered by the hillul haShem.

  2. D K says:

    A few comments.
    Yom Yerushalayim is a day of celebration made by a secular state (founded in 1948 to create a new Jew). Torah Jews have no need and despise such days. Hakaras HaTov is another thing and there’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t go running after a holiday made by those who have trashed the Chagim and Shabbos.
    The great Chessed that Hashem showered upon us was just that, Chessed. Not because of the greatness of Secular Israel, but in spite of their evil. Only BeZechus the lomdei Torah and those that kept it were we Zocheh to all that Hashem showered on us. (We say everyday in Shema that if we don’t keep the Torah, Hashem will expel us from E”Y, so how can one say that its the secular Jews that keep us there…)
    Regarding Meron, a little sensitivity is in order. It is obvious that there was some human error and mistakes that should have been cared for. But a tragedy of such magnitude could only have been a message from Hashem and perhaps before attacking any side, whether it was the organizers, the police, the participants or anyone else, we should try to become better Jews first (perhaps not attacking Chareidim should be our first Kabala…)

    • Chani says:

      We are still suffering from the lashon hara that the meraglim spoke of the Land, kal v’chomer of its Jewish inhabitants! You claim that Israel was founded in 1948 to create a new Jew. While certainly SOME early Zionists were proponents of a “new Jew”, do you have the arrogance to claim to know the minds of all Zionists? The ones who wanted a safe homeland for Jews all over the world? The ones who wanted to” jump into the Yam Suf like Nachshon” to show Hashem we want the Geulah? The ones who sought the opportunity to live in a Land where they can fulfill multitudes of mitzvahs that their fathers were not privileged to? And then you open your mouth to the Satan and call secular Israelis evil? Chas v’Shalom! You destroyed the beis hamikdosh all over again! The irony of you writing: “perhaps not attacking Chareidim should be our first Kabala” – To become a better Jew, show love to all Jews, including Zionists, and refrain from saying lashon hara al haklal. You are so consumed with hate that the message of this article went right over your head.

      • D K says:

        Please explain why calling out the Zionists for their anti-religious beliefs is considered Loshon Harah. It would seem to be just the opposite; protecting innocents Jews from being ensnared in their trap.
        The facts are out there. And there are millions of Jews who don’t know Shema Yisroel to prove it. But Chas V’Shalom that they are evil (and i don’t see how that was even misunderstood from the comment)! They are simply the innocent victims of the last generation who founded an anti-religious state.
        Yes, we must be “consumed with hate” for many of the founders who banded together and instead of taking the great gift Hashem sent us and creating a reawaking of Yiddishkeit in Eretz Yisroel, they used it to destroy whole communities inside the country, such as Tel Aviv, and outside, such as the many Sefardi communities. We can hate the state without hating the victims of their destruction.

    • Shaya Karlinsky says:

      “Yom Yerushalayim is a day of celebration made by a secular state…Torah Jews have no need and despise such days. Hakaras HaTov is another thing and there’s nothing wrong with that”
      Wow, thanks for allowing a little hakaras hatov to HKB”H for the MIRACULOUS resutls of the Six Day War. Nothing wrong with that! Actually, Yom Yerushalaim, which you somehow mix up with Yom Haatzmaut as being “made up by a secular state” is almost exclusively celebrated by Torah observant Jews for whom Shabbos and Chagim are fundamental. Yes, the Kotel was bathed in white yesterday morning, but all those Jews were Mitzvah observant, even if you don’t like their “hashkafa” towards Hashem’s miracles being delivered daily on Jews living in Israel through the vehicle of the State.
      I am not privy to how HKB”H is bringing the Jewish people out of galus back to Eretz Yisrael. But a little history is in order. If you want to explain that Hashem showered chesed on us not because of the greatness of Secular Israel, but in spite of their evil…Only BeZechus the lomdei Torah and those that kept it were we Zocheh to all that Hashem showered on us.” you need to examine exactly how many lomdei Torah there were in Eretz Yisrael in 1967. At the time, the US was THE Torah center of the world. When I arrived in Israel a year later, 1968, there are about 5,000 talmidim and avreichim in ALL the Yeshivas, includeing Hesder ones, in Israel. Ponevitz, the largest, had 400. Chevron, the second largest had 250. Kerem B’Yavneh, the largest Hesder Yeshiva had 250. The Mir had 75 talmidim attending daily. Most of the remaining Yeshivas, and that weren’t THAT many, had around 100+/-. So I guess your reading of the the Chesed doesn’t conform to history. Going back even further, the miracles of the War of Independence were showeredon an Israel that had very few “lomdei Torah”, and according to your reading a leadership bent on creating a state devoid of Torah. It is well documented (and used by the anti-religious to minimize the number of draft defrments for Yeshiva students) that were 400 Yeshiva talmidim in 1948. I don’t have have access to the mehalchim of how HKB”H is finishing up the six thousand years of history. Jews leaving galus to return to Eretz Yisrael is the process leading to the end game. But if you think (as I do) that the tragedy of Meiron was a message for HKB”H, we, who believe that, should be looking inward for the message, since it was our community to whom the message was sharply delivered. Maybe our attacking other Jews, whether intra charedi disparagement (like the Yeshiva student who wouldn’t register from the draft calling a charedi soldier “chardak” a couple of days before Lag B’Omer) or attacking the secular population, through whose daily efforts we are here, would be a good first step. If you don’t think THEY deserve some hakaras hatov, find Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz’s shmuze on Hakaras Hatov and Og Melech Habashan.

      • Cohen Y says:

        While A little hakaras hatov is indeed well and proper
        It ought to be shown less to the state Rather to all those North American and Western Jews instead Who poured in hundreds of millions of dollars to make the state a going concern

    • Nachum says:

      The hesder yeshiva of Kiryat Shemonah came to my shul in Yerushalayim to celebrate Yom Yerushalayim, to say a festive Arvit and Hallel, to sing and dance. The shul was packed with young yeshiva students and their roshei yeshiva, and it was moving, very lively and inspiring.

      But according to you, those people aren’t “Torah Jews.” Your hate is matched only by your ignorance.

  3. Joel Rich says:

    My mother zll”hh used to say, saying I love you is easy, showing it isn’t . I suggest each sector start with what is willing to give up to show the others some love.
    Happy Yom Yerushalayim

  4. Steven Brizel says:

    An excellent essay

  5. Chana Siegel says:


  6. Bob Miller says:

    Our lack of achdus, besides being a general problem, also set the stage for the Meron tragedy to occur. All the difficulties in making that mountain venue safe, even for fewer people, were clear long ago. High level consultation and coordination among the organizers, between the organizers and the government, including police, and among relevant sectors of the government, were essential from the earliest stages of planning. It didn’t happen, and mutual antagonism didn’t help one bit. We obsess over old grievances to the point of sacrificing precious lives. The message is: let’s find a way at last to get over it. Is Mashiach the only person who can bang heads and get this done?

    • Bob Miller says:

      By the way, Hillel asked “…if I am only for myself, what am I?”

    • lacosta says:

      in response to D K ‘s observations — [ some of it tongue in cheek ]

      he is right that Meiron is directly tied to the evil of the zionist entity in the following way. Since Satmar led the way with identifying the 67 war as Satan’s work —and all of its byproducts being Devil’s Spawn — The only valid Holy Site for antizionists is Meiron . This explains the antizionist factions total devotion to that site and refusal to allow any of the zionist entity’s functionaries any authority there.

      So while other similar sized venues in the rest of the borders of Palestine might never qualify for zoning/permits and be required a variety of safety measures , this site is under direct hashgacha of the most heilige elements of antizionist society .

      So I think he is right to point out this tragedy is purely at the feet of tzionim arurim…..

    • lacosta says:

      not sure who this ‘lack of achdus’ is pointed at. who exactly is the mostly non or anti zionist leadership of Meiron supposed to have achdus with ? a memshelet zadon they don’t recognize? they have held that alterations to the site are ‘chadash assur min hatora’, when the “israeli” govt is somehow involved

      • Bob Miller says:

        Anyone whose prior actions, alone or in cooperation with others, could have made the venue safe needs to reflect and change course. I’m not playing your labeling game.

  7. Harry Maryles says:

    I wish I could be as optimistic about the future of Achdus as you seem to be. But we’ve seen this before whenever tragedy of this magnitude strikes. who can forget the the fact that R’ Elysihic joined the funerl procession of the 8 Merkaz Harav boys who were slaughtered by a Palestinian terrorist. But it didn’t last. Once the initial reaction wears off, it’s back to business as usual. I wish it weren’t so. but I have come to believe that it will surely end up the same way again. These were my original thoughts on this subject which have not changed;

    • Reb Harry, I wasn’t writing about achdus primarily. The responses in the past were heart-warming and encouraging, but they were different from the national mourning over Meron. The other tragedies were caused by terrorists. People who participate in the mourning realize that they, the survivors, are in the cross-hairs of the same terrorists. It is easier for people to come together to resist the common enemy. That was not a factor here. Instead, Jews saw up front the humanity and goodness of people they ordinarily shunned. They now engaged that humanity (better yet, the workings of the Jewish neshama) in others. It didn’t come because of some call for unity, or from some schmuess on ahavas Yisrael. Secular Jews SAW the beauty of the common people in the haredi world; haredim SAW before them the care, love, and concern of people who were far from observant. I’m hoping that this was significant

  8. Harry Maryles says:

    (Please ignore my earlier comment. it was sent prematurely by mistake. The following is the corrected one.)

    I wish I could be as optimistic about the future of Achdus as you seem to be. But we’ve seen this before whenever tragedy of this magnitude strikes. who can forget the the fact that R’ Elysihiv joined the funeral procession of the 8 Merkaz Harav boys who were slaughtered by a Palestinian terrorist. But it didn’t last. Once the initial reaction wears off, it’s back to business as usual. I wish it weren’t so. but I have come to believe that it will surely end up the same way again. These were my original thoughts on this subject which have not changed:

    • Nachum says:

      Or some people don’t even need time for it to wear off. They’re blaming Jews for violence perpetrated against them even before if starts, and keep doing so as it gets worse and worse. It’s shameful.

  9. mb says:

    “That divine kiss launched the Teshuva Movement.” Yes so very true, but don’t forget there was another event that happened a few years later that helped drive the Teshuva movement, Alex Haley’s Roots!
    Yom Yerushalayim Semeach!

  10. Reb Yid says:

    We will not learn.

    Speaking of other days of commemoration: most Jewish religious institutions do not commemorate Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination every November 4th.

    We are all paying the consequences. Ignore history at your own peril. It’s a modern day Tzom Gedalia, or should be.

    • Raymond says:

      It should upset you more that the late, great Rabbi Meir Kahane was murdered in cold blood.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Rabin’s legacy in its entirety was that he had a nervous breakdown on the eve of the Six Day War it is well documented that his wife acted like Imelda Marcos . Rabin entered into Oslo in 1993 as a Manchurian PM as cover for the Israeli post Zionist left .Oslo was and remains a catastrophic exercise in appeasement of terror while displaying no tolerance of dissent of which there was plenty in Israel from a wide variety of concerned individuals and interests .It is easy to blame the RZ world for a tragic act by Amir but that accusation never was backed by facts and subsequent developments have proved that Oslo and all its substances prodigies was all part of Arafat’s design to dismantle Israel piece by piece

  11. Michoel Halberstam says:

    I think that it is long past time to give up on insisting that because Israel is a secular state, we should assume that they have no interest aside from undermining the Torah and Shmiras Hamitzvos. As for some minor mistakes that may have happened regarding Meron, that cannot be allowed to cast any doubt on whether our Chareidim are always right. Moreover, the decision as to what Torah Jews need is not for any individual person or community to make.

    We need to seriously grow up. Israel is what it is today. Many of the fights we are continuing have long since stopped to be important. In the past Gedolei Yiroel , when they realized that a situation was in place, did their best to deal with it. Otherwise we cannot explain how they recognized the authority of the Chasmonaim wno, as kings, were terrible and an insult to HKBH and his Torah. But they did rule over a Jewish State, and the Chachomim understood that that was important. This petulance about accepting reality because ‘ Es gefelt mir nisht” is not acceptable. There are enough Tzorus around, and that we should not be spending our time proving that it is the other guys fault

    • D K says:

      It is unfortunate that there can even be the slightest doubt that if there weren’t a large number of religious MKs in the Knesset than the country would lose it’s Jewish identity in the smallest amount of time. There are constantly fights on Shabbos, Kashrut, Marriage and Divorce and plenty of other issues that could easily go south if they weren’t fought for. Although the MK’s fight to keep the status quo and try not to “coerce” the non-religious, they are always fighting a losing battle. The secular state still lives until Mashiach [soon Iy”H].

      • Nachum says:

        You don’t really know what the Israeli population consists of, do you?

        Random question: What percentage of Israeli Jews do you think fast on Yom Kippur? Have a mezuzah on their door? I could go on.

      • Gavriel M says:


        That is an exceptionally thoughtless argument. The residual conservatism of the majority is absolutely no barrier whatsoever to sweeping cultural change over the course of two generations. If you require evidence of that assertion, I refer you to the history of literally every single western country since WW2

      • Nachum says:

        Israel has gotten more religious in that time, not less.

      • william gewirtz says:

        In support of Nachum: In the past 35 years both during my tenure at AT&T as CTO and as an independent consultant, I personally experienced the growth of Jewish identity in Israel. I suspect less coercion would bear even greater fruit. In 1998, at the Tel Aviv Hilton, it was not easy to find an Ashkenazi minyan. My last trip, a famous non-kosher restaurant has hashgakha. Totally secular Israelis respect my observance, something that in 1995 received subtle scorn.

  12. Meir says:

    This is a well written, thought-provoking article, but I personally prefer to let God keep score of the chillul hashem/ kiddush hashem and of where we are in terms of the Sforno’s vision of the world. I’m going to try and simply choose not to judge Chareidim as an “entity” to be analyzed, but as they are: People. Yidden.

    • I can live with that. I was certainly saying that regarding the way many in the secular world were able to see the beauty of Torah living and Torah faith. What I’m not prepared to do is leave it at that. People died because of the mistakes of many, and a power-structure within the charedi community that victimizes the common people because decisions are made poorly, ignorantly, and selfishly. Besides physically re-engineering ramps and staircases and walls, the social girders that structure the charedi community also need some re-engineering. This is why a few of the charedi MKs (to their credit) have backed a state committee of investigation, while some of the askanim and stakeholders want only a private investigation that will make the layout safer – without looking at the people who were quite comfortable ignoring all the danger signs in the past

  13. mb says:

    This is especially for DK.
    Apologies for it’s length. From the mind of Rabbi Soloveitchik.
    It is noted that harsh words of rebuke in the Torah must be accompanied by words of consolation. Indeed, we find such words at the end of Bechukotai. After reading the dreadful punishments, suddenly the Torah switches gears with God saying, regardless of your wayward behavior, I will remember My covenant with Jacob and also my covenant with Isaac and also My covenant with Abraham, and then He says I will remember the land. The meaning of these consolations is that God will never completely forsake us or abandon us. No matter how far astray we go, somehow, God will always find some merit on our behalf to bring us back.

    Thus the Sedra reads, I will remember my covenant with Jacob.

    Why Jacob?

    Because Jacob the symbol of Torah. He dwelled in tents, meaning he was a scholar. His brother Esau was a wild man, a hunter. So God declares, even if My people are not perfect, but as long as they study My Torah and devote themselves to Torah, they are redeemable.

    Not so fast, because what if the majority is not involved in Torah study then the consolation continues, and also My covenant with Isaac will I remember.

    Why Isaac?

    Because Isaac is the symbol of Avodah, service of the heart, which is prayer. So that even if a majority of My people are not involved with Torah, I will add on those who are involved in prayer. The combination of the two, Torah and prayer should cover the majority.

    Not good enough, because what if that does not yet constitute a majority? Then I will remember My covenant with Abraham.

    Why Abraham?

    Because, Abraham was the epitome of hospitality, and acts of loving kindness. So, if our people are deficient in Torah study, and they are lacking in observance of prayer, then God says, He will add on those Jews who are gracious in Hach’nasat Orchim, feeding and housing the hungry and thus, bring our total up to the necessary quota.

    Great, but not quite, because the Torah verse continues and implies, if between the three groupings we are still short of a majority to satisfy the requirements of God, then God will bend back one step further. God says, I will remember The Land. Meaning, God will add on to the meritorious those Jews who love the Land of Israel. Even if they are not religious, even if they do not study Torah, they do not pray and they are not hospitable, but as long as they live in and love the State of Israel, they are beloved in the eyes of God.

    This aspect should be thought of very carefully before one looks down with disdain upon a Jew who is not observant of Jewish Law but lives in and loves his State of Israel. Remember, just as we are not permitted to speak negatively against Israel, (that was the sin of the dissenting spies and acolytes , condemned to wander the wilderness until they died out, rather than poison the immigration into Israel with their negativity) so are we not permitted to speak negatively against any Jew that lives and loves our homeland, Israel.

    They gave their all for it including often their lives. God bless each and every one of them.

    • Raymond says:

      mb, I have no idea who you are, but I think you should be a Rabbi, because what you wrote here definitely held my attention and is quite thought provoking and inspiring. Thank you for that. and btw, if all that you said here is taken from Rav Soloveitchik, then it encourages me to really delve into his many books. I have actually already started that process, but reading him can be a challenge because he is just so much smarter than I will ever be.

      • mb says:

        Tsvei groberfinger aroyf!
        Yes, keep reading R.Soloveitchik, R.Sacks and R.Adlerstein.
        Me a Rabbi? Too many as it is!

  14. Denise Berger says:

    So insightful, substantive and uplifting —- in other words, so Rabbi Adlerstein

  15. Shades of Gray says:

    “As for some minor mistakes that may have happened regarding Meron, that cannot be allowed to cast any doubt on whether our Chareidim are always right. ”

    No one is always right. The Torah discusses mistakes–there is eglah arufah, a korban for Sanhedrin, and one for a Nasi. As Rashi quotes :

    אַשְׁרֵי הַדּוֹר שֶׁהַנָּשִׂיא שֶׁלּוֹ נוֹתֵן לֵב לְהָבִיא כַּפָּרָה עַל שִׁגְגָתוֹ

    See R. Jonathan Sacks, “The Sins of a Leader (Vayikra 5781)”, who discusses this:

    “What matters is not that leaders never get it wrong – that is inevitable, given the nature of leadership – but that they are always exposed to prophetic critique and that they constantly study Torah to remind themselves of transcendent standards and ultimate aims. The most important thing from a Torah perspective is that a leader is sufficiently honest to admit their mistakes. Hence the significance of the sin offering.”

  16. Gavriel M says:

    In the state of Israel, the Charedi community and the Arabs were the only people who preserved their humanity and any semblance of community life during COVID hysteria. By contrast, Dati Leumi communities became wastelands where fully vaccinated people are afraid to venture out of their house with two masks and treat other human beings like biohazards. Their morbid and blinkered obsession with prolonging human life at all costs at a time when life expectancy is already the highest in history has blinded them to what actually makes human life valuable in the first place. The statistics you cite are utterly irrelevant because COVID deaths are a small proportion of overall deaths and Charedi life expectancy before during and after the pandemic is higher than the Israeli average.

    However, marking Yom Yerushalyim is indeed a mitzvah. It was only in the technical sense established by the Zionists who, in fact, never wanted to conquer Yehuda and Shomron, murdered the fighters on the Altalena so they would not be able to do so and begged Jordan not to join the war in 1967. They established the day against their own will because of the wave of enthusiasm that swept over the Jewish people and they have done everything in their power to demote it ever since. Even the Satmar Rebbe admitted that the six day war witnessed undeniable miracles; he just invented a new theology to explain them away. Those – and this includes nearly all Charedim – who do not accept this theology are clearly obligated to thank Hashem for this tremendous yeshua. Not doing so is basically tantamount to deism.

    • Dovid says:

      Gavriel – your interpretation of history is a little too black and white. With no intention to be melamed z’chus the likes of Ben-Gurion, he was in favor of settling Chevron, Gen. Motta Gur was a Mapamnik who favored conquering the Old City of Y’lem and Menachem Begin A”H the “right-winger” did land for peace.
      Also, regarding Satmar and “deism” sounds like a non-sequitir. If the Satmar Rov was modeh to miracles during the 6-Day War it would likely have been mentioned in his sefer “Al HaGeula” written in the wake of that war. But (correct if mistaken) it says nothing of that and is more like to speak of the ‘Sitra Achra”.

  17. D K says:

    It is extremely surprising that I’m being called out for hatred towards my Jews by other Jews when i see nothing in my comments that this is the case. The facts are that Israel is a secular state which doesn’t bother to mention Hashem in their Declaration of Independence and was founded by many Jews who wanted to eradicate Judaism (Hertzel’s great idea to save Jews was to have them all convert to Christianity, like his children did). These are facts, not opinions. Yes, we must hate the State for all the damage it caused to Klal Yisroel and the founders who pushed this agenda.
    Torah Jews, are Jews who follow the Mesorah. Unfortunately there are large groups of religious Jews who believe that they no longer need a Mesorah and are not beholden to the masters of the Mesorah which are the Geolei Yisroel. They may be fine people, but they are not following the Torah which commands us to follow the Gedolei HaDor. Who says to hate them? We love them and wish they would come back to true Judaism…
    Regarding the secular Jews who live in Israel (and abroad), 99.9% of them are in the category of Tinok Shenishba, they are Anusim that are not responsible for their actions. Like the Chazon Ish says, we must love them and do everything we can to bring them back and show them what they are missing.
    Regarding Yom Yerushalayim. Although it may be only celebrated by Religious Zionists, its a government created holiday. Everyone who wants to thank Hashem can easily do so independently without participating in a holiday made by those who actively attack Yiddishkeit at every opportunity. Same with the soldiers who gave their life protecting Klal Yisroel. Of course there is Hakaras HaTov towards them, they died being Mekadesh Sheim Shamayim, but that doesn’t mean we have to commemorate Yom Hazikaron.

    • Bob Miller says:

      “Like the Chazon Ish says, we must love them and do everything we can to bring them back and show them what they are missing.”
      …by our own example, so they can personally see it in action. Exhortation by people perceived as hostile doesn’t work well.

    • MK says:

      Please list the sources of your “mesorah” that those who follow a Mizrachi hashkafa towards the State of Israel are not “Torah Jews” . Which Gedolim said that?
      When Rav Gifter came to Telshe Stone, members of the Mizrachi community approached him and asked “Would the Rav be offended if we continue putting up the Israeli flag on Yom Haatzmaut?”
      He replied “I don’t understand the question? Is there nothing to celebrate? I am a Zionist! And when the Balfour Declaration was signed, Rav Elya Meir Bloch led a parade through the streets of Telshe!”
      (The tape is available).
      He went on to say that the only issue is if they say Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut with more feeling than on Pesach, then there’s a problem. They replied that he was correct.
      Were Rav Gifter and Rav Bloch not, according to your “mesorah”, “Torah Jews”?
      Rav Chatzkel Sarna (from the gedolei Slabodka) instituted a special dessert in honor of Yom Haatzmaut in Chevron Yeshiva. Would you have “loved him” but hoped that he returned to “Torah Judaism”?
      Full disclosure, I do not follow the Mizrachi hashkafa. But I did often daven during the week in a Mizrachi shule. Would you daven there? Would you be surprised to learn that Rav Pam davened there as well?
      Would you have “loved him” but wished he davened with “Torah Jews”?

      • Cohen Y says:

        Rav Chatzkel Sarna 2 years after the founding of the state stopped rather emphatically

        Rav Elya Meir Bloch spoke publicly against Mizrachi ( unsure the issue was about ) in Cleveland
        and this was though his own institution was under threats potentially because of his speech

        Cherry picking , rather disingenuous at that
        better find better proof than the ones mentioned

    • mb says:

      Oh my, DK said,
      ” (Hertzel’s great idea to save Jews was to have them all convert to Christianity, like his children did). These are facts, not opinions.”
      Dk needs a little education. Indeed, Herzl who was a completely assimilated Jew, did suggest that perhaps only way to end Jewish suffering was to convert to christianity. But it was only a philosophical thought. Similar to Chazal some 1800 years earlier in the wake of terrible oppression suggested forbidding Jews to procreate so that they would just die out.(they rejected that thought themselves saying nobody would go along with it.) Anyway, Herzl rejected the conversion thought, especially after the Dreyfus trials that inspired his Zionism. He even said at one of the Zionist congresses that there can be no return to Zion without a return to Judaism. He himself did a u-turn. I suggest you read his magnificent essay, The Menorah. You are partially correct about his children converting, his son Hans did, but didn’t show much interest in it. And in fact joined and later rejected Baptist and Cathlolic churches. A few years later he joined the Liberal synagogue in London. He was very emotionally disturbed and committed suicide shorty after his sister Paulina, who did not convert, died of a drug overdose. His third child, Trude (who also did not convert)and her Jewish husband were murdered by the Nazis in Thriesenstadt.Do I hear some teshuva?

      • Nachum says:

        Herzl’s kids seem to gave inherited mental illness from his wife. Herzl only found out about it after the engagement and felt morally obligated not to break it off.

        Herzl, by the way, got more and more religious as time went on.

        His only grandchild also committed suicide, but the events of thd Holocaust seem to have contributed to that as well. A very tragic story, but nothing to be ashamed of. The ones whose remains could bd found are all buried together today.

    • lacosta says:

      to follow the Gedolei HaDor

      You are presuming to take as a given you [and your community ] gets to determine who is a gadol.
      communities who disagree with your mehalech on tora judaism have never heard of most of your particular pantheon , as you haven’t theirs…

  18. Steven Brizel says:

    WADR preserving life is a Mitzvah that transcends almost all other mitzvos and Chillul HaShem is an Issur that Psak Halacha considers in many different contexts The Poskim who were insistent on Pikuach Nefesh and avoiding Chilul HAShem saved thousands of lives That is the bottom line and the facts on the ground

  19. Reuven Ungar says:

    Gavreil M writes: “By contrast, Dati Leumi communities became wastelands where fully vaccinated people are afraid to venture out of their house with two masks and treat other human beings like biohazards. Their morbid and blinkered obsession with prolonging human life at all costs at a time when life expectancy is already the highest in history has blinded them to what actually makes human life valuable in the first place.”

    I cannot speak for other locations, but in our hometown of Talmon, adherence to the Ministry of Health guidelines did not seem to make our community into a wasteland. When we had to daven outside, we did, when permitted to return to shule, we did (adhering to the guidelines). Throughout the time “outside” a robust schedule of shiurim continued, together with chesed & davening. Gavriel M you are more than welcome to visit us here and observe for yourself.

    May we all merit to serve Hashem with health & simcha.

    • william gewirtz says:

      In MO communities, Zoom shiurim flourished. That led to a now more general use of Zoom to spread Torah. By coincidence I gave a shiur yesterday covering the science behind the current Jewish calendar tied to the hiddushim on Kiddush HaHodesh of the Rav ztl and his uncle ztl.

  20. Pinchas Berlowitz says:

    Well thought out, well written. Hopefully this will be read and spread everywhere.

  21. Steve Brizel says:

    To all who are engaged in finger pointing what are you doing about the residents of Ahkelon and TA who have been hit with major Hamas rocket attacks ? Helping the IDF in any way or still fighting the ideological battles of the past?

  22. Steven Brizel says:

    Missiles are falling in Ashkelon and in TA and shuls are burning in Lod and some waste their time on matters that have no nafkeh Minah lmaaseh Where are the Asifas Tehilim when all of Klal Yisrael in Israel is under attack ? Don’t think it can’t happen in your neighborhood!

  23. Raymond says:

    I do not quite understand the antagonism displayed in some of the above comments toward the Jewish State of Israel. We Jews had been praying for the return of our Jewish land for almost 2,000 years, and now we finally have it back in our hands. How can that possibly be a bad thing? Am I missing something here? a Jew living in Europe just a few decades ago, had a two out of three chance of being murdered by the nazis, communists, or other assorted antisemites. What a contrast to what has gone on in Israel, in which the highest percentage of Jewish casualties in any of their wars was in the War of Independence, when 1% of its population perished. While of course the life of every Jew is precious, it simply cannot be denied how much safer we Jews are in a world with Israel in it, then we would be without it, as we finally have a way to defend our lives.

    Of course I grasp the concept that both the Israeli government as well as the people of Israel are more secular than they should be. Well, then, do something about it. Don’t just find fault with Israel. Do your part to educate your fellow Jews in the ways of the Torah. But to simply sit there and criticize it, calling it evil and so on, only shows a lack of gratitude, a real lack of character, and having a good moral character is, after all, really what Judaism is all about anyway.

  24. Steven Brizel says:

    Look at it this way:
    1) on Purim we are very happy despite the fact that Ester HaMalkah remained the side of Achashverush
    2) BH there is a State of Israel imperfect as it is than RL the opposite-the State contributes mightily to Jewish continuity in a wave of assimilation and increasing anti Semitism

  25. Michoel Halberstam says:

    There is something that needs to be said, although it will definitely be criticized. We need to appreciate that the nineteenth century was characterized in the Jewish world by two unfortunate events. One was the officially recognized separation of Kehillos into denominations, orthodox v non–orthodox. There are a lot of historical reasons for this, but the result was that achieving success in this sphere required one to attack his opponents as being insufficiently religious. At the same time new groups were formed to represent the needs of the community, and its various trends. There too, the emphasis was on attacking the opponents legitimacy by demeaning his level of observance. The Korbanos that we have all been bringing since then, as far as creating and justifying permanent vilification of everyone who is slightly different from us have been enormous. Now that the fate of Klal Yisroel has in the balance we are once again satisfied to deal with this by calling whoever we disagree with insufficiently religious. Common sense dictates that this is wrong, and no amount of hiding behind “Daas Torah” can change this fact.
    This is a problem that we should not ignore.

    • Bob Miller says:

      In Europe, nationally empowered, unified Jewish communities under Reform control very successfully uprooted Orthodox Jewish life and institutions, as in Frankfurt am Main. Under threat of secession, some such communities moderated their actions, while others did not.

  26. c-l,c says:

    Approximately a week or two before the 6-Day War in midst of those very challenging destabilizing days leading up the 6-Day War
    on the front cover as a morale booster of
    the Yediot or Ma’ariv There was a photo of the Satmar Rov stating – shortly there will be miracles
    That this was subsequently ignored by both sides and by the Satmar Rov himself

  27. Micah Segelman says:

    This is a beautiful piece. With our minds now focused on the conflict in EY since this was posted, it feels like it isn’t the right time to focus on our failings. But I feel an impetus to point something out. The article references the phenomenon of the neglect in some Haredi circles of COVID rules as a chillul Hashem. I believe that widespread enthusiastic American Haredi support for Donald Trump could be both a greater chillul Hashem, and a big part of the reason for the lack of adherence to COVID rules. There were strong indications early on and it became increasingly clear over the years that Trump was undermining the rule of law in a way that was different in magnitude from anything we had seen before. His priority was always feeding his own ego and insecurities and this came before right and wrong and basic truth. This only became clearer during COVID, and it became undeniably clear to even a casual observer in his reaction to his electoral defeat, culminating in January 6th, and continuing to the present day with the ouster of Liz Cheney. His awful rhetoric which at times was racist, his vindictiveness, and his shocking immorality made things even worse but to me were less of a problem than his bald faced denial of truth and undermining of the rule of law. I think that continuing to stand with this man given his post-election behavior and January 6th as an Orthodox Jew crosses the line into chillul Hashem and I hope our community doesn’t make this mistake. If we want to focus on creating a greater Kiddush Hashem, I think we need to acknowledge this honestly.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Beautifully written, but false in the extreme. While you go on about Trump, his unlawful replacement (in his few waking hours) is undermining the Constitution, rule of law, national security, national economy, urban law & order, and interracial respect at every turn. The Cheneys were Democratic hate objects until they turned on their own party.

    • Raymond says:

      What is truly a desecration of G-d’s Name is the extent to which any Jew, but especially Orthodox Jews, have not supported Donald Trump, who is THE most pro-Israel President that America ever had. There is literally nothing that he could have done that was more pro-Israel than he actually did. He was a great President in many other ways as well, such as him giving us the strongest economy this country ever had, but my focus here is on how he did whatever he could to help our Jewish people in Israel as well as here in America.

      And as for him protesting the November Presidential elections, he had every right to do so, especially given just how abundantly clear that those elections were so unfairly and shamelessly stolen from him. Liz Cheney needs to quit politics altogether for so jealously undermining his authority. Donald’s so-called awful rhetoric is awful only to those who are shocked by those of us who tell the truth, even when people do not like to hear the truth. However, for those of us who love the truth, we welcome Donald’s way of speaking as being most refreshing.

      Not supporting Donald crosses the line into desecrating G-d’s Name and I hope our community does not make this mistake. If we want to focus on creating a greater sanctification of G-d’s Name, we need to acknowledge Donald’s greatness honestly.

      • Bob Miller says:

        I’d like to see all the Orthodox pundits and spokespeople who went on and on about Trump’s character flaws and Biden’s moderation come forward and apologize in light of clearly visible events.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Some of the same people flatter Schumer when he helps us and fall silent when he betrays us.

  28. Steven Brizel says:

    In the meantime we should all have a lot of Hakaras Hatov for an IDF that is fulfilling Parshas Zachor KPshuto by eliminating major leaders of Hamas and poised on the borders of Gaza hopefully it just to mow the grass and achieve some success but rather to turn Gaza into what Germany and Japan looked like after WW2 and the American South and especially the Shenandoah Valley after the Civil War. Those who wish to understand how a Ben Torah can thrive in the IadF would be well advised to learn the very important and superb Sefer of R Yosef Rimon a major Posek in the RZ world

    • Raymond says:

      The way I figure it, every time that Israel kills another leader of islamoNazi terrorism, the world becomes a much better and safer place. Israel should engage in such activities far more often than it does.

  29. Shades of Gray says:

    “…we should all have a lot of Hakaras Hatov for an IDF that is fulfilling Parshas Zachor KPshuto ”

    Just a quibble. Hakaras Hatov is in order, but the applicability of Parshas Zachor KPshuto is not simple. See “Rav Soloveitchik on Amalek: Peshat or Derash?”, linked below:

    But even if Bshalach(or Ki Tetzeh) is not applicable K’Pshuto , Parshas Yisro is, and I wish all a Gut Yom Tov.

    • Raymond says:

      I just read this Rav Soloveitchik link, and can’t make heads or tails of it. But common sense tells me that when the antisemites of our generation are referred to as Amalek, it has to be taken figuratively rather than literally, because if it is taken literally, it means we have to completely wipe out all of the members of whichever hateful group that is, since that is what we are commanded to do against Amalek. Somehow I can’t imagine that G-d would expect us to actually follow such a command, nor would any law authorities sanction such a thing in any case. My sense is that the Amalek of our times are the islamoNazis, but I would hardly advocate wiping them all out. I do, however, think that Israel should send as many of its top leaders as possible, over to Allah with his 72 virgins.

  30. mk says:

    Cohen Y May 14, 2021 at 1:50 pm
    Rav Chatzkel Sarna 2 years after the founding of the state stopped rather emphatically

    Rav Elya Meir Bloch spoke publicly against Mizrachi ( unsure the issue was about ) in Cleveland
    and this was though his own institution was under threats potentially because of his speech
    Cherry picking , rather disingenuous at that
    better find better proof than the ones mentioned”
    I don’t believe that Rav Sarna stopped serving a special dessert on Yom Hatazmaus . My suorce is a Rosh Yeshiva who learned in Chevron much later than 1950.
    The fact that R Eli Meyer Bloch spoke against Mizrachi , which you say you don’t know about what, is not relevant. It could about many things. But he never spoke against the fact that they celebrate the State of Israel.
    He joined a communal celebration of Yom Haatzmaut and issued a letter defending it in the face of criticism.
    That letter can be found with a simple Google. It is very well known that he had amore positive attitude than other Gedolim.
    He was also critical of the Agudah at times.

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