There Will Be Blood

Do people not see what seems so apparent? How can the Flag March scheduled for this Sunday, Yom Yerushalayim, not lead b’derech ha-tevah, to Jewish deaths c”v at the hands of Palestinians who have been pumped up by hellish imams, armed by Hamas, and raised on a steady diet of the glory of martyrdom? Even if it were only a strong possibility, would it not make sense to simply avoid the flash-points of Sha’ar Shechem and the Muslim Quarter? Aren’t we smarter than that? The fear that by appearing to give in to Palestinian demands we will lose control of Jerusalem is understandable. But have we forgotten how good we are at getting things done without calling attention to it? We will do what we have to do if there are any real threats of eroding our legitimate control of all of Yerushalyim? Can’t we delight in the wonderful reality of having our own State and all its blessings, without feeling that we have to flaunt it – at least when lives immediately hang in the balance? Isn’t having control more important than exercising it? The fact that lots of them are prepared to slaughter Jews at all times doesn’t mean that we should be the proximate cause for producing a few more members of their murder mills.

When Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, viewed by the world as a de facto annexation of the territory gained in the Six-Day War, Rav Shach zt”l was highly critical. The way I remember it, he argued that we were exercising effective control over the Golan since 1967. What was the point of antagonizing our enemies? What did we gain by making a statement to a world that rejected it? We had control, we were using it, we were firm about not relinquishing it. (Yes, he was in favor, right after the ’67 victory to trade land for peace. But no one on the other side showed up to talk.) Why did we need the formal declaration?

A 2007 film, based on Upton Sinclair’s Oil, told of the course of devastation wrought by unvarnished greed and unrestrained capitalism. The title, “There Will Be Blood,” ostensibly was taken from Hashem’s command to Moshe to bring the plague of blood upon Egypt. That title might very well apply c”v to what will transpire this weekend. Here, it will have nothing to do with greed and capitalism, but a faulty understanding by some Israelis of their sense of independence.

Chazal are critical of Yaakov Avinu for his arranging a confrontation with his brother Esav, who had entertained plans of killing him for decades. They call his action grabbing the ears of an otherwise calm dog. He should have avoided the conflict altogether. Yaakov, of course, is the patriarch associated with galus.

Which may bring us to the explanation of why at least some Israelis are so eager to see the march proceed along the route that it took for many years in the past. Many are genuinely concerned that any amount of giving in to Palestinian demands is a fatal flaw – just as it was so many times in the past. But there are others who champion a different argument. They cannot accept the idea that there is galus in Israel, that there might be limits on what we can do within the borders of the proud, sovereign state of the Jewish people. To them, there is no middle ground between the mah yafis Jew on the one hand (who for centuries tried to curry favor with the local anti-Semites), and in-your-face bravado on the other. Alas, this would seem to be one of the last vestiges of old-school Zionism.

It is disappointing to behold. Many of us constantly try to convince our family, students and neighbors that the old Zionism and its tributaries is dead, and it is time to change our attitudes to the State. As a charedi rosh yeshiva told me decades ago, “Why are we still fighting wars of the past. We should get up, declare victory, and move on.” Indeed. But the old school Zionists still exist as grumpy old men who write for Haaretz; in the academy (that academicians dwell in a world apart seems to be true regardless of country of origin. Cf. George Orwell: “Some things are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them.”); and in some senior positions in the IDF. That is not, however, where the “street” is. There you will find millions of citizens committed to the legitimacy, defense, and betterment of the largest Jewish community in the world. That, to them, is what Zionism means today – and it should be acceptable to sizeable parts of the charedi world.

But old mistakes die hard. We have apparently not yet loosened the grip of influence of Israel’s founding fathers, many (certainly not all) of them who indeed did want to stamp out traditional Judaism. In their legacy we will still find the kochi v’otzem yadi reservoir full to the brim. Show those accursed Palestinians a thing or two! Wave the flag in their faces! No one is going to tell us what we can do in our country!

So if there will be blood, c”v, we can blame it on the tziyonim ha-arurim, as Nochum Shtisel was wont to say? Maybe. On the other hand, the decision was not a slam-dunk. While Naftali Bennet gave the green light for the routing of the Flag March, others in his coalition – Gantz and Lapid – have reservations, to their credit. Which means that the decision did not come from a cabinet of monochromatic ideology. Which means that there is likely some room for discussion, negotiation, and persuasion. What would the current situation look like if more in the Torah camp they took real positions on matters of national security – and not just the dati l’eumi.What if more in the Torah camp brought moral backbone to all the issues that plague our State? Might they not today be members of a coalition? Or even if not, might they not at least be part of a discussion at the highest levels, at which their moral arguments would be taken seriously by others sitting around the table, or around the 6 PM news? Wasn’t it the sterling character of Rav Chaim Ozer that got his religious opponents to nonetheless respect him and his opinions? We should encourage forums that allow charedi bnei Torah, think-tank style, to apply Torah thought to contemporary issues.

May HKBH protect us from ourselves, and provide more clarity to the hundreds of thousands of faithful in His Land. And a miracle on Sunday wouldn’t hurt, either.

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41 Responses

  1. The problem is that this essay – like many in the Chareidi world – see the attitudes rightfully employed by Yaskov Avinu and Gedolim throughout the Galus, as relevant for today’s State of Israel.

    They are not. with apologies to Rav Shach זצ”ל, who obviously saw things differently, I believe that those who see the responses needed in our time – particularly in Medinat Yisrael – as different than what was appropriate for the Ma Yofis Yidden in Poland. It is a time that Jews must proudly stand up for themselves and have national pride in our rights to the entire Yerushalayim and the Har Habayit included, and not be cowed by the threats of the terrible imams and muftis.

    Might some people get hurt? Yes. But if we are not prepared to defend our rights and our country, we should all move back to Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Living in Israel, serving in the IDF, building in the face of the Arabs, not giving in to their threats, is what this time is about. We are no longer in the bad old Golus. We are in a new time, and we should act like it.

    I wrote about this at length in my essay this week, accessible at

    • Josh says:

      You seem to have missed his point. Yes, of course we should stand up for our rights in jerusalem when actually important things are on the line. So its legitimate to fight to allow jews prey on har habayis despite the arabs not liking it (and the bloodshed it will inevitably cause) because that has an actual important value. The actual value in a flag waving parade is very minimal. The same parade can be done else where and jerusalem day will be celebrated just the same. I have been to the parade a number of times as a hesder student and I know what goes on. Its get quite ugly with a minority of hotheaded youth screaming death to mohamed/arabs and simular such provocations. This is worth dying for?

      • mycroft says:

        So its legitimate to fight to allow jews prey on har habayis despite the arabs not liking it

        No-if praying on Har Habayis is Halacha part ofhar habayis than it is clearly prohibited-if it is not part of Har Habayis as a matter of Halacha why do that except to be provocative. Want to haven closest to the Kodesh hakodashim go in the tunnels there is a sign closest spot to kodesh kodashim
        Agree with the rest of your comment.

    • nt says:

      Who says the inyan of living in Israel justifies putting Jews at risk? Are you willing to take responsibility for that psak? Last year the march started a war, and this year police officers were injured. How do random people justify taking actions that really need a full Sanhedrin to pasken?

      • Nachum says:

        Living in Israel is a mitzvah. Who are you to judge which mitzvot are worth a risk, especially considering that halakha *calls* for war- an inherently “risky” act- to conquer Israel?

        The march didn’t start a war last year. The *postponing* of the march did.

      • nt says:

        According to the Ramban only. Who am I? Not a Sanhedrin, and neither are you. That’s the point.

  2. Mark says:

    You had me right up until the very end. This is project of the old-time Zionists. For the last 85 years, no one in the Charedi camp had a voice in that camp so why blame them now for not voicing their thoughts? Leave it to the Zionists, the Charedim wouldn’t exist. You did fine until that last paragraph.

  3. Tal Benschar says:

    הֵ֚ם קִנְא֣וּנִי בְלֹא־אֵ֔ל כִּֽעֲס֖וּנִי בְּהַבְלֵיהֶ֑ם וַֽאֲנִי֙ אַקְנִיאֵ֣ם בְּלֹא־עָ֔ם בְּג֥וֹי נָבָ֖ל אַכְעִיסֵֽם:
    They have provoked My jealousy with a non god, provoked My anger with their vanities. Thus, I will provoke their jealousy with a non people, provoke their anger with a foolish nation.

    Devarim 33:21

  4. Lacosta says:

    Bmechilas kvod harav, yom yerushalayim is not the province of either hilonim or Haredim. One has no chelek belokei yisrael, the other in medinat yisrael. The only daas tora that would be relevant would be of dati leumi. But their shabab probably don’t ask such shailes. Or got a different answer than the litvish would give….

  5. Michael Lipkin says:

    You make some good points, and some questionable generalizations, but I think there’s a much more fundamental reason not to have a rowdy, flag waving march through the Muslim quarter. It’s not nice. Yeah, just the simple.

    We won, we’re in control, we have the power. We should not do this despite the fact the we’re being threatened, not because of it. The threats are a separate, strategic issue. Of course we have the “right” to march, it’s free speech. But, IMO, it’s menschlichkite 101: just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Or, more biblically, what is hateful to you, don’t do to others.

  6. Avi Levin says:

    Old-school Zionism had many faults, but intentionally or carelessly provoking Arabs was not one of them. (This is, after all, the group that left the Temple Mount with the Waqf.) And they have a light presence at the Jerusalem Day march.

    The main drivers are the march are religious Zionists – specifically, the messianic-nationalist stream thereof. And they do have a decent chunk of the street (as indicated by the polls showing several seats for a party led by Ben-Gvir).

    If we think that they are mistaken in their notion of Jewish militancy, we should call them and their leadership out for distorting the Torah, rather than just wishing there was more of a religious voice on our political scene.

    • Nachum says:

      Yeah, there’s nothing about militancy in the Torah. Like the census in this week’s parsha has *nothing* to do with fighting, nosireebob.

      In his appeals to “traditional” Judaism R’ Adlerstein seems to have forgotten that Eastern European ghetto Judaism is not traditional at all. Traditional Judaism is Yehoshua, David, and the Chashmonaim.

      • Dovid Y. Kornreich says:

        You are twisting the meaning of the term ‘traditional’. You might as well say being in exile for 2000 years isn’t traditional, so according you, no Jew has been living a traditional Jewish lifestyle for most of Jewish history.

      • Nachum says:

        Well, about two-thirds of the mitzvot don’t apply in chutz la’aretz or without a Mikdash, so unless you’re willing to stop using the number “613” in favor of about “250,” yeah.

    • mycroft says:

      The main drivers are the march are religious Zionists – specifically, the messianic-nationalist stream thereof.

      Which certainly was not the RZ of RYBS-it started essentially because of the 6 day war. In Israel. Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook and his followers essentially turned RZ from a moderate force to one very much messianic.
      Of course even in US I remember Shabbas after 6 Day War a SheloShudas speech by a future Rabbi near end of smicha program-checked his schules website Rabbi Emeritus by now. He spoke how now we understand Yom Hamiyuchas -2 Sivan was meant for- Maybe then thought it was a 5 day war-has from eternity everything waiting for these events. Messianic feelings were in the air after perceived miracles.

  7. Dr. Martin Sherman says:

    Gee – last year Israel changed the route and the Palestinian-Arabs chose war. Wonder what that means

  8. Bob Miller says:

    Such symbolism aside, the State keeps reducing or neglecting its own power to deter violent Arabs, foreign and domestic. Why? Maybe this loudly and fiercely independent State still feels it must grovel to the US and EU.

  9. Nachum says:

    A friend of mine is a very senior officer in the IDF, very balanced, about the least political person I know, a man who is very well aware of the real human costs of the conflict. His view: Maybe it’s best not to have the march. But the time for discussing this was six months ago. A week before Yom Yerushalayim, under threats of violence, definitely means it *must* go on as planned.

    And I must get to sleep, as I must be in the mikvah early tomorrow morning. Guess why.

  10. Emes says:

    I’m living in the USA so it’s not really fair for me to say “be gutsy too bad on the arabs.
    But from my observations anytime the Israeli government has blinked and given them a finger, well they’ll then want two fingers.
    You blink and they just come back with more chutzpah and demands.
    Perhaps if this march was a newfangled idea, I’d agree let’s not do it, don’t be in their face. But the march has been going on like 30 years or so. To even alter the route would be seen by the arabs as a sign of weakness, which would just encourage them further, no?

    • Reb Yid says:

      This is an erroneous assumption.

      You honestly think that the Palestinians will cow in fear or have newfound respect if Israelis do something ‘davka’, in their faces?

      It only hardens them more and gives additional fuel for their anger, which will eventually lead to lost Israeli lives.

      That’s the sad history of this conflict. Both sides think that if they lash out and ‘show them’ that the other side will have been ‘taught a lesson’ and simmer down.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Don’t apologize for terrorists-they don’t care about Jews who apologize for Israel’s need to defend itself- terrorists don’t discriminate in choosing their victims.

  11. Yehoshua Pfeffer says:

    Thanks to my cherished friend and colleague Rabbi Adlerstein for this piece, which I nonetheless find misguided on several levels:
    1. First, it misses the fact that the flag parade is a simple and legitimate expression of Israeli patriotism that has been going on for 30 years. To put an end to it because of Hamas threats would be an open capitulation to terror, which is deeply harmful. Hamas doesn’t care about the parade; it simply wants to destroy Israel, and if it’s not the parade it’ll be something else. Stopping the parade won’t achieve anything, and will just give terror an easy win over Israel.
    2. The piece is a good representation of the passive mindset of Agudas Yisroel: we need to daven for Moshiach and await his coming, but that’s it. Baruch Hashem, enough Jews were inspired to do something about the Jewish condition and establish the State of Israel, which has brought us today’s blessings that our ancestors could have only dreamed about – just think about the unbelievable zechus of living in Yerushalayim! While in the immediate aftermath of the State’s inception there could still be room for doubt (perhaps the experiment will fail), today we can be confident that me’Hashem yatza hadavar, and going back to the passive position is simply not an option. This is why the Yaakov-Eisav analogy is so out of place.
    3. Yom Yerushalayim is essential for infusing religious content into the framework of the State of Israel. We need to unite around the Jewish-Torah value of Jerusalem, which gives meaning and vision for the Jewish State. The flag parade might not be essential for this, but it has become a deeply integral part (for 30 years) of Yom Yerushalayim and cancelling it will be a severe blow for the magnitude of the day itself. Israel needs a Torah vision, and we should not allow terror to displace it’s public expression of Yom Yerushalayim.
    4. “There will be blood” – The police have repeatedly emphasized that they can handle the event, and why shouldn’t they? This is Israel, this is a peaceful parade, and a robust police presence should be able to handle however many thugs the Hamas will convince to resort to violence.
    5. In days when we’re seeing the Palestinian flag waved an gatherings and demonstrations around the country, there is special significance to the flag of Israel. I realize some will question why this “shmateh” is worth all the fuss, but symbols are meaningful, and in this war of symbols we should not be raising the white flag.

    • What a delight to find my dear friend to the left of me (religiously, not politically) for a change. It is a welcome reversal. (We should be doing a weekly podcast together. That’s an idea!) 1. Who’s talking about putting the parade to an end? The question was rerouting for a few blocks. 2. Who’s talking about reverting to a passive position? We’re talking about unnecessary provocation for no clear gain, and likely loss. Channeling Teddy Roosevelt, speaking softly at times – even in regard to those you must hate intensely – does not limit your capacity to carry the big stick and using it freely when you must. Most importantly, Agudas Yisrael will be horrified that you see them as aligned with my position 🙂 3. Again, no one is cancelling the event, or diminishing the importance of Yom Yerushalayim. I’m on Ayelet Shaked’s side on this one. 4. I could not disagree more! Having lived in LA for decades, including before and after the riots, I have seen the difference between well-trained officers and others. As courageous people putting their lives at risk for the public, I’ll take the Israeli police. As far as knowing how to control their own passions, how to interact sensitively with diverse populations, to plan and implement effective plans of controlling hot-spots when there is much time in advance to do so – I don’t have any confidence at all in our police. They are often as out of control as the crowds they are dealing with, whether haredi demonstrators, Arabs, or just onlookers. All I have ever seen from top brass – in decades – is kastach. We have as much reason to trust their assurances as we can believe that Avigdor Lieberman works for the good of all our citizens. 5. Banning the Palestinian flag may (or may not – reasonable people can disagree) from state-funded schools might be an appropriate way to handle that. So would routing a parade of dedication to what our flag means to us in such a way as to preclude the random vandalism directed at local Arabs by out of control young people (ours!). You would think that an effective police force would be able to accomplish that.

      • mycroft says:

        Channeling Teddy Roosevelt, speaking softly at times – even in regard to those you must hate intensely – does not limit your capacity to carry the big stick and using it freely when you must.

        Agreed-sadly in both Israel and the US in recent times have acted the reverse of TR-they speak loudly and carry a small stick. Not a way to be respected by enemies.

      • mycroft says:

        To them, there is no middle ground between the mah yafis Jew on the one hand (who for centuries tried to curry favor with the local anti-Semites), and in-your-face bravado on the other. Alas, this would seem to be one of the last vestiges of old-school Zionism.

        We agree on your basic post. We might disagree on that the in your face looking for trouble is what old line secular Zionism was. I don’t believe it was, but more importantly is how most religious zionism has changed. Until the 6 DayWar it was not the aggressive movement in terms of geopolitics that it has become to the extent there is any Religious Zionism left. Remember the successor party has some leaders-not the top but close who are openly non believers in classical yahadus. What keeps them together is a belief in EY Hashleimah. Interesting before the 6 Day War the last person in the Cabinet to approve starting the was was Rabbi Warhaftig the Mizrachi Representative and BTW when the Cabinet had to approve taking the Old City of Jerusalem-he was the last to approve. Want old style Religious Zionism RYBS as an example stated publicly he would give up the Kotel to save ONE life-he took no position on it practice saying it is military diplomatic question which has no special expertise.
        I agree with your thoughts Rabbi Adlerstein but the old line Zionists especially religious ones were not necessarily the lets bother where not necessary our Non Jewish neighbors.

    • nt says:

      Once my Rebbe was discussing the concept of Da’as Torah, and this was the exact example he used: A public demonstration that has tremendous potential benefit, but might also put some people at risk. While askanim looking from a practical lens would probably say the pros outweigh the cons, that is not enough to justify something from a halachic perspective. A major Posek must be consulted to apply the laws of Pikuach Nefesh to the situation.

      • Nachum says:

        Because poskim are better able to judge security and political situations than security and political officials…how?

      • nt says:

        Nachum: It’s not that they judge it better, but that there are halachos that need to be consulted. Just because it seems like a good idea does not make it mutar.

  12. Nachum says:

    Well, I certainly hope you didn’t let the passions expressed here keep you from going out and enjoying the parade. We just got back (we live a block from the route), and as every year, the sight of hundreds of thousands of Jewish kids (so many of them religious) joyously marching in Yerushalayim would fail to inspire and move only one with a heart of stone. (As Stephen Norman, Theodore Herzl’s grandson, put it in 1946, “You will be amazed at the Jewish Youth in Palestine…they have the look of freedom.” I suppose some people would shrug that fact off. You know who didn’t? R’ Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld.) When R’ Yisrael Gustman was asked by his students why he and his wife “wasted” their time every year going to the parade, he (the father of a toddler murdered by the Nazis) answered, “We who saw a generation of children die, will take pleasure in a generation of children who sing and dance in these streets.”

    Perhaps we’ve gotten too far from the reality of the first half of that sentence- and thank God for that- that some people have forgotten the sheer miracle of the second half. I hope not.

    • I will confess to having missed the parade. But I started on the celebration earlier, by attending a Yom Yerushalayim melave malkah last night. A short while ago, I learned from two of my grandsons at one of the charedi elitist yeshivos, that the talmidim there held a full Yom Yerushalayim mesibah with music last night

      • Nachum says:

        That is all very good to know. But next year, I’m going to hold you to it. 🙂

        And please don’t focus on a few miscreants. That’s what our enemies would like to do.

      • D K says:

        please let the mashgiach know so they can be properly reprimanded

  13. Dov K says:

    Thank you Kvod HaRav for the view from an American armchair. Suppose Americans of African American descent were to announce that they were going to attack July 4 celebrations or Thanksgiving Day parades because the country was built on their dlave labor. Would you abd other frum pindits support them to the degree of cancelling American national celebrations? No, you wouldn’t. We would be reading article after article about the need for nonviolent response and the need not to give in to threats of violence. The same would be true for violence threats again national celebrations anywhere in the world. Except Israel. In this article you have joined the ranks of CNN and BBC of blaming the Jewish victims of violence and threats of violence.

  14. Steven Brizel says:

    Old style RZ is discussed at length in this thread but the facts on the ground showed that those RZ who opposed the Six Day War were wrong in their assessment of the isolation of Israel and lack of support from any other purported allies and the UN and that land for peace post 1967 is and has consist been another definition of appeasement of terrorism

  15. Nachum says:

    By the way, it’s been over a week since Yom Yerushalayim. Thank God, nothing. Yesterday, Shavuot, about 750 Jews went up to the Har HaBayit, davened (Shacharit, Musaf, Mincha) and learned Torah. Thank God, nothing.

    I’m still waiting for a concession that maybe, just maybe, this piece was a *wee* bit overblown.

    Instead, we get R’ Shafran’s similarly lovely one- and in a non-Jewish outlet, no less.

  16. Peri Garfinkel says:

    I was at the Yom Yerushalaim Day Parade. It was beautiful. I kept wishing that my mother, who was a Holocaust survivor, could see it. She would have seen this as our revenge against the Nazis Y”S. She would have seen this as the fulfillment of Zecharia’s prophecy, ״ ילדים משחקים״. It was so packed that it was difficult to walk through it. What I saw was TRUE SIMCHA not provocation. It was the pent up Simcha that after 2000 years Yerushalaim is in Jewish hands again

    After the Six Day War all of Israel was euphoric including the Chareidim. What happened?

  17. Mark says:

    Despite Bennett’s abandonment of the right-wing ideology he may have once had, one thing of which he hasn’t yet rid himself is the itch to poke a finger in the eye of foes. This time, he’s done it as the Prime Minister of Israel, to Iran. Pointed criticism from the defense establishment was quick to follow.

  18. Steven Brizel says:

    The legacy media and those in the Jewish establishment who fear what expensive Twitter pages say have always been voicing opinions “that there will be blood” or worse for decades whenever Israel defends itself or there is a demonstrable celebration of Jewish identity .

  19. Shades of Gray says:

    We should encourage forums that allow charedi bnei Torah, think-tank style, to apply Torah thought to contemporary issues.

    Tikvah Institute programs for men and women in the yeshiva community was an example of this in America.

    In Israel, Tzarich Iyun journal is “prepared to take on difficult and complex questions concerning policy, ideology, and sociology that are yet to receive adequate attention.”

    The Haredi Institute for Public Affairs, whose Chairman is Eli Paley of Mishpacha, has done research work, focus groups and round tables.

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