Sunday, January 27, 2008

R' Shmuel Kamenetsky and R' Aharon Feldman Roshei Yeshivah regarding Yesha.

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Last Monday I attended the AJOP (Association for Jewish Outreach Programs) Convention in Baltimore Md.  This convention is the foremost convention for Kiruv Professionals attracting many of the finest  in Jewish Outreach.  I was privileged to have personally had the opportunity to speak with R' Shmuel Kamenetsky the Rosh Yeshiva of Philadelphia and R' Aharon Feldman the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisroel.  I caught the Roshei Yeshivoth in the hallways in between sessions, surrounded by many who wished to ask them questions and seek their advice.
 
When I first approached R' Shmuel Kamenetsky I asked him "What about Yesha",  My question to him was "what was the position of the Rabbanim regarding the Roadmap and the two State Solution. This translates to the abandonment of Yesha."  He listened, and nodded and smiled but didn't really respond. So I continued talking and mentioned the 7 girls that were part of the hilltop youth that were subsequently jailed and mistreated.  With more nodding but no real verbal response I continued to speak about a Mishneh in Yoma Perek Gimmel Mishneh Aleph that I had reviewed with my son.  I wanted to make the point that speaking up only for Yerushalayim is insufficient.  This Mishneh is talking about when the sacrifices in the Har Habayit in Yerushalayim begin each day. The sacrifices can only begin at daylight. The Mishneh discusses how this is determined and Hebron is a key player.
 
The Mishneh states (Courtesy of Artscroll)
 
"The   Administrator said to the assembled Kohanim; 'Go out and see if the time for slaughtering has arrived,," If it had arrived, the one who sees [it] (the observer on the roof) says "Barkai!"  (the sheen of the sun can already be seen)
 
Mattisya ben Shmuel says: (he was the administrator of the lots) 'The whole of the east has lit up.' 'as far as Hebron?' And he (the observer on the roof) says Yes!!
 
I said to Rav Kamenetsky, doesn't this show that in order to start the Avoda in Yerushalayim  you need Hebron?  I was referring to the fact that if we want an undivided Yerushalayim we need settlement all the way to Hebron.  Rav Kamenetsky smiled as did all those surrounding him.  No one contradicted my points but seemed to be in agreement. 
 
I then saw Rav Aharon Feldman the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisroel.  I waited until others had finished talking with him and asked him also "what about Yesha?".  I told him that I had lived in Kiryat Arba and know many of the people there.  I told him about the 7 girls incarcerated for wanting a judicial system based on Torah and mentioned that they had been mistreated. He seemed sincerely concerned but did say that if it leads to Pikuach Nefesh, settlement on the hilltops by these girls can be a problem.
 
 I then entered the Question and Answer session with Rav Kamenetsky.  People wrote down questions to ask the Rav and submitted them.  A person read the questions and Rav Kamenetsky answered.  So I passed the question "What is the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah position regarding the Roadmap and territorial concessions in Yesha".  From Rav Kamenetsky's answer it seemed that he was clearly sympathizing with the settlers.  I believe he said that withdrawal for Gush Katif has led to security problems in Sederot.  He seemed clearly against the policies of the Olmert gov't.   
 
On his way out, once again I managed to get a few words with Rav Kamenetsky.  I mentioned what Rav Feldman had said regarding Pikuah Nefesh regarding the girls who have put their lives on the line.  I told him that some of these hilltops were overlooking cities and more settled areas.  If these hilltops would be under the Palestinian Authority it would indeed be a Pikuach Nefesh for all the cities and developed communities below it.  I mentioned that perhaps if others like the Rabbanim would clearly make a strong statement against giving away the settlements, the girls would not feel the necessity to be Moser Nefesh in order to save the lives of their brethren.  I asked Rav Kamenetsky to please relay this information to Rav Feldman.  Rav Kamenetsky was very attentive and agreed to do so. 
 
It is important that the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah realize that these girls are putting their lives in danger for the sake of the Torah.  They are asking for a judicial system based on Torah.  This is precisely what we all davan for each and every day yet these girls are being Moser Nefesh for it. They see that such a reality is not some distant dream.  It is for the here and NOW.  Please review the following question that was posed to these girls as to their motivation for not releasing their identity. 
 
 
Q. What was the principled stand behind your refusal to identify yourselves and cooperate with the legal system?

Tchiyah:  We are in the Land of Israel. The Nation of Israel must be judged by Torah law.  But instead of our true and just Torah, we have courts that judge according to Turkish and British law.

Yael:  We felt that our public must wake up.  The courts are leading the country, and the government also acts according to rulings set by the Supreme Court.  The same law that kept us in prison is the same law that expelled Jews from their homes and left them with nothing. We wanted to show the public that everything is soiled and that we have to wake up from it."

Chana:  When the Nation of Israel first arrived in the Land, we were commanded in the Torah to appoint a king.  This is part of the process again, to build a regime that will run according to G-d's law.

Tchiyah:  Just like we are forbidden to follow an illegal law, we are also not permitted to be judged in a court run by such laws.

Q. Do you truly believe that seven girls in jail will lead to a Torah regime in the State of Israel?

Yael:  First our sector will wake up, and then the whole country will follow.

Tchiyah:  Our entire history is full of examples of the few against the many - David and Goliath, Avraham on one side of the river as opposed to everyone else, the Maccabees, and more.  Obviously we know the Sanhedrin won't be built in a month, but we have to start, and with G-d's help, if people change their way of thinking, it will be worth it."

Q. When you got out, did you feel that you had achieved something for being in jail so long?

Herut:  It came out better than we thought.  The whole public woke up and there was a great ripple.  We see how the legal system is afraid of this, letting us out without having to identify ourselves.  The truth won out.

Tchiyah:  I think it  might be less of a victory over the legal system and more of a feeling that G-d had confirmed that we were doing the right thing by refusing to have anything to do with the system.

Chana:  It's between us and G-d. I felt complete with Him. We were educated according to Torah ways, and there is no reason why we shouldn't also be judged accordingly.  The judges tried to re-educate us - as if the education that we received at home was not good enough... Sometimes the judges even admitted that they were leaving us jail another day in order to educate us - but in the end, they achieved exactly the opposite."

Q. How did your parents react?  Some people said they should have had you out of there even against your will.

Chana:  Our parents supported and strengthened us very much, even though it wasn't their decision for us to be there.  It seems that it's harder to worry from the outside than to actually be inside... This is our opportunity to thank them very much.  The thing is that according to Jewish Law, once a girl turns 12, she is Bat Mitzvah and is responsible for her own actions. So we made this decision - not lightly - and then our parents went along with what we did. 

The girls also expressed thanks for those who helped in the media and from a legal standpoint, such as the Honenu organization.  "Without such strong public support," they said, "our struggle would have been much harder.  But when we saw how many people were standing outside each time we went to court, we understood that we were doing the right thing and this was everyone's war, not just ours.  Many people began to understand that something is not right with our country and we must not sit on the sidelines.  If everyone does something, we can bring the Redemption - or at least fix one small thing."

The girls said they received many thanks afterwards, together with some negative reactions as well. "But if we go only by the latter, we'll never get anywhere," one said.

Q. Will you continue to go to outposts even though you know you could be arrested again?

Yael:  No one wants to sit in jail, but if we stop our advance on the Land of Israel, they will have won.  We just continue to get stronger and stronger.
 
P.S.  Is it coincidence that the Av Beis Din of the nascent Sanhedrin is Adin Steinsaltz.   In fact the recent miracle in  Kfar Etzion occurred in his Yeshiva? http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/125033
 
Barkai Yeshivot are affiliated with Rav Steinsaltz.  Maybe recognition that Hebron is intertwined with the Avoda  and ultimately with the destiny in Yerushalayim is the uniting point with the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah and Religious Zionism. Speaking out for Yesha will create a Kiddush Hashem. How powerful it would be to join with the existing Sanhedrin that is against any territorial concessions, keeping all of Yehudah and Shomron under the Sovereignty of Am Yisroel.





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