Sunday, October 05, 2008

To MGH - Letter to Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah - by Yosef Rabin


Please read this well thought out discourse and  entire addendum until the end!

Strengthening the Border Communities of

Eretz Yisrael!

From: Yosef Rabin


To the Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah:


I have seen the unofficial response of the Moeztet Gedolei Hatorah and remain very perplexed. Were it not for the importance and urgency of the matter – the honor of God's name and life and death for the nation of Israel – I would have remained silent.


One of the greatest issues facing the Jewish Nation today is if we have the right to hold on to certain parts of Eretz Israel, even if it will cost Jewish lives. Before we can start tackling this issue, we must first understand that Pikuach and Mesirut Nefesh is part of war; there is no war in which life is not endangered. With every other Mitzvah, which the Torah commands, "Allow yourself to be killed rather than transgress", there is no justification to put yourself in a situation, which would warrant this self-sacrifice. Only a Milchemet Mitzvah, a war commanded by the Torah, is a Mitzvah where you must endanger your life from the outset. But who every said that we were fighting an obligatory war and what does it have to do with the communities of Yehuda v Shomron?


The Torah commands us that Eretz Yisrael, be under Jewish control, as the Ramban writes, "Behold we were commanded with conquest in ever generation" (Supplement to the Rambam, Sefer HaMitzvot, positive commandment #4).   Assuming that the Ramban is not correct, and there is no Mitzvah to conquer the Land, is there a justification to continue living and fighting in the Yehuda and Shomron? Can Jews continue to live in Chevron and other dangerous places? If one looks at the definitions that the Rambam gives to a Milchemet Mitzvah, one of his definitions is, "To save Israel from the hand of the enemy"(Rambam, Mishna Torah, Hilchot Milachim, 5:1).  Do to the fact that today; our main enemy sits in Yehuda and Shomorn, there is a need to control that area. But what does that have to do with Jews living in those areas? To fulfill the Rambam's definition of Milchemet Mitzvah, it should be enough just having army bases in those areas.


Speaking as a former soldier, it is much easier to control an area, when there is a friendly population living there. Second, we all know that, the best defense is a good offense and the Halacha clearly understands this. " When it is a city close to the border, then, even if they want to come only for the purpose of (stealing) straw and stubble, we desecrate the Shabbos because of them; for they may conquer the city and from there, the rest of the land will be easy for them to conquer." (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 329:6) Even the smallest threat against the country must be taken seriously; you do not allow your enemy to even to move a piece of straw from Eretz Yisrael. Because the Communities of the Yehuda and Shomron are the border communities of the State of Israel there is even a higher obligation to guard them. If the Jews living in these communities would all leave, it would bring the enemies of Israel even closer to the major population centers, thus endangering the entire Jewish Nation.


What specific dangers will a expulsion  pose?


1. The expulsion of nearly 300,000 Jews


The lives of 300,000 Jews will be ruined as will Yeshivot, Shuls, Kollelim and the beautiful communities will be handed over to the enemy.


2. Surrendering the entire Samarian and Judean mountain range to the enemy (Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad…)


Rockets from Hebron will hit Beersheba and Kiryat Gat; Bethlehem will hit Jerusalem; Bodrus will hit Ben Gurion Airport; Rantis will hit Tel Aviv; Kalkilya will hit Kfar Saba and Ranana; Tulkarem will hit Netanya; Jenin will hit Afula and Nazareth.


3. The Surrender of East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount


No more visits to the Kotel. Even with Israeli control over east Jeruslaem and the Temple Mount the army has shut down the Kotel for hours at a time due to security concerns. In addition the Jews in West Jerusalem will have to deal with constant rocket and mortar attacks, as did their parents and grandparent up till 1967.


4. The Surrender of over 1/3 of Israel's water supply


Israel already faces a severe water crisis. The aquifers of Judea and Samaria are of the highest quality and supplies the domestic needs of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva and most of the cities in the center of the country; it is also used for irrigation of large agricultural areas along the coastal plain, the piedmont, the Beer Sheva valley and the Jezreel Valley.


5. The release of thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of Arab murders


This will strengthen the armies of Hamas and Fatah and destroy the morale of Israeli army as it watches years of work unravel. Jewish soldiers will understand that they endanger their lives for nothing and draft dodging will increase. In addition the release will cause grave mental stress to all victims of terror and put the rest the population in harms way.


There is also another issue involved in the Mitzvah to conquering the Land. We learn from Sanhedrin 74a-b, "When Rabin arrived, he taught: R' Yochanan said… in public, even for a minor commandment one should be killed rather than transgress. What is a minor commandment? Rava bar R' Yitzhak said in the name of Rav: Even to change the lace of one's shoe." When goyim come and decree that the Jews transgress a Mitzvah for the sake of humiliating the Jewish People and the Torah, there is in fact a Mitzvah to give up your life and not transgress. The Gemara even applies this rule to a minhag as insignificant as changing shoelaces. Today, because the goyim have made numerous decrees and resolutions (UN, EU...) that prohibit the Jewish People from conquering and settling Eretz Yisrael, we have even another reason for self-sacrifice. Even if one could argue that the mitzvah of Yishuv/Kibbush Eretz Yisrael does not apply in our time, I would certainly hope that Eretz Yisrael would rank higher than a shoelace.  


To sum up, we are fighting at least one and even possibly two simultaneous Milchemot Mitzva. The first being the Rambam,  "To save Israel from the hand of the enemy" and the second by the Ramban, "Behold we were commanded with conquest in ever generation". Either way, the communities of the Yehuda and Shomron play a vital role in the fulfillment of these two Mitzvot. The Jews living in the communities of the Yehuda and Shomron, the Jews who are sacrificing themselves for the security of the nation, should be aided and applauded. The communities of Galut must do everything in their power to aid and strengthen the border communities of Eretz Yisrael.  


Awaiting your reply,

Yosef Rabin



Addendum:  In response to the official response from Rav Shafran

Here I will address the question posed by Rav Avi Shafran, "Whether or not we have been zocheh at this point in history to be able to exercise that right, however, is a different, and open, question."


I have already dealt with the issue surrounding Yishuv/Kibush Haaretz in the original letter.  It is very clear that the Torah's command of "Thou shall not stand by thy brothers blood" (Vayikra, 19:17), applies in this case. Even if the expulsion does occur, G-d forbid, and a strong Palestinian terror state is created, do we not have the obligation to be able to declare in loud and clear voice, "Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it" (Devarim 21:8)?


The question of our right to Eretz Yisrael in our times is based on two main points. The first point is a passage from Gemara Kesubot,111a, God made the Jews take two oaths and the world take one. To the Jews "Not to ascend to the Holy Land as a group using force, not to rebel against the governments of countries in which we live," and   "Not to push the end away with our sins ", see Rashi.   For some this means that the State of Israel is a sin, we came back in force and rebelled against the nations.


This is easily answered; there was no rebellion against the nations. We were granted permission by Britain, League of Nations and the United Nations to recreate our homeland in the Land of Israel. Second the first two oaths might be contingent on the third, if the non-Jews treat us harshly, which they did, then we can rebel and go up to the land. Even if the oaths are not connected, we saw clear signs of redemption, which nullified the oaths themselves. This is similar to the Halacha where one swears not to enter his house. If the walls of his house collapse, he is freed from his oath and may step on the remains of the house.  


The second point is that redemption can not come about through non-believers, furthermore some believe that man can not play a role in bringing the Redemption and must completely rely on God to do all the work.


I will now come to show that we indeed did see the signs of Redemption and that we were certainly justified in taking an active role in the process of Redemption. Furthermore I prove that God cherished the original Secular Jews who restored His land and why we should continue to respect the State of Israel even though it does not always go in the path of the Torah.


There is a Halacha that we only follow the majority opinion when it is coupled with clear reasoning; furthermore Tosfot in Yevamot explains that we follow the minority if the minority is sharper in Torah than the majority.


I would like to begin by discussing what constitutes the beginning of redemption. I would like to bring several gemara's which expound on this very issue.


The first Gemara I would like to mention is a Gemara in Sanhedrin 98: a "Rabbi Abba said, 'There is no greater sign of redemption than this, as it is written in Yechezkel, 'You O mountains of Israel will give forth your branches and give forth your fruit for My People Israel will soon return'. " (Yechezkel 36)    One could argue that this Gemara is of an Aggadic nature and therefore cannot be used as a proof, but there are two other gemarot that bring this gemara into the realm of Halacha.


In Gemara Migilah 17: b, "Why do we recite the blessing of the re-gathering of the exiles after the blessing of the year, because it is written in Yechezkel, 'You O mountains of Israel will give forth your branches and give forth your fruit for My People Israel will soon return " (Yechezkel 36) This exact Gemara is also repeated in Gemara - Brachot Yerushalmi, I do not remember the exact page, but I remember that it is in the first perek. The copy that I saw was on my old army base in the Jordan valley, which I no longer have access to. The Tur and the Beit Yosef accept these gemara's as halacha, see Orach Chaim 115-121.


It is clear that, not only do chazal agree that redemption will begin with the restoration of the Land, but they enshrined this concept by incorporating it into the Shmona Esrai. This could also be the reason why chazal used the phrase towards the end of the second blessing "Makes salvation sprout". The first sign of the redemption will be with the sprouting of the Land. So now that we understand how the redemption will begin, we must make the connection to the State of Israel.


In Parshat Bichukoti, one of the many infamous curses is the one on the Land of Israel. " I will make the Land desolate, and the enemies who dwell within will be desolate. "(26:32)

The Ramban explains this to be a blessing and promise for the Jewish People. That the Land will never grow for anyone but the Jewish People. Rabbenu Bachya also explains, BeReshit 17:8, " This is a great sign for the Jewish People, since they were exiled from their Land no nation was able to settle there. Rather it sits is desolation until its children return. " Also, may there be a thousand separations, the famous non-Jewish author, Mark Twain visited the Land of Israel in 1867. He wrote, " The hills are barren, they are dull of color, they are un-picturesque in shape. The valleys are unsightly desert fringed with feeble vegetation that has an expression about it of being sorrowful and despondent… The Land sits in sackcloth and ashes… This Land is no more of this work-day world. It is sacred to poetry and tradition-it is a dream-land. " (Innocent Abroad end of chapter 56)


It is clear that Hashem has kept his promise, up until the Jewish People decided to return to the Land of their forefather's, the Land did not grow. It is interesting that he wrote this in 1867, just a few short years before the Children of Israel although mainly secular returned. Even though they were secular, did not keep Shabbat or Kashrut, the Land accepted them and she grew accordingly. The Land allowed them to drain her swamps, grow her fields, raise cattle and build beautiful towns and cities. This was all barely 30 years after Twain visited.


This is very much reminiscent of the day of Ezra and Nechemya, the vast majority who returned with them were not only unobservant, but immoral as well, as it says in Kiddushin 69-70, they were bastards, foundlings and committed sexual misconducts like the people of Sodom and Amora. And yet they were the tools, which Hashem used to bring about that Geulah. Certainly, the secular Jews who started returning in the late 1800s, and who remained the main builders of the land until the State was re-declared in 1948, could not have been much worse.  


To better understand that the Mashiach does not need to come about through the most pleasant means we must look at the father of Mashiach, David Hamelech - King David.

When we look at Davids ancestry one becomes quickly disturbed. On his fathers side came about through the illicit relations between Yehuda and Tamar. Does not sound like the proper Yichus for the Mashiach! Even though this was an abomination Chazal tell us, "Hashem was busy creating the light of the King Mashiach." (Bareshit Rabba 85:1)


Now going from bad to worse, we look at Davids mother side. Davids grandmother Ruth came from the Nation of Moav. Number one it was the nation of Moav that seduced the men of Israel to sin in the Midbar bringing a great plague upon them. Second, Moav's founding father was an illegitimate of the worst sort; he was from the illicit relations between Lot and his Daughter Habichira. Habachira called her son Moav, which means, from my father, she was not even embarrassed that she had relations with her father.


But even if one admits that Hashem began our Geulah through the secular Zionist can we continue to recognize the importance of such a state?


I would like to talk about Omri the King of Israel was more evil than any other king before him, read Malachim 16:25, but yet, he merited his kingship to last 3 generations.  

Why? R Yochanan said, "Why did Omri deserve Kingship? He added one city to the Land of Israel. " (Sanhdrin 102b)  Chazal tell us that he added that city to undermine the people loyalty to Jerusalem, and even so he merited 3 generations.


Omri's successor, his son Achav was even worse than his father, he allowed his wife to murder all the Torah Scholars, but Hashem still allowed Achav to win wars for His people. Why because Achav and his generation was careful not to speak gossip and Achav fought with all his might for the Jewish People. Achav successor Yehoram, was also just as evil, but he shared the suffering of the Jewish People when Hashem punished them with a drought, by sitting in sackcloth.


We see that Hashem allowed these men to rule because of their love for the Jewish People and the Land of Israel.


Also Yeravam the son of Yoash was given great help by Hashem, even though it says, "He did evil in the eyes of Hashem." Why? "He restored the boarder of Israel from Milvo Chamas until the sea of Arava like the word of Hashem, as he spoke unto the prophet Yona the son of Amitai." (Malachim2: 14: 24-26)


The problems in the State of Israel cannot be compared to the evils perpetrated by the Kings of Israel. After all the State gives incredible amount of money to Yeshivot, builds mikvot and shuls for every community even ones that are dominantly secular, all marriages, divorces and funerals are conducted by the Orthodox State Rabbinate, Shabbat and Chagim are the official holidays of the State, No buses may run from an hour before Shabbat and Chagim until after the holy days, The Army and all official state institutions must keep Kosher by law, all places of public entertainment must be closed until half day on TishaBav.


Can you honestly tell me that I should give fewer honors to this State, than Eliyahu the Prophet gave to King Achav when he ran before his chariot after the incident at Mount Carmel. (Kings 1, 18:46) Chazal say, Achav took all the Torah Scrolls in the Land of Israel and erased the name of Hashem replacing it with the names of all the idols. But yet he was the King of Israel and thus the honor of the People of Israel was upon him.


In our times that the state of Israel wants to do terrible things and put the nation in danger, we must follow the path of Eliyahu. We must oppose the expulsion in such a manner that will still uphold respect for this "Malchut Yisrael" of our time.


Rav Tzvi Yehuda Hakohen Koon taught that Malchut is understood as any Jewish leadership, which governs the nation with the consent of the people. He brings down Meiri on Sanhedrin 52b, "And in every place the laws of the kingdom apply in all time, and in every generation, the leader of the generation…have the power of enforcement. He brings down the Drashot Haran, 11 "When there isn't a king in Israel, the judge takes on two powers, the power of judge and the power of King." The Maharal in Netzach Yehuda, Chapter 1 also indicates this idea of sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael. Lastly the Rambam in Hilchot Chanukah, stresses the importance of sovereignty being returned to Eretz Yisrael during the reign of the Chashmanayim. Yes the Chashmanayim turned against the Torah, but that sovereignty is one of the primary reasons why we celebrate Chanukah for all time.     


One may ask that if Hashem has started the redemption than why all the suffering? Why is Lebanon bombing us? Why can't we fight back properly? Why is there still so much suffering? Isn't the redemption supposed to stop this?

I saw a beautiful idea.


In Gemara Sanhedrin 98:b, Three scholars, Ullah, Rabbah and R. Yochanan prayed, "Let him come, but let me not see him ", they were afraid of the birth pangs of Mashiach and therefore did not want to be there. Only Rav Yosef disagreed and said, "Let him come and may I be privileged to sit in his donkeys feces". Rav Kook tzl, gives a beautiful explanation, Ullah, Rabbah and R. Yochanan, its not they did not want to see Mashiach, but they would not be able to handle the spiritual downfall immediately before his coming, as it says in Gemara Sota 49:b, " Youngsters will insult their elders, the kingdom will turn heretical". According to Rav Kook, they did not say "let me not be there", but rather, I do not want to see it, I will not be able to handle to great spiritual decline that will occur before Mashiachs arrival. Rav Kook says that Rav Yosef was different. Even if the time before redemption would smell like feces, he still wanted it. Rav Kook adds, the donkey is the only unclean animal that its first born is holy. That is why Rav Yosef used the Donkey, just like the impure donkey brings out something holy so too the geulah can come about from something non-holy, like the secular Zionists.


Yosef Rabin

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