Saturday, February 15, 2014

Kerry, Halachic Israel, and Safety by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

5 Towns Jewish Times   In the past few months, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has occupied entire floors of hotels in Jerusalem. In early March, Mr Kerry is expected to present a copy of the so-called framework agreement to Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli prime minister visits Washington to both visit President Barack Obama and address the AIPAC conference of AIPAC.

The document will propose a peace deal along pre-1967 borders but with land swaps that take account of “demographic changes” on the ground. The document will attempt to influence the Netanyahu government to give up many different areas of Eretz Yisrael. It is therefore be an opportune time to review the halachos of what constitutes Eretz Yisrael. It must be stressed that this discussion does not chalilah condone the giving up of parts of Israel. It is merely a discussion of the status of its various parts.

Although the verse in Bereishis (17:8) tells us that Hashem told Avraham, “And I shall give you and your descendants after you…the entire Land of Canaan as an inheritance forever,” one can divide up Eretz Yisrael into two different types of land:

A. Lands that were captured by our ancestors who arose out of Egypt but were not recaptured by our ancestors who rose out of Babylonia during the time of Ezra; and

B. Lands that were also recaptured by our ancestors who rose out of Babylonia.

For our purposes, we will heretofore designate these two areas as “area A” and “area B.” [...]


  1. Let’s be clear:

    Maran HaGaon HaRav Elazar Menachem Man Shach ZTVK”L was very clear: Peace before land. HaRav Shach zt’l said it is better to give up land if that’ll even save one life. Rav Shach was openly in favor of “land for peace” and said so publicly on numerous occasions. (“Mishpat Cohen” 142-144; c.f. “Michtavim U’Mamarim” 1:14 by Rabbi Elazar M. Schach.)

    And, indeed, almost the entire Torah world, other members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of the Agudah or Degel and of Shas, such as Chacham Ovadia have been strong proponents of land for peace. Holding unto land in Israel has never been the priority or even necessity.

    Rabbi Ovadia Yosef stated: “If areas of Israel are not given back, the danger exists of immediate war on the part of our Arab neighbors; and if the areas are returned to them, the danger of war will be averted; and that there is a chance of permanent peace; then it seems that according to all opinions it is permitted to return areas of Israel in order to achieve this aim, since nothing is more important than the saving of life.”

    (See Rav Ovadia Yosef “Ceding Territory of the Land of Israel in Order to Save Lives”, Tehumim Vol. 10, 1989 and Rav Ovadia Yosef “Ceding Territory of the Land of Israel in Order to Save Lives”, Crossroads: Halacha and the Modern World Vol. 3, 1990.)

    And, politically, Chacham Ovadia Yosef supported in the Kenesset previous government withdrawal from land to both Egypt and to the Palestinians.

    Even Rabbi A.Y. Kook, the first Zionist Chief Rabbi, writes clearly that we should not endanger our lives because of land.

    Of course there are many in the Torah world who always believed all along that Jews should never have taken any territory in the first place. That establishing the State was a terrible mistake. This of course was the general consensus of the Torah leadership of the world up through ’48. Since ’48 some have seen the state as a fait accompli.

    1. All this was said when indeed the land would help in safety issues. Some of the proposals,do NOT at all help safety. Like Gush Katif.

    2. Actually QE, it wasn't true then, and it's not true now. Another miserable case in our recent history of the gedolim being wrong. Can we face the music and accept the facts?

  2. The notion that 350,000 Jews should expelled from their homes to save one life is not understandable.

    Question? What if the Arabs demand Bnei Brak? Should it begiven back? If not, why not?

    1. Even Tel Aviv should be placed under Arab sovereignty if the net result were to save one Jewish life. Especially if the residents would be able to remain living under Arab sovereignty.

    2. I assume that you are being sarcastic. I hope I am right.

      Question: Can anybody identify any time in Jewish history where Jews voluntarily gave over any of the land of Israel?

      There is, of course an express prohibition, against selling or renting lands to non-Jews.

    3. a) Sovereignty is not ownership of land. Various properties are owned by Jews and various properties are owned by non-Jews i.e. Arabs. Sovereignty can be under Arab rule with Jewish ownership of whatever property.

      b) There is a prohibition against Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisroel prior to Moshiach.

    4. "Even Tel Aviv should be placed under Arab sovereignty if the net result were to save one Jewish life. Especially if the residents would be able to remain living under Arab sovereignty."

      But that's not the net result of any land withdrawals. We have already seen the results and they are not pretty. Thousands murdered and maimed since the Oslo accords. Thousands of rockets launched from abandoned, surrendered territories. You are advocating voodoo and asking us to expect different results than have already been demonstrated. Just plain idiocy.
      Abusive deception to quote gedolim on the subject of land for peace in the manner some are doing so in the comments here. There is no peace in the equation. Give it up already.

    5. I am speaking in general terms. I am not judging specific circumstances whether or not it will or wont save lives. That certainly isn't my forte.

      Furthermore, aside from the many Gedolim who advocated giving away land for peace, many Zionist leaders of Israel advocated it -- and DID IT!!

      Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Prime Minister Yitzvchak Rabin, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon all gave away land for peace!

      Prime Minister Shomin Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and right now even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu all supported giving away land for peace!

    6. Why would zionist leaders of Israel advocating and giving land away make this any more correct in your eyes? They were wrong and so were the gedolim. Of course there was a contrary view among some rabbinic scholars which opposed land for peace, but you conveniently ignore them and their views. Not because they are less logical or don't make sense but because of your warped notion of "authority" which you assign in prejudicial fashion to certain scholars. But it really doesn't matter what the halacha is or isn't or which side of that theoretical argument is right. The situation as it is today does not involve peace, and it never did. So none of those points apply.

      There is no peace in the equation.

      In giving away land, Netanyahu is operating from the same corrupt, deceptive, and misguided paradigm as the prime ministers who came before him, so it's no wonder that he advocates that position. Do you now consider the opinions of zionist leaders to be evidence of the gedolim being correct? How desperate!

  3. Right. The prohibition is to give non-Jews any rights in the Land of Israel; if selling land is forbidden then, by kal vochomer, handing over sovereignty is absolutely forbidden.

    There is no prohibition against Jewish sovereignty. I challenge you to show one source in the Talmud or Rishonim which so states. I challenge you to show one source in the Talmud or Rishonim which states that you may give up land.

    Your problem is that you are fixated what the Gedolim may, or may not, of thought in pre-WWII, pre-Holocaust Europe. Those Gedolim were, unfortunately, proven wrong by the destruction of European Jewry. I suppose that you believe that if Rav Simcha Vasserman, ztz"l, would have known that his Talmidim would be murdered in the gas chambers that he still would have advised them not to go to America. To the contrary, he would have ordered them to go.

    (The so-called three Oaths, even assuming they have the force of Halacha, say nothing about land and which has already been conquered, and thus are not a source.).

    1. You couldn't be more dead wrong. It was better to die in Europe than to come to an America where, before the war, the Jews who came over frum proverbally threw their tefilin over the boat when the saw the Statue of Liberty in "Free America". The frum in America by and large became frei, with some notable exceptions.

      And you are 100% wrong about Rav Elchonon Wasserman. He expressly forbid his students from escaping Europe even to YU in New York, since YU was making Jews into frei Americans. Here is a letter from Rav Wasserman, which the original in Hebrew is available:

      Baruch Hashem, Erev Shabbos Kodesh Naso

      I received his letters but I have no ability to do anything with this, thus I did not respond.

      The yeshivos in America which are able to bring over students are the yeshivas of Dr. Revel (named Yeshiva University) in New York and Beis Midrash L'Torah in Chicago and they both are places of danger in terms of spirituality because they conduct themselves in a spirit of freedom. And what benefit is there to flee from a physical danger to a spiritual danger. But I sent his letter to the revered Gaon, Rabbi Moshe Heiman, Dean of Mesivtha Torah V'Daas in Brooklyn and I suggested that he request of the revered Dean of the Mirrer Yeshiva that he should also write to Brooklyn to the address below:

      Rabbi Shlomo Heiman
      92 Martin Street

      Blessing him with life and peace and all good things forever,

      Elchanan Bunim Wasserman

    2. Sorry,I said Rav Simcha Wasserman when I meant Rav Elchanan Vasserman. Rav Wasserman never perceived the real danger to the Jews in Europe.

      If you truly believe what you appear to say, that it was better to be murdered by the Nazis then come to America and REITs, I feel sorry for you.

      The following persons all lectured at RIES before WWII:

      Rabbi Abraham Kahane-Shapiro (The Kovner Rav)

      Rabbi Abraham Bloch (Telshe Yeshiva)

      Rabbi Moses Epstein and Rabbi Israel Sher (Slobodka Yeshiva)

      Rabbi Yoseph Kahanaman (Ponovitch Yeshiva)

      Rabbi Joseph Hurwitz (Mea Shaerim Yeshiva, Israel)

      Rabbi Baruch Ber Lebowitz (Kaminetz Yeshiva)

      Rabbi Mayer Dan Plotzker (Rav Ostro, Poland)

      Rabbi Mayer Shapiro (Lublin)

      Chief Rabbi Abraham Kook (Israel)

      Rabbi Aaron Kutler (Kletzk) Yes; that Rabbi Aaron Kutler:

      Source: G Klaperman: The Story of Yeshiva University (The MacMillan Company Collier- MacMillan Limited - London 1969) p. 169.

    3. That information is completely false, imaginative and fanciful. Let's take Rav Ahron Kotler for example. Here is what he says:

      “The Modern Orthodox claim that their path is the true path of Judaism, that it is the path that was followed by our ancestors throughout the generations, but that they only add some modernizations and insignificant changes in order to make the Torah appealing to the masses. But the truth is that this small point is the same as the point of the Reform, and it is at the heart of hearts of the great defection from Torah and religion in past generations. They [Modern Orthodox] change [our] ways and twist [our] concepts.” (Mishnas Rav Aharon III p.216)

      Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL, who would under no circumstances even walk into YU (even for a funeral - he waited out side from aron of a talmid to come out, as he wouldn't enter YU even for a funeral), once commented about Rav Soloveitchik, "He is responsible for the majority of Tumah in America." Also from the same Rav Aharon, "He destroyed an entire generation of Jews.

    4. The information remains true, whatever Rav Aaron Kutler said subsequently. You are entitled to your opinion, not to your own facts.

      The notion that Rav Soloveitchik, Ztz'l, was responsible for the state of American Jewry is so laughable that I do not believe for one second that Rav Aaron said this. If he said this, then he obviously had no idea of American Jewish history.

    5. Tseeker: Those rabbis did *not* all lecture at YU.

    6. If you mean served as faculty, no they did not and I did not imply that they did; they all gave a t least one lecture at YU, and thus lectured at YU. I have a reliable source which I have cited; what is yours?

    7. Harry Maryles at Emes Vemuna in a 2012 post also says that RAK gave a shiur at YU while he was a RY at Kletzk whenhe came to America; so we have at least two sources.

    8. here lies the difference between a rational person and an irrational one.

      For a rational person, a statement is judged on its logic and truth, and not by who says it. This principle was already stated by Ramchal in Derech Tevunot - and I already held this view before having studied that work.
      Incidentally, the Gra also holds to such a position, since he said that the truth is sometimes with the student, as of course does the Rambam. that is already a good sample of major Gedolim through the ages.
      The non-rational person will hold the opposite view - that a statement s true depending on who says it. So if the person that he nominates as being the arbiter of truth says something it is true. On the other hand anything that someone else says is false.

      Remember also that Hizkiah saw through prophecy that his grandson would be wicked, and wanted to avoid having offspring. But he was not given the right to do this. So even if a figure as illustrious as R' Elchanan H'YD could see with nevuah that people would become less frum, it is still not permitted to kill them off now, or prevent them from having offspring. In a way, it also touches on the denial of freewill, which we have ironically discussed elsewhere.

      CV - I have heard those alleged statements of RAK from another unreliable source, a very wicked and dishonest Rab who said it is better to engage in part-homosexual behaviour than to engage in heterosexual behaviour. So please show me your sources for this statment.

    9. Rabbi Aharon Soloveichik once remarked that although, today, there are many "kana'im," or zealots, on the Orthodox Jewish scene in America, in those days, Rav Velvele was "the kanai." Ironically, a few days after Rav Velevele passed away on 10 Elul, 5695 (September 8, 1935), Rabbi Aharon Kotler made his first visit to the United States, to raise funds for his own yeshiva in Kletzk. Rabbi Aharon Kotler, too, like Rav Velvele, changed his attitude towards RIETS over time. Although he would later refuse to deliver a guest shiur in RIETS, and was known for his negative attitude toward Yeshiva University, on his first visit to America Rabbi Aharon Kotler delivered a guest shiur, attended by, among others, the Rosh HaYeshiva of RIETS, Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, and his teenage son Aharon. Rabbi Aharon Soloveichik later recalled that the topic of the shiur was "shtarcha beyadcha mai bai," the legal status of a contract in a monetary dispute. Rabbi Aharon Soloveichik also recalled that his colleague Rabbi Chaim Zimmerman, a student of Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik at the time, continually interrupted the shiur, asking questions and taking issue with Rabbi Kotler's presentation. Viewed from the perspective of Rav Velvele's changing relationship with RIETS over the years, Rabbi Kotler's arrival on the New York scene at that time can perhaps be seen as a variation of the Talmudic dictum that a tzaddik does not leave this earth unless another tzaddik has come to take his place.

      The above from the Commentator in a 2004 article.

    10. Tseeker: Your source for those rabbis are not reliable, especially on its own authority. And Maryles is also not a reliable source on his own authority.

    11. Rakeffet-Rothkof in a Feb 2014 shiur says that RAK gave a shiur at YU in 1935. Thats a fourth source.

    12. That's not a source as he wasn't there. Who is his source? Who is the primary source?

    13. In any event, your source admits that later Rav Kotler changed his view of YU to a negative one. That was since YU has been a downhill slide ever since it opened. And it continues. So the final view of the gedolim is negative of YU, especially as YU went further and further downhill into the abyss.

    14. Eddie - CV sourced his statement from Rav Kotler to Mishnas Rabi Ahron - Rav Kotler's sefer.

  4. First, The Oaths are quoted L'Halachah in numerous sources, including but not limited to: Piskei Riaz (Kesuvos 111), Responsa Rivash #110, Responsa Rashbash #2, Megilas Esther on Sefer HaMitzvos of Rambam Ramban (Maamar HaGeulah #1 regarding why all Jews outside of Bavel - the majority of Jews at the time - did not go to Eretz Yisroel at Coresh's call), Rambam (Igeres Taimon - warning peple not to violate the Oaths or else face grave danger), Maharal (Netzach Yisroel 24) writes that even if the Goyim try to force us to take Eretz Yisroel for ourselves during Golus, we must allow ourselves to be killed rather than take violate the Oaths, as well as other places.

    Second, Rabbeinu Tam writes that you DO pasken from Agadita unless it is against Halachah.

    Third, the Oaths are NOT Agada. By definition, Halachah means when the Gemora tells you it is forbidden to do something, which this does. In fact, it says You may nto do this, and if you do, you will die. That makes it Halachah. Thats the definition of Halachah. (Similarly, the Oath of Naaseh V'Nishmah is also used by Chazal as Halachah, as in Shevuah chal al Sehvuah etc.)

    Fourth, even if it is not Halachah, it still represents the Ratzon Hashem, meaning, negation of Halachah would merely relinquish us of any obligations in regard to makign a State. But the Gemora clearly says that doign so will cause the deaths of Jews, like animals in the field. Even if that does not create any Halachic obligations, it surely tells us that the State is against the will of Hashem and that its existence causes deaths of Jews.

    1. I am glad you know Ratzon Hashem.

      I repeat, that despite all your citations, you cannot find one source in the Talmud or Rishonim which says that land already acquired may be given away to non-Jews. The prohibition against giving away, or even selling land, is a Mishna.

      If you have a citation otherwise, please quote it and state its source, so I can check your accuracy.

      Question: Was it Ratzon Hashem that Jews stayed in Europe and were slaughtered?

    2. The Oath that G-d gave us not to rebel against the Goyim was NOT for the sake of the Goyim, but for our OWN sake, that we dont end Golus early. It says this in every single interpretation in the commentaries about the Oath. It was not for the sake of the Goyim but for us. So just because the Goyim violated their Oath and hurt us does nto mean we can violate another one and hurt ourselves more! Shevet Efraim left Egypt in violation of the Oaths. Egypt surely violated their Oath when they tortured Jews for centuries. Yet Ephrain, Chazal say, were all hunted donw and killed in the deset for violating their Oath by leaving Egypt early.

      The Oaths are brought down l'halachah in Rishonim and Achronim as viable and very real. This, despite the fact that the Goyim have been violating their Oath for thousands of years.

      The Rambam in Igeres Taimon warns the Jews not to violate the Oaths, or else. He writes there that the Jews are suffering an evil, persecuting government that commits atrocities and wars against the Jews, and therefore the Jews should watch out not to violate the Oath by rebelling against them. It's clear that even though the Goyim violate their Oath we cannot violate ours.

      The Medrash Aichah says clearly that the Romans violated their Oath, yet the generation of Bar Kochba was punished Chazal say because they violated the Oaths.

      The Maharal writes that even if the Goyim force us wuth torturous death to violate the Oath, we should rather submit to torturous death than violate them.

      And the Gemora itself disproves the idea, since the Gemora says that the reason Chazal commanded us not to go from Bavel to Eretz Yisroel is due to the Oaths, even though Bavel violated their Oath for sure with the atrocities they committed during the Churban (The Shulchan Aruch writes that the Brachah of Vlamalshinim was enacted to praise Hashem for destroying the evil kingdom of Bavel).
      The Gemora then asks on R. Zaira who says that the Oaths only include not taking Eretz Yisroel forcefully, but the Oath not to rebel against the nations is nto included. The Gemora could easily have answered that Bavel violated their Oath and therefore our Oath of rebelling against them is null. But the Gemora says no such thing.

      R. Avrohom Galanti (Zechus Avos) brings a story of the people of Portugal who wanted to defend themselves against the government by making a rebellion. The government then was making forced SHmad and all sorts of persecutions. They asked the "shem hameforash" and were told not to do it because it would violate the Oaths.

      And besides all this, the second Oath, nshelo yaalu b'chomah has nothing to do with the Goyim, and woud not be dependent on the Goyim's Oath anyway. The Maharal and R. Yonason Eyebushitz write that even if the Goyim give us permission to take Eretz Yisroel we are not allowed to do it. Better we should die than take Eretz Yisroel, the Maharal says.

      What I wrote above is not rocket science. It's pretty obvious. Takes no genius or encyclopedic knowledge to understand it. Anyone who learns about the Oaths is immediately confronted with the reality that they Goyim violate dtheirs but we still cannot violate ours.

    3. @CV - "The Oath that G-d gave us not to rebel against the Goyim" - Satmars/NK repeat this statement over and over, attempting to create a fictionalized history where the Jews rebelled against the nations, not the Arabs.

      The Palestine Mandate actually became US law: "the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people"

      In fact Satmar's claim of rebellion by the Jews is purely fiction as the UN General Assembly in 1947 voted by a majority vote to allow a Jewish state.

      It is actually Satmar and NK who are rebelling against the nations.

    4. "R. Avrohom Galanti (Zechus Avos) brings a story of the people of Portugal who wanted to defend themselves against the government by making a rebellion. The government then was making forced SHmad and all sorts of persecutions. They asked the "shem hameforash" and were told not to do it because it would violate the Oaths."

      CV - how did they ask the Shem? I presume you mean they asked Hashem. through what oracle did they get their answer?

    5. Eddie - The "Shem Hameforash" means Hashem.

    6. As far as how they got their answer, some people have Ruach Hakodesh. Yes, it's real. Especially back then.

    7. " some people have Ruach Hakodesh. Yes, it's real. Especially back then."

      That is funny, since even in the 2nd Temple era they did not have Urim vThumim. Also they didnt have nevua. Also, halachic decisions are nto meant to be made thru oracles, certainly outside of the Temple and the Neviim.
      In other words, these are words of a novi sheker, who was not proven to have Nevua, and claimed to have communication with G-d directly. Something that has been lost for 2500 years.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Of course I never said that the oaths are dependent. So your strategy is to set up a straw man and knock it down.

      Despite your long comment, there is no authority in either the Talmud or Rishonim that states that land may be given away to non-Jews; while there is an explicit MIshna that says it may not be.

      If you have a Talmud or Rishon which states otherwise, please supply the exact quotation and the citation, so I can check it.

  6. Chevra, the conflict the Jews are now facing really has nothing to do with "oaths" or land. It has everything to do with the halachic obligation to use any and all military force to prevent the forced conversion to Islam of masses of Jews, chas v'shalom.

    Centuries ago our greatest rabbi, the Rambam, in his Iggeret Teiman identified the Arabs and Islam as the greatest enemy the Jews had ever faced. Anti-Zionist Satmars who believe they're secure while hiding in Monroe are just as threatened by this enemy as the felafel eating Tsioni Jew in Tel-Aviv. We Jews are now facing our greatest enemy, an enemy with huge financial resources and global tenacles that have penetrated the highest levels of the US government.

    Islam is totally committed to the destruction of Hashem’s Torah and the Jewish people.


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