Monday, November 16, 2015

President Navon: Chazon Ish Predicted to Ben Gurion that Israel would become Shommer Shabbos during 1952 meeting

 Update: Recording of President Navon talking about the meeting

Guest post by RaP

From Yated Ne'eman, November 13, 2015. Pages 31-32:


The 5th president of Israel, Yitzchak Navon, passed away at the age of 94...Navon became Prime Minister David Ben Gurion's political secretary in 1951...he was present during Ben Gurion's famous visit to the Chazon Ish on October 22, 1952. Two years ago he spoke about the visit to the chareidi Kol Hatzibbur news outlet. Navon was the last living person present at the meeting.

Navon proceeded to tell Kol Hatzibbur about the visit...

'...He [the Chazon Ish] was short with shining wise eyes. He greeted Ben Gurion pleasantly...Ben Gurion began by saying': 'I have come to you to ask how we, religious and non-religious Jews, can live in the land without exploding from within. There are people with different hashkofos. How can we live together in this land?'

The Chazon Ish replied: 'There is a halachah that if two camels are walking in one path towards each other and there is only room for one of them. The camel with a load has right of way. The camel without a load must make way. We are like the camel with a load of mitzvos incumbent upon us and you must give way before us.'

Ben Gurion said, striking himself on the shoulder: 'Do you think this camel has no load? National security isn't a load and mitzvah? Settling the land and immigrant absorption isn't a load? These aren't mitzvos?'

[The Chazon Ish] said to him, 'In the zechus of this, that we study Torah, you have the capability of doing what you do.'

[Ben Gurion] said, 'But those who sit on the borders, who guard you, is this not a mitzvah?'

[The Chazon Ish] said to him, 'They survive in the zechus that we study Torah.'

Ben Gurion repeated, 'But if these army bochurim didn't get to you, the enemies would slaughter you.'

The Chazon Ish said, according to my notes: 'On the contrary. In the zechus that we study Torah, they are capable of living, working and holding guard.'

Ben Gurion said, 'I don't denigrate Torah, but if no people are alive, who will learn Torah?'

The Chazon Ish replied: 'The Torah itself is a tree of life, an elixir of life.'

Ben Gurion said, 'Protecting lives is also a mitzvah, for, The dead do not praise G-d. But nonetheless, I ask how can we live here together?'

The Chazon Ish said: 'I see chillul Shabbos, cars, journeys on Shabbos. People travel to the sea instead of davening, learning Torah and living Jewish lives. This is provocative and shocks the soul to see such chillul Shabbos in the land of our forefathers.'

Ben Gurion said: "...One cannot force them to keep Shabbos. And if they don't go to the sea, do you think that they will come to shull?'

The Chazon Ish said, 'I believe, that the day will come when everyone will observe Shabbos and daven.'

Ben Gurion said: 'If they want, I will not oppose it. Let them do it. But it cannot be forced upon them. There cannot be religious coercion or anti-religious coercion. Each person should live as he sees fit.'"

Navon related how the two gave up the discussion and parted ways.

'So the argument went on, more or less repeating the two positions without drawing nearer to each other regarding substance...In the end they rose, parted from each other in very friendly fashion with a handshake, and we went out...'"

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