Saturday, June 24, 2006

Stuck In Illusions

In the recent (summer) edition of Jewish Action, there was an article written by Yaakov Eisen, a Merkaz HaRav attendee who was severely traumatized by the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif. R' Yaakov lashes out in many directions - at the secular government, at the media,and at the judicial system in Israel.

"Considered together, the media, the judiciary and the armed forces provide the government with a system so rotten that it has successfully eliminated even the most basic potential checks and balances of its own corruption.

Given this reality, we had better reevaluate our strategy of blithely striving to integrate into the system and change it from within. This approach stems from an especially malignant form of blissfully ignorant optimism that obsesses upon such irrelevant statistics as the number of kippah-wearing officers. No religious sensitivity interfered with such officers obeying and enforcing not only the orders of expulsion but also those that deliberately mandated violating Shabbat to ready the infrastructure for the destruction - a "nationalistic mission" after all - in advance (as the IDF flagrantly did Shabbat Chazon of last year, on the eve of Tishah B'Av and the expulsion). "

Well said!

And, so, R' Yaakov states what conclusions he draws:

"The reality is that non-observant Israelis may loathe what they perceive as black-coated, isolationist Agudah Jews, but they do not fear them. After all, the stereotypical ultra-Orthodox community keeps to itself, and the establishment believes that the ultra-Orthodox community will be satisfied and cooperative as long as the State bankrolls its institutions and refrains from drafting its sons.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The seculars are not afraid of the Shas party??? They're in complete terror at the prospect of the ever-increasing number of Jews who are returning to their roots through the Shas network, not to mention all of the other Kiruv organizations and outlets, such as Arachim, which are heavily dominated by the Charedim. The parents of children who have been Chozer B'Teshuvah in Israel are humiliated and abashed at their sons and daughters who have left the fold.

Our community - especially the youth - represents the ultimate and most terrifying challenge to the secularist ruling class: We unabashedly proclaim our intention to take over. We do not conceal our desire and intent eventually to wrest control of the government, the judiciary, the armed forces, the media - all the focal points of power, whcih are all currently left-wing fiefdoms. Many of us have only lately come to the realization that our only leverage is through determined activism. The establishment never did and never will befriend us. It is time to recognize that all of our overtures of affection will inevitably fall on deaf ears and lead us nowhere.

Actualizing our ultimate goals will not come easily. The optimistic dreams of a straightforward demographic takeover - through the higher birthrate of the religious community and secular Yeridah - will remain only dreams. Demography alone, if anything, in the long term favors the Arabs and the Bedouins. The leftists, in any case, are openly discussing instituting absentee balloting for Israeli elections, as it exists in the United States and elsewhere, for the express purpose of enfranchising the legions of like-minded Yordim who live abroad. The ruling oligarchy will never willingly relinquish the reins of power.

This mindset bears within it the seeds of catastrophe. Viewing Medinat Yisrael, established by the left-wing Torah haters, as rightfully belonging to the religious Jews, due to its religious/Messianic meaning, and hence giving up on peaceful means, of birthrates and Kiruv, of taking over power, is the harbinger of all-out civil war between the seculars and the religious, with the balance of might clearly being in favor of the seculars, who have shown their willingness to bloody heads, and are certainly capable of much worse.

It is time to wake up and realize that this is NOT your State. This is the State of the left-wing oligarchs. Yes, as a Jew, you have rights, namely, to citizenship immediately upon arrival, and some benefits as an Oleh Chadash. But, other than that, you have obligations -the obligation to serve in an army that has proven far more adept at expulsion of Jews than fighting terror, and where your life is truly worth less than that of the son of a Hamas terrorist; the obligation to pay taxes which will go to sponsor gay parades; the obligation to succumb to a judicial system which is an ongoing Chillul Hashem of epic proportions in the abrogation of Torah Law as the sole governing set of laws that the Jewish nation is bound by. Even Yeravam ben Nevat never dreamed of inventing an entire new legal system which had no basis in Torah Law - he just broke Torah Law when he felt the urge.

So, don't think in terms of wresting control anymore than you would of wresting control from the Ottomans - no Rabbinic leaders advocated using force to throw them out.

What I found particularly striking in his litany was what he comes away with - how he envisions the future:

"Yet, paradoxically, if any ray of optimism is to be found, it is in my frustrated generation. This strip of land, soaked with the blood, sweat and tears of our people, remains the one G-d gave us. Our presence here, in Eretz Yisrael - as opposed to anywhere else in the world - remains the most meaningful commitment to, and investment in, the future of the Jewish people. And we are not running away. Thus, ironically, this wonderful youth, brimming with dedication and idealism - battered by the police, imprisoned by the courts, expelled by the army, harassed by the government, vilified by the media and silenced by the supposed Religious Zionist leadership - is the nation's only hope. We are impervious to threats that unless we "behave" the army will not accept us, because the army and its various cohorts no longer inspire our admiration. We went to jail in high spirits, singing in the prisons and in the courthouses, because of our faith in something immeasurably more sublime and enduring than all the institutions of the State, which we no longer revere. This unflappable youth that cannot be cowed and will not be silenced, free of illusions and fearsm heralds a new future. If teh old guard of Religious Zionism continues to marginalize us or lull us with platitudes, at best it will sunder and shatter our community, with potentially tragic consequences of historic proportions. However, if, G-d willing, our generation wrests the reins of power from both the secularist oligarchy and our own detached and antiquated leadership, I can truly see a bright future ahead. May we live to see it, speedily, in our days."

So you fully acknowledge that you will not be able to wrest the reins of power peacefully, yet insist on this being your goal. So, inescapably, you are willing to take them by force. Based on a conviction, which is FAR from a consensus amongst the religious leadership, that the State is a G-d given right at this juncture in history, irrespective of merit, there just has to be some way to take over.

You are a serious threat to the safety of Jews throughout Israel.

It is time to go back to our roots and examine the true cause and effect of our suffering: ומפני חטאינו גלינו מארצנו. We must instill within ourselves, and through outreach to others, that only through sincere Teshuvah and recommitment to the eternal ideals of Torah and Mitzvos will we be able to bring about a Divine Will that we have a State which is truly a light unto the Nations.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Twentieth of Sivan

{No, I'm not picking up as if my decision was nothing. This is just a good venue for me to type up my Torah thoughts. Feel free to comment.}

You can follow the link here to some background about the fast day of כ' סיון

Both of the historical events portrayed in the link are horrific.

What's interesting is that this day, designated as a day of fasting and Teshuvah, is exactly 100 days before the Yom HaDin - Rosh HaShanah.

Two things strike me as important links between this day and Rosh HaShanah.

First of all, we have to really be grateful to the Ribbono Shel Olam for living in a society where we are not subject to this kind of wanton persecution of the Jewish faith and the Jewish religion which was so rampant in Europe throughout the Middle Ages all the way up to the Shoah. And translate that gratitude into some recommitment to His Service. The last 100 days of the year are upon us! We have to start taking stock of our year - even start "cramming" a little bit to try to attain some goals, remind ourselves of our resolutions, and reaffirm our acceptance of עול מלכות שמים.

On the other hand, as with almost every good thing, there's a price to pay. We, living in democratic societies, very much unlike the monarchies in existence at the time of the tragedies associated with the twentieth of Sivan, don't really appreciate the meaning of the word מלכנו - Our King. We appoint our own leaders, and criticize them, harshly, with no fear of consequence. We don't have a concept of true awe and trembling before a King who, with one word, can determine life and death, with no one who can overrule him. Don't curtsy properly, miss protocol as he passes by, fail to honor him sufficiently - you can bid farewell to your family. We lose out on that unmitigated FEAR that comes from being in the presence of an absolute monarch.

Not that I'd have it any other way.

Baruch Hashem, I have the opportunity to worship Hashem with no fear of consequence either.

Let's make the most of it.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I've Made My Decision

I think it's time to call it quits.
I have enjoyed the opportunity to share my thoughts and musings, and feel I have provided a valuable service to those who appreciated what I had to say, but, ultimately, it is too distracting for me. I hope to make a greater contribution to Klal Yisrael through focusing on expansion of my own Torah knowledge and on Chinuch of our precious youth.
School is ending this week, and I would like to try to accomplish some Torah goals I have set for myself over the summer.
I appreciate your support and your readership, and daven that we all continue to grow in our commitment and devotion to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and the Eternal Truths of his Torah.
B'Chibah Aza,
P.S. I can't commit to posting Torah thoughts either, at this point. I don't think that my particular insights are more worthy than other things you'll find out there.

Yichus of a commentor...

Anonymous just emailed me that he's a direct descendant of the שיטה לא נודע למי.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Why do they have the tots sing שמע בני in kindergarten?

I haven't said the Passuk of שמע בני as part of my davening for a VERY long time. But my kids in nursery or kindergarten have always had that Passuk incorporated into their liturgy. Why are the Moros having them say that Passuk?

It's probably based on an Or Zarua (Hilchos Succah 314):

"יודע לדבר אביו מלמדו תורה ושמע. תורה זה פסוק תורה צוה לנו משה. ושמע שמע בני מוסר אביך וי"א שמע ישראל פסוק ראשון דקריאת שמע"

[This is also brought down by the Raavya Succah 699]

Sunday, June 11, 2006

We Have Gedolim But Fail To Appreciate Them

Every once in a (short) while, there are claims from the peanut gallery of the blogosphere that we are a generation with a dearth of Gedolei Torah. I don't accept that for a moment. I fully believe in the words of Chazal that HaKadosh Baruch Hu provides each and every generation with top-caliber Torah leadership.

People say, "There's nobody like Rav Moshe Feinstein or Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky today." I can't gauge or measure anyone's Torah acumen. But let me just quote what Rav Shlomo Fisher Shlit"a of Yerushalayim (an amazing Baki and a Lamdan in his own right) said about Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlit"a: "Had R' Chaim been alive in the generation of the Rashba, they would carry him around on their bare hands!" ("Hayu Nos'im Oto Al Kapayim")

The person who had asked me the question I posed on the blog regarding redemption of a S'dei Achuzah, went to the East Coast this weekend and started asking Talmidei Chachamim this question. Nobody really knew. One of them finally called him back and said that Rav Chaim Kanievsky, in his Sefer Derech Emunah, has 8 Mar'eh Mekomos that the relative relinquishes the field to the owner immediately, and 25 Mar'eh Mekomos that he keeps it until Yovel. And I assure you Rav Chaim didn't put a search through the Bar Ilan CD.

Rav Chaim's every action is put under scrutiny, both his own and by others who watch his every move, whether or not it is in conformity with Halachah.

And there are other giants too.

But I don't want to get into listing names. I want to talk about why some people (mistakenly) think there are no Gedolim today.

a) Devaluation of Torah Scholarship

The explosion of Torah study in our Dor is a tremendous blessing. Never since the time of Chizkiyahu HaMelech have there been such great numbers of our people involved in Torah study. It's a wondrous thing. But there's a price to pay - everyone who has spent some time learning halt zich (holds himself) to be a Gaon of stature. People who have been at the upper crust of their Yeshivos, or if they have some rabbinic position which pays well, think that they ought to have the right to an opinion about everything, and even know better than others far more qualified than them.

Rav Meir Chodosh came to Slabodka at a tender age, and he was considered among the upper echelon of students there even when he was quite young. He would hide in a side room, listening to the Alter's Shmuessen meant for the much older and more accomplished students. Once, the Alter asked him to repeat what was said at the Shmuess. He was caught, and he knew it. But he repeated what he was told. From then on he was invited to attend, and he would occasionaly be asked to repeat the Shmuessen back to the Alter.

Once, he repeated a Shmuess and added a bit of a summary at the end which the Alter had not said. The Alter was visibly upset, and he said: "Did I say that!? What, you think you are already another 'Chatzkel'?" [A reference to Rav Yechezkel Sarna, and Rav Yechezkel Burstein (the Divrei Yechezkel) who were recognized as lions of Slabodka.] The Alter did not allow Rav Meir Chodosh to come to his Shmuessen after that. (He was eventually let back in).
(Nowadays, people would say that the Alter was not a Gadol in Mussar - he could have stunted Rav Meir Chodosh's creativity...)

We see, for example, fine Rabbanim who are featured in an ad in Jewish Action magazine for 'HODS' - the Halachic Organ Donor Society. This is a Shaala which relates to one of the most difficult areas of Halachah - the definition of death. A question which Rav Soloveitchik wondered if even the Vilna Gaon had the shoulders to determine. But the overwhelming majority of these Rabbanim feel that they have a right to an opinion, when they are eminently unqualified to render one. They may have learned the Sugyos and responsa involved, but - if you haven't learned through all of Shas with Rishonim, Shulchan Aruch and Nosei Keilim, you're not a 'player'. Sorry to disappoint you.

Torah has become a popular pasttime, and unfortunately it is treated as such. Not as the Holy Immutable Word of the Living G-d. So the Gedolei HaTorah of today are not the Chachmei HaMesorah, they are exhibits in the Cooperstown of the Talmud.

Hand-in-hand with this, is the overinflation of applause for achievements of inferior value. Chas VeSholom that anyone should feel bad about themselves. So, a Semicha is celebrated as some kind of monumental milestone, and people actually take themselves pretty seriously after learning 35 Simmanim in Yoreh Deah. A veritable license to be Mattir Agunos and decide on Chamuros.
The Gemara says, in its discussion of the merits of Sinai (vast breadth of knowledge) vs. Oker Harim (analytic acumen) that הכל צריכין למרי חטיא - everyone needs the 'master of wheat' - the Baki. But now, anyone has access to a Shu"t Bar Ilan CD and an indexed Mishnah Berurah - and they're ready to roll. The immense toil and effort it takes to master, collate, and assimilate all that material, not to mention the Siyata DiShmaya needed, are just not appreciated enough in this generation.

b) The Dying Throes of Mussar
A Gadol is not just a person who knows alot of Torah. It is person whose every action is done as an expression of Ratzon Hashem, as the Gadol understands it.
How many of the people today, who claim that there are no Gedolim, are actually involved in Avodah Mussaris - in a constant struggle of self-refinement, dedicated to the complete eradication of Gaavah and Taavah? How many have spent 5 minutes this week trying to focus on Ahavas Hashem? Yet, they feel that somehow there is a correlation between their appreciation for what Torah means to a Jew, and to the Jewish Nation, and that of those towering men of stature who live among us today. These men have climbed many, many rungs up the ladder of greatness, and their achievements should shine as glowing examples of where we ought to be headed in our own Avodah Hashem. And there is SO MUCH to learn from these people! Only, people aren't looking to these great men for guidance on how to get close to the Ribbono Shel Olam, because their own efforts are not sufficiently focused on this primary purpose of our all-too-short time spent on this earth.
c) Focus on Areas of Disagreement
Anyone in his right mind understands that the Satmar Rebbe was a Gadol Olam. Whenever people list Gedolim of the previous generation, his name will come up.
Now, there are areas in which he was definitely very vehement in his positions, such as toward Rav Kook, or regarding Rav Moshe Feinstein's Teshuvah vis-a-vis artificial insemination. But he was a Kadosh Elyon whom Klal Yisrael revered.
There is zero doubt in my mind that had he been alive today, he would have been in favor of the recently bitterly debated bans. And the respect for him would not have been diminished - it would have been well understood that from his perspective, this was Amitah Shel Torah, and no person, or committee, or J-Blog, would have caused him to budge one iota. He was a defender of the Torah as he understood it, as he felt it was handed down from Sinai, and that's that.
But nowadays, if people feel offended by a certain decision by Gedolim, they somehow lose that status in the eyes of the offended populace. If I feel offended, there must be something wrong with how that Gadol relates to human beings. He's callous, unyielding.
He is as 100% Leshem Shamayim as Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was in castigating Rav Goren, or as Rav Moshe Feinstein was in banning Touro College in Israel, or as Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky was for refusing to attend a dinner where a Rabbi with a questionable Mechitza was to be honored, or as Rav Shach was opposed to the State of Israel.
A person can choose to follow those Gedolei Torah he feels comfortable following, but to assert that those with whom a person is less comfortable are somehow less scholarly, or less Baalei Mussar and Chessed, because of their stances, taken based on their pure-hearted understanding of Hashem's Torah and their Messorah of Klal leadership as received from their illustrious Rabbeim, is the root of the Apikorsus of Bizayon Talmidei Chachamim.
We will undoubtedly cry bitter tears if and when this great generation of Torah scholars, may they merit to greet Mashiach in our days, leaves us bereft of their unswerving devotion to the upholding of the Torah as they see it.
May we merit to bask in the light of the venerable Gedolei Torah of our generation for many years to come, עד ביאת גואל צדק בב"א.

With the Satmar Rav in Bergen Belsen (1944)

This article about Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum of Satmar [1887-1979] was printed in 1959 in the Yiddish publication Das Vort by a Hungarian intellectual, Dr. Ferenz Kennedy, who was together with the rabbi on the famous train of 1,700 Hungarian Jewish personalities. By virtue of Dr. Rudolf Kastner's negotiations and bribery, they were taken to an internment camp in Bergen-Belsen, and later were saved by entering Switzerland. Dr. Kennedy was together with the Rabbi in Bergen-Belsen as well, and published this article in the Hungarian newspaper Oj Kelet when the Rabbi was visiting Eretz Yisrael. It was written by an estranged Jew whose intellectual circles were often antagonistic to Judaism, and is of particular interest.
"I should start by noting that I am not one of Rabbi Teitelbaum's followers, but perhaps I can contribute to portraying this wondrous person by describing my experiences with him over a period of several months in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, when we were confined in a place which revealed every person's true personality.
I first met the Satmar Rebbe fifiteen years ago, on July 2, 1944, at the Hungarian-Slovakian border in Madiarovar, where our train was stopped for two days. Someone in our group heard from the conductor that his directive was to travel to Auschwitz. You can imagine just how desperate we were when we found out about this.
Alongside the tracks we noticed a Jew with a nearly grey beard whose face made an enormous impression on me. [It's known that he had a beautiful, pure face.] He was murmuring his prayers or melodies, deep in thought, and pacing back and forth with his head bowed like a wounded lion. I do not know whether he was reciting psalms or was simply deeply worried about our terrible fate. When I asked someone who is this rare man, I was told immediately, "Why, that is the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Teitelbaum, and whoever is with him is quite confident that nothing will happen to him either."
Now, I had never heard of such a Rabbi, and the world of the Orthodox Jews was totally foreign to me. Therefore as a skeptic I couldn't imagine how people could be so sure that because the rabbi was with us, we had every hope of surviving our Hell. However, I later came to realize that those hopes were distinctly justified, and then those words rang true indeed.
[The train was sent to "Auschpitz" instead.] I lived with the Satmar Rebbe for five months in Men's Block E in Bergen-Belsen. I do not know how this happened, but it is a fact that the Germans themselves permitted him to keep his beard, which the Rebbe concealed with a kerchief around his face, as if he had a toothache.
The Rebbe did not eat the camp food. He lived on water and cooked potatoes. As far as I know he fasted two or three days a week. Yet you could hear his soft voice in the barracks almost all day long. It was not talking we heard, but his prayers and constant Torah study. He had a special mournful tune which I could hear in my mind for many years after the war as a sad reminder of those tragic times. There were some living in the barracks who became saddened because of this mournful tune, but not me. I felt that the Rebbe was using this melody to pray to G-d for mercy, to fight against the decree and bring about our rescue.
Even in the filthy, dirty barracks, the Satmar Rebbe was somehow crystal clean. Dirt and vermin had no power over him. His wife and his attendant, a young thin man [R' Yosef Ashkenazi d. 2002], devoted themselves to him, and helped him so he could continue his study and prayers.
The majestic radiance of his face and his wondrous appearance fascinated all of us. I will readily admit that I too was affected by his influence and inspiring impression. There, amidst the barbed wire, the shadow of the Angel of Death seemed greatly weakened, and I began believing for the first time in heavenly forces. After a while, I often noticed that whenever the Rebbe was praying to G-d or even when he simply sang his soft wordless tune, almost all of our eyes filled with heartfelt tears.
I later became very close to the Satmar Rebbe, and this happened as follows: [Dr. Kennedy was receiving newspapaers, through which they learned of the invasion of Normandy and the attempted assassination of Hitler, etc. The Rebbe sent his attendant to ask if he could brief him on the news.]
On Yom Kippur several barracks held prayer services, and in our barrack the Satmar Rebbe led the Mussaf service. Bela Zholt and Aladar Komlosh (two famous Jewish Hungarian novelists) passed by outside. I invited them in to listen to the prayers of Rabbi Teitelbaum. It was a deeply moving experience to see the Rebbe wrapped in his Tallis, swaying with devotion and pouring out his soul to his creator. As the SS Nazis outside guarded the camp, inside we could hear the heartbreaking and prayerful voice of the Satmar Rebbe. It reminded us of the crying voices of praying Jews throughout the generations, who all shared these same ancient prayers.
When we left the barracks, the cynical and assimilated Bela Zholt, who despite being assimilated had tears welling in his eyes, said to me, "This is quite traditional, but it's very nice!" Aladar Komlosh said that if the power of prayer really existed, it was this true service of the Satmar Rebbe. We all felt that we had heard true holy Jewish prayer, and we could not remain indifferent to it.
At the end of November we got ready to pack our bags and waited for liberation. On that very day, full of physical and emotional stress, the rebbe's attendant approached and asked whether I still wanted the Rebbe's autograph (which Dr. Kennedy had asked for five months earlier). I had already forgotten about the whole subject. (!) But to my deep surprise, the Rebbe had not forgotten, and as soon as it became "appropriate" he fulfilled my request.
Later, in Switzerland, on a cold December night, we marched along St. Galen Street to a place which had been prepared for us. We were met by fellow Jews who were unable to come close to us, but they tossed apples and sweets our way, which we caught with both hands. However, those Jews who threw gifts had only one question: "Where is the Rebbe?" Bela Zholt, the novelist and poet, was greatly upset, and said, "You see, Ferenz, I am nothing! No one knows or cares about me, even though hundreds of thousands have read my novels and poetry. No one is waiting for me; they're all waiting only for the Satmar Rebbe!"
Our group included many famous personalities from the Hungarian Jewsih community. The great majority were of course assimilated, modernized Jews. there were very few Orthodox Jews. The Satmar Rebbe did not fit at all among the countless professors, artists, community activists and leaders of the Hungarian Zionist movement and their families. These distinguished leaders and intellectuals expected to be greeted with great honor and fanfare, but in the end were bitterly disappointed. In Switzerland, almost no one paid any attention to them. Everyone was interested only in the personality known as the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum. Everyone wanted to know how he was feeling. Everyone had only one question: "Where is the Rebbe?" This had a deep impact on us. Only then did we all realize that it was not the professionals and academics who were indispensable, but rather the quiet and humble spiritual man.
In Switzerland we all parted ways, but for many years subsequently until this very day, I think very often of the heart-capturing and unforgettable personality of the Satmar Rebbe. Very frequently, the following philosophical idea reverberates like an echo in my mind:
"When we consider the significance of religious devotion, and the undeniable fact that only Torah and belief have kept the Jewish people in existence throughout two thousand years of exile, then we must realize and admit that the Satmar Rebbe is without a doubt one of the holiest people produced by the Jewish people, and he, more than anyone else, is the loyal guardian to ensure that the Torah of Moses is not forgotten or falsified.
It may be that in our eyes he is too meticulous and too stubborn about following every point of the Torah, but without any doubt it is he who is the loyal and devoted defender of the Torah, and the true, inspiring leader of the Jewish people".

Saturday, June 10, 2006

שבת, Focus Shifts, And This Blog

שבת is a time for reevaluation. Getting away from the regular hustle and bustle of life, you have time to think things through, deeply. I think this may even explain why Shabbos is called שבת - A person may have taken a certain path in life, from א to ש, almost to the end of the road, but he must think: Perhaps I need to go all the way back to ב to get to the correct ת. (I think that א represents the unchangeable core of an individual's particular being - that's just the raw material. In line with this vort, we can explain homiletically the severity of לא תבערו אש בכל מושבותיכם ביום השבת - it's a crime to let Shabbos go by, just remaining with the same old א to ש path, without spending some time rethinking where you are headed and how you intend to get there)
Having gone through a wonderful Shabbos, (Friday night behavior of the offspring notwithstanding), :) I want to express some musings about the blog and its direction.
My initial purpose in creating this blog was to create a forum in which people could view and comment on some (hopefully) well-articulated positions of the right wing segment of Orthodoxy, or at least, my perspectives on some of the issues which that segment stands for. I would occasionally comment on these issues on other blogs, but I felt that I needed an arena where a reader would accord my thoughts a bit longer of an attention span than that of a comment on another blog.
Many of the things that I have on my mind have already been set forth here. I do have some more things to say, particularly about why I chose this path in life, which may entail some pointed criticism of Modern Orthodoxy. But I do not know whether it is worth the effort. Is anyone at all interested, having read some of my posts and seeing something about who I am and what I stand for, in these thoughts? Or feel that they may even be attuned to rethinking who they are and what they stand for? Have their own personal שבת?
If not, we'll just leave the blog up, and every once in a while (maybe twice a week or so) we'll B'li Neder post a Torah thought, could be in Halachah, or Gemara, or Hashkafa/Mussar, or some inspiring story, and that'll be that.
Awaiting your feedback (even those who don't normally comment - and I know you're out there, and I thank you - here's your chance to set the course for this ship).
Shavua Tov.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Three levels of Ahavah

Just a link to a Dvar Torah on the Parshah, which I posted last week in honor of those who dwell in Eretz Yisrael and heard Parshas Naso last week.

Have a great Shabbos!


Thursday, June 08, 2006

More Precious Than Gold

During Rav Shteinman's recent visit to the US, at a small gathering for Mechanchim, he said the following sobering Dvar Torah:

The Gemara in Bava Kamma (62a) says that if a woman receives a gold coin to watch, told it was silver, and she was subsequently negligent with it, she only has to pay back the silver, because she can say:

נטירותא דכספא קבילי עלי נטירותא דדהבא לא קבילי עלי

"I accepted upon myself to guard silver, not gold" (Meaning, had I known it was gold, I would have put in that much more effort in preserving that coin)

Rav Shteinman said that as a Mechanech, you have to be ever-conscious of the fact that you're not charged with vigilance toward silver, or gold, or even diamonds. You're charged with vigilance toward a priceless Jewish Neshama.

It's too bad they don't sell malpractice insurance for my Din VeCheshbon in Shamayim...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Closed Mindedness From Unexpected Quarters

On a comment thread on Harry's blog, I got into a pretty heated discussion about NCSY, wherein I contended that very many FFBs go on regional Shabbatonim for the purpose of intermingling and highly inappropriate behavior with the opposite sex. You can see the thread there regarding Lubavitch, Aish, and NCSY.

Very quickly, that went to some 'ad hominem' attacks on me - I'm a Charedi! What's worse - I went to Kerem B'Yavneh and subscribe to Charedi viewpoints! Reformed Charedi - they're the worst. The stridency, the shrillness, the closed-mindedness! That can be the only source for anyone having any sort of criticism against NCSY.

Of course, then we got into my questioning Rav Hershel Schachter Shlit"a's analysis of Reishit Tzemichat Geulateinu. Flows from one to the other like the river into the sea. First the claim is the manner in which I did it. How did I do it? I called him HaRav Schachter Shlit"a, said his analysis is brilliant, and said that as a student asking a question on his Rebbe, if I'm even worthy of that, I want to explore if there are alternative areas of analysis.


So where was the critique of the 'manner'? Apparently, eminently respectful criticism of a Torah piece of Rav Schachter is a poor 'manner'. I can't even begin to imagine where the problem was to begin with, other than a deep-seated resentment of any questioning as having some kind of personal bashing agenda.

Then, there's the problem that I quoted the Satmar Rebbe Zt"l from VaYoel Moshe. For shame! Quoting him, and you don't reject it with a flick of the hand? Pah!

You need to get out a bit more from monolithic J-blogland. Really.

And then, if you walk away from any of the RZ Hashkafos, after being exposed to them, it must mean that you haven't lerned enough of (the Rav's) Tayreh. Lern more - you'll see. It's all Pashut UBarur to anyone with an eighth of a brain that Rav Soloveitchik was 100% right.

Irony anyone?

The intellectual snobbiness, the veritable certainty that anyone exposed to the blinding brilliance of Modern Orthodox Hashkafos must perforce accept them and realize that the Charedi viewpoint is bankrupt in toto, is closed-minded fanaticism, no less.

And this is my very first post in which I express any direct criticism of Modern Orthodoxy! But, I just must have serious personal animosity against all Modern Orthodox adherents, because I just have to fit in to the mold of the reformed Charedi!

I expected better.

Blind Stupidity

I posted recently about Gen. Giora Eiland's problems with the convergence plan, and his proposed solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
"My proposal from 2004, which I put forth to Sharon, calls for a regional solution. Adding 600 square kilometers to Gaza in northern Sinai, to allow for the construction of an international port and airport, and a city in which millions of Palestinians can live. Granting 600 square kilometers to Israel in the West Bank in order to guarantee defensible borders. Compensate Egypt with 150 square kilometers in the southern Negev, and compensation in the form of international economic aid and a tunnel connecting Egypt with Jordan, north of Eilat. The transfer of about 100 square kilometers on the east bank of the river to the Palestinians, granting them 105 percent of the territory they are asking today."
Uzzi Benziman in HaAretz today has this to say in response:

"The weakness of this solution lies in counting chickens before they have hatched: Neither Egypt nor Jordan have expressed agreement."
" Furthermore, Eiland (and Ya'alon as well) in effect reject the possibility of Israel and a Palestinian state existing within the 1967 borders. They assume that demographic, economic and geographic factors do not enable a Palestinian state comprised of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to be viable, and such a solution would therefore also not provide security for Israel. This is a morbid outlook that questions Israel's ability to live side by side with its neighbors and ignores the existence of peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. "

So let's see:

Eiland's plan is weak because the Egyptians and Jordanians, with whom we do have peace treaties, haven't expressed interest.

But the convergence plan is brilliant, because:

a) It is morbid to think otherwise.

b) The Palestinians, who seek to kill us every minute of every day, let alone expressing agreement, will definitely be willing to sign a peace accord, as evidenced by the one signed with Egypt and Jordan.

Does one laugh or cry at this idiocy?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Zionism and the Shoah - Part III

Continued from Parts I and II
Activities of Labor Zionists during the Shoah:
The Charge - The Europa Plan
( Quotes from Ben Gurion and the Holocaust, Shabtai Teveth, pp. 3-5):
[Teveth writes in his preface: "This work is another pro-Ben-Gurion voice in the politicized debate on Jewish rescue efforts during the Holocaust". So at least he is straightforward on his mission here]
"... In July 1942 Weissmandel conceived a rescue plan that came to be known as the Slovakia plan (or, in Palestine, the Rabbis' Plan): In return for $50,000 in bribes paid to SS officer Count Dieter Wisliceny, then in charge of Jewish affairs in Slovakia, and through him to his SS superiors, transports of Slovak Jews to Auschwitz would come to a stop. And in fact in October 1942, after 60,000 of Slovakia's Jews had been shipped to Auschwitz, the transports did stop. It seemed that Weissmandel and his group could give themselves credit for the rescue of the rest, generally put at 25-30,000.
Emboldened by this assumed success, Weissmandel went a quantum step further, incorporating the Slovakia Plan in the far bolder Europa Plan: In return for more bribes, to be paid to the same Wisliceny, all transports, to all death camps, would come to a halt. Not losing a moment, the working group started negotiations with Wisliceny that same November. By March 1943, according to Weissmandel, an agreement was reached: in return for $2-3 million, negotiations would be held on stopping the entire mass murder of the Jews, thus saving about 2.5 million from cruel and certain death. Wisliceny's one condition for putting this program in to action was a down payment of $200,000 cash, in U.S. dollars, to be paid to him by that August.
In Weissmandel's book Min Hametzar... he lays out a detailed charge that his Europa Plan was deliberately shot down by the Zionists...
According to Weissmandel, [Nathan] Schwalb [the delegate of the Zionist Pioneer Movement to Geneva] put pressure on the Joint, the World Jewish Congress, and the Jewish Agency Executive (JAE) not to send the down-payment money to the [Weissmandel's] working group and thereby destroyed the plan.
In his book, Weissmandel supports this factitious accusation by quoting from a letter he claims Schwalb wrote that came to his notice. He admits that he quotes this letter from memory, in New York after the war: "The letter was written to Schwalb's cronies in Pressburg [Bratislava in German]... and it stands before my eyes as if I had read it over a hundred and one times". It had the following to say: Using the opportunity of a messenger, Schwalb writes to his Zionist crowd that they "must bear in mind at all minds the most vital and essential, what must always be our beacon, that in the end the Allies are bound to win the war. They will establish a new world order, as they did after the first world war". No price was too great to pay, Schwalb supposedly wrote, in order that "The Land of Israel [Palestine] should turn into the State of Israel... and if we don't make sacrifices, by what right shall we sit at the table [of the postwar peace conference]? If this is so, it is folly, even arrogance, on our part to ask the Gentiles [the Allies] who spill their blood [in the war against Hitler] to allow the bringing in... of money to the country of their enemies to protect our blood, because we shall have the country [Palestine] only thanks to blood. As for you, my pals, atem taylu, for which purpose I provide you, by means of this same messenger, with black [smuggled] money."
Weissmandel confesses that the meaning of the Hebrew atem tayelu [you take a walk] escaped him, and it was "days and weeks" before its true meaning dawned on him: "For the Zionists a 'walk' means rescue; in other words, you, the [Zionist] crowd, fifteen or twenty strong, take a walk outside Slovakia and save your souls; as for the rest, their blood - the blood of all the women, all the old and all the babies... - will buy us our land [i.e. state]. Therefore, to save the people's lives it is a crime to bring money into enemy territory, but to save you, beloved and friends, here I am, providing you with black money". In short, Europe's Jewry "is the blood, the sacrifice, that will make Palestine the patrimony of Zionism".
The Defense:
(Teveth, pp. 7-9)
"In fact, however, the Schwalb letter is entirely a figment of Weissmandel's imagination. (!) Schwalb's letters from this period in Geneva are extant. They demonstrate that, despite his doubts about the practicability of Weissmandel's rescue plans, he presented them to the JAE, exhibiting the utmost trust and confidence in Weissmandel. As early as December 4, 1942, in a letter to the JAE, he recommended Weissmandel's Europa Plan in the following terms: "There is a possibility of rendering void, annulling or... minimizing the persecutory expulsion in all of [occupied] Europe... [from] Poland to France and to Greece" through Wisliceny, "who has already shown his competence" in Slovakia. Weissmandel and his colleagues "inform [us] he is due to be promoted" to be in charge "of all [transports from] southern-eastern Europe" to Auschwitz, and "will be in very close contact with the chief officer [Himmler]." Weissmandel and his colleagues "also add" that Wisliceny "was as good as his word [in the past], fulfilling his commitments down to the last iota."
If Schwalb had initially doubted "whether to open negotiations" with the SS, "and whether here was reason to believe [the SS's] promises etc.", he wrote the JAE. all these doubts were now dispelled. In presenting the Europa Plan, he emphasized "that the deal in Slovakia proved" that Wisliceny and his superiors "are nonetheless trustworthy." Schwalb ended his letter by urging Jerusalem to state its position, concluding, "needless to tell you with what anxiety I await your opinion."
In March 1943 Weissmandel broke the news of his "arrangement" with Wisliceny to Schwalb in a letter that Schwalb described as "hysterical, written half in Rabbinical Hebrew, half in Yiddish." Informing him of Wisliceny's stipulation that without a down payment of $200,000 by August, he would renew the transports and the Europa Plan would be cancelled, the Bratislava group beseeched the JAE, the American Jewish Congress, and the Joint to rush them the ransom money, particularly the down payment.
On March 10 Schwalb wrote the JAE in Jerusalem: "Had we been then [December 1942] able" to pay the money demanded, "perhaps we would have been able to lessen the catastrophe" in Poland as well as in other countries. "We must therefore concentrate on the major issue [Europa Plan] and do our utmost on its behalf, for if it comes through we will save so many lives, and if, Heaven forbid, it fails, primarily because of lack of means, then we will lose all... I have the utmost faith that the Yishuv, its ruling bodies, and American Jewry (despite all) will, at least now, after three years of silence, turn to action. This is the main thing." [All quotes are based on two letters of Schwalb: Dec. 4, '42 to JAE rescue committee in Jerusalem, and Mar. 10, '43 to Kaplan and Dobkin of the JAE]
Schwalb says that he also sent Weissmandel's March letter "as an SOS to Moshe Sharett". A week later Sharett phoned Schwalb in Geneva to ask: "Nathan, did you understand his [Weissmandel's] Hebrew? I have to say I didn't. However, I can say that I well understood its contents and I well understood his use of horrible words, for horrible it is going to be if we don't promptly come to his help." [Based on an archived interview with Schwalb]
Quite contrary to Weissmandel's accusations, then, Schwalb had become Weissmandel's... enthusiastic champion. He was in fact trying to get the bribe money, and he was tireless and unrelenting both in carrying out aid and rescue work himself and in prompting others to do it, including Saly Mayer (the Swiss representative of the Joint), whom he pressured to send the bribe money to Bratislava. [Source cited - Schwalb interviews.]
My reactions:
Teveth's counterclaims are easily dismissed:
1) This is almost too easy: Schwalb may have supported the rescue work initially, but was then informed that the party line of the JAE was as outlined by the letter Weissmandel quotes. Weissmandel does not give a date for the letter he quotes. It may have been penned by Schwalb to his cronies in Pressburg after a "nay" from the JAE on precisely the grounds that Schwalb delineates in his quoted letter.
2) What Schwalb claimed in interviews is far more suspect, in my view, than the claims of the pious Rav Weissmandel. In the book "Perfidy", Ben Hecht lays some very serious blame on Sharett for the incarceration of, and the hindrance of negotiations on behalf of Hungarian Jewry by, Joel Brand. What Schwalb claims on his behalf is completely contradicted by Joel Brand's counter testimony in the Kastner trial.
Schwalb's claims of soliciting Saly Mayer are also, seemingly, undocumented, except from the mouth of Schwalb.
3) Rav Weissmandel, a known illuy who possessed a phenomenal memory, quotes verbatim text, with a phrase he claims he toiled over for weeks on end trying to decipher. The detailed account of the contents of the letter does not sound contrived at all.
4) After this very weak defense of the JAE's reaction to the Europa Plan, Teveth, quite audaciously, purports to interpret the mindset and motives of Rav Weissmandel:
"Weissmadel's invention of the letter can be understood on religious grounds: A pious believer like him is unable to shake his fist at heaven but finds it easy to blame heretic Jews, his long-standing enemies. But there is perhaps a psychological explanation as well. Weissmandel must have carried to his grave a measure of mental torment and feelings of guilt, for he himself had been rescued from a train to Auschwitz, leaving his wife and five children to meet their deaths in the gas chambers."
More likely, Teveth's desire to clear the name of Ben Gurion and the JAE, and his view of himself as one member of a group of long-standing enemies of Rav Weissmandel, leave him with no qualms about impugning the integrity of, and piling a guilt trip on, the great Rav of Nitra, Rav Weissmandel.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Absolutely Marvelous Disorder Machine

Any of you who have kids age 3 and up probably have Abie Rottenberg's "Middos Machine" tapes. You know, with Dr. Middos, Shnooky, Dr. Doomstein, and the rest of the gang.
Well, it seems the time has come where we must discard these tapes and their message. The National Institute of Mental Health has conducted a survey, wherein it has been determined that "road rage" is generally not a Middos problem, it is a 'disorder': "Intermittent Explosive Disorder". Heck, it even explains some cases of spousal abuse.
"People think it's bad behavior and that you just need an attitude adjustment, but what they don't know ... is that there's a biology and cognitive science to this," said Dr. Emil Coccaro, chairman of psychiatry at the University of Chicago's medical school.
Mmhmm. Yes, I'm sure that there's a biology and cognitive science to spending too much time on blogs, not getting up for Shacharis, and not saying thank you after getting your oil checked.
(I guess those would be, respectively, Uptodate's, Toolate's, and Toogreat's syndrome. Closely related to Tourette's Syndrome, which is when you get verbally abusive to Shadchanim who won't get off your case.)
America, stop making excuses. You have problematic Middos, work on it. Don't make every character flaw that needs fixing something generated by the "Absolutely Marvelous Disorder Machine", that great exemptor from personal responsibility.
[Hattip to Jak Black for calling my attention to the CNN article]

Yehareg V'Al Yaavor regarding heresy

From the Sefer BeChol Nafshecha (by R' Yitzchak Isaac Weinberg, a comprehensive work regarding the parameters of Yehareg V'Al Yaavor), Simman 2:3 -:

"Not only on Avodah Zarah per se is there a Din of Yehareg V'Al Yaavor, but also on Minus and Kefirah there is a Din of YV"Y, even though he is not worshipping any Avodah Zarah.

Included in Kefirah is to deny, Chas Veshalom, the oneness/uniqueness of Hashem 1, and so too any one of the Ikarei Emunah, or the holy Torah and even one Din in the Torah.2

[And it is also possible that this is the Din even if he is being coerced to admit that one letter of the Torah is not true, whether in Torah SheBichsav or Torah SheB'al Peh or the words of Chaza"l] 3

And if a person is being coerced to state that he denies one of these things, or else he will be put to death, he must die and not transgress.

Similarly, it is a serious transgression to read works of Minus and Kefirah 4 even though he does not believe in them, lest he be drawn after their stupidity. [And there are those who hold 5 that if someone is a Chacham in Torah, it is permitted for him to read a little bit of works of heresy inorder to know what to respond to the heretics on their claims].

And the Acharonim6 have Paskened that studying works of heresy is included in Avizrayhu (accessories) of Avodah Zarah, even though he is only doing so for the sake of Parnassah, and it is prohibited even in a circumstance of Pikuach Nefesh.

1 Chinuch Mitzvah 417, 25. And see Iggeres HaShmad of the Rambam who writes that Minus is worse than Avodah Zarah, and we also see this from that which we ascertain that a person must give up his life rather than state about himself that he is a Goy, even though there is no actual violation of Avodah Zarah, since the implication is one of Kefirah.

2 This is clear from that which the Rishonim (Ritva Pesachim 25, Teshuvos Radvaz 4:92) write that over the Islamic faith, even though it is not Avodah Zarah, since they deny the Torah it is included in Avodah Zarah, and it is YV"Y, and, also explained in the Radvaz, is that since they say that their Meshuga was greater than Moshe Rabbeinu, it is included in YV"Y. And they also write that even if he is being coerced to admit that even one Din in the Torah is not true and that Hashem did not command it, it is YV"Y.

3 See Rambam Hilchos Teshuvah 3:8; and Migdal Oz (R' Yaakov Emden, Even Bochan Pinah 1:35) - "And the same also applies if someone is being coerced to deny the words of Chazal and to say that the Oral Law is a sham Chas VeShalom, it has the same Din as denying the written law, for it and its interpretation are one and the same, and it seems that this is certainly worse than that which it is forbidden for a Jew to say that he is a Goy.

4 Mishnah Perek Chelek, Rambam Hilchos Aku"m 2:2, Teshuvos Rivash 45.

5 Tiferes Yisrael to Mishnayos Chelek, 8; Rivash ibid., though it seems from his words that it is improper ("Ain Raui") to do so.

6 Bircas Shmuel Kiddushin 27 who heard so from R' Chaim Ozer Grodzensky who testfied that he heard so from R' Chaim Soloveitchik;R' Elchonon Wasserman Kovetz Shiurim vol. 2, Simman 47; Karyana DeIggarta (vol. 1, 110 and 112)

Photos of Rav Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht in his youth

Rav Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht zt"l, adopted son of R' Isaac Sher, protege of the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav, and Rosh Yeshiva of Kerem B'Yavneh, was once asked if the photo on page 326 in "A Tzaddik in Our Time", which depicts a group of Talmidim learning in an advanced Gemara Shiur under the tutelage of R' Aryeh Levin, includes him. (The suspect is the boy with glasses, right in the center of the photo). Apparently he smiled, but declined to answer straight out.
(Rav Goldvicht would usually act in a very regal manner, and it would fit his personality not to answer if in the presence of more than one or two Talmidim. In less formal settings he could exude a lot of warmth)
I was pretty sure it was him, but I was never certain.
In the recently published ArtScroll biography - HaMashgiach - about HaRav Meir Chodosh zt"l, on page 308, there is a photo of Rav Goldvicht at his vort (sitting between Rav Meir Chodosh and Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz). The similarity to the photo of a few years earlier, in Yeshivas Etz Chaim under Rav Aryeh Levin, leaves me with no doubt.
Rav Goldvicht it is.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Why the convergence plan will inevitably fail

A must read interview with outgoing Israeli National Security Council chief - Gen. Giora Eiland.

(FYI: The link is to HaAretz newspaper. There are occasionally ads displayed on their site which are improper.)


"The move along a unilateral path leads us to the classic solution of two states for two peoples, and I think this is an impossible solution."

Explain it to me.

"When we talk of a solution of two states for two peoples we make two assumptions: that it is possible to solve the conflict in the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, and that the reference for a border between the two states are the 1967 lines with minor changes. I reject these two assumptions. I think that between the sea and the river there is not enough area to contain two states, and I think that in order to maintain a defensible border, Israel needs at least 12 percent of the West Bank. The 1967 lines, even the Clinton Plan, do not give Israel defensible borders."

And a Palestinian state in only 88 percent of the West Bank territory is a viable state?

"That is the second mistake. I argue that even a Palestinian state with 100 percent of the Gaza Strip and 97 percent of the West Bank is not viable. Such a country will be poor, radical, restive, where the demographic pressures will be unbearable. In 2020 there will be 2.5 million people in the Gaza Strip, in area of 365 square kilometers. This will inevitably lead to pressure against the fences."

Do you have an alternative proposal?

"My proposal from 2004, which I put forth to Sharon, calls for a regional solution. Adding 600 square kilometers to Gaza in northern Sinai, to allow for the construction of an international port and airport, and a city in which millions of Palestinians can live. Granting 600 square kilometers to Israel in the West Bank in order to guarantee defensible borders. Compensate Egypt with 150 square kilometers in the southern Negev, and compensation in the form of international economic aid and a tunnel connecting Egypt with Jordan, north of Eilat. The transfer of about 100 square kilometers on the east bank of the river to the Palestinians, granting them 105 percent of the territory they are asking today."


Saturday, June 03, 2006

A knee-slapping side-splitter from ArtScroll

A good line in an ArtScroll book will usually be cause for a little chuckle. But a real good laugh is hard to come by.
I don't know the age-group of most of the readers of this blog, but I would imagine that some of the readers have families with a bunch of small to mid-size kids, boys and girls, Ken Yirbu. You'll probably appreciate this post.
From the introduction of The Shabbos Home (vol. 1 pg. xxvii):
The Family
Friday night. Peace. In every Jewish home the kiddush and the Seudah are about to begin. The family, their faces serene with joy, stand as one around the Shabbos table. The beautifully bedecked challos and the stately decanter of wine, accompanied by silverware and china - all carefully placed on brilliant white linen - accentuate the sublime majesty of the day reflected in tall beaming candles set upon enchanting candlesticks which proudly proclaim, "We are to honor Shabbos, to delight in Shabbos, and to dwell with the Shechinah revealed in Shalom Bayis". (Shalom is one of Hashem's Names.)
This the first scene to enter a Jew's mind, his first association, when he hears the word "Shabbos".
[end quote]
My wife could hardly catch her breath reading that.
The Shabbos Home, Take #2:
The Family:
Friday night. Chaos. The kiddush and the seudah won't be starting for a while. The family, their faces a motley of sly grins, tear-streaked cheeks, and googly eyes, couldn't stand still if their Shabbos treat depended on it. The requests to sit in a 'big chair', the continuation of the pillow fight that broke out while the father was in shul, and the cajoling/pleading/insistent demands to come to the Shabbos table, met with varying degrees of compliance, permeate the atmosphere, lending an almost surreal ambience to the arrival of the Mal'achim...

Two questions I was asked over Shavuos

If anyone has a source to answer these, I'd appreciate it:

a) If a person redeems a S'deh Achuzah of his relative, does the original owner get it back from the relative who redeemed it immediately, or only at Yovel?

b) If an Eved Ivri wants to stay past his six years until Yovel, but the master has no desire to keep him, can the master say no?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Eruv Tavshilin

Don't Forget!!!

Have an uplifting and meaningful Yom Tov of Kabbalas HaTorah, out of a sense of Ahavas HaKadosh Baruch Hu, Ahavas Toraso HaKedoshah VeHaMeromemes, and Ahavas Yisrael, Am Kerovo.

A 'Lo S'chanem' Dilemma

I often wonder what the settlers in Yehudah and Shomron would do if there were two candidates for Prime Minister.
Candidate #1: A Jew, like Ehud Olmert, who was planning to carry out a disengagement plan, which, in the view of many Halachic authorities, is a violation of the prohibition of handing over parts of Eretz Yisrael to non-Jewish control.
Candidate #2: A non-Jew who felt that handing over land to the Palestinians has been a dismal failure, is a fatally flawed concept, and who was essentially a hawk on security issues.
James Woolsey, former CIA chief, writes an interesting column wherein he calls the disengagement plan one of 'folly', and a 'reinforcement of failure'. But, of course, a vote for Mr. Woolsey means the man who calls the shots, assuming he had enough political clout, would be a non-Jew, which would also be a violation of handing over land to non-Jewish sovereignty. It's also a bit unsettling (no pun intended) to vote for a non-Jewish figure as the numero uno political figure in the Jewish State.
On the other hand, the Jews who live in Yehudah and Shomron get to stay.
Which would you choose?
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