State or Nation? -- An Open Letter to
an Israeli Secular Jew
by HaRav Uri Weissblaum
It is true! You built the state. Not us. Not only that, but
even when we heard you were planning to found a state we were
greatly worried. Gedolei Torah who lived during that
period did their best to alert anyone influential to prevent
its founding since they were sure that such a country would
bring about terrible physical danger.
It was crystal-clear to the "eyes of the community" that much
Jewish blood would, Rachmono litzlan, be spilt. The
Zionist dream was that the Arabs would readily accept the
idea that Eretz Yisroel belongs to the Jewish Nation. After
all, they rationalized, the Arab Nation has so many of their
own countries, such as: Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi
Arabia, Libya, Jordan, and others. It would be enough for
them to just hear of the decision to create a sovereign
Jewish state in Eretz Yisroel and those in the way
would lickety-split vacate their homeland and emigrate to the
abundant Arab lands.
Our gedolei Torah had no doubt that this was nothing
more than a pure figment of their imagination. The fact is
that Eretz Yisroel is a country that really matters to
the Arabs and especially Yerushalayim since it hosts
The gedolei Yisroel knew well that the Arabs would not
give up Eretz Yisroel under any conditions. The Arabs
were prepared to fight for it courageously and were even
ready to commit sheer suicide for this aim. They foresaw
Jewish bloodshed, Rachmono litzlan. The gedolim
therefore forewarned the world -- but no one listened to
Indeed from the time the State was established, to our
immense sorrow, more than twenty thousand young men have
fallen, Hy'd, leaving behind widows, orphans, and
bereaved parents and families. This is apart from the
thousands and thousands of wounded and handicapped. Although
fifty years have passed since the founding of the State of
Israel, peace is nowhere in sight. Anyone who keeps his eyes
open can easily see that the Arabs are only interested in the
return of their land and not in any lasting peace.
. . . And the State was established. It is, however,
impossible to deny the fact that Eretz Yisroel was
previously desolate for hundreds of years, as the Torah
reveals, "And I will bring the land into desolation, and your
enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it"
(Vayikro 26:32). Chazal (Toras Cohanim 26:38)
teach us that it "is beneficial for Yisroel that our enemies
will not find any satisfaction in [Eretz Yisroel] so
it will remain desolate from people living there."
After fifty years the country has been rebuilt. Wide
superhighways have been paved throughout the country, there
is up-to-date transportation from one end of Eretz Yisroel to
the other, hundreds of different factories have been set up
that operate with the most modern and efficient equipment, a
sophisticated telephone system connecting the country with
the whole world was built, state-of-the-art hospitals with
the newest apparatus are available, and there is ample
lighting in every street and in every house. What do we lack
here? Nothing. This is a fact! You have built a first-class
modern state and there is no denying that.
. . . But where is the Jewish nation? Where are the hundreds
and thousands of Oriental Jews who brought with them a rich
Jewish past, an illustrious history of mitzvah observance and
deep spiritual attachment to Jewish tradition? To where have
Where is the Jewish Nation -- always unique from other
nations in its modesty, warm-heartedness and sympathy,
kindness, refinement, and exemplary character traits? Where
is that nation amongst whom bloodshed was totally unknown?
Where is that nation whose taharas hamishpocha was
carved on its neshomoh, whose honor of one's parents
was a sublime value? Where is it?
Do these people still live among us? How many people who
received a secular education have remained with any ideology
at all? On the contrary, take a walk on the streets of
Eretz Yisroel and stop every secular person you meet:
elderly and young, the average person and the highly
educated, doctors and engineers. Ask them a simple question:
"What are your aspirations in life?" They will all answer
unanimously: "Money, honor, and a successful career."
They have no connection with any literature: neither the
poems of Bialik or Chernikovsky, nor the stories of Y. L.
Gordon and his colleagues. Perhaps in order to receive their
high school diploma they were forced to study these "classic"
Hebrew literary works, but immediately afterwards they threw
it all out the window. They had no more use for it.
True, you built a country, but in doing so
you destroyed the soul of the Jewish Nation. Take, for
example, one week's headlines and you will see what extensive
changes have taken place within our nation. What do we find
in these headlines: violence, theft, murder, and other types
We however did build a nation! The talmudei Torah are,
with Hashem's help, bursting with charming children. These
youngsters are being educated to be knowledgeable in Torah,
to do mitzvos, and to act properly. Beis Yaakov schools are
packed with girls being taught tznius, yiras Shomayim
and middos tovos. The yeshivos kedoshos are
bringing up a generation of talmidim who will be great
in Torah, in yirah, and with solid character traits.
Kollels teach their students to completely devote
themselves to Torah and fear of Hashem while forgoing a
maximum of material pleasures, being satisfied with the
little they have so that they can reach their lofty aim: to
become great in Torah. You want us to forget about this? Can
we give up on the Jewish Nation?
Is there any doubt that your education causes boundless
assimilation? If there will ever be peace in our land a
significant part of your offspring will be Palestinians. This
will erase the Jewish Nation from the map, Rachmono
litzlan. How can you demand this from us?
Torah study is not a profession that only the most talented
choose. Torah is the building of a person's spiritual
character. Every Jew must reinforce his spiritual character
without any difference between those more and those less
astute. Not allowing the less capable study in the yeshivos,
cholila, means our giving a get to their
Judaism. This is the reason we are not ready to give in, and
we are prepared even for mesiras nefesh!
It is quite sad that a small group of Leftists who hate
kedusha control the newspapers, radio, and television
in this country. This insignificant assortment of people
terrify the whole country and are stuffing all its readers,
listeners, and watchers with a deep-seated contempt towards
the Torah-true although they are undeserving of such an
attitude. If there are isolated cases of individuals from the
fringes of our camp who act improperly -- and there are some
people like that -- among the secular Jews there are
thousands and tens of thousands of such instances.
Your current animosity towards us stems from two reasons:
First -- you are not prepared to forgive us for helping
Binyamin Netanyahu become prime minister. Your hatred for the
Right is not based on a genuine concern for the weaker
sectors of the nation who suffer financial distress. You are
not really set on improving the nation's condition. All of
those charming words are only a cover-up for your craving to
gain control of the government. Since there is no other
publicity stunt to awaken the masses then by increasing the
hatred for the Torah-observant you have therefore decided to
Second, you are well aware of the naked truth that your
education is altogether bankrupt. Right in front of you a
gigantic community has grown that is dedicated to studying
Torah. These are multitudes of people who study with joy and
love the commentaries of the rishonim and
acharonim. They are also a unique group who are
constantly involved in acts of chesed. They work on a
purely voluntary basis and endeavor to help the public in
general and every individual. You see all this and are
bursting with jealousy.
Did you ever look at a list of the types of gemachs
functioning in chareidi neighborhoods? There is a
gemach for cooked meals for the needy, places for
people to sleep, transportation to hospitals and for the
needy, return centers for lost objects, oxygen, care for
burns, tools, dishes for simchas, playpens for
children, baby beds, suitcases, pacifiers, inhalers,
decorative blankets for a bris, baby carriages,
Shabbos heating apparatus, torches for chuppahs,
medical apparatus, tables and benches for simchas,
medicine, and of course gemachs for loans. This is
only a short and incomplete list.
It should be noted that thousands of families serve as
volunteers in these gemachs. Are there so many
volunteers who are a product of your education? Am
Yisroel endured many exiles but they were all among the
non-Jews. To be in golus under the rule of Jews is the
worst possible golus.
Our Kadmonim who revealed to us how the period before
the Redemption will look have comforted us. The Vilna Gaon in
his commentary to Tehillim (20:2): "May Hashem hear
you in the day of trouble" writes that also during the golus
in Egypt the Torah wrote, "Let more work be laid on them"
(Shemos 5:9) so as to hasten our Redemption.
Dovid Hamelech requested before he finished the third book of
Tehillim (89:51): "Remember Hashem the disgrace of Your
servants; how I bear in my bosom the insults of all the many
peoples." We are pleading for Hashem to remember the disgrace
coming from all those who have degraded am Yisroel.
"Wherewith Your enemies have insult, Hashem, wherewith they
have insulted the footsteps of Your anointed" (v. 52). The
Malbim explains that the "reason for this disgrace is because
they are Your enemies and have denied You and Your being
Elokim, so therefore do for Your own benefit. Hashem answers:
`I am consoled with the knowledge that because the [enemies]
have disgraced you the footsteps of the Moshiach will
come. There being more of those who disgrace you, is the sign
of the footsteps of the Melech HaMoshiach."
The sitra achra, before it is destroyed, digs in
deeply and fights for its survival. Knowing this consoles us.
That entire deluge of hatred, disgrace, and denunciations
against those who observe Torah and mitzvos is the sign of
the coming of Moshiach. Until then we raise our eyes
in tefilla that the Creator should open up the eyes of those
who are blind, and that all Jews should come to recognize the
true way so that we will be zoche to a real Redemption
speedily in our times.
HaRav Uri Weissblaum is the mashgiach ruchani of
Yeshivas Nachalas HaLeviyim in Haifa