Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Shevat 5759 - Feb 3, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Opinion & Comment
Why are there Differences of Opinion In Judaism?

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 prominent mosques.

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 them.

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 they disappeared?

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 of corruption.

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 choose it.

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

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