Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Adar I 5760 - February 23 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
What Would Your Grandfather Have Said?

by N. Ze'evi

The man at the center of a growing scandal over illegal election funding practices by the Labor party is Cabinet Secretary Yitzchok Herzog. Herzog is the son of the former president Chaim Herzog, and the grandson of former Chief Rabbi HaRav Yitzchok Isaac HaLevi Herzog. In a recent interview with Yediot Acharonot, Herzog recounts some of his childhood experiences. "I'll never forget how my kindergarten teacher would say, when I got out of hand: `What would your grandfather say about this?'" he recalled.

"Echoes of this question have been pursuing me my entire life."

In the wake of the disclosures of Herzog's involvement in the various bogus non-profit organizations that served as funding channels for Barak's elections campaign--and which presented a decidedly anti-chareidi face to the public--the question arises again. The Comptroller's report related to that point. In the same edition, Yediot Acharonot reports on one NPO, whose expressed goal was "to promote the overall drafting of all of the State's citizens into the IDF and to publicly explain the need for the equal sharing of the security burden."

Prior to the elections, this NPO ran a bitter public campaign against the chareidi community and the Torah world. It turns out that Herzog personally signed the checks that funded this group's activities. Well, Mr. Herzog, what would your grandfather say about that?

About ten years ago, we published the decisive view of Chief Rabbi Herzog regarding the issue of the bnei yeshivos. They were published after the erstwhile president, Yitzchok Herzog's father, had in a most irritating manner, criticized a speech by Maran, the Rosh Hayeshiva at the Degel HaTorah convention,

In that speech, Maran had spoken about the danger of heretical secularism in general and the Leftist movement in particular.

President Chaim Herzog criticized and subtly mocked bnei yeshiva and their rabbonim, referring to them as "those who never heard the din of battle." He also spoke about IDF fallen, and said "By all rights, we should stand beside their graves and beg their forgiveness."

In the wake of these remarks, we published the unequivocal opinion of HaRav Yitzchok Herzog, zt"l, on this issue. They appear in Heichal Yitzchok in an article called "The Importance of the Yeshivos in the Life of the Jewish People." They were taken from a speech HaRav Herzog had delivered at a meeting of prominent Israeli industrialists. In that speech, Harav Herzog said that we must acknowledge the fact that the yeshiva students and their rabbonim are the spiritual heroes of the Nation.

Rav Hertzog wrote:

"When we ask ourselves how the Jewish Nation, a lamb scattered among millions of wolves for nearly 2000 years, pressured by the crucible of affliction of the harsh exile, nonetheless once more merited to lay the foundations of its future in its Land? What is the amazing secret of the eternity of the Jewish nation? You might say: the persecutions did not allow us to assimilate among the nations of the world and they have, against our will made us not only a lone nation but also an isolated one.

"But you should know that before the Nazi fiend fashioned his racist philosophy, the nations demanded of Israel only one thing: `Come let us be one people' (Sanhedrin 39 b ). Be like us. Assimilate and intermingle with us. What prevented this from occurring? Only the Torah which is the source of the Nation's soul.

"Simple nationalism, when it lacks faith and cleavage to the living G-d, nationalism which is devoid of Torah and mitzvos, could in no way have wrought the historical wonder of endurance of the Jewish Nation and its revival.

"For hundreds upon hundreds of years of exile, our nationalism had no substantial basis on which to lean....

"We have endured throughout our exile only on the strength of the Torah she'be'al peh, the Oral Law, on the strength of that Divine current which flows from generation to generation and which originates from the very foundry of our people. Jewish history testifies to this. Let all those sects and circles of our Nation who abandoned the Oral Law come and testify. Where are they today?


"In respect to the settlement of the Land, all believe in the adage: `the revival of the Nation in its Land.' But can such a revival take place without a spiritual revival? Without the revival of all those Divine values for whose implementation our Nation came into being? "V'es ruchi etain bekirbechem, And My spirit I will give among you", Yechezkel said regarding the return of the Nation to its Land. `My spirit,'and not just any `spirit', not the sprit which originates from alien sources, because modern culture is totally contaminated by tumas ha'meis, by the negation of the soul.

"The culture of the nations is devoid of all content, and has no spiritual or ethical force. `My spirit' specifically, the original Jewish spirit. The spirit of both the Written and the Oral Law. A spiritual revival of the Jewish Nation cannot transpire without the Oral Law, and the Oral Law cannot be maintained without the yeshivos. The entire Torah center in Eretz Yisroel serves as a new source for the spiritual revival of the Nation.

"Eretz Yisroel is the symbolic Mikdosh of the Nation and there is no Mikdosh without a Kodesh Kodashim. What is our current Kodesh Kodashim? The sacred yeshivos which are the foundries of dvar Hashem, zu halocho, places in which His Shechina rests on the land, or as Chazal have said: `since the day of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, Hakodosh Boruch Hu has naught in His world but the four cubits of the halocho.'

"Our heart grieves over the yeshivos in the Diaspora which were totally destroyed, the abodes of Torah, which were uprooted and are no more. But Hakodosh Boruch Hu preceded the blow with a cure, and planted Torah in Eretz Yisroel.


"Now that the people are building the land, which is the Mikdash of the Nation which in Hashem's mercy have been saved from the destruction, in their own merit and the merit of Torah, it is our sacred obligation to strengthen and fortify that kodesh kodashim, the abodes of Torah in the land of the avos and the prophets.

"It is written 'This is the Torah, a man who dies in the tent.' Chazal explain: The Torah perseveres only by means of one who perishes for its sake. This maxim penetrates the very depths of our souls. Torah doesn't negate life. Quite the contrary is true. Torah commands us to love life, and stresses the value of life.

"The meaning of this idea is that Torah can persevere only by means of one who perishes for its sake, who sacrifices his sum and substance, his inner self, on the alter of the Torah.

"Those bnei Torah who dwell in the tents of Torah and who don't think about careers or a materialistic future, but sacrifice themselves and their inner cores for the sake of the upholding of Torah in our Nation, are our spiritual heroes.

"The yeshiva students and their Rabbonim, as the Rambam says are `Hashem's soldiers, the spiritual army of the Jewish Nation.' "

HaRav Herzog concludes by saying that the Jewish Nation needs the yeshiva students, and by calling them "the spiritual army which safeguards the Nation's spiritual treasures."

We can only ask Yitzchok Herzog once again: "What would your grandfather have said about this?"

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