Dear Esther And Fellow Travellers

letter-447577_1280

by Rabbi Dovid Landesman

First of all, my thankful appreciation to all of you for what turned out to be a stimulating, open and civil exchange of ideas in response to my posting The Day That Satmar Became Mainstream. It is a relief to discover that there are still quite a number of sane people in the Jewish world – chareidi, chardal, centrist, MO et al. Rav Adlerstein kindly suggested that I add my comments and perhaps summarize my reactions to the multiple comments that have been posted.

As usual, the opening caveat: It is difficult if not impossible to add anything to an Adlerstein piece. He is articulate, thorough and erudite and trying to discover a place to add one’s own chiddushim is an exercise in futility. That said, perhaps a few stories/ideas that might either further elucidate Reb Yitzchak’s points or perhaps provide some food for further consideration.

A story: Rav Nachman Bulman zt”l once told me of a meeting that he attended with the Moetzet Gedolai ha-Torah and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. He was invited, by the way, to serve as spokesman for the gedolim; they did not feel comfortable speaking to Mrs. Meir in Hebrew and she refused to speak to them in either English or Yiddish although she was fluent in both. The time was in the early seventies (I don’t recall the precise year but it was before the Yom Kippur War so you can imagine who was in attendance. The meeting took place in Reb Moshe’s home.) There were a number of issues to be discussed – primarily autopsies, giyur k’halachah and chilul Shabbos by El Al. According to Rav Bulman, the meeting was not productive, and at the end one of the senior members of the Moetzet addressed Golda directly: “Mrs. Meir, because of people who act like you do, I almost hate Israel!”

Mrs. Meir did not flinch and responded in Yiddish: “Rabbi, I wish we had two lands so that I could also have the luxury of hating.”

Yaldei Teiman, yaldei Teheran, the lack of co-operation with Rav Weissmandel, the Kastner negotiations and a host of other issues are historical events that must not be swept under the carpet; they should be studied carefully and objectively (that’s an implied swipe at the revisionist historians among us). The proper forums should be created to present our conclusions; especially to our MO brethren who often are so pollyannish (to understand what I mean, see comments section to my previous post) that they have trouble differentiating between someone spitting on them (b’lashon n’kiyah) and raindrops. We may come to the conclusion that Ben Gurion, Weizman and their fellow travelers were the most nefarious examples of m’harsayich u’machrivayich in the annals of our people. But then what? Do we lean back and smugly tell ourselves and our children: “You see, we were right and the Tzionim ha-arurim are reshaim gemurim. They did horrible things and were worse than our most barbaric enemies (I will not use the N word about a fellow Jew). We have to fast and wear sackcloth and pray to Hashem that he remove them from our midst. We have to add kinos on Tishah b’Av (that aint gonna be popular in any of the shuls where I daven) and perhaps even burn the flag publicly.”

You know what Esther? I tell the truth to my children and to my students. I point them toward Perfidy and Min Ha-Meitzar because it is critical that they know what transpired and how weak and self-serving humans can be . But I also tell them about my friend Yankel and about Roie Klein hy”d. Do you (collectively) tell your children about his incredible act of mesirat nefesh and Kiddush Hashem during the Lebanese War? Have the garbage can burners in Kikar Shabbat ever been taught that there was a Jew in Kiryat Arba by the name of Colonel Dror Weinberg hy”d who got up and left his Shabbos table in the middle of Kiddush because there were reports of a terrorist cell that had attacked mispallelim coming back from M’arat ha-Machpela?

One of the assignments that I had in the IDF was to work at was is referred to as ktzin ha-ir. Without going into a lengthy job description, one of our responsibilities was to inform families of injuries – or worse – that soldiers suffered in the line of duty. It was not a pleasant task but it has to be done.

One afternoon I got a call in the yeshiva where I was teaching and was told to report immediately for duty. Two Israeli helicopters had collided and some 73 soldiers (if I remember correctly) had been killed. I was ordered to proceed to the home of one of the officers who had died in the crash and to stay with the family to plan the levaya and extend whatever assistance that was possible in easing their grief. I came into the home but the family already had been informed – the air force has their own unit and they were already there. The mother was in her bedroom, talking to an air force psychologist. I went into the living room and sat down next to the father who was staring out the window.

I said nothing and waited for him to begin. We were trained to expect outbursts of anger, especially against religion (how could G-d do this to me etc.). The father was absolutely calm and after a number of minutes of silence he turned to me and said: “You know, rabbi, I’m not angry with God. He doesn’t owe me anything because I’ve ignored Him all my life. But I want to ask you a question. My son was studying to be a doctor. He wanted to be in a position where he could ease people’s pain, give them hope, bring them health. And now he’s gone. All the promise that he showed, all the love that he had for everyone is no longer in the world. He could have done so much, accomplished so many things that we desperately need and now … rabbi, who will take his place?”

In an act of chesed the Ribbono shel olam planted an answer in my mind. “You and I will. You and I will tell his story and influence others to be like him and his goodness will continue to live.”
Yom ha-zikaron, yom ha-atzmaut, yom yerushalayim … these are the vexing questions that occupy my mind. What is the Ribbono shel Olam telling us? What is the message we are supposed to be hearing? I omit the shoah purposely because the question is addressed – in the Beis Yaakov’s for sure and perhaps one day in the yeshivos as well. But the post shoah period … I can only conclude that we ignore it because we are afraid to confront it. R. Yoilish was not and publicized his take on the events. But those who did not accept his view – and they are the majority of the chareidi world – the silence is deafening. I can accept an answer of “I don’t know”, of “hanistaros l’Hashem Elokeinu” but to leave the issue unaddressed … I don’t want to think of the answer.

One final note: the contention that the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav were the undisputed heads of their generation is a slight distortion of history that is a result of a certain element within the olam ha-yeshivot who feel that only they represent authentic chareidi Jewry. The chassidishe world did not follow their lead in the area of hashkafah and the Eidah did not follow them in areas of halachah (preferring the shitot of Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, a member of Rav Kook’s beis din!) I guess it all boils down to “who you calling chareidi, kimosabi!”

May the Ribbono Shel Olam bring us mashiach and Eliyahu to settle our debates but until He does, let us continue to speak with kavod and love for one another.

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30 Responses

  1. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Daniel Gelbtuch writes that “It is time for all of us to proactively take on a few new Chumras (with Lakewood-style Zerizus):
    1) there is no tolerance for intolerance; and
    2) to be super-machmir on Hakaras HaTov/Achdus/ Bein Adom Lachaveiro.”

    Beware the slippery slope here. If you say there is no tolerance for intolerance, at what point do you separate “vociferous disagreement” from “intolerance?” Most people can’t, and what you end up saying is “there is no tolerance for people who disagree to much with me.”

    As for the second one, I would call that an self- invitation to judge the behavior of others.

  2. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    “What is relevant, like “Dr Bill” alluded to above, is that by any measure, many of the royal/physical leaders of Klal Yisroel during Bayis Sheini were far-worse than even the most extreme/sinister leftist in the current Medina. Said rulers actively persecuted, tortured, and murdered Torah adherents/scholars.”

    Who rejoiced when they came to power? [And don’t quote the Rambam in Hilchos Chanukah on me. It is not nearly as clear-cut as some may wish].

    ” … and was not attributed to the atrocities perpetrated by, and lack of spirituality/Jewishness of (e.g. Herod), the evil leaders at the time.”

    Because that WAS Act I of the Churban!

    Generally, you were apparently raised in an environment where Achdus/tolerance is immutable, and Emes perhaps less so. Those who hold certain truths based on the guidance they have received from great leaders cannot be faulted for adhering to their truths despite the lack of Achdus generated by this clinging to Emes as they perceive it.

    There are those who would say that Achdus calls for toning down of criticsm of Chabad messianism, for example. Chabad has accomplished a great deal, and without them Judaism would be all but dead in many parts of the world, due to the Rebbe in large part. But if there would be a call for a day of thanks to G-d for his MAJOR undeniable contributions to 20th century Jewry, I would opt out.

  3. tzippi says:

    This seems to trivial and tangential to ask, but I have to ask Daniel Gelbtuch: why is that right-winger davening in said shul if it bothers him so much?

  4. Daniel Gelbtuch says:

    Excellent pieces, Rabbi Landesman and Rabbi Adlerstein.

    Unfortunately, most of the subsequent comments/rebuttals wildly miss the substantive issues and (in typical fashion) quibble about minor and totally-irrelevant minutia.

    What is relevant, like “Dr Bill” alluded to above, is that by any measure, many of the royal/physical leaders of Klal Yisroel during Bayis Sheini were far-worse than even the most extreme/sinister leftist in the current Medina. Said rulers actively persecuted, tortured, and murdered Torah adherents/scholars.

    Yet, Bayis Sheini was destroyed due to the scourge of SINAS CHINAM (manifested by intolerance among the spiritual elite) … and was not attributed to the atrocities perpetrated by, and lack of spirituality/Jewishness of (e.g. Herod), the evil leaders at the time.

    On a different note, the immutable and un-ambiguos precepts of Hakaras Hatov, Achdus, and Arvus require us all (whether we approve of the Medina or not) to always take the high road and proactively recognize/acknowledge the bounty that we receive(d). Even the most heiseh Satmar Chossid has what to be Makir-Tov-for in the State of Israel.

    The State of Israel, in spite of its innumerable and grievous faults, is still a home to flourishing Yeshivos, welcomes/encourages/celebrates Frum Aliyah (e.g. the Medina’s public support for Nefesh B’Nefesh), doles out millions in social welfare, and is bereft of pro-active (Bayis Shieni flavored) persecution of Frum Yidden (not to say that they don’t take their swipes, nor hide their disdain).

    Having a Chiyuv to join the Army and/or (shamefully and Rachmana Litzlan) granting less $$$ for Yeshivos, and frum social welfare, is NOT PROACTIVE RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION.

    The Chazon Ish’s prized Talmid, Rav Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht ZT”L, the legendary visionary/founder of the Hesder program and Yeshiva Kerem B’Yavneh … proved it is an honor/Mitvah/Kiddush Hashem to join TZAHAL, while at least silencing/blunting the left (the barbs that followed Rabin’s murder were reactionary and short-lived), if not earning back a small measure of Torah-respect (while germinating some Achdus/t).

    That being said, the intolerance, egregious-passivity, institutional narcissism, and petty behavior, currently exhibited by the right wing (who are transfixed by, and obsessed with, defending their “authentic” status), is no better than the destructive Sinach Chinom of yore.

    Defiantly ignoring Yom Hazikaron is infected with “Lote-logic”, is insulting to everyone’s intelligence (especially when chalking it up to Avoda Zara/Chukos Hagoyim), and scratches the depths of Sinas Chinom and Kefiras HaTov. The laws of Hakaras Hatov certainly trump the Medina debate (which is a Safek, at best/worst – for there are many Gedolim/Kedoshim on both side of the argument, whether we like it or not).

    Whether one approves of the Meidnah or not … the clear Yad Hashem and public-miracles of Yom Yerushalayim and Haatzmaut are staggering – and, at least, warrant some acknowledgment, rather than defiant-Tachanun with Neilah-like Kavana (same criticism goes for the extremely-modern, and narcissistic American pseudo-Zionists, who make it to weekday Shacharis, only once a year, for Yom Haatzmaut Hallel).

    When I recently asked a right-winged Shule-mate of mine why he felt it was so important to walk out of Shule and upstage our esteemed Rov, during Bracha-less Hallel on Yom Yerushalayim and Yom Haatzmaut … his cavalier and hubris-filled retort was “not saying Hallel is not going to keep me out of Olam Habbah.” I replied, “by that same logic, saying Hallel without a Brocha, showing Kavod Harav, and creating some Achdus – won’t keep you out of Olam Habba, either.”

    It is time for all of us to proactively take on a few new Chumras (with Lakewood-style Zerizus):
    1) there is no tolerance for intolerance; and
    2) to be super-machmir on Hakaras HaTov/Achdus/ Bein Adom Lachaveiro.

    By taking these Chumros upon us, and getting off the merry-go-round of silly/petty arguments … we might be able to get our eyes back on the prize (Mashiach).

  5. Esther says:

    OK, Let me try again. (please, this is very important to avoid a chilul H’. If you find anything offensive, please cut it out and post the rest. thanks)

    Nachum Lamm,

    We point out the faults of zionism not as a basis for anti-zionism, but as futher proof that this can’t be אתחלתא דגאולה, even לשיטתך. To answer you questions:

    1. This is purely rhetorical and smacks of בזיון תלמידי חכמים.

    2. We’re waiting for אליהו הנביא to arrive first, as foretold by the נביאים. And what’s wrong with “A literal man riding into Yerushalayim on a white donkey?” היפלא מה’ דבר? May he come soon and solve all our disputes, בב”א.

  6. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “Do you consider perhaps that I sometimes leave my moshav?” (Comment by Chardal — June 2, 2009 @ 1:05 am).

    I did, which is why I referred to “intimate familiarity”. I assume one has such hashkafa discussions with friends, neighbors, chavrusos and the like, not people one happens to meet on the bus. And I also assume that anyone who lives in your moshav subscribes to its ideology (you told us once that that’s why you moved there), which is somewhat different than that of your average Lithuanian Yerushalmi.

  7. saulking says:

    “Eretz Yisrael itself and the nation (is that talking solely of the yishuv of the Torah and Mitzvah observant or is it including amcha yisrael – the sinners) dwelling in Zion – they are the tools to Torah and Avodas Hashem!”

  8. YM says:

    “A test – not to be drawn to secularism in leadership: to distance secular entertainment and luxuries; a test – not to be drawn to overestimation of the strength of the IDF, more than any soldier or officer on the front; they see that they and their victory are always in the Hand of Hashem! A test – not to be drawn to exaggeration of party and political activism; a test – not to be drawn to decisions on our own, without consulting with Gedolei Torah and their determinations regarding the collective and the individual.”

    “All this is completely not relevant to the strong demand and the serious obligation to be mekarev and strengthen the multitudes to Torah and Emunah, and to act on behalf of the Yishuv of the Torah and Mitzvah observant in Eretz Yisrael. Eretz Yisrael itself and the nation dwelling in Zion – they are the tools to Torah and Avodas Hashem!”

    I consider myself a supporter of Israel and I agree with everything that Rav Wolbe ztl says here. This is why I want to move to Israel.

  9. zadok says:

    At most from the Petirah of R. Chaim Ozer in 1940,”

    He didn’t react to the establishment of the State since he wasn’t around then, and he didn’t live in Eretz Yisrael. The window we are talking about is the period of the establishment of the State.

    Actually he did.Rav Yosef Elya Henkin in a series of anti Neturei Karta articles printed in the end of Lev Ivra quotes Rav Chaim Ozer as saying that if the Zionists would accomplish building a state the would also have the status of an ‘Am’ so the Neturei Kartah’s behavior is being Mored B’Umos.Which brings to a different point.This blog considers it axiomatic that the Satmar Haskofah about Medinas Yisroel was less mainstream in the past.I’m unconvinced.In the ANTI Neturei Kartah articles referred to above, Rav Henkin writes repeatedly that in essence he agrees with their Haskofa(but not actions) -to the extent that this issue alone has prevented from becoming a member of Agudas Yisroel of America.Rav Yosef Bruer and many old time Yekkes refused to visit Eretz Yisroel when the Zionist were in control.Some even practiced a boycott of Israeli goods.Rav Shimon Scwab wouldn’t sit by Agudah conventions at a dais with Israeli Agudah delegates.Rav Moshe Feinstein spoke at gatherings (in America) against opening a mixed swimming pool in Yerushlayim.All of those examples would be unthinkable today from anyone not affiliated with Satmar.Of note; I don’t see any dichotomy from having an extreme anti political zionist POV to recognizing Israeli soldiers as being ‘Kedoshim’ and the current population as being mostly Tinokos S’Nisbah and Acheinu Bais Yisroel.

  10. Chardal says:

    >Chardal, I’m curious: Out there in your Dati Leumei/Chareidi Leumei moshav, how many Lithuanian Yerushalmim are you intimately familiar with, and how representitive are they of Yerushalmim in general?

    Actually, several of the vatikim in our yeshuv are from yerushalaim but that is besides the point. Do you consider perhaps that I sometimes leave my moshav?

  11. Nachum Lamm says:

    I’m afraid that for all her fealty to the Satmar Rebbe and her purported anti-Zionism, Esther doesn’t really know what that implies. Nor is this exclusive to her: I’ve seen this phenomenon among many. To put it simply, if she truly had that point of view, she would never criticize any actions of the State or government of Israel. Let me explain:

    The Satmar ideology is that any independent Jewish state, absent the coming of Mashiach, is illegitimate. Therefore, theoretically, if the State was populated entirely by Orthodox (even Charedi) Jews and run completely in accordance to halacha- even, I suppose, if the Mikdash was rebuilt, the Avoda conducted, and a Sanhedrin functioned- it would still be illegitimate. Thus, it really doesn’t make any difference what the State or government does, or has done in the past: Good or bad, it’s still all bad, so why bother criticizing?

    Of course, human nature is such that we like to find fault in things we don’t like already. But if we are to be honest, we should state Satmar ideology for what it is: And it is something that the vast majority of Orthodox Jews, if they thought it through, would have a very hard time agreeing with.

    By the way, I have to wonder about two more things related to the above:

    1. We may wonder to what extent the Rebbe (and others) believe(d) as they did because the State is secular. If it had been religious, would they have been as absolutist? Of course, this leads to questions of to what degree gedolim are influenced by external circumstances, if at all, but it’s an interesting question.

    2. Taking into account the above scenario (millions of observant Jews, the entire state religious, religious law, a mikdash, etc.) we may well ask the Satmar what, if not that, defines “Mashiach.” A literal man riding into Yerushalayim on a white donkey? I think it may well be a question for all of us, Zionist and not. (Of course, the very question may have been why the Rebbe took the view he did.)

  12. One Esther says:

    R. Landesman asked me a question (“You know what Esther?… Do you tell your children about his incredible act of mesirat nefesh and Kiddush Hashem during the Lebanese War?”) And I gave an honest and respectful answer.
    Rabbi Landesman, I’m humbled by your humility. Your position is very well articulated. To answer your questions: I can’t speak for Agudah circles, but I do read Feldheim and Artscroll books and I’ve seen quite a few stories like that of Yankl’s Hy”d.

    I think we should differentiate between the army as a whole and individual soldiers. Stories like Yankl’s celebrate individual soldiers while Yom Zikaron and Yom Yerushalayim celebrate the army.

  13. aron feldman says:

    4.Regardless of what its official dogma is, the Agudah and most yeshivos in America are very pro-Israel and work hard to help Israel with the American government. Singing Hatikvah is not the measure of who is a zionist, caring deeply about the political, economic and spiritual welfare of Israel is, even if they have to call it “the Am hayoshev B’Tziyon”.They don’t mean it, they just are stuck in that vocabulary. Maybe time will correct that blemish too.

    Comment by L. Oberstein — May 31, 2009

    I know plenty of RWUO people who care deeply about EY but do not beat thier breast about Yom Hatzmaut

    If you read the Shavous issue of Mispacha they had a story of Ruth Blau,the famous wife of the head of the NK.You know she traveled to Syria on behalf of the missing Israeli soldiers?

  14. aron feldman says:

    I was a big admirer of R”Nachman Bulman.His original thinking and passion for Emmes allowed him to transcend the silly labels that people have to wear in EY. I don’t know that he observed YHA or YHZ but he found the concept of Yom HaShoah very offensive.

    Chaval Al Davdin!

  15. Chaim Wolfson says:

    Rabbi Landesman,
    I’m not exactly sure what the point is you wish to make with that anecdote with Golda Meir. Giyur k’halachah and nituchei meisim are issues that impact on all shomrei Torah u’Mitzvos in Eretz Yisrael in a direct and tangible way. Institutionalized “chilul Shabbos” by an instrument of the Jewish State — as opposed to, say, raising pigs in a private kibbutz somewhere in the Negev — goes to the very heart of what the Gedolim who opposed its establishment feared, and Meir, like all secular Zionists, was certainly aware of, at the very least, the symbolic significance of such a policy. Yet after basically spitting in the face of Rav Moshe et al., Meir sanctimoneously patted herself on the back and declared that she had more ahavas Yisrael, or a greater sense of responsibility toward Klal Yisrael than they did! It’s very easy not to hate when you have the power in your hands to do as you please. I have a hard time believing that that was the lesson Rav Bulman wanted to teach. Did he perhaps relate the story in a different context?

    “The chassidishe world did not follow their lead in the area of hashkafah and the Eidah did not follow them in areas of halachah (preferring the shitot of Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, a member of Rav Kook’s beis din!)”

    Isn’t this discussion about the “olam ha’yeshivos” and your perception of a “rightward shift” toward the Satmar position? As an aside, while I believe you are correct that the Eidah did not follow the Chazon Ish’s p’sakim (“halachos ha’teluyos b’Aretz” being just one example), and they certainly did not follow the Brisker Rav’s p’sakim — since, as is well known, the Brisker Rav, like his father Rav Chaim, did not pasken shailos of halachah — I would be surprised if they sent their shailos to Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, since they had their own Beis Din. But I could be wrong (it’s been known to happen on rate occasions), and if so I will be happy to admit my mistake. In any event, this discussion concerns hashkafic shittos, not halachic ones.

    “To your prior paragraph, I will add that in particular areas of halakha, the Brisker Rav ztl sent sheailot to R. Tzvi Pesach Frank.” (Comment by dr. bill — May 31, 2009 @ 10:38 am).

    Dr Bill, do you know that for a fact? Based on what I heard from many Briskers, I would be surprised if the Brisker Rav sent his shailos to Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, though he held him in very high regard.

    “Most Lithuanian Yerushalmim that I know consider R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank and R’ Isser Zalman Meltzer to have been much more authoritative leaders in the post-war era” (Comment by Chardal — May 31, 2009 @ 12:53 pm).

    Chardal, I’m curious: Out there in your Dati Leumei/Chareidi Leumei moshav, how many Lithuanian Yerushalmim are you intimately familiar with, and how representitive are they of Yerushalmim in general?

  16. Tal Benschar says:

    Regardless of what its official dogma is, the Agudah and most yeshivos in America are very pro-Israel and work hard to help Israel with the American government. Singing Hatikvah is not the measure of who is a zionist, caring deeply about the political, economic and spiritual welfare of Israel is, even if they have to call it “the Am hayoshev B’Tziyon”.They don’t mean it, they just are stuck in that vocabulary. Maybe time will correct that blemish too

    There is a story, probably apocryphal, that during one of the elections the Agudah put up posters in religious neighborhoods saying, in effect, “It is a mitzvah to vote in the elections.” Of course the Eidah put up counter-posters saying that it was an aveirah, etc.

    Anyway, supposedly when the Satmar Rov heard about it, he said, “You mean it’s a mitzvah like matzoh?”

    The Gerrer Rebbe heard of the comment and was supposed to have retorted, “No, it’s a mitzvah like maror.”

    L. Oberstein, with all due respect, Religious Zionists do not own the mitzvos of Ahavas Yisroel and Yishuvh Eretz Yisroel, although they often think they do. The Agudah’s shitto is that, notwithstanding that things are not arranged according to the way the Torah requires, we have to deal with the reality on the ground.

    The Agudah had representatives elected to the Polish Sejm prior to WWII, because that government was the reining power there, and that was necessary to protect the interests of Jews in that country.

    The same applies in EY — if you want to protect the Charedi interests, you have to send representatives to the Knesset. (This is the Agudah’s shittoh, I know Satmar disagrees.)

    By the same token, we are required to work for the welfare of our fellow Jews in other countries, and, especially if they are threatened, do whatever hishtadlus we can to help. IF the Jews in Russia have problems, we might have to work with the Putin government (or whomever is in charge today).

    The same thing for the yishuv of Jews in EY. There are, B”H, millions of Jews in EY. Sadly, they are surrounded by many more millions of Perei Adam who would like nothing better than to commit Holocaust II, rachmana litzlan. Meanwhile, the United States is still the dominant world power and has influence there (and everywhere else). It is also the source of valuable military support used to protect the yishuv. If the Agudah believes it is in a postion to strengthen the yishuv against its enemies, of course it is obligated to do so.

    (In fact, there was a story circulating on one of these posts that even the Satmar Rov told Robert Kennedy that the Kennedy Administration should sell arms to the State of Israel.)

    None of that makes anyone a Zionist.

  17. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Dear Dr. Bill:

    You write that “R. Lichtenstein once said that a particular event where a vote on an issue of national security was held hostage to increased stipends for yeshiva students, certainly did not enhance Kevod Shamayim. Perhaps Golda Meir felt similarly.”

    Sorry, but her hatred of religion was an essential part of her being. The vote you refer to did not enhance kevod shamayim, but to Golda Meir, it would have only been another excuse. You ask me rather than assumming hatred, consider the situation from the perspective of those whose children and grandchildren die based on decisions of national security.” The historical record and the context force me to assume the hatred that was there.

    And please remember, to those who hate us, there is no difference between hesder and charedi. When Yigael Amir murdered Yitzchok Rabin, they were ready to dismiss the entire RZ world as traitors. There were those who went so far as to advocate restricting Orthodox immigration. When prominent RZ roshei yeshiva urged soldiers to refuse to evacuate “settlers,” the leftist crowd screamed “treason” and urged a purge of the Army.

    I don’t think it does too much good to dwell on the hatred. I don’t think it helps us that we have abandoned any sense of responsibility or gratitude to the state that protects us. However, we can’t forget that the hatred exists, and that it can be directed against any of us and all of us. For that I reason, we should not rush to point fingers at other members of the religious camp. There are plenty of people outside who will do so at the slightest pretext.

  18. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    ” At most from the Petirah of R. Chaim Ozer in 1940,”

    He didn’t react to the establishment of the State since he wasn’t around then, and he didn’t live in Eretz Yisrael. The window we are talking about is the period of the establishment of the State.

  19. L. Oberstein says:

    Rabbi Landesman struck the jackpot with his article, if only he got paid per responses!
    1. I read Golda Meir’s autobiography and heard her speak once at YU. She was an ardent socialist and was of the generation that felt one had to replace religion with socialism. I don’t think the current apikorsim are so dogmatic, just ignorant of yiddishkeit. She had no trouble speaking Yiddish and English when it suited her fundraising or diplomacy. I wonder why she showed such chutzpah to rabbonim.
    2.The Satmar Rav was saved because Kastner’s mother or grandfather appeared to him in a dream and said that if he included him on the train, it would get through to Switzerland. As someone once told me”I am not religious but I am afraid.”
    3.As much as I do not share the Satmar ideology, I am in awe of the accomplishments of this great leader, who rebuilt his flock after the war. Ideology aside, he cared for every Jew and trained his chassidim to give tzedakah with an open hand and not just to their own. (Aside from that Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?)
    4.Regardless of what its official dogma is, the Agudah and most yeshivos in America are very pro-Israel and work hard to help Israel with the American government. Singing Hatikvah is not the measure of who is a zionist, caring deeply about the political, economic and spiritual welfare of Israel is, even if they have to call it “the Am hayoshev B’Tziyon”.They don’t mean it, they just are stuck in that vocabulary. Maybe time will correct that blemish too.

  20. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    In referring to crimes of the Labor Zionist establishment, you left out the Saison and Altalena. The attitude of that establishment then and their successors now is akin to that of Yeravam ben Navat as told in the gemara. Hashem calls on Yeravam to do teshuva, promising that the two of them and Dovid will stroll together in Gan Eden. Yeravam’s answer: Mi B’Rosh, who will be first? If I can’t have control there will be no game. I believe that the madness of concession after concession to the enemy and wholesale importation of Russian gentiles, some of whom are anti-Semites, is based on unvoiced gut feeling that if the right, the frum and the Oriental Jews are going to take over, there should be no state of Israel. The answer to this is kiruv, reaching out to our brothers and sisters, so that the sweetest revenge will be that the grandchildren of those who hate us the most will be sitting next to us in shul.

  21. Mike S. says:

    R. Eckstein, that is only not debatable if you define their generation very narrowly. At most from the Petirah of R. Chaim Ozer in 1940, or more realistically that of R. Isser Zalman in 1953. Since the Chazon Ish was niftar before R. Isser Zalman, and the Brisker Rav lived less than 6 years longer, that is a very narrow window.

  22. dr. bill says:

    Golda Meir stated “Rabbi, I wish we had two lands so that I could also have the luxury of hating.” This is the same Golda Meir who when accused of conceding too much to the Orthodox stated that she would take care of the Orthodox within 48 hours of signing the last peace treaty with the Arabs.

    She may not have allowed herself the luxury of hating, but she sure set aside a time in the future to act on her hatreds.

    Comment by Lawrence M. Reisman — May 31, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

    R. Lichtenstein once said that a particular event where a vote on an issue of national security was held hostage to increased stipends for yeshiva students, certainly did not enhance Kevod Shamayim. Perhaps Golda Meir felt similarly. Take the advice in next week’s perek and rather than assumming hatred, consider the situation from the perspective of those whose children and grandchildren die based on decisions of national security. They do not believe that decsions should be bartered in this manner. You may disagree, but I certainly understand their perspective.

  23. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    “Most Lithuanian Yerushalmim that I know consider R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank and R’ Isser Zalman Meltzer to have been much more authoritative leaders in the post-war era”

    In the Lithuanian Yeshiva world there was and is absolutely no comparison vis-a-vis Hashkafah. That’s something like comparing the Vilna Gaon’s Hashkafic influence to that of the Noda B’Yehudah.

    Rabbi Auerbach didn’t get involved in Hashkafic battles (with some notable exceptions). According to Rav Shmuel Auerbach shlit”a, it was because R’ Shlomo Zalman thought Rav Shach was doing a good enough job on his own.

  24. Not Brisk says:

    “Assuming you are referencing what I wrote – I explicitly stated Lithuanian Yeshiva world. I don’t think that is very debatable.”

    True. The yeshiva world grew in scope. The same people who would’ve followed the Rov then, follow him now; the numbers are greater.

    The author mentions the Eydah. I don’t understand the implications since the Eydah was generally ‘to the right’ of the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rov.

    This has nothing to due with Satmar as was the implication in the previous post. We did not adopt the ‘mayseh satan’ view that the author was trying to imply

  25. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Regarding the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav, in general, and in response to how to relate to the Medinah, in particluar, I’ll quote from Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe zt”l, in response to Mr. Spiegel in Hamodia, 5736, article titled “The State as a Tool”:

    “Mr. Spiegel described the State as a tool and a medium for Torah actvism. Those Gedolim who opposed the State initially, made peace, after the fact, with the State. He did not explicate which Gedolim he had in mind, and all Gedolim were implied. The two Geonim and leaders of the generation who were with us at the time of the establishment of the State were the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav, zllh”h, and they both opposed the Medinah from start to finish (also regarding the stance of the Chazon Ish there are no doubts, honored Rabbi Frankel!) This fact spurred us to respond and to attempt to clarify the issue of the opinion of these Gedolim.”

    “Mr. Spiegel had the option to say in his response to my essay that he did not mean those Gedolim; instead he went through the trouble and engaged in pilpul to find support for his idea, as if the Brisker Rav allowed room for a positive stance (in my opinion he failed in his claim). Mr. Spiegel, a trusted member of Agudah, did not even consider disputing the assumption that Torah Jewry bows its head before the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav and saw them as the Geonim and leaders of the generation. Who are we that we should determine “who is the Gaon Hador”, but let us go to the Geonim themselves, and we will go by their light! When the great Kohen, the Ponevezher Rav Shlita eulogized the Chazon Ish and mourned that the “man whom he feared” had departed – will we have any doubt that the Chazon Ish was the Gadol and Posek Hador!?”…

    “… Why should we delude ourselves into thinking that the State is a tool and a medium for Torah – a definition that the shapers and leaders of the State themselves would deride, knowing that this was not why it was created!…”

    “…We have no business with hidden matters, only a true-prophet is allowed, and capable, to reveal the intent and will of the A-mighty regarding the State. None of us knows what will be, even in the very near future; we must know how to act , and a light for our path will be a pithy statement of the Chazon Ish to the writer of these columns: “Perhaps (the State) is the final test before Moshiach”.

    “A test – not to be drawn to secularism in leadership: to distance secular entertainment and luxuries; a test – not to be drawn to overestimation of the strength of the IDF, more than any soldier or officer on the front; they see that they and their victory are always in the Hand of Hashem! A test – not to be drawn to exaggeration of party and political activism; a test – not to be drawn to decisions on our own, without consulting with Gedolei Torah and their determinations regarding the collective and the individual.”

    “All this is completely not relevant to the strong demand and the serious obligation to be mekarev and strengthen the multitudes to Torah and Emunah, and to act on behalf of the Yishuv of the Torah and Mitzvah observant in Eretz Yisrael. Eretz Yisrael itself and the nation dwelling in Zion – they are the tools to Torah and Avodas Hashem!”

  26. Chardal says:

    >Assuming you are referencing what I wrote – I explicitly stated Lithuanian Yeshiva world. I don’t think that is very debatable.

    Most Lithuanian Yerushalmim that I know consider R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank and R’ Isser Zalman Meltzer to have been much more authoritative leaders in the post-war era … after their passing, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach carried their torch.

  27. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Golda Meir stated “Rabbi, I wish we had two lands so that I could also have the luxury of hating.” This is the same Golda Meir who when accused of conceding too much to the Orthodox stated that she would take care of the Orthodox within 48 hours of signing the last peace treaty with the Arabs.

    She may not have allowed herself the luxury of hating, but she sure set aside a time in the future to act on her hatreds.

  28. cvmay says:

    Once again thank you, Rabbi Landesman.
    The need to hear a normative Torah hashkafa today is vital for the future of klal yisroel. The yeshiva world has been hijacked by the Brisk/Lakewood chevrah, with no sign of hostages being released. Smaller yeshivos and strong torahdik hashkafos are slowly disappearing and folding up.

    Where will this lead? To an insular conclave with a blatant disregard for amcah yisroel. Reb Noah Weinberg z”tl with his army of kiruv rabbanim have the ability to make a dent in the current armour. I and many others wish them SUCCESS.

    Education is the solution, get out there Rabbi Landesman & have your voice heard. Your many followers are counting on you and will be your supporters.

  29. dr. bill says:

    Mrs. Meir’s comment relates to an area where judgement in a conflicted situation plays so prominent a role. I often wonder if we taught/knew the history of bayit sheni in greater detail, how our reaction to the modern state might be impacted. herod, some of the hashmonean rulers and even some/many high priests were not paragons of religious leadership. despite that, the churban was not attributed to their sins but to sinat chinnom.

    I strongly applaud your last sentance. To your prior paragraph, I will add that in particular areas of halakha, the Brisker Rav ztl sent sheailot to R. Tzvi Pesach Frank.

  30. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    “But those who did not accept his view – and they are the majority of the chareidi world – the silence is deafening. I can accept an answer of “I don’t know”, of “hanistaros l’Hashem Elokeinu” but to leave the issue unaddressed … I don’t want to think of the answer.”

    Apparently fear of Zionism – i.e. Lemiut becoming a goal unto itself, detached from Torah, a form of Avodah Zarah, is so great, that the benefit of publicly and openly acknowledging and embracing the good is outweighed by it.

    “One final note: the contention that the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav were the undisputed heads of their generation is a slight distortion of history that is a result of a certain element within the olam ha-yeshivot who feel that only they represent authentic chareidi Jewry.”

    Assuming you are referencing what I wrote – I explicitly stated Lithuanian Yeshiva world. I don’t think that is very debatable.