Monday, January 16, 2012

Lunch with the Piecemaker

Yesterday morning, I wrote a post about age and leadership in the Orthodox world. Later that day, I gained further perspective on this topic when I was privileged to have lunch with Shimon Peres, the octogenarian President of Israel. (No, I can't reveal the how's and why's of the experience, sorry!)

Shimon Peres is 88 years of age and is the oldest head of state in the world. I asked him if he still remembered meeting the Chafetz Chaim for a berachah when he was a child; he joked that he hasn't been allowed to forget it!

We spoke about legendary figures from history such as Ben-Gurion. Peres told me the story of how in 1945, when he was still called Shimon Perski, Ben-Gurion went with him on a surveying trip in the Negev. Perski discovered the nest of the rare and spectacular bearded vulture, which is called peres in the Torah, and he promptly decided to change his European name to the Hebrew Peres.

I asked the President if he knew why the bearded vulture is called peres. He suggested that it is from the phrase lifros kenafayim, to spread the wings, referring to its huge wingspan. However, that is spelled with a sin rather than a samech. I informed him of another suggestion that has been put forward by Biblical commentators: that it is from the root meaning "piece." The bearded vulture is famed for making pieces. It eats bones, which it does via picking them up, flying high over rocks, and then dropping them and smashing them to pieces, as you can see in this video:



I told him that the name Peres therefore means "piecemaker," which, if spelled differently, is a name that I am sure he appreciates!

Anyway, getting back to the subject of age and leadership: While the role of president in Israel is obviously nothing like the role of president in the United States, the President of Israel is much more connected to national politics than, say, Queen Elizabeth, and has frequent, lengthy meetings with the prime minister. Despite his advanced age, Shimon Peres still demonstrates keen intelligence, a good memory, and a great sense of humor. He works harder than most people half his age. He gets up at around 5:30 in the morning, and aside from a rest in the middle of the day, he works until very late at night. He reads voraciously (I just hope that he has time to read the new books that were added to his library yesterday). Without going into detail, I can attest that he has made tremendous personal sacrifice for his job. His staff, who made quite an impression on me, love and revere him and the office of the presidency, and they are in awe of how much he is able to do at such an age.

While I certainly don't agree with Peres' political views, and I was never happy with him as a politician, I think that he is excellent and invaluable to Israel as a president. But even those who do agree with his politics would probably not want him to serve as prime minister at the age of 88. There have been democratically-elected world leaders in their seventies, but eighty-eight is a different league entirely. Yes, Shimon Peres is in incredible shape, both physically and mentally, for his age. There is no question that he is of sound mind. But during the hour and a half that I spent with him, I was very conscious at all times that I was with a very elderly person. This does no harm - it may even help - with the role of president, but it would surely be a hindrance to being prime minister.

The word zaken is homiletically explained to be an acronym of zeh kanah chachmah. With age comes wisdom, and there are great Torah scholars of very advanced age who are likewise of sound mind and are an invaluable source of wisdom. My own mentor, Rav Aryeh Carmell ztz"l, was well into his eighties and still teaching me wisdom. But political leadership requires a degree of strength and vigor that is rarely found with the very old. Is it possible? I suppose so; but certainly in most cases, people should eventually be allowed to retire from such roles.

Charedi society has reformed many aspects of rabbinic leadership, such as transferring it from community rabbis to roshei yeshivah, investing it with broad political leadership, and innovating many aspects of Daas Torah. But, as discussed yesterday, it is the ostensible investment of this leadership in people over a hundred years old (let alone 88), never allowing them to retire from this role, which is perhaps the most tragic. Respect and appreciate them for what they are; don't force them into keeping a role for which they are not suited.

57 comments:

  1. You met the prez in a blue shirt and without a hat? Unbelievable!

    Next you won't wear a white shirt when you daven!

    ;-)

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  2. I only wish to say at this point that your view of him and mine are completely at odds. I think it is an advantage NOT to personally meet with politicians....that way we can judge him purely on his record. A good politician can charm the pants off anyone which, I am afraid, then distorts that person's view of him.

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  3. Eh? But I met with him, and I STILL don't agree with his political record!

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  4. Rav Slifkin-
    To partially clarify my point-
    I view his role in Israeli history far more negatively than you do, and I also judge his character that way, as well. I will leave it at that, at least for the time being.

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  5. Great post! I share your feelings about the president, both the positive and the negative. I feel he is very well suited to be president of the state of Israel, and that he brings honor to this role. I also feel it a shame that so many people denigrate this man without having any idea of what his record is with respect to building the army and building this country's foreign relations. I'd like to see how some of these Monday Morning Quarterbacks would do if they actually had to take some responsibility for the state and its institutions, instead of complaining from the sidelines.

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  6. "I view his role in Israeli history far more negatively than you do, and I also judge his character that way, as well. "

    Why would you admit to doing an Averah like that?

    A Dayan can not judge a case by just reading the case file!


    R Slifkin, I noticed that you told us a joke of his, and you told us what you said to him, but you did not tell us how he responded to your comment about piecemaker!

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  7. Baruch Gitlin-
    If it was mee you were referring to me as "complaining from the sidelines", I would just suggest you review recent Israeli history, including Peres' role in it, and how he got to be President. I live in Israel and I clearly remember the time when if someone we loved got on a bus we couldn't be sure if they would come home in one piece (you want to talk about 'pieces' and jokes about another word that is pronounced the same and which became a political bludgeon?). That situation didn't just happen, certain people made deliberate decisions and were repeatedly warned that those decisions would lead to disaster abut they refused to listen.

    Also regarding regarding people who are "builders", I can give you a lot of examples of people who built magnificent edifices and institutions but who are not highly regarded in historical retrospective. Look at the current series of Parshat haShavua.

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  8. I think Peres is misunderstood. It hurts to hear the way people in the "frum" community talk about him. He has dedicated his life to the Jewish People (in his own way) and we really don't have a proper hakaras Hatov to him.

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  9. Y. Ben-David - you're certainly entitled to your opinion, as I am to mine. I just want to note that I also live here in Israel, and I lived here during the Oslo years and their aftermath. I had the experience of being stoned on the roads and having friends and neighbors killed by terrorists. I didn't vote for Peres, and I agree that Oslo was a huge mistake, but I also don't see how you can discount the contributions he made, including the development of the Israeli nuclear program.

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  10. בן שלשים לכח בן ארבעים לבינה בן חמשים לעצה בן ששים לזקנה בן שבעים לשיבה בן שמונים לגבורה בן תשעים לשוח בן מאה כאלו מת ועבר ובטל מן העולם

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  11. S., do you also agree with other parts of that Mishnah, for example "בן שמונה עשרה לחופה"?

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  12. Very good post. Agreed thoroughly with your assessment of Peres qua politician (naive dreamer) and Peres qua President (truly excellent.) Between he and his late wife, he was also able to bridge the gap, at least as much as possible, between the religious and non religious.

    There is no doubt his foolish notions about the Arabs and middle east opportunities have caused great and unfortunately lasting harm to us. But unlike others of the left, his other contributions to the state, in my opinion, outshine his mistakes. Biz 120, he's a valued member of the team.

    [Agav, I think his explanation of "peres" is more convincing than the one you cited. As you well know, the sin and the samach are often interchangeable.]

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  13. A year or two ago, Rav Shimon Peres gave a speech to a group of visitors to Israel.

    He said that Israel has many great weapons, guns, missiles, war ships, fighter jets, etc.

    Then He went on to say,
    "But from all the great weapons Israel has, there is none greater then the weapon of PRAYER"

    I had respect for him before. But after hearing this, I must say.
    "Spoken like a true Gedol."
    o

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  14. "S., do you also agree with other parts of that Mishnah, for example "בן שמונה עשרה לחופה"? "

    Some are descriptive, some are prescriptive. And all have exceptions (even ben yud gimmel, if he isn't minimally physically mature).

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  15. Based on his divisive and deceptive political career, I would say 'piecemaker' is an apt name, indeed. That name change was sadly predictive.

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  16. Rambam hilchos Sanhedrin 2:3 .
    אין מעמידין בכל סנהדרין לא זקן מופלג בשנים ולא סריס, מפני שיש בהן אכזרייות
    Rashi Sanhedrin 17a states reason for zaken muflag is that they forgot the pain of raising children.
    I find it fascinating that "lo sassur" is the call of Charedim to force Daas Torah while the passuk which is about Sanhedrin, and most of the super Gedolim are passul lesanhedrin.

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  17. Excellent observation, Kollel Nick!

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  18. Great anecdote, Isaac. Spoken like a true gadol indeed! "Prayer is the Jew's main weapon." Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (Likutei Eitzot, Tefila 2). Reminds me of the recent incident in Washington when Bibi quoted the pasuk from Rebbe Nachman about how the world is the narrow bridge and the main thing is never to be afraid.

    Another quote from President Peres I like, which he made while trying to explain to why Israel was fighting in Lebanon in 2006: nobody has influence over Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas - not the United States, not Russia, not the United Nations, not the Europeans and not the Arab League, "and the only country with guts is Israel."

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  19. That is, indeed, a great observation by Kollel Nick. Worth highlighting in a separate post.

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  20. I think we all have our red lines. I like to think of myself as a relatively tolerant person, but I don't think I would ever meet with Peres or any major lefty (or righty for that matter, who have been just as bad as the left). It is not something personal. I just think it would be morally wrong for me to to be cordial to such people -- to smile, to speak nicely, to shake hands, etc.

    So, while I understand the tenor of your post and while I even may agree that Peres is doing a decent job as president, I still would never be able to speak to the man as I think he rates among the top 100 Jews who have done the most damage to the Jewish people in the last century.

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  21. I'm not knocking the President by showing this video of him dozing off during an interview (heck, I once did the same thing during a job interview). I just thought the video was appropriate to this post:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-6r0LlDYak -- "Peres falls asleep"

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  22. Yehuda said...I think he rates among the top 100 Jews who have done the most damage to the Jewish people in the last century.

    Well Yehuda, here's just a small part of the damage that Shimon Peres did to the Jewish people...

    From Wikipedia posting on Shimon Peres:
    "In 1947, Peres joined the Haganah, the predecessor of the Israel Defense Forces. David Ben-Gurion made him responsible for personnel and arms purchases.

    In 1952, he was appointed Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Defense, and in 1953, at the age of 29, became the youngest ever Director General of the Ministry of Defense. He was involved in arms purchases and establishing strategic alliances that were important for the State of Israel. He was instrumental in establishing close relations with the French, securing massive amounts of quality arms that, in turn, helped to tip the balance of power in the region.[19] Owing to Peres' mediation, Israel acquired the advanced Dassault Mirage III French jet fighter, established the Dimona nuclear reactor and entered into a tri-national agreement with France and the United Kingdom."

    For the full report of his dastardly deeds, just check out:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimon_Peres

    ..and by the way, I'd rather meet with a peacemonger with a strong streak of self preservation like Shimon Peres, than a war monger right wing nut case any day.

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    1. Good points. Yehudah - can you let us know what branch and for how many years you have served / are serving in tzahal? Thanks.

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  23. About 25+ years ago, when my family and I lived in EY, there was one afternoon when I went to the tachana merkazit in Yerushalayim to pick up my son from school. Suddenly there was a huge commotion and a large entourage of people approached. Being new to the country, I didn't get what was happening.

    All the frum people around me quickly scattered. I was the only guy left wearing a kipa. At the head of the entourage was Shimon Peres. He saw me from the distance and walked straight toward me, hand out to shake my hand, with photographers busily snapping pictures. I shook his hand, went home, and told my wife. B"H, I was not put in cherem. I guess no one in my yeshuv owned a TV so they didn't see me. No one ever mentioned the episode to me.

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  24. Hard to think of a person less suitable to be the president of Israel, the country that he never stoped undermining until becoming the president. However, he is a historical figure and it must've been fascinating to talk with him. You were really fortunate. One day you will surely reveal more about that meeting.

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  25. (No, I can't reveal the how's and why's of the experience, sorry!)

    My guess is that you wanted to discuss the Cambrian Explosion with someone who was there.

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  26. Some would say piecemaker would be the more accurate spelling...:-)

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  27. One democratic head of state was older than Peres: Eamon De Valera of Ireland, re-elected at age 84 and serving until his retirement at age 90.

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  28. Peres' role in getting arms during the 1950s has already been mentioned.

    He also played an instrumental role in Israel becoming a nuclear power by getting the Dimona nuclear reactor started; details remain classified to this day.

    He also was instrumental in curing Israel's hyperinflation during the 1980s. With Israel's current prosperity, it is easy to forget how close Israel came to complete and total economic ruin.

    It is also worth mentioning that among all of Israel's secular leftists, Peres was always the one who was most supportive of traditional Judaism. For decades he has had a good relationship with Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef.

    And while the Oslo Accords did not produce peace with the Palestinians, it directly led to a true peace with Jordan, something that could never have happened without Oslo.

    The lashon hara and motzi shem ra directed towards Peres is not justified.

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  29. Rav Elyashiv has unfortunately suffered the loss of many children and daughters-in-law. It's hard to believe he's forgotten the pain of *losing* those children.

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  30. ....So many negative comments from people who aren't worthy to step into his shoes, and who knows how they would have acted had they had his options as Foreign Minister or Prime Minister, among the many positions he held with integrity and honor. Unlike many other Israeli politicians of late, not once in his long career was he ever investigated for corruption, or other criminal acts.
    I realize that many people who subscribe to this website are conservative when it comes to Israeli politics, but I really, honestly, thought being a supported of this blog meant that they could also judge other people they disagreed with "Rationally" as did the Owner of this Blog. I admit to being dissappinted.

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  31. Reading the commments here has strengthened my views on why Israeli democracy is so flawed and how we have for to go to educating the population of a country to think democratically and to preserve their freedom. The wise Founding Fathers of the US understood correctly that the greatest threat to the freedom of the people is the government and those who run it. That is not to say that we don't need politicians or that they are all bad but it is all too easy for them to start amassing too much power and to become a threat. That is why the populace should be educated and remain perpetually on guard to make sure the power the politicians are given by the people doesn't go to their heads. I will now make some points to clarify my views. I should note that I will make comparisons with other people and situations. I am NOT saying whether these comparisons apply to Peres or not, I leave that to the reader.
    (1) A politician is NOT what he says, it's what he DOES.
    (2) Speeches made by politicians are written by their speech writers. For example, the politician may be meeting a group of religious leaders, so he tells his speech writer to write up something that will try to persuade them to support him. The speech may or MAY NOT reflect his own views, only his deeds can truly tell us.
    (3) Regarding the claim that some politician "built the country" or "built the army" or "built the highway system", what we mean is that he organized it. He sat in an office firing off directives and going around making speeches. The real hard work out in the field was done by ordinary people like you and me sweating out in the heat. He was not necessarily "doing us a favor" in carrying out his job, especially considering how he was certainly well paid with taxpayers' money for doing those things.
    (4) Regarding the claim that a politician or certain political party are saints because they "gave money to yeshivot", what they usually mean is that he took YOUR MONEY and MY MONEY, i.e. the taxpayers' money and pushed it in a certain direction, often after taking a cut of it for himself. Now, it is possible that he reached into his own pocket and gave also, but we have no way of knowing that.
    (5) Again, regarding the claim that "look at all the good things he build and did", I have to point out that Columbian Drug Cartel crime bosses built many schools and hospitals in Columbia (I repeat what I said above, I am not necessarily comparing Peres to them, I am just making a point to remember when thinking about the actions of some politicians). This does not mean make them saints.
    (6) Regarding the claim that one hasn't necessarily served in the IDF so that person has no right to criticize any Israel politician...well, all I can say is that one does not need to know how to play the flute in order to know that a certain flutist is a bad flutist. As I said above, politicians must be judged by their deeds. The fact that many Israelis were butchered at the hands of Arab terrorists some years ago occurred DIRECTLY as a result of decisions made by a very small group of people. This tragedy was NOT an "act of G-d", beyond human control. Arafat's record as a murdering terrorist was public knowledge and so I will not accept the claim that it was merely a "mistaken judgment" that allowed him to come to Israel and to turn loose his terrorist to kill and maim. That is the basis of my judgment for those who were involved in bringing Arafat here.

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  32. I'm as right-wing as they come- a Kahanist, in fact- but when I visited the President's Residence a couple of years ago on Sukkot, I actually maneuvered myself to shake his hand. (It wasn't easy.) Why?

    1. He's the head of State, and symbolizes it, quite apart from who he is.

    2. He's been pretty good in that position, on balance, defending Israel very strongly when needed.

    3. He did a lot of good in the past. The bad stuff? Terrible, terrible. But more foolish than evil.

    4. Now that I think of it: How often do you get to touch a hand that touched the Chafetz Chaim's hand? Wow, I'm getting chills just thinking about it.

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  33. Charlie: If Peres finishes out his term, with God's help, he'll be older than Valera was.

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  34. Too Tire,

    It said "Rashi Sanhedrin 17a states reason for zaken muflag is that they forgot the pain of **raising** children. "

    Not Losing children! :)

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  35. I remember a few years ago my wife's grandfather came to stay us with us for a weeks. He was 90 years old at the time fully lucid and in very good health (he took no medicine). He went to shul, learned gemara etc. every day but he showed his age, he was weak, would fall asleep during the day etc. normal things for a 90 year old. Based on that experience I cannot see how a 90+ year old can be the leader of the Charedi world. I don't care who you are, it is simply not physically possible for someone that age to really shoulder such responsibility.

    The truth is that it is an explicit halacha (Rambam Hilchos Sanhedrin (2:3)
    אין מעמידין בכל סנהדרין לא זקן מופלג בשנים
    That an old man cannot be on the Sanhedrin (albeit for a different reason that he is disconnected from life and can be cruel). The same rationale should apply to being the Gadol Hador and/or Posek Hador.

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  36. The defenders of Peres are glossing over the real harm he caused. It isnt simply that the Oslo accords "didnt bring peace", Charlie Hall - they brought murder and people maimed for life to thousands. It brought terror to the entire country which we are still suffering from. These are not just minor mistakes that the people will simply forget.

    The detractors of Peres are forgetting the significant good he's done for the country. The arms negotiations was already mentioned, and he also played key roles in getting the nuclear program running. And he has been a very good advocate for the country as president.

    I would never say it in America, which elected its current disaster for no other reason than skin color, but I would say it in Israel: trust the electorate. They rightly rejected Peres more than five times for Prime Minister. But he is widely respected as President.

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  37. Solomon,

    Exactly how is my service in the IDF, or lack of it, relevant to the question of whether Shimon Peres brought unreparable harm to the state of Israel in the 1990s?

    If you believe he is a good fellow, fine. Shake his hand. Embrace him.

    I believe he has done great harm, though. And whether that great harm was done with the best of intentions is entirely irrelevant. I couldn't care less if someone on a ship cut a hole through the floor with good or bad intentions.

    Oslo, to me, is not a small mistake. It is catastrophic, and its spirit continues to bring Israel to its knees.

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  38. The Gemara says that Rav Yochanan was still teaching Torah until a very old age.

    It also says the destroying of the elders is better than the building of youngsters.

    There are many other statements about the importance of listening to the wisdom of the elders (One Medrash off the top of my head "Just like a bird can not fly without its wings, Kelal Yisrael can not without its elders.")

    Around 5 years ago I was in E"Y and hung around Rav Elyashiv's Shul, and even got into his house a few times. He was amazing, was sharp in Shiur, answering people back with witty lines, stood for long periods of time uring Davening,etc. When I was in his house, you were able to hear him learning out loud with enthusiasm. I could not believe what I saw. I certainly have never seen such an impressive 97 year old. I was back last year and he was still impressive (but didn't spend as much time around him or hear Shiur).

    Think what you want of him, but he is a very impressive figure.

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  39. Last comment about R' Elyashiv was me.

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  40. " they brought murder and people maimed for life to thousands."

    The Arabs have been attacking Jews in Eretz Yisrael for almost a century. Oslo did not start that and you can't blame Rabin and Peres for the actions of the terrorists.

    Look up the loss of Jewish lives in the War of Independence and the Yom Kippur War.

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  41. Charlie Hall-
    I am astounded at your last comment. Before Oslo, terrorism had been almost completely stamped out. Arafat was a mass murderer who ignited bloody civil wars in TWO countries, Jordan and Lebanon in which tens of thousands of people were killed. The ministates he ran in Jordan and later, in Lebanon were corrput terror entities in which the local population HATED Arafat and his armed FATAH gangs. Israeli troops were at first greeted as liberators in southern Lebanon when they drove Arafat and his gangs out of the area in 1982.
    Peres and Rabin brought Arafat and his terror gangs to Israel, armed them and gvae them official communications media to brainwash his people into an orgy of hatred which led to the suicide bombings that killed over 1000 Israelis and wounded many thousands more. THERE WAS NO TERRORISM OF THIS SCALE IN ISRAEL SINCE 1948.
    Remeber those he was killing and oppressing were his brother Arabs whome loved. US, the Zionists, he hated. What would he do to us when given the chance?
    Knowing Arafat's history and his refusal to do ANYTHING to build peace after he was brought here WOULD YOU HAVE DONE WHAT PERES AND RABIN DID IN BRINGING HIM TO THE COUNTRY AND TURNING HIS TERRORIST LOOSE?
    Politicians actions can and must be judged on moral basis. Unfortunately, today govermental decisions in Israel are always viewed on a "pragmatic" basis. This is wrong. This view has even infected the religious community which is supposed to put morality at the top of the priorities.
    There were some religious Jews who supported Oslo. They knew what Arafat was yet the kept saying "I trust Rabin. He knows what he is doing". I can just imagine the scene where Rabin and Peres are talking to these Jews and telling them how they were going to turn Arafat loose on the population here, "but don't worry, I know what I am doing". These religious people nod to themselves "yes, we can relyl on his promises". Rabin then reaches into his briefcase and pulls out some meat sandwiches he said he made at home and offer them to his religious guests. They recoil in horror at the thought of eating treif. But, they trust him with our lives based purely on his assurances, even though they go against logic. Odd sense of priorities these religious Jews have.

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  42. I could not agree with Yehudah and Y. Ben David more. It is morally obtuse to overlook all of the horrible damage that has been caused by the architects of Oslo. And as far as the "good intentions"-I consider the catastrophic outcome from which we continue to suffer to be the result of unforgiveable, severe recklessness.

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  43. R. Natan,
    Perhaps this picture belongs on your other blog :).


    Just kidding.
    In all seriousness, what a great privilege for him to be able to eat lunch with such an important figure as Rabbi Slifkin.

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  44. Y. Ben-David said,

    Your blaming of Oslo or the Palestinian terrorism on individual people such as Rabin Peres or Arafat is pure stupidity.

    I'm sure it makes you feel better thinking you can pin these things on individuals and put their faces in your dart board, but it's just pure lunacy on your part.

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  45. Ameteur,
    Arafat and his terrorists did not fall out of the sky. Rabin and Peres brought them here. As a result thousands of Jews were murdered. These are the facts.

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  46. "The Arabs have been attacking Jews in Eretz Yisrael for almost a century. Oslo did not start that and you can't blame Rabin and Peres for the actions of the terrorists."

    Breathtakingly foolish, Charlie Hall. You are known as a lefty liberal, but this sets a new low even for you. rabin GAVE THE ARABS GUNS. Perhaps you dont recall the tens of thousands of people screaming at Rabin (and Peres was right behind him) not to do that. I saw with my own eyes the campaigns people took to actually writing on the shekel notes, urging Rabin to resign. The people have never done that, before or since. His arrogance knew no bounds.

    I dont even know why you brought in rabin. Feh on him. He can rot, for all I care, and for all most Israelis care. Rosha Gomor. Universally acknowledged as the Jimmy carter of Israeli PMs, only much worse. We were discussing Peres. Peres has many redeeming qualities, as already said. But for you to say that "ach, oslo was no big deal" is insenstive to teh victims very foolish.

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  47. Yehudah -
    Apologies for the late reply - my last attempt froze my phone. My point was your lack of hakarat hatov (or even just hakarah) for what Peres did for his first 60 years for the reestablishment of the State. If you put yourself on the front line in defense of the country - kol hakavod. If not, perhaps you should reassess your vehemence on Oslo as MAYBE you don't fully understand the real cost of building and defending the State and hence are not in the best position to assess the real tradeoffs that drove Peres and Rabin (z"l) to sign Oslo.

    Of course, one can disagree with the deal, the counterparty risk etc, but your simplistic epithet of "evil" is just wrongheaded and immature.

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  48. Koillel Nick, I was temporarily stunned by your astute comment. On further reflection, however, there seem to be a few possible lines of objection—

    1- By מסית the opposite is true, we use a זקן וסריס. Depending on how you read רמב"ם פי"א סנהדרין ה"ה, they are either allowed or *mandated*. מסית itself is not limited to Avodah Zarah, therefore the נחש הקדמוני is considered a מסית although he only provoked the sin of eating from the עץ הדעת
    [יד רמ"ה סנהדרין כט? ואגרות משה או"ח ח"א סימן צ"ט].
    If a group or an author causes others to sin, they might qualify as מסית and be eligible for judgment by זקן וסריס.

    2- A Cherem signed by rabbis of many ages would be valid because of the rabbis who are in the appropriate age bracket.

    3- Hillel and R Yochanan Ben Zackai led the Sanhedrin presumably until their deaths at age 120. AFIK We do not find that they were retired. On RYBZ’s death bed, he was sufficiently lucid to be able to give his students advice valuable enough to be recorded in the Gemara [ברכות כח:].

    4- There is the additional ambiguity of the age at which a judge is considered a "זקן מופלג בשנים". As above it might be post 120. [Above i argued from the *history* of Hillel's & RYBZ's lives; here i argue from Rambam's *text*.]

    But all this is beside the point. The idea of “Lo Sassur” applying to rulings issued nowadays is only the minority view of the Chinuch, and the cherem against R Slifkin anyway had other major strikes against it having the power of Sanhedrin even if yours won’t be one of them.

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  49. Ok Ok, so what is the verdict about someone who originally saved lives by helping Israel become a nuclear power, and later caused lives to be lost through his involement with Oslo?

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  50. @jreject
    You are correct that I mixed the Chinuch's view with the view of other Rishonim. I was just commenting on the irony.
    As for your other points.
    It is unclear if they retired them when they became zaken muflag or if they left them, but just didn't appoint a zaken muflag. See sefer Hamafteach and hagahos Vetziyunim. From the Rambam you cited, it does sound like they retired them.
    As for Rabban Yochanan, it is plausible that he retired from the sanhedrin at some point.
    אחרי רבן יוחנן בן זכאי לברור חיל
    When did he go there? Before the churban he was in Yerushalayim, afterwards, he was acting Nassi till Raban Gamliel II took over. Besides, he was pretty old when he escaped from Yerushalayim. And the reason for retiring them was not because they weren't lucid. Rather because of achzariyus. So Rabban Yochanan could still have been saying halachos till the end. Finally, the purpose of putting a zaken muflag on the sanhedrin for a meisis, is not to protect the nation, rather to davka have an achzari on the sanhedrin, to punish the meisis. As Rambam states that being achzari with the meisis is in itself rachamim for the world. I don't think that applies to a cherem.

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  51. I wonder who use the presidential set of tallis and tefillin? Certainly not the president!

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  52. Peres and Rabin are entitled to their views as far as what is best for the country. An agreement with PLO is not a crime. What they are not entitled to and what is a crime is deceiving the electorate and signing off on a deal without at least the majority of the voters supporting it. This is why I have no symathy for Rabin.

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  53. No sympathy for Rabin? Who was murdered by a kanai (maybe not charedi, but a kanai nonetheless). Or do you mean Peres?

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  54. Did you ask him about Volohzhin, Lauren Bacall or which rabbis he descends from? If not, the interview was a missed opportunity.

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  55. For Rabin. I remember him saying that if one shot is fired at Israelis he would collect the guns from the PLO. He also said that PLO would fight terror better than IDF because they are not restriced by the Geneva Convention. His views were legimate but his politics were not. Taking him out was a tactical mistake but it was perfectly legitimate act of self-preservation.

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  56. "I told him that the name Peres therefore means "piecemaker," which, if spelled differently, is a name that I am sure he appreciates!"

    That spelling is an important difference:

    http://oneway2day.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/land-for-piece-toon.jpg

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