Friday, January 18, 2013

Politically Maturing

When I moved to Israel twenty years ago, as an idealistic and wide-eyed charedi yeshivah bachur, I was amazed and horrified at religious Jews who did not vote for United Torah Judaism. After all, Torah is the ultimate guide to everything, right? And the Gedolim are the ultimate guide to the Torah, right? And the UTJ Knesset Members are the ultimate guide to the Gedolim, right? So how could a religious Jew not vote for UTJ?

Ah, the naivete of youth! Unfortunately, looking around at my neighborhood, it appears that a lot of adults suffer from the same naivete. Since many of them apparently read my blog, I thought that I would explain how I evolved.

My chain of logic expressed above came undone in reverse order. The first thing that I realized was that the Knesset Members are most certainly not some sort of perfect conduit to and from the Gedolim. They filter what information reaches the Gedolim, and they make plenty of decisions on their own. Some of them might be fine people; the late Avraham Ravitz comes to mind (and I received a lovely phone call from his wife recently, complimenting me on one of my Jerusalem Post articles). But I'm not particularly confident that others are not the askanim that we all know about, who simply manipulate the Gedolim. Look at how much power Leib Tropper was able to wield! An important Rav in the charedi world told me, a few years back, that this is how UTJ ended up supporting Sharon for the Gaza withdrawal - the Daas Torah that allegedly determines UTJ was simply manipulated by askanim.

The second thing that I realized was that the Gedolim themselves are not the ultimate guide to the Torah. They reflect one very particular and narrow approach to the Torah; that of 21st century charedi ultra-Orthodoxy. As I have explained in my monographs "The Novelty of Orthodoxy" and "The Making of Charedim," this is but one of many approaches to Torah that exist and have existed. Sadly, the charedi Gedolim are largely unaware of other approaches, or in denial of them. And the ultra-Orthodox approach is, in many ways, contrary to Chazal, mesorah and common sense. In particular, of course, the notion of the rest of the country funding mass open-ended kollel while Charedim do not give their children the education or desire to support their families - which is the primary issue for which UTJ exists - is most certainly contrary to Chazal, mesorah and common sense. (This was discussed in a previous post, Not For The Reason You Might Suspect, that was the third most read post on this blog of all time!)

The third thing that I realized is that it is far too simplistic to say that Torah is the ultimate guide for everything. As Ramban states in his commentary to Devarim 6:18, the Torah does not and could not spell out the proper course of action in all situations. Instead, it gives us the basic guidelines and values, and we have to work out the rest for ourselves. In complex situations such as political decisions and national security, there is very little explicit guidance from the Torah; such decisions are affected much more by the values of people. And the notion of "pure Torah values," I discovered, is a myth. Everyone is affected by their surrounding culture; either directly, or by responding to it, or indirectly via learning from rabbinic sources that were themselves influenced by their surrounding culture. The Vilna Gaon accused no less than Rambam of being deeply affected by Greek culture (in which the Gaon was, of course, correct); does anyone seriously think that Rambam had some personal weakness that led him to be influenced, while every other Torah scholar is immune?!

Thus, I realized that voting UTJ was based on a very naive view of Torah, Charedi Gedolim, and how Charedi rabbinic authority functions. They would simply sell out the Land of Israel, even supporting the Left and giving away land, in order to receive the money that they so desperately need because they cannot support themselves, and/or to avoid sharing the burden in being moser nefesh for the nation by serving the army. They've basically said as much recently.

So who should one vote for? Rav Chaim Amsallem and his Am Shalem party seem to have great values, but sadly, they don't seem to be going anywhere. Yesh Atid has some well-meaning people, but I don't trust Yair Lapid one bit, and they are clearly left-leaning. Tzipi Livni? Don't make me laugh. Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak? Don't make me cry.

Likud is a reasonable option, especially with the current makeup of candidates. (Also, I am related to Bibi Netanyahu, by marriage.) However, ultimately, there are grounds for concern that they would succumb to the same weakness to which Sharon succumbed - giving away irretrievable land for temporary international goodwill and useless promises of security. The problem is that, as we have seen, once land is given away, Israel can never defend itself from attacks that are launched from that territory, without being faced with international condemnation that it can't withstand.

So, it's Bayit Yehudi for me. Religious Jews who, unlike charedim, understand that working to support one's family is the normal, traditional and correct way to live. They won't sell out the land for money, and they realize that Israel is destined to "live alone among nations." Sure, the road ahead will be tough; there simply isn't any good solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. But we shall endure, as we always have.

54 comments:

  1. If you want a party that believes that people don't need to go to the army if they are busy learning in Kollel, and essentially agrees with Shas and UTJ about equality of service, then you have the right party.

    Don't be misled by their claims to the contrary, HaBayit HaYehudi claims that it wants equality of service but then says that it only want that equality for those who aren't learning...

    HaBayit HaYehudi is IMHO not the best choice for someone of your philosophy.

    Here are some links which show HaBayit HaYehudi's REAL stance regarding equality of service:

    http://www.kikarhashabat.co.il/%D7%91%D7%A0%D7%98-%D7%90%D7%9C%D7%97%D7%9D-%D7%A0%D7%92%D7%93-%D7%92%D7%99%D7%95%D7%A1-%D7%97%D7%A8%D7%93%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%91%D7%9B%D7%A4%D7%99%D7%99%D7%94.html

    http://www.baityehudi.org.il/our-principles/#Military-and-civil-service

    http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=298765

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  2. Your view of land for peace is too black and white. A bit of nuance would do you some good.

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  3. I commend your thinking. I am, for the first time in 20 years, voting for the Bayit Yehudi-National Religious Party. I had the priviledge of meeting Naftali Bennet before he became a celebrity. I was very impressed with the way he low-key way he spoke and his emphasis on finding practical solutions to real problems instead of using worn-out ideological cruches and phony emotional appeals.
    He is aware of his lack of legislative experience so he brought onto his list those who have such a background....Slomiansky and Uri Ariel. Rav Dehan has vast experience in dealing with problems in the Rabbinate such as agunot and knows what vital reforms are needed in order to save that limping institution. He as Vertzman from Be'er Sheva who has important experience in local government which is the key to improving the quality of life of the citizenry. Moti Yogev has military and educational experience as former head of Benei Akiva, in addition to having been severely beaten at Amona.
    They also avoid "Arab-baiting" that others are doing and he calls on giving Arabs a chance to become fully integrated into Israeli society by giving them the chance to do national service and he calls for practical measures to improve the lives of both Jews and Arabs in Judea/Samaria.
    I like what I have heard. It is a refreshing change from the stale slogans from both the Right and Left in the past.

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  4. Good on you! A wise man amongst fools. Bayit HaYehudi makes good sense.

    Shalom al Yisrael

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  5. R Natan, in my humble opinion the biggest mistake you made in your life was not taking the advice of Rabbi Feldman to move back with us to Baltimore.
    Most of your feelings in this post on political immaturity etc, i also felt when i was living in Israel 8 years back.
    Like yourself, I also felt a certain hatred to the charedi Kollel guys for the same reasons that you have spelled out in this post and others.
    Yet for family reasons i had to move back to the USA, and as time went on everything changed.
    I now feel i can look at the charedim in more of a mature way here in USA so much more than when i was living in Maalot Dafna.
    I feel i have matured in the fact that i am more open-minded and even though i do not accept their values (or lack of them) i can accept people have different views without the need to be so obsessive about them in needing to let out ones emotional rants on a nearly daily basis.
    By joining us R Natan not only will you and your wife be happier people, you will be able to view the charedim in a wider context, your whole mindset will mature to view people and their ideas on a more rational level.

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  6. koillel nick:

    When has Israel giving land-for-peace in the past ever worked? There is little evidence that it is an effective strategy.

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  7. Bayit Yehudi is for giving up land to the Arabs. This is what they say. The only long term solution would be to transfer the Arabs out of Israel (and that is being lenient with them).

    Numbers 33:55
    But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell.

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  8. David, funny you say that. The bitter acrimony and extremist thinking in EY is the reason that I have no desire to move there at this point in time...

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  9. R' David,
    There may be other explanations for your change in outlook other than maturity.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  10. What's wrong, pray tell, with being left-leaning?

    Do you really trust Lapid less than Dov Lior?

    Yesh Atid has put together a great coalition which actually represents Israeli society at large. His platform is based on the idea of equality across israeli society.

    and (returning to my original question), like most israelis he beleives some sort of disengagement (unilateral or otherwise) is in israel's best interests. (as it so clearly is, regardless what the dreamers of bennet's party believe in)

    So, why not vote for him?

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  11. What's wrong, pray tell, with being left-leaning? ...some sort of disengagement (unilateral or otherwise) is in israel's best interests. (as it so clearly is)

    I'm 100% in favor of land for peace. Unfortunately, there is no realistic possibility of it. The withdrawal from Gaza was a disaster, and a withdrawal from Judea/ Samaria would be the same. As I mentioned in the post, once land is given away, Israel can never defend itself from attacks that are launched from that territory, without being faced with international condemnation that it can't withstand.

    His platform is based on the idea of equality across israeli society.

    Sounds great. But the security issue is more important.

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  12. R Natan, in my humble opinion the biggest mistake you made in your life was not taking the advice of Rabbi Feldman to move back with us to Baltimore.

    Actually, it would have been really awkward had I done that, when Rav Feldman published his book "explaining" why my books were heresy.

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  13. Rabbi Slifkin, have you not heard Naftali Bennet's reassurances that he will make sure that no new legislation against charedim learning all day is passed. One of his party members came to my hesder yeshiva and said unequivocally that any person learning in yeshivah cannot be seen as dodging the army. Furthermore, their bellicose and belligerent foreign policy rhetoric is a recipe for international isolation, which even if it is unpleasant to admit, is very dangerous for Israel. Why not Yeshi Atid? Yair Lapid is not his father and he seems to actually want to solve the charedi issue. Furthermore, foreign policy wise he is pretty much align with Netanyahu, if not a little more centered.

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  14. I think that issues with charedim take second place to issues of national security. The same goes for international isolation, to which we are pretty much doomed anyway. Lapid is way left of Likud on national security!

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  15. Likud perhaps, but not Netanyahu (or close enough). Lapid has stated that he would like to retain large settlement blocs in any peace plan, he is in no hurry to unilaterally give up any land, and he believes that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel in any potential state. Where he begins to diverge is if Israel should at least pay some form of lip service to international calls for a peace process. Lapid recognizes that the isolation is dangerous and at the very least having peace talks cannot hurt. I agree that in certain parts of the world our status as pariah will probably never change but in the United states that is certainly not true, until now of course where the current course of Israeli policy is changing that. Also, he recognizes that Palestinians are never going to become great fans of Israel, however Israel should try to bolster the PA as oppose to denounce it, because at the end of the day they are secular and therefore relatively reasonable as opposed to Hamas which will always believe in their ideology of hate. Also I think you would agree that the Charedi issue will have to be taken care of sometime seeing that in about 20-25 years from now they will be a very large portion of the country, wouldn't you rather it solved sooner rather than later?

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  16. I have heard your argument from so many that Am Shalem makes the most sense and would be their first choice, but......(mainly passing the minimum number of votes).
    If one tenth of such people would vote Am Shalem he will get in. I will sacrifice my otherwise traditional mafdal/bayit yehudi vote (of 30 years) and vote Am Shalem. The difference between 14 and 15 Bayit Yehudi seats is meaningless, but having Rav Amsalem in the knesset is (maybe) priceless.

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  17. Dear David,
    It is not such an achievment to be more "open-minded" to haredim when you live in the USA, since neither your children nor their children are putting their lives on the line in the army!
    Yitz

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  18. I've been through a similar, though not as drastic, "evolution" as you since I made Aliyah. (I never would have voted UTJ.) Some of it because of what was done to you and some because of what we went through here in Bet Shemesh.

    I have taken your logic one step further or least in a different direction. In general, I hope for the day when we can obliterate all of the small parties and have two or three large parties. The idea of a "religious" party, even if it roughly matches my own hashkafa is distasteful to me now. The only way forward is to bring together a range of people from different backgrounds, religious and not, to work together to make this a better place.

    As such, parties like Likud and Yesh Atid are much more progressive and I believe, will eventually, be the next stop on your ideological trajectory.

    Currently, for the security of our nation, Bibi is the ONLY person who truly understands the global nature of the threats against us and has the ability to masterfully articulate our position to the world.

    My concern with Likud is that they've been hijacked a bit by their right-wing elements. Lapid is untested and inexperienced. (Not sure when you base your "distrust" on.) But he's surrounded himself with a varied array of top-notch people. I understand that the party may be too much to the left for some, but I'm beginning to think that it may be the antidote for Likud's lurch.

    Still not sure which of those two parties I'm going to vote for. However, I do strongly suggest you watch this video of a speech Yair Lapid gave to Chareidi students earlier this year at Kiryat Ono College. It shows a refreshing level candor and that he "gets it" when it comes to the Chareidi issue.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNwAv6zpmh4&feature=share&list=PLE29DA7E3E6EE939D

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  19. Proud to be CharediJanuary 19, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    Between Bayit Hayehudi and Aguda i would vote the latter.
    Granted, alot of aguda followers dont work for their living and rely on donations from abroad, but if you put that next to the mingling of the sexes that bayit hayehudi followers sometimes practise, like mixed weddings, skirts above the knee which are all forbidden by shulchan oruch, surely the most rational approach would be to vote for aguda.
    So it beats me how rabbi Slifkin has decided on his own accord that since some charedim dont work for their living as their priorities are to delve into our holy Torah, that massive aveira of spending the whole day learning ketzos and nesivos which will surely bring them straight to gehinnom is far worse than jewish teenage girls showing off their bodies in the most immoral way.

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  20. Menachem, that's exactly how I feel. Thanks.

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  21. Naftali Bennett has my full support too. I want to see Netanyahu continuing as prime-minister of Israel, but I want to see a strong Bayit Yehudi in the coalition.

    With regards to Charedim serving in the army, Bennett does want to see more Charedim serving. At this point in time, the army isn't capable of taking all the Charedim that want to join. More charedi units need to be created and Bennett wants to see these units created. He also wants to see more Charedim in the work force, which he sees as an even bigger problem than them not serving in the army.

    It's true that Bennett wants those actually learning in yeshiva to remain in yeshiva, but he does want a lot more Charedim in the army, make no mistake about that.

    But Bennett is also realistic about the situation with the Charedim. We can't just stick thousands of Charedim in prison for not serving.

    Overall, Bennett is a great leader and there's a reason so many people will be voting for him in this election. I have a lot of Chiloni friends that are voting or considering voting for Bennett too. When it comes to matters of security and a lot of other things Bennett is straight on and he is also the bridge between the Chiloni and Charedi world.

    Hopefully, we'll see a Bennett, Netanyahu, Lapid coalition and in 5 years time most of the Charedim will be serving in the army.

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  22. In the book, "Off the Derech" by Faranak Margolese, she quotes Rabbi Berel Wein, who said frankly that, in a scenario that UTJ would have a majority in the Knesset, they would have a big problem in running the country: they lack vision for what to do for ALL of Israel, security-wise, economics-wise, etc. (Then again, the UTJ Knesset members have themselves differing views on a lot of issues, even among themselves.)
    I'll probably still vote UTJ, but I do think about R. Wein said.

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  23. "Rav Chaim Amsallem and his Am Shalem party seem to have great values, but sadly, they don't seem to be going anywhere."

    This is disappointing. Stand up for what you believe in. Vote your values.

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  24. Menachem- Lapid is a repid ANTI-TORAH personality. His views are similar to his father but he has a smile that hides it. They want to eliminate Judaism completely from Am Yisrael. That are their stances. Why you think most of his rhetoric is against the Haredim and the "settlers" and what is given to them and NOTHING about all the billions sucked by the leftists and the Kibbutzim?

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  25. Natan -

    Good post, just a small quible. You compare (and have done so in the past) the influence of Greek thought on the Rambam to cultural influence of the surrounding culture on Gedolim of other eras.
    There is big difference - rightly or wrongly, the Rambam quite consciously and deliberately incorporated Greek ideas into his thinking, while other rishonim of his era rejected it. That is what the Vilna Gaon was criticizing.
    While other figures were certainly influenced by the common scientific beliefs of their day, they generally didn't write entire works trying to synthesize the Torah with Hegel, Kant, Descartes, Aquinas, etc. (not that these thinkers didn't have good things to say!).

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  26. To NS- "I'm 100% in favor of land for peace. Unfortunately, there is no realistic possibility of it."

    1) Why? Its anti-Halahic. I can bring you clear proof given by Rav kahane ZTL HYD on this issue if you request. How can you be 100% for an anti-Halahic stance?
    2) Yes, it never did and over will work anyway even if some want it and will and does make things much worse.

    3) the "Bayit Yehudi" stands for anti-Jewish stances. They keep saying onw thing to one group and another things and opposite to others. They want to take over things dealing with Jewish law and make Jewish law subject to anti-Jewish secularists. Thank G-D that Rav ovadia Yosef said the truth about them, that they are like goyim and nothing "Jewish" about their party.

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  27. Moshe,

    You apparently know nothing about Lapid except how the Chareidi media portrays him. And since the Chareidi media is not really capable of reporting coherently, that's no surprise. It's hard to imagine that an anti-Torah individual would appoint a Rosh Yeshiva as his number 2. (Not to mention other fine orthodox candidates.) Or that he'd have a regular seder in learning Tanach.

    Watch the video I posted above. Maybe you'll be able to understand that being critical is not necessarily being "anti".

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  28. As I was walking back from taking my daughter to school this morning in Rehovot it occurred to me that the only way to vote was for the moral heights, Am Shaleim. We are not commanded to win the election, only to participate for the highest Torah standard, even if he doesn't win a seat.
    A side issue concerning Lapid, he may be a scoundrel, I don't know. He may also be a rationalist or becoming one. His perceived disdain for the mindless religious (not that logical Torah is mindless) is not unfounded.

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  29. "I feel i have matured in the fact that i am more open-minded and even though i do not accept their values (or lack of them) i can accept people have different views without the need to be so obsessive about them in needing to let out ones emotional rants on a nearly daily basis."

    No big trick being tolerant of people who are 6,000 miles away from you.

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  30. "Why? Its anti-Halahic. I can bring you clear proof given by Rav kahane ZTL HYD on this issue if you request. How can you be 100% for an anti-Halahic stance?
    . . . .
    Thank G-D that Rav ovadia Yosef said the truth about them, that they are like goyim and nothing "Jewish"


    you're bringing a statement from the very person who made oslo a reality (and despite all their dancing and ducking, that is exactly what Shas, on Rav Ovadia's instructions, did).

    be clear: I am not taking a stand on land for peace. i am simply questioning how you made the 1st statement and then use the very person who enabled that "anti-halachic stance (in your words) to become a reality?

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  31. The bitter acrimony and extremist thinking in EY is the reason that I have no desire to move there at this point in time...

    too bad, because the problem isn't going to be solved if the keys to the funny farm are left in the hands of the crazies.

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  32. However, ultimately, there are grounds for concern that they would succumb to the same weakness to which Sharon succumbed - giving away irretrievable land for temporary international goodwill and useless promises of security.
    I'm 100% in favor of land for peace.

    I don't see on what basis you are concerned that Likud might give away land for a useless promise of security. This Likud is composed of the people who specifically did not follow Sharon into Kadima because they opposed the withdrawal. The Likud list is very right-wing and I find it hard to believe that Netanyahu would be able to pass a phony land-for-peace deal. Every time Netanyahu talks on the subject he makes it clear that he is also skeptical of false peace deals although he agrees to land-for-peace in theory - just as you do! Bennet is inexperienced and basically unknown. I don't see what possible advantage there is in voting for HaBayit HaYehudi over Likud. Why vote for the sectorial parties which just makes coalition deal making more difficult? I also don't think that HaBayit Hayehudi is much more religious than Likud which also has many religious members - if that is your issue.

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  33. I lean towards agreeing with Menachem's analysis, although I think he underestimates Lapid's inexperience and 'untestedness'.

    In 1999, the Mafdal brought down Bibi's first government and we got Barak. I'm not convinced HaBayit HaYehudi wouldn't do the same thing today. Until proven otherwise, they're a one-issue (Eretz Yisrael) party, beholden to a base that won't let them even negotiate with the Arabs or take apart some outposts inhabited by crazies.

    I'm certainly not a big fan of Bibi on a personal level, but I don't see an alternative.

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  34. Until proven otherwise, they're a one-issue (Eretz Yisrael) party, beholden to a base that won't let them even negotiate with the Arabs or take apart some outposts inhabited by crazie

    but the PM, over the last 2 years (+/-) has taken down outposts (moran/the ulpana in beit el) and instituted a building freeze and during all of these episodes the mafdal stayed with the government. the current mafdal minister, hershcowitz, has said that the days when the mafdal takes down right wing governments is over.

    so the evidence is there

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  35. Although Rav Slifkin and I are on the same side politically in a practical sense, I must take issue with his theoretical support for the so-called "Land for Peace" policy. THERE IS NO SUCH OPTION. The choicd is betweeen keeping land and not having peace, or giving up land and still not having peace. In the recent New Yorker piece about Bennett and Feiglin by David Remnick, at the end of the article he quotes none other than Tzippi Livni who admits that giving the Palestinians a state and territory will lead to an INCREASE in violence and terrorism, but "in the long run" it MAY bring peace of some sort. This is a grossly irresponsible policy and she should have the guts to say this publicly to the Israeli public before the election and see how they react to it.
    Although there is no possibility of a peace agreeement with the Palestinians because they do not want peace nor do they want a state, but they do want to eradicate Israel, there is a possibility of an UNOFFICIAL modus-vivendi, which is actually being slowly implemented even now. Naftali Bennett has outlined how it would work, it can be seen in a short clip at the Bayit Yehudi web side.
    Giving up territory only brings terror and destroying Jewish settlements is a recipe for war. The destruction of Gush Katif has brought 3 wars in its wake over a period of 7 years, in addation to thousands of rockets and terror attempts from the Gaza territory. The ONLY way to peace is for Israel to strengthen the settlements and to make it clear they will never be given up. Throwing Jews out of their homes merely makes the Arabs think Israel is weak, and if the Jews can be forced out of Gush Katif, they will eventually be forced out of Tel Aviv. This is what the Arabs themselves say. Note this well!

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  36. It's interesting. What we might have here is a situation of dichotomy here. On the one hand we know that the Hareidi parties will sell out the territories in order to keep there perks and exemptions. Will Habayit Hayehudi sell out the rest of Israel and sit in a coalition with Shas in order to protect it's interest? Yisrael Habayit did even though a big part of their platform was for equality in Israeli society.

    I personally am rooting for Yesh Atid.

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  37. "once land is given away, Israel can never defend itself from attacks that are launched from that territory, without being faced with international condemnation that it can't withstand."

    Is that actually true?

    Israel withdrew from Lebanon, was attacked, went to war, suffered some condemnation, but it endured, and the end result -- even of this poorly executed war -- is a long term ceasefire at the Lebanese border. And that's with the very vicious enemy -- Hizbulla.

    Similarly, Israel went to two wars in Gaza, suffered some condemnation, but it withstood the condemnation, and now hopefully it has gained a long ceasefire. If not, it certainly has the option of attacking Gaza again. It has not been rendered impotent. Moreover, even prior to Amud Anan, as unpleasant as it was, the rocket attacks from Gaza were relatively limited and hardly an existential threat.

    Were our strategic situations in Gaza or Lebanon prior to withdrawal so much better? I remember soldiers dying weekly in Lebanon, and both settlers and soldiers attacked daily in Gaza to much worse effect.

    Another example of withdrawal is Sinai, which resulted in a cold but enduring peace which seems to hold even under the rule of the antisemitic Islamic brotherhood. That's pretty good?

    Moreover, if Israel is rendered impotent simply by ceding some territory to its enemies, how can it survive when it is surrounded by so much Arab territory and so many enemies? Remember, we live in a hostile region and our army has to be capable of facing much worse enemies than the Hamas in Gaza or the Hizbulla. We must be able to defeat armies and nations.

    Also, if one of the concerns for Israel is that it is being condemned when it tries to defend itself, shouldn't we be at least equally concerned of the international condemnation we suffer because we rule over a non-citizen Palestinian population? In other words, the concerns of the right are valid, but so are the ones of the left.

    I'm sorry Rav Amsalem is not gaining more support from the religious and ultra-religious communities. He seems to be offering a solution to much of the tension in Israel society. I don't see Bennet doing it.

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  38. you say They won't sell out the land for money.

    nor did sharon sell out for money, but sold out because of pressure from the goyim.

    if sharon who had a reputation of eating arabs for breakfast and scaring the americans could not hold out. what chance does bennet have.

    the maximum you may get from him, is he will sell out a bit less than netnayau

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  39. Dear Natan,
    I do agree wholeheartedly with this post.
    You might have neglected one item though, which puts our much maligned leaders in a different light: that is the experience our leaders gain by constantly advising their flock.
    I recall having met personally one of our now much appreciated leaders about 40 years ago (we were both in our twenties) and I was not impressed at all. He is now considered a most charismatic leader to thousands. You see what experience does to a person.
    Just recently one of the 2 Satmar Rebbes (I don't recall which one) made a most insightful comment about Bibi's "chutzpa" against the elected leader of the free world, which, he called "Meridah be'Umos". In addition, he said, that had Obama lost the election, a lot of Jewish blood would have been spilled through rioting riffraff. You might disagree,but I thought he was right on the money!
    So, Natan, IMHO you are right with your post, but the picture is still more complex.

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  40. Moshe, re: your comment as follows "1) Why? Its anti-Halahic. I can bring you clear proof given by Rav kahane ZTL HYD on this issue if you request. How can you be 100% for an anti-Halahic stance?"

    thank you for proving how 'non-rational'* the right-wing religious zionist world has become. you are truly representative.


    *although perhaps the word 'dumb' is more accurate.

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  41. From Rav Kahane and his explanation of "land for peace"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ3l2iNgbps

    From Rav Bar-Hayim and his explanation

    http://machonshilo.org/en/eng/list-audio-shiurim/41-audiohalakha/467-the-fallacy-of-surrendering-land-in-hopes-of-peace

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  42. Menachem- I do know about Lapid and I do not get my news from Haredi sources. And I am also aware with his man Lipman. I did have some talk with him on Facebook and it is clear to me that he does not stand for Halacha above all else and his response to me on some of these issues was "Oh, ok. Thank you for the clarification. You have THE truth of what God wants. Got it."
    You can see this on his facebook. I was about discussing (not arguing) but discussing Halahic issues and that was the response. Sound like a Rabbi? Sounds logical and rational to you? I don't think soo. Lapid just wants a puppet with a kippa, just like the State wants and wanted Rabbis to just sit there and be quiet without the Torah and Halacha influencing and eventually taking over the country. They want their rule to be above all else. Conversion? According to there wishes. Issues dealing with the enemies of Am Yisrael? Rabbis should keep quiet and leave it to the "real experts" (THEM) to decide. This is also part of the problem with the Rabbanut in general today. Its decisions are being influenced by the political powers that in the end decide if they get paid or not and who sits where according to the mandates. Now tell me why should Rabbis and their positions be decided by the democracy when this democracy includes people who are not even Jewish and people who are anti-Judaism (parties like MERETZ)?

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  43. *Their

    correction made before some smart
    a-- makes some stuck-up comment and tries to divert the discussion.

    NS you can either post this post or not (if no one diverts the discussion on a spelling mistake).

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  44. R Slifkin,


    Can we please stop using maximums like: " succumb to the same weakness to which Sharon succumbed - giving away irretrievable land for temporary international goodwill and useless promises of security. The problem is that, as we have seen, once land is given away, Israel can never defend itself from attacks that are launched from that territory, without being faced with international condemnation that it can't withstand."

    Especially an attack against someone like Ariel Sharon. If there is a person that took security of Land Of Israel very seriously, that person was Ariel Sharon.

    If you would like, i can go into a long post as to why Ariel Sharon made the decision to withdraw from Gaza, but don't want to hijack this thread. Suffice to say that it was not because he succumbed to any outside pressure. President George W Bush was squarely in the "Israeli" camp and would have allowed them to stay there.

    Very shortly, there were two opinions within Israeli gov't about what to do with Gaza;

    Option 1: Stay in Gaza and risk international isolation that would happen when Israel( i.e. settler, solider this another baruch goldstein) does something stupid that would invite condemnation of israel and permanent rift from its patron - U.S.A. Remember, that USA and Israel came together during Cold War and cost to USA to support Israel is no longer applicable and becomes less with every passing year.

    Staying in Gaza would NOT prevent attacks on Israel from Gaza; Financial burden of staying in Gaza
    Continuously defend Israeli image in public
    Politically Uniting Palestians and causing even bigger problems for israel.
    Make Egyptian President's mubarak's life easier when he cracks down on Muslim Brotherhood ( fast forward to know, make Egyptian military life easier when they deal with MB )


    Option 2:
    Withdraw from Gaza, thus ensuring that Hamas would become an international paraih ( Check! ), no longer carry financial burden ( Check! ), ensure that politically Fatah and Hamas fight each other ( Check! ), lock Hamas in a most populated place on earth and make them POLITICALLY responsible for lifes of palestians and thus


    Remember ROCKETS, even 12,000, are not an existential threat to existence of Israel. yes, they cause issues and serious as they are they ARE NOT EXISTENTIAL THREAT to Israel's existence. Loosing USA as a patron IS!

    Those were the choices that Ariel Sharon had in front of him, he chose option #2, and if you were in his shoes you would choose too!

    Real leaders need to make REAL decisions that affect country's future for years to come. Ariel Sharon made a choice based on what he saw as a future WORLD political landscape.


    This video is a very short overview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er1iw4_yJnY of the choices in front of Israeli political elite.


    My point is simple, dont' judge unless you are in their shoes. Try to understand, but don't assume that you would make a different decision from a person like Ariel Sharon or Bibi Netayahu who actually have to make those decisions

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  45. Clearly you also know nothing about Dov Lipman. You judge a man based on a Facebook response? That certainly says a lot about you. Dov is a good friend of mine, and you really, again, have no idea what you're talking about. But Dov does seem to have sized you up correctly as you seem very confident that you have THE truth. People who think they have THE truth and that "truth" comes straight from God are the ones who blow up buildings, but that certainly is not Judaism.

    You are right about one thing. The Rabbanut should not be part of the political system. We've seen, how "rabbis" with the most fanatic views have wormed their way into the system making it virtually worthless to the point where it's a complete joke in the eyes of most Isralis. And in turn, they are turning Judaism into a joke.

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  46. I'll chime in with my rational analysis of how to vote. I've quoted this article there! :-)
    Please read and tell me what you think!

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  47. WannabeeChosid-
    We have EVERY right to judge Sharon. . He was not "King of Israel", he was elected to be Prime Minister by the public and it was no an explicit promise NOT TO DESTROY GUSH KATIF which I foolishly believed and worked as a volunteer in his 2003 election campaign. Most people don't believe that the reasons you listed above were the motive for him to make the decision in the first place.
    Israel was not then and is not now facing "international isolation" because of our presence in Judea/Samaria and Gaza.
    In any event, the US is a country in what seems to be in terminal economic, military, social and spiritual decline and so Israel is going to have to look after itself without "big brother" holding our hand.
    Regarding your ridiculous claim that having thousands of rockets fall on Israel is supposedly not a "strategic threat", all I can say is that you obviously have never been bombarded by rockets and you haven't seen how the lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been badly disrupted and children traumatized by the ongoing threat. Peres and Rabin also tried to convince the public that suicide bombers also weren't a strategic threat, yet Peres was eventually forced to accept the "Homat Magen" operation in 2002that targeted the infrastructure in Judea/Samaria that supported it.

    Also your claim that one of the "successes" of destroying Gush Katif was that it "made HAMAS a paraih". Obviously you don't follow the media. The Prime MInister of Malaysia is planning to visit Gaza, so did the Emir of Qatar, the US and Europe demanded that Israel ease the trade restrictions with Gaza even when the rocket attacks were continuing.
    Also, you seem indifferent to the suffering the people of Gush Katif were subjected too when they were summarily thrown out of their homes, some of whom had lived for 30 years building what they believed was their homes and community and their future.

    A politician is what he does, not what he says. If he makes as disaster (which Sharon had also done previously with his terrible Lebanon war) we have every right and obligation to judge him.

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  48. Here's a rational analysis from a very rational friend of mine...

    Based on the bullet list towards the end of the article linked at the bottom.

    Yesh Atid is the right vote for someone, like myself, who considers keeping Charedi Parties out of the government as the #1 issue, and no 2-state as issue #2.

    a) IMO, there will be no peace-process (and/or one that proceeds at the rate of the Iranian nuclear talks, which is the same thing).
    b) Bayit Yehudi + Charedim is the most likely coalition if it is possible. Certainly the easiest on Netanyahu. Thus, like it or not, a vote for Bayit Yehudi is a vote for the Charedim. And if they're too strong and thus too demanding, possibly a shift in coalition to Charedim + left/center!
    c) My "best" coalition option is Likud/Bayit-Yehudi/Yesh-Atid which can only work if YA is reasonably strong.

    I have grown to totally disagree with the Strong Likud argument. Netanyahu is perhaps smart and well-meaning, but is more cowardly, dishonest and opportunistic. The stronger the Likud is, the more he will feel flexibility to do whatever will please others (e.g., US pressure on Palestinian issue) regardless of what his party members say. Also, the stronger the Likud, the more likely he'll go for the easy Charedi coalition partners. The weaker he is, the more likely he'll use the coalition as an excuse not to progress on the Palestinian front.

    A weaker Likud/Netanyahu is a stronger Israel!

    http://m.jpost.com/HomePage/FrontPage/Article.aspx?id=87298926&cat=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jpost.com%2FJerusalemReport%2FIsrael%2FArticle.aspx%3FID%3D298926&R=R1

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  49. Woow, the hatred towards the Haredim is issue #1, while having a situation where you or your children can be blown up to pieces is issue #2? That is how far and irrational HATRED becomes.
    And about sharon. First off he was/is a goy. His mother did not undergo proper Jewish conversion, but that is besides the point. No leader, even a King is to be followed when his orders go against Halacha. Check the poskim, check the Rambam for example.
    Removing Jews from their homes (and then giving it to our enemies) is a terrible crime, it falls under the category of being "Mosrim". Check the Bavli Baba Kamma 117b and what was and is to be done with Mosrim. (Also the Rambam on this issue).

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  50. I have said elsewhere that the draft issue is not what bothers the secular, and could have been avoided. For the past 64 years, there was no draft, most businesses are closed shabbos, most buses and transportation didn't run, people could sit and learn, kashrus was enforced, giyur and marriage were under Rabbanut. Seems almost like Chareidi utopia. But where was the hakaras hatov? Yeshiva students were subject to bombastic mussar shmuessen knocking the Medina, the yeshivas always had holy reasons for not saying the tefila for the chayalim or for the medina, when the old Siddur Otzar Hatefilos has a tefila for the Czar Nikolai or similar, I don't remember. Was this Czar better than the Medinah for the Jewish people. What about the mishna Hevei mispalel b'ad shlom hamalchus? But the Chareidim consantly thumbed their noses and acted arrogantly to their fellow Jews. No hatikvah, no standing for the siren. This is what turned them off, not the draft. Now, they may finally realize how good they had it all these years. Look, if they had one more seat, they would be able to make their own coalition with Netanyahu. But apparently the RBSH didn't want that. Now at least one center/left party will have to join. It is ironic, but the Satmars who told their own not to vote may have been the cause of the draft.

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  51. Public Service AnnouncementFebruary 1, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Yeridah is a sin.

    This here blog is a no holds barred kind of place, sure, but I must say I get a little unnerved when people from the peanut gallery so brazenly publicly encourage that terrible sin here. That crosses the line way beyond posting whatever "kefira" happens to be today's hot-buttton anathema, or for example a reader posting some ill-advised and confused hashkafa that wasn't thought through properly. Can we all agree to explore ideas, even cutting edge ideas, but not promote sins here!?

    Thanks Rabbi for your excellent posts. Oh btw about this post itself, I have a feeling that you are too naive about bayit yehudi and that we are going to learn the hard way that they will sell out the land of israel in their own ways when push comes to shove, and they will also pursue the same pointless path as likud vis a vis the terrorists and the world condemnation. They talk a good game - But so does Bibi. Mafdal version 1000 is not seeking national leadership, they are seeking a piece of the pie, like all the sector parties and they will tread the same path as always. Afterall, this is the party of the yesha council, and we saw them sell out gush katif.

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  52. Public Service AnnouncementFebruary 1, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Another announcement: it makes no sense to say that lapid is the choice because bennett might sell out and bibi is likely to sell out. (Tho as one commenter pointed out, its not for money necessarily, but is is selling out). Because if that is true about them, then that is 1000 times more likely with lapid than it is with them. At least these tough guys talk the talk (although bibi has never walked the walk). Anyone who has followed lapid's inheritance, I mean career, knows that he is a flaming leftist who has been promoting the arabs' cause on his talk show for years.

    Announcement #3: "keeping the haredi parties out of the govt" is a silly goal to have. They've sat in opposition before and they are big boys, if they determine the situation better serves them to sit out rather than joinp the coalition, they will do so. They still try to exert whatever influence they can and their constituents still exist. How is the location of their parties a national goal? That is just petty and hateful if one honestly votes based on which minister is most likely to result in utj not having a role in the coalition. Who cares if they do? Problems will be solved constructively by compromise, not tyranny and forcing people to suffer.

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