Friday, May 10, 2019

Did NOTHING happen?!

Yom Ha-Atzmaut is a national holiday in Israel. Schools are off, businesses are closed. For those who celebrate Yom Ha-Atzmaut, this means (if you are religious) davenning a special festive prayer of thankfulness in shul. This is followed by celebrating the land by going out into it (i.e. into the countryside) for a festive meal. (If you want to read a bizarre interview with a left-wing Israeli academic about the "symbolism" of the barbeque, check out this article at the Times of Israel.)

But what about for charedim who don't celebrate Yom Ha-Atzma'ut? Those in the working world, which means especially Anglos, nevertheless have a day off work. What will they do with this day?

One local shul in Ramat Beit Shemesh sought to take advantage of this for a Yom Iyun. "Transform your Yom HaAtzmaut Day Off into a Day of Torah Learning!" It featured four speakers - not only the rabbi of the shul and other locals, but also the popular Rabbi Dovid Kaplan from Ohr Somayach.
In theory, that's a very fine thing to do; it's something that other non-Zionist shuls in the neighborhood have done in the past. You can have all kinds of shiurim about the sanctity and special nature of Eretz Yisrael and its role in our history and even about how fortunate we are to be back in it, which don't get into the "problematic" topic of Zionism.

Except that's not what the shiurim were about.

One was about Genevas Daas; one was about Sefiras Ha-Omer; one was about the "Seventh Heaven"' and one was about "How to Love Your Friend."

What?!

The single greatest miracle since Biblical times, the return of the Jewish People from exile to sovereignty in our ancient homeland, and you have nothing to say about it?!

You're already organizing a Yom Iyun on the day. Talk about the miracle. Talk about how the prophecies in the Torah were at least partially fulfilled. Talk about how the UN, that great enemy of the Jews, and even Russia, supported it. Even talk about whether or not it can be declared religious significant, giving both sides of the argument. But talk about something!

Heck, I think I might even understand the Satmar approach, of mourning the establishment of Israel as the Work of Satan, better than this. At least they recognize that something happened!

And if you think that only a Zionist would protest the lack of acknowledgement of the significance of the day, think again. Read the following extract from a letter from none other than Rav Dessler:
Regarding that which we are now in the Holy Land - it is difficult to describe it at present as the beginning of the Redemption. But in any case it is certainly a great kindness from one extreme to another - from the extreme of the suffering of the destruction of six million of our brethren (may God repair the breach) to the other extreme - the settlement of our nation in the Holy Land. From this, we need to learn and establish emunah in our hearts; woe to the one who comes tot he Day of Judgement and is still blind from perceiving this tangible reality. (Michtav Me-Eliyahu vol. III, p. 352)
Even the Edah Charedis was once open to acknowledging the obvious. In 1918, to mark the first anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem from the Turks by the British, they issued the proclamation that you can see in this picture. They called on all the shuls and yeshivos "to thank Hashem for the redemption, and the salvation," and to say the prayer of Hanosen teshuah on behalf of "George the Fifth, yarum hodo (may his glory be increased)" and a misheberach for General Allenby.

Even if you think that the anti-religious nature of many Zionists, and the lack of perfection of the State of Israel, means that its founding cannot be celebrated as a religious event, how can anyone simply ignore the historical significance of it?!

For a fuller discussion of the theological significance of the establishment of the State of Israel, which do not require one to be a "Zionist," see the various essays in the excellent Koren Yom Ha-Atzmaut Machzor - in particular, Rav Soloveitchik's "Six Knocks."

39 comments:

  1. At the very least a miracle competing with the miracle of survival and thriving of the Jewish people and the survival and thriving of Israel as a state. How many have heard of the Assyrians and Chaldeans and Arameans still being around? They are but not in exile and not in any great glory. The Jews always have gone through the same pattern with Israel of coming in as weak abd ending up as the most powerful power within a large radius in the region sorrounding them.

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  2. They probably think that they can't give any kind of talk about the subject, even a balanced one giving both sides of the argument or an entirely apolitical one, without falling foul of extremists on either (mainly one) side. And they're right. So it's simpler to avoid the issue entirely and only fall foul of a critical blog or two!

    It doesn't necessarily mean that the personal opinions of the speakers or organizers are that the subject should be ignored.

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  3. Look at the bright side. At least Ramat Beit Shemesh has a river.

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  4. The Vaad Ha'ir is NOT the Eida HaChareidis. The Eida HaChareidis was only founded in 1919

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  5. Rabbi Slifkin, you're conflating two very different things: The dwelling of Israel and the establishment of The State. As far as the religious significance, fulfilled prophecy and celebrating our dwelling, the latter is fundamentally irrelevant.

    Don't get me wrong, the establishment of the state is indeed a miracle. But that God chose the miracle to manifest via the state of Israel does not give the State itself inherent significance.

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    1. 1. The latter is the cause of the former. Does Hakarat Hatov have no religious significance?!
      2. Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael is a direct fulfillment of Mitzva #4 in the Ramban's list of Mitzvot. That sovereignty is fulfilled by, and only by, the State.

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    2. 1) The latter is not the cause of the former. The cause of the former is the creator of the world. The latter is how the creator chose to manifest his will, let's not worship the messenger.
      2) of course we should have hakaras hatov!!
      3) The Mitzvah of yishuv is fundamentally irrelevant of the state. Meaning, had the dwelling of Israel taking place without the creation of the state we would still have the mitzvah.

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    3. 1. Your first two points contradict each other. Hakarat hatov = gratitude toward the messenger. If the messenger is not to be acknowledged, the whole concept of hakarat hatov is void.
      2. You clearly haven't learned Mitzva #4 in the Ramban's list of Mitzvot. I refer you again to that source.

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    4. To point #1:
      Yes, of course we should have gratitude to the messenger, just like we should have gratitude towards America for being a malchut shel chesed (maybe not to the same extent). Yet I wouldn't try to 'jewish-ify' July 4th. Why? Because America's grace is irrelevant to my Jewish identity, regardless of my appreciation.

      Judaisms relation to the state is were we diverge. If in 1948 Israel became the 51st state of the USA instead of the State of Israel, yet everything was as it is today just under the star spangled banner, there would be no difference to me. The State itself does not have any significance to me as far as Judaism is concerned. But yes, we must have hakaras hatov.

      To point #2:
      If I'm mistaken please correct me; The Ramban would have been satisfied with conquering alone it seems. the Ramban doesn't hint to anything resembling a state or independent governance.

      The mitzvah is to inherit the land, which was done by the State but not with religious intentions, so how can we use the Ramban to bolster the significance of the State visa vis Judaism?

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    5. 1. The difference between July 4th and Yom HaAtzmaut is what we need to be grateful for. On July 4th, it's a relatively comfortable stage of galut. On Yom Haatzmaut, it's the salvation of the Jewish people from foreign rule (which is the most basic definiton of geula), the ingathering of the exiles, and the deliverance of the Jews in Eretz Yisrael from annihilation. Isn't that about as Jewish as a holiday can get?

      2. Both practically and halakhically, an act of conquering can be performed only by an independent state. By the way, 'lehorish' means to conquer, not to inherit.
      Your assumption that the State must have religious intentions for its actions to be halakhically significant is highly questionable. At the very least, they have significance according to the opinion that 'mitzvot ein tzrichot kavana'.

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    6. 1) Agreed, what we have gotten from the state is more religiously significant than what we've gotten from the USA. However, we can only be grateful to someone/something in as much as they intended to give us that 'thing'. Meaning as follows; The in gathering of exiles and the holiness of the land was/is not the intentions of the sate. To the contrary, it was an unsavory secular dream to rid us of the 'old jew' persona. I am happy because of what resulted from the zionist dream (albeit unintentional), but I cannot respect the entity it self.
      L'mashal: Who are you more grateful to, someone who purposefully gives you $100, or someone who drops $500 by accident and you happen to be the lucky one to find it and keep it?

      2) Firstly the Rambam argue with this Ramban. Even if we go with the Ramban and assume the conquering has halachik significance (regardless of its founders intentions as you point out), I have a dilema: On the one hand the state is manifesting the will of G-D, but on the other hand it is at best a medium of G-Ds will, a far cry from the nationalistic obsession of many.

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    7. Elisha,
      He's not considered rationalistic enough for this blog
      why is he all of a sudden Authority

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    8. To make use of your mashal, the State of Israel isn't the person who dropped the $500 bill (that would be the U.N., or for argument's sake the secular Zionists); it's the $500 bill itself. The State of Israel is itself a manifestation of Yishuv Eretz Yirael, Kibbut Galuyot, and Jewish Independence (=Geula). It has inherent Jewish value, regardless of its founders' intentions (which you regard too negatively, but that's another topic).

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    9. Well said and I hear your point.

      I guess my opinion was formed by the people in my immediate circle; Modern orthodox, with a strong emphasis on modern and not so much on orthodox.

      But for some reason Israel seems to be the holy grail for these ignorant types and it throws me off.

      Nice conversation btw...

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  6. ...if you ignore it , maybe it will just go away....

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  7. I think that their idea is that the day is a "made up" holiday with no religious significance, and therefore there is no reason to specifically do any particular type of learning, just as, lehavdil, a Christmas/New Year Kollel in the US would not have special topics either. Do the Satmar specifically protest Israel on Yom Ha'atzmaut?

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    1. Many yeshivot in chu"l have a 'legal holiday' program on American holidays.
      As for satmar, they burn an Israeli flag on Yom HaAtzmaut (sometimes an effigy of an Israeli leader too), covered on front page of satmar (and other) newspapers.

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    2. That may be true, MiMedinat HaYam, that there may be "legal holiday" programs, but those are exactly similar to what RNS is describing - ie on December 25th, since regular sessions will be messed up for whatever reason, there may be a special program about Shmiras HaLashon or whatever, NOT a discussion of the halachic ramifications of using a synthetic Christmas tree! (so yeah, Reb Ohsie's point stands, that the learning topic of the day is not special TO THAT DAY even as your point is correct...)

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  8. The settlement of our nation in the Holy Land is a great kindness from Hashem that we must thank Him for always, but I take issue with this statement of yours:

    The single greatest miracle since Biblical times, the return of the Jewish People from exile to sovereignty in our ancient homeland…

    How do you know that since biblical times there was no greater miracle? Are you aware of every occurrence in Jewish history since Biblical times?

    Take for example of wars of the Maccabees. It was "the mighty into the hands of the week… many into the hands of the few… wicked into the hands of the righteous…" who decides which miracle is greater?

    Also, there may be other ways to rank miracle size, such as how much the miracle deviated from a natural occurrence. For example, while Elisha’s splitting of the sea, during Biblical times, after Eliyahu ascended to heaven, was applicable to only one man (himself), it deviated from a natural occurrence more than, say, an underdog army being triumphant in battle.

    The point is that, while the settlement of Jews in the Holy Land is miraculous, it doesn’t necessarily outrank every miracle that occurred in the last 2,500 years.

    Finally, as you yourself point out, there are certain unfortunate realities. The State of Israel, as much benefit it provided to the Jewish nation, was founded by many atheists and Shabbos profaners. It has directly caused many to go astray and certainly many Zionists are of an anti-religious nature. There is a reason that R’ Dessler said that it is difficult to describe it at present as the beginning of the Redemption.

    The hand of Hashem was evident at the time of the founding of the State of Israel, and great good has resulted, but it is mixed with much sadness. It certainly isn’t the single greatest miracle since Biblical times.

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    1. Actually, Rabbi Slifkin understated the significance of the return of the exiles to Israel.
      According to Yirmeyahu 23:7-8, the return of the exiles is a greater miracle than the Exodus from Egypt. So actually, we're talking about the greatest miracle in Jewish history, including Biblical times.

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    2. Unfortunately, many of our Arab neighbors look at Israel as a transient inconvenience. The Crusaders also held onto parts of the land of Israel for several decades, only to lose control later.
      When I attended Boston University, the campus Rabbi, Rabbi Joseph Polak שליט"א used to reword the prayer for the state of Israel as ראשית המשכת גאולתנו instead of ראשית הצמחת גאולתנו, because 1) without a prophet among us, we have no assurance that "this is it", and that we may (G-d Forbid) lose Israel at some point, and 2) the founding of the state of Israel is a high point in the period of galus, and thus a continuation of the redemption from Egypt.

      --Yehudah P.

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    3. Anonymous, the potential that we may (CH"VSH) lose Israel is perhaps one reason for the lashon "Shet'hay tz'michas geulaseinu" instead of "Reishis" - that we pray that indeed this may indeed BE the beginning of the Redemption. [Of course, some people utilize Shet'hay for the opposite reason, more in line with some of the thoughts in Yehudah's comment above, that one cannot be certain that this project that is not founded completely on Torah and by Torah-practicing people is the beginning of the Redemption. OTOH those who feel very strongly in that direction wouldn't say this tefillah at all...]

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  9. It's one thing to thank King George and Great Britain. They are non-Jews and galut clearly continues, only under more benign circumstances.

    Zionism claims to be Jewish. That cannot be recognized.

    They would sooner thank Putin for allowing Jews to visit a ruined shtiebel than Netanyahu for building a thriving bet midrash.

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  10. C'mon, you know just as well as anyone that there was no way the yom ha'atzmaut was going to be discussed in that venue or by those speakers. You were not surprised at al. Nothing has changed in that world since you were in it, again as you well know. So why the feigned astonishment? Polemical currency?

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    1. Not at all. As I wrote, other non-Zionist shuls in the neighborhood have done such Yemei Iyun which had all kinds of shiurim about the sanctity and special nature of Eretz Yisrael and its role in our history.

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  11. "Even talk about whether or not it can be declared religious significant" (religiously)
    "woe to the one who comes tot he day of judgment" (to the)

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  12. Where is the letter from Rav Dessler from?

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  13. Ok, name a non-Zionist shul in the neighbourhood which has had a learning program on Yom Ha'atzmaut about Eretz Yisrael. Maybe there is one. But even if there is, it's outside the mainstream. Because, again as you well know, the mainstream of the litvish world, both American and Israeli, just don't talk about the state in any positive terms. Certainly not publicly and even more so on Yom Ha'atzmaut. Nothing new there. In the charedi world any positive talk about the state is considered controversial. Any observer knows that. So my question about feigned surprise stands.

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  14. Slifkin, are you running low on material? They were learning. I would bet anything that you however spent the day immersed in your barbecue somewhere,probably flipping a silly and obscure animal most Chachomim would deem Treif- as opposed to in a Beis Medrash learning anything at all.
    Which, incidentally would explain your gripe with those learning, on that day, and all the others.
    Get a life, you miserable miscreant.

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    1. Lw, did you ever consider that RDNS gains points when he publishes comments like yours? That he's in a sense grateful that you wrote that?

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    2. By now I don't thnk he gains or loses by these comments.

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  15. מעשה שהיה עם המשגיח שלמה וולבה זצ”ל במלחמת ששת הימים.
    כאשר הבחורים ישבו במקלט, שאלו המשגיח האם לומר תהילים להצלחת חיילי צה”ל? תשובתו, צריך להתפלל שהמדינה הציונית תתפוצץ להם בפנים, ואם כתוצאה מזה אנחנו נמות, יהיה זה מוות על קידוש ד’.

    לאחר כמה ימים כאשר בישרו לו על שחרור הר הבית והכותל, האם להודות לה’ באמירת תהילים? ענה כן. לומר הפרק “אלוקים באו גויים בנחלתך, טימאו היכל קודשך". ד
    ------------

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    1. Is this really what happened? Or is this a distortion of what R' Wolbe said? Another version (found on some other forum) has it that he was "calmly saying to himself that he is willingly accept upon himself death if through this would affect the bitul of the Chillul Hashem which is Tzionism "

      The Satmar Rebbe also wrote that we should pray for the nullification of Zionism, but ONLY through the Messianic State- if the Arabs take over they would kill everybody. (See his דברי יואל on וארא for the original quotation.) I find it doubtful that R' Wolbe was more extreme than the SR, so I think the above version of the event is more credible.

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  16. The Above remarkably was from one who had a very good rapport with the IDF
    they would fly him in helicopter to speak to the soldiers as morale boost
    He Further encouraged and respected his son's decision to join the Army

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    1. I'm not sure what you are saying: Rav Wolbe had a change of heart towards the IDF and the State of Israel over the years?

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    2. I'm not sure what you are trying to say: do you mean that Rav Wolbe softened his stance over the years? (The country is far more religious now than it was in 1967.)

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    3. Y P,
      No.It was concurrent

      Though he displayed some more nuance-Nuanced person that he was- after labour-Mapai went down in Defeat

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