Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Relevance of an Assassination

The assassination of Gedalyah is difficult for many people to relate to as a historic tragedy. As the old joke goes, he would have been dead by now anyway - and if I died, would he fast? And can you take seriously someone whose grandfather was called Hyrax?

Of course, the fact is that it was a tragedy of historic dimensions. It marked the final nail in the coffin of the original Jewish state. But it's not just a historic tragedy in terms of what resulted - it's also extremely relevant in terms of why it happened.

Gedalyah was installed by the Babylonians as governor of the remaining Jews. His assassins apparently saw him as a traitor who was cooperating with the enemy instead of rebelling and ensuring victory. Of course, they were badly mistaken. There was no chance of getting rid of the Babylonians. It was better to cooperate and at least preserve some degree of Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel. Instead, as a result of the assassination, the Babylonians took the remaining Jews captive back to Babylon.

It's all too easy to understand the mindset of his assassins. It's a combination of factors. First, there is the naive, fundamentalist worldview, in which everything is black and white. The Babylonians are Bad! We have a Right to the land! Never mind the actual political reality in which having full control of all the land is just not feasible. 

Then there is the demonization and delegitimization of other Jews. Gedalyah is a Leftist! A traitor! We have to do whatever we can to get him out of power! The ends justifies the means! Once you start talking like that, it's only a matter of time before someone takes the next step.

Speaking of which...

At the UN last week, two speeches of relevance were delivered. But only one was significant, and it's not what people think.

Abbas' speech was predictable. He continued to gripe against Israel's crimes (some of which may have a partially factual basis, but most of which are simply Israel trying to maintain security for its people). Of course, never once did Abbas acknowledge the Palestinian terror which requires Israel to take countermeasures. But more significantly, he never even acknowledged the Jewish People's historic claim to the land. He described the occupation as one that began in 1948, he described Jerusalem as holy to Muslims and Christians, but never once did he, or has he, acknowledged our historic connection to the land. That is just one of the reasons why peace is impossible. As long as the Palestinians deny the factual reality of our historic connection to the land, they will never accept us living in any part of it.

Lapid's speech, on the other hand, was not significant at all. He did what he had to do. Including saying that “an agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children.” 

There are people who are condemning him as a dangerous traitor for saying this. They seem to forget that just a few years ago, Bibi Netanyahu said the same thing. He stated that "if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state.” In a speech to Congress, he added that "I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historical peace. I recognize that in a genuine peace we will be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland.” Are these people also branding Bibi a "traitor"? Bibi said what he had to say, and Lapid said what he had to say.

Lapid's critics also forget that he made it clear that enabling a Palestinian state would be conditional on it not posing any threat to Israel's security - and thus it remains a pipe dream for the foreseeable future. This isn't 1995. There's no real Israel Left left. After Gaza, everyone knows what Palestinian independence in Judea and Samaria would mean. There's no significant difference whatsoever between Bibi and Lapid on this.

Yet at the same time, talk about transferring all the Palestinians somewhere else, or annexing everything and depriving Palestinians of voting rights, is likewise a pipe dream. Those who claim otherwise are as unrealistic (and potentially as dangerous) as Gedalyah's assassins. 

And so, we are stuck in this mess for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, it doesn't affect our quality of life too much. It affects many Palestinians very badly (and there are certainly ways in which Israel should be minimizing this). But at the end of the day, I'd rather that we have a good life and they suffer, rather than us both suffering (which would be the inevitable consequence of a Palestinian state). History has its winners and losers, and those whose ancestors make bad choices suffer for them. Just as we suffered for two thousand years. 

Meanwhile, we have to be realistic. Realistic about what the Palestinians will and will not do. Realistic about what Israel can and cannot do. Realistic about what prime ministers have to say and about what they actually mean to do. And not fall into the trap of delegitimizing our opponents as "traitors."

Tzom Gedalyah teaches us the consequences of acting in such a way.

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  1. מסילת ישרים פרק כ' במשקל החסידות:
    והנה מה שצריך להבין הוא כי אין לדון דברי החסידות על מראיהן הראשון, אלא צריך לעיין ולהתבונן עד היכן תולדות המעשה מגיעות, כי לפעמים המעשה בעצמו יראה טוב, ולפי שהתולדות רעות יתחייב להניחו, ולו יעשה אותו יהיה חוטא ולא חסיד. הנה מעשה גדליה בן אחיקם גלוי לעינינו שמפני רוב חסידותו שלא לדון את ישמעאל לכף חובה או שלא לקבל לשון הרע, אמר ליוחנן בן קרח שקר אתה דובר על ישמעאל (ירמיה מ, טז), ומה גרם? גרם שמת הוא ונפזרו ישראל וכבה גחלתם הנשארה, וכבר ייחס הכתוב הריגת אנשים אשר נהרגו אליו כאילו הרגם הוא, ובמאמרם ז"ל (נדה סא, א): על הפסוק את כל פגרי האנשים אשר הכה ביד גדליה. והבית השני גם הוא חרב ע"י חסידות כזה אשר לא נשקל במשקל צדק במעשה דבר קמצא, אמרו (גיטין נו, א): סבור רבנן לקרוביה, א"ל רבי זכריה בן אבקולס יאמרו בעלי מומין קריבין לגבי מזבח, סבור למקטליה א"ל רבי זכריה בן אבקולס יאמרו מטיל מום בקדשים יהרג, בין כך ובין כך הלך אותו הרשע והלשין את ישראל, בא הקיסר והחריב ירושלים, והוא מה שאמר ר"י על זה: ענותנותו של ר' זכריה החריבה את ביתנו ושרפה את היכלנו והגליתנו.

    You are interpreting the text to fit a political agenda. Gemara says openly that it was the erong applicatiom of chassidus that had caused the death if Gedaliah and the Churban. This is the message of thr fast.

    1. Actually you are incorrect to say that this is the purpose of the fast.
      בתלמוד הבבלי, מסכת ראש השנה, נאמר: ”צום השביעי, זה ג' בתשרי שבו נהרג גדליה בן אחיקם. ומי הרגו? ישמעאל בן נתניה הרגו. ללמדך ששקולה מיתתן של צדיקים כשריפת בית אלהינו.”

      The point about taking naivety too far may be a lesson the Talmud learns from the story of Gedaliah, but its not the purpose of the fast.
      May we not know the assassinations of any more of our leaders.

    2. Tzadikim passed away in the times of Beis Hamikdash, so this needs explaining.

    3. Now you are just making up your own stuff.

    4. "This is the message of the fast."

      The מסילת ישרים doesn't say that. You should have written "This is one of the messages of the fast."

    5. @Ephraim - you are correct.
      @Not a fan making up what stuff? Why is מיתת צדיקים a national event comparable to חורבן הבית? What's the explanation? That's the reason you fast? The exile of שארית הפליטה is a national event and the cause for it was unwaranted tolerance. The message that had the tzadik taken precautions, things might have turned out differently contradicts the message that שקולה מיתת צדיקים כשריפת בית אלוקינו in this case. I don't understand the ר'"ה, can you explain it?

    6. @yakov... the Talmud bavli in ר"ה is saying that we fast because of the death (murder in this case) of the tzadik Gedalia. Since we fast for him and also for the destruction of the Temple, therefore the two are equated. We should mourn for one no less than the other.

      Thus, beware those who minimise the tragedy of the death of tzadikim and maximise the tragedy of the destruction of the Temple.

      The cause of the exile of שארית הפליטה may have been excessive naivety. The fast day is for the death of the tzadik.

    7. We fast because after that there was no jewish presence in Jerusalem for 52 years. All the people fled to Egypt, dismissing Yirmeyah's warnings one last time.
      And because this did wasn't done by our enemies, but by Jews. Right-wing jews who couldn't stand that Gedalyah said to the people to serve the babylonians (obeying the express warnings Yirmeyah spent his life giving, to no avail) and refused to relinquish his power to the house of David. And all of that even though they knew full well there was not a single chance Ishmael could rebuild his throne (his plan was to flee to his friend Baalis).

    8. @not a fan

      But why is the death of tzadikim is equal or compared to the destruction of The Beis Hamikdash?

  2. Ishmael ben Nethaniah wasn't a Jewish nationalist, and there is no textual reason to attribute to him the feeling that Gedaliah was a traitor (although many explicitly accused Jeremiah of treason). He was a jealous and selfish pawn of Baalis of Ammon who wanted to seize the Judean territory that would end up unoccupied and freed for the taking. But politicizing a national tragedy and fast day might is basically a mitzva around here.

    1. Well said. I saw a similar point made in one of the freebies this week. I'm reminded of how Rabin's assassination was compared to the murder of Avner ben Ner, to which is was similar in no way.

      In the movie Barcelona, there's this exchange:

      "And one of the things that keeps popping up is this about 'subtext.' Plays, novels, songs - they all have a 'subtext,' which I take to mean a hidden message or import of some kind. So subtext we know. But what do you call the message or meaning that's right there on the surface, completely open and obvious? They never talk about that. What do you call what's above the subtext?"

      "The text."

      "OK, that's right, but they never talk about that."

    2. By the way, Yirmiyah told the people (they asked him!) to stay in Israel after Gedalyah had been killed. They didn't listen to him, yet again, and dragged him to Egypt with them.

  3. It says that Yirmiah (the Gadol HaDor of the time) chose to remain in Eretz Yisrael with Gedaliah (40:6). So, Gedaliah had the backing of the spiritual leader of the generation. I'm sure the Charedim of the time would have sided with Gedaliah...

    1. Just when I was schepping nachas that perhaps RNS decided to turn a new leaf and stop obsessing with Chareidim, you had to bring them into this again. Would you guys STOP tying us into EVERY conversation?? Why are you SO OBSESSED with us???

    2. We all like to think we would have been on the "right" side of history. It's why leftists today all think that had they been around in, say, the 1840's, they would have been huge abolitionists. No, they wouldn't have been.

      The fact is that most of us, had we been around then, would have been attacking Yirmiyah along with the rest. The Gemara itself tells the story in which R' Ashi is told by the ghost of King Menashe that had he been around in his time he would have been worshipping avodah zara.

    3. No problem. Just stop being a major social and religious problem then we can stop criticising. Until then we have a moral obligation to act.
      It would help if you would admit the flaws and work towards solving them. Simply defending the indefensible somehow makes the problem worse.

    4. "Just stop being a major social and religious problem then we can stop criticising. Until then we have a moral obligation to act. It would help if you would admit the flaws and work towards solving them. Simply defending the indefensible somehow makes the problem worse"

      Ha! People in glass houses don't shouldn't throw stones! Talk about defending the indefensible! Despite the fact that tragically the MODOX system seems to be a complete failure leaving over a third of their youth disenfranchised, as has been pointed out here by numerous people since I joined a little over two months ago, not a single person from the MODOX community has ever stepped up with a comprehensible explanation on what the MODOX are trying to achieve by modernizing Orthodoxy. But I don't want to get dragged into this again, especially now during Aseres Yemai Teshuva. I was just commenting that I am proud of RNS for avoiding mudslinging now and disappointed that someone had to bring Chareidim in again.

      But seriously, some of you are really OBSESSED. Look at Nachum for example. He seems to have a healthy enough self-esteem to engage in intelligent conversations that do not have to do with knocking Chareidim. So why do some of you have to be so one track minded?? It's almost like The Hat's obsession with Zionism! I agree with the commenter who posited that perhaps some people are suffering from little brother syndrome. For some reason this obsession only goes one way. There is no Chareidi blog (that I know of) dedicated to bashing MODOX even though there is plenty what to bash.

      Ok, enough said. I did NOT want to go in this direction again. Back to Tzom Gedalia.

    5. Children going off the derekh is not a social problem. Whole communities becoming a socio economic burden on society, becoming increasingly anti social and violent and avoiding the draft IS a problem. RNS continues to raise important social discussion that should not be shut down just because it is uncomfortable for some.

    6. I don’t have the time or expertise to go into what MODOX hope to achieve, but I will say simply this. They are trying to honestly and authentically approach a whole slew of questions that the rest of Orthodoxy avoid because they fear where the answers will lead. Questions such as (a) the status of women (b) actual Jewish History vs what is written in the Tanakh (c) the development of Halacha over time, (d) relationships with non-Jews, and many more. The questions appeal to critical and perhaps skeptical minds. Simple answers will not do. Commitment in the MODOX world is not obtained by ingrained, well trained loyalty as it is in the Haredi world, but rather by demonstrating an intellectual or moral value to the pursuit. Doing so is hard. Exposure to the rest of the world is necessary and valued. Lines are drawn in grays, rather than black and white. Therefore, it is not surprising that many defect. But the attempt is honest. And, as many commentators have pointed out here, (especially Uriah’s Wife), having a 100% generation transmission rate is not necessarily a good thing, if the content of what you are transmitting is messed up.

    7. I was just commenting that I am proud of RNS for avoiding mudslinging now and disappointed that someone had to bring Chareidim in again.
      I meant it more in jest than seriously...

      But, although it's valid to criticize certain weaknesses and failures of Charedi society in Israel, it's also valid to point out strengths that they have. They have unswerving loyalty to their spiritual leaders. If they're genuine spiritual leaders, that's a positive trait.
      "אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר רבי יוחנן, מאי דכתיב (מלאכי ב, ז) 'כי שפתי כהן ישמרו דעת ותורה יבקשו מפיהו כי מלאך ה' צבאות הוא', אם דומה הרב למלאך ה' יבקשו תורה מפיו, ואם לאו אל יבקשו תורה מפיו"
      Was there any doubt that Yirmiah wasn't a genuine spiritual leader? The tribulations he suffered were because people didn't like what he had to say!

    8. Ooohhh... This is hard. I really have a lot what to say about this but made up with myself that I will not go down this road now.

      Gemar Chasima Tova

    9. "(b) actual Jewish History vs what is written in the Tanakh"

      Actually, I'd take what's in Tanakh over subsequent myths.

    10. @nachum... but you can understand someone who upon hearing that would respond "Well you might, but if Judaism is based on dismissal of evidence in favor of blind faith then I will opt out.' Right?

    11. Not a fan, of course I could understand that. I mean, sometimes some faith is needed, but it at least should agree with the evidence we can see.

  4. The Babylonians did not take the remnant to Babylon. They fled to Egypt despite Yermiyahu saying don't go and that the Babylonian King will not go after you. As for the assassin he was working on behalf of the King of Ammon. He took his fellow Jews captive and was heading to Ammon. He was defeated and the captives returned.

    1. The Book of Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah)
      says what I wrote: "The Babylonians did not take the remnant to Babylon. They fled to Egypt despite Yermiyahu saying don't go and that the Babylonian King will not go after you. As for the assassin he was working on behalf of the King of Ammon. He took his fellow Jews captive and was heading to Ammon. He was defeated and the captives returned."
      The usual YA

  5. "which would be the inevitable consequence of a Palestinian state"

    There is nothing inevitable about this soothsaying. Nobody can in good faith claim certainty about anything even as complex as the outcome of the end of the occupation.

    The future is a complex thing, and the Rabbi Doctor must know that nothing can be known about it with certainty. The immediate racism of the occupation can only be justified by moral absolutes.

    Still, progress is progress. Rabbi Doctor is now willing to accept in the abstract that not all the abuses are necessary for security. The next step is to speak up when the pointless abuses actually happen in practice.

    1. "The future is a complex thing, and the Rabbi Doctor must know that nothing can be known about it with certainty. The immediate racism of the occupation can only be justified by moral absolutes."

      That's narrow dystopian thinking. You're complacently uninterested in the dangerous consequences of a withdrawal, and only focus one what you view as the dystopian present.

      You talking about the alleged "racism of occupation" and its justification. Nonsense. Occupation is not about racism, and thus you're demanding justification of something which doesn't exist.

    2. Dystopians are very interested in dangerous consequences, and you accuse me of being disinterested in them. Possibly you need to stop using so many double negatives to avoid confusing yourself; possibly you need to look at a dictionary.


      I'm realistic. Maybe there will be a bad outcome. Maybe there will be a good outcome. It is irrational to claim certainty about such prognostication. There is no such thing as a ben soreh u'moreh. Ein sofeik motzei mideia vadai.


      It is impossible to occupy a nation with menschlichkeit - occupation is an act of subjugation and racial subordination - Palestinian lives count for less - and that is what the Rabbi Doctor acknowledges: -

      " I'd rather that we have a good life and they suffer, rather than us both suffering"

      It's just this is classic false dichotomy. It doesn't hurt anyone's security to banish hundreds of thousands of civillians occupiying the West Bank. Under any reasonable analysis in many cases security would be enhanced by removing the trouble makers, stone throwers, goat troublers, and violent extremists from where they can bully others.


      If the racism of the occupation wasn't intrinsic, surely you would have taken the multiple opportunities I gave to you to b'po'el condemn the actual incidents of racism by Israeli soldiers and the state that I brought to your attention in previous threads.

    3. The future is not complex at all, since the education system and media of the Palestinians is so extremist at present.

      An Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank will most certainly lead to a takeover by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or some other jihadist organization. It won't lead to "two states for two peoples", and it won't do anything to achieve human rights for the Palestinians under Hamas/PA/Islamic Jihad rule, whichever will be the one that would take over in such a scenario. Hoping that they'll suddenly change their rhetoric and accept Israel's presence is foolhardy, when we see no sign of any moderate leadership among the Palestinians at present.

    4. "It is impossible to occupy a nation with menschlichkeit - occupation is an act of subjugation and racial subordination"

      You should look into the history of the British Empire.

    5. Speaking as someone who largely shares Rabbi Slifkin's practical concerns over the excessive nationalism in Dati society, I'm interested in how Hat views the Torah. If you're against the occupation because you think that's "subjugation of another people" is inherently evil, wait until you hear what Sefer Devarim has to say about the Canaanites!

    6. " It doesn't hurt anyone's security to banish hundreds of thousands of civillians occupiying the West Bank...."

      It doesn't hurt anyone's security to banish thousands of civillians occupiying the Gaza...

    7. " Ein sofeik motzei mideia vadai."

      Hence, your dystopian thinking.

      "Dystopians are very interested in dangerous consequences"
      I'm referring to another kind of dystopian- one who obsesses over a present which they see as dystopian and refuse to consider consequences of changing it. The present is the vadai, and the future is the safek.
      The utopians will destroy the present for the sake of a mythical future. Dystopians also call for dangerous revolutions, but from a perspective of what they see as an intolerable present. Anything future is better than now.

      "It is irrational to claim certainty about such prognostication."
      But you are claiming certainty in your prognostication that the chances of success of a withdrawal are greater than a failure. You say ספק but you think ודאי.

      As far as אין ספק מוציא מידי ודאי goes, there are limits to that principle and I doubt that it applies here beyond drush. And if we're going to invoke halachic principles illegitimately why not שב ואל תעשה which is more naturally applicable here?

    8. Yehuda! Prophecy is still with us, it seems. Forgive me for differentiating between the mathematical inevitability of Newtonian mechanics, and your convoluted educational theories, particularly given the peace deals or withdrawals Israel has fruitfully concluded with all its neighbours bar one.



      I am a student of the British Empire.

      Jews weren't allowed to pray on Tisha B'av at the kosel thanks to the British Empire. I presume you disapprove?

      Some of the most egregious rules of the Occupation, such as this bizarre obsession with blowing up the homes of terrorists, were the fault of the British Empire and its laws, which Israel has adopted.


      You want the truth, Shtreimel? I'm not sure you can handle the truth.

      The truth is that the Torah was not given in eternal and immortal form through thunder and lightning on Mount Sinai. Anyone who studies the full evidence rationally and with an open mind will conclude it was written and then reproduced in various forms by a number of different groups of bronze aged mortal tribesmen in the wider Middle East area. By way of example: -

      You can find a slightly different version to our asseres hadibros in the Dead Sea Scrolls, for example. (

      The Aleppo Codex (Sefer Torah), fragments of which are still existent, and once used by the Rambam, has different paragraph breaks to modern seforim.

      The story of Noach is a version of the story of Utnapishtim (

      I have great respect for our religion and our written law. But that cannot spill over into actions which make no sense. Where literalist interpretations relevant to the conditions of Bronze Age tribes ask for the oppression of other humans, basic morality and common sense takes precedence. That's not just me speaking. That's every single Rav in Israel who condemmned Yishai Schlissel, the Jerusalem gay pride parade stabber, as a fanatic.

    9. Hat, I'm a citizen of not one but two countries that overthrew the British Empire, and I am happy about both facts. But I am also not going to be an idiot and pretend that the British gave many, many good things to both countries, and to their colonies in general. (The American Revolution succeeded where other revolutions failed because it was a *conservative* revolution.) Africa in general is a disaster, but those countries that were once English are a lot better off than those which were, say, Belgian. India is pretty good. Canada, Australia, New Zealand are model nations. Need I go on?

      (Obviously the nature of the majority population- or, in some cases, the population in charge- really helps as well. Thoughtcrime!)

      Your thoughts on the Torah remind me of some apikorsim you see on the internet who were raised with such an extreme view of Judaism that when they discovered a tiny fact they chucked it all. The paragraph breaks in the Aleppo Codex? Seriously? *That's* your basis for throwing out the Torah?

      Thank God I learned about the Dead Sea Scrolls and Utnapishtim from believing Jews.

    10. It seems to me that the Rabbi Doctor is also, by Ephraim's definition, a dystopian. He also thinks that the Occupation occasions suffering for the Palestinians.


      When I say ספק, I unsurprisingly actually mean ספק.

      I have no idea how to even approach the task of quantifying the probabilities of the various different possible outcomes of an end to the occupation, especially given the vagueness of what that actually means (a negotiated peace? A gradual or sudden withdrawal?) All I will say is that the only people claiming absolute certainty is the Rabbi Dr and Yehuda P. (the latter likely because of some people he spoke to on Quora).


      We obviously have very different ideas of what "Shev v'al ta'aseh" would look like. I would think it would exclude 11,367 new units constructed in 2021, marauding Jewish terrorists, destruction of agricultural property, expropriation of private land, tower blocks, goats, electricity pylons, mobile phone masts, new roads just for Jews, vineyards, water pumping stations, 13 new settlements illegal under Israeli law in 2021, and a 42% increase in population since 2010.

    11. Mr. Hat, we don't need prophecy. We have empirical evidence, that the Palestinian Authority has brainwashed the Palestinians under their control to only become more and more belligerent over time.

      Every time someone succeeds in murdering a Jew, it's a "successful military operation". Every time Israel performs an arrest or kills a militant shooting at IDF forces, it's "aggression by the Israeli Occupation Forces". They never connect a terror spree with the Israeli response.

      I don't know where you can derive any data that prove that we can reach a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians. And if we do somehow reach an agreement (by ceding to all of their demands, since they'll settle for nothing less than that), that there won't be an entire alphabet soup of terror organizations (PFLP, DFLP, PIJ, etc.) that will refuse to abide by the agreement because "they weren't consulted"--or some other flimsy excuse to engage in terror.

      I'll believe in what Palestinians themselves write on Quora, more than what you write here on Rationalist Judaism. You always manage to look at the Palestinians through rose-colored glasses. Even if you've met tolerant, moderate Palestinians in the past, they will never be in positions of power to actually run things in any government. What say do they have in the present Palestinian government? They'd have to wrest power out of the hands of Abbas and his cronies, or Hamas and their cronies.

    12. Yehuda P: we never reached a settlement agreement with Hezbollah and yet far less people die now than used to die when there was an occupation. Likewise Syria. We did reach a deal with Egypt and Jordan and they hate Israel as much as the Palestinians ever do. There is nothing inevitable about anything.


      But that is a worse case scenario. Every day PLO police officers risk their lives to protect Jewish civilians. There may be a deal to be done.


      If you want to know what Palestinians really think don't look at flame wars on your blessed Quora. This Jewish secular normal centrist Israeli guy spends time wondering around Ramallah telling people he is Israeli. The reactions will probably suprise you.

    13. I watched the videos. Interesting. But to state “ This Jewish secular normal centrist Israeli guy spends time wondering around Ramallah telling people he is Israeli” is grossly misleading.
      But kinda makes sense for you to view it that way given your penchant for delusion.

    14. Peanut Butter & JellySeptember 30, 2022 at 7:14 AM

      Wow. Very disappointing! I am very turned off right now. This seemingly innocuous post about Tzom Gedalia has somehow triggered some regular commenters on this site to reveal their deepest and darkest secrets. Namely, that they are dyed-in-the-wool kofrim. They make others who I always thought to be left wing look tame compared to themselves. If we were all part of the same religion then we can legitimately discuss what is the correct approach. But these guys are not even pretending to be interested in the same religion as us. They fully admit that they are not believing Jews. They fulfill the Rambam's requirements for a kofer. I don't even get why they identify as Jews if in their minds they are godless descendants of apes. Why don't they move to Vegas? Why is Israel any more meaningful to them than Puerto Rico?

    15. The Rambam said in morah nevuchim he had no interest in korbanos and they were a concession to a previous age. I'm not saying anything near as radical as ripping up the entire book of Leviticus, just to go easy in applying apparently extremist bits of Deuteronomy in 2022.


      Since when did we pasken halacha straight from Chumash?

      Everyone knows nowadays you don't kill gay people.


      As for the archaeology, the facts are the facts, and you can be a kofer to historical reality if you like, but the truth doesn't care about your feelings.

    16. @Hat: "Every day PLO police officers risk their lives to protect Jewish civilians. There may be a deal to be done."

      It's questionable how much of the security cooperation is for the good of Israelis, and how much is for the good of the PA themselves. They know that they're unpopular among the Palestinians, they would definitely lose in an election vs. Hamas, and would probably end up being thrown off of 17-story buildings like their late unfortunate counterparts in Gaza, if Hamas were to take over the West Bank. (Not to mention that PA police themselves have been involved in attacks against IDF forces, just this week.)

      It's interesting that even you express doubt: "there may be a deal to be done". When Palestinians themselves say "Globalize the Intifada", and "From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free", the chances of making a deal are infinitesimal--since there's no way for Israel to meet the Palestinians demands. They demand far more than just the West Bank and Gaza.

    17. I guess the Rambam cared so little about korbanot that he didn't devote at least a couple of volumes of his Mishna Torah to them.

      I do find it funny that, in true Karaite fashion, you praise the "written" Torah (don't think we didn't notice what you did there)- well, the parts you like, anyway- and then your attacks are specifically aimed *at* that written Torah. Telling. Basically, we don't have Judaism, we have Hat-ism. Which I suppose is your right, but don't drag the rest of us down with you.

      You must have had some yeshiva experience.

    18. The true Karaite would insist on an eye for an eye, would sit in darkness on the Sabbath. They would never sign a Pruzbul.

      Religion evolves, Mr Nachum. And you know this. The Rambam wore one hat when writing Moreh, another when writing Yad, and a third when writing an aphrodisiac recipe for the pleasure of the Caliph. We all have unresolved internal contradictions.

      It's not like you are a consistent biblical literalist. You ignore the bits of the Bible that are distasteful with your all important racist world view, the bits like loving the stranger. You pick and choose what you like far more than me.

    19. "We obviously have very different ideas of what "Shev v'al ta'aseh" would look like."

      Oops. I shouldn't have written שב ואל תעשה. What I should have written is that you have no idea what you're talking about- taking a halachic principle, interpreting it superficially without regards for limitations of its application or whether it's superceeded/cancelled by other halachic principles.

      "marauding Jewish terrorists, destruction of agricultural property...."

      Again with the dystopianism.

    20. "The Rambam said in morah nevuchim"
      But what about prof Leibowitz?

      "Everyone knows nowadays you don't kill gay people."
      סנהדרין ההורגת אחד בשבוע נקראת חובלנית.
      רבי אלעזר בן עזריה אומר, אחד לשבעים מב שנה.
      רבי טרפון ורבי עקיבא אומרים, אילו היינו בסנהדרין לא נהרג אדם מעולם.

    21. If Nachum thinks the people listed in Genesis as living hundreds of years really did so, he can have valid complaint. Otherwise - what's the problem?

  6. I'd rather that we have a good life and they suffer, rather than us both suffering (which would be the inevitable consequence of a South Lebanese state).

    Do you see what I did there?

  7. It's a bit ironic that not two months ago, you were vehemently (and correctly) protesting how some groups of Jews re-interpret Tisha B'Av for their own political purposes, and yet here you are doing precisely the same to Tzom Gedaliyah. Stated, of course, as "rationalism," which, I should tell you, is something Progressivism has been doing for more than a hundred years.

    Really, look it up: The fast, like the other three of the Four Fasts, is about the loss of sovereignty.

    As I wrote in response to this issue here a few days ago, I don't like defending Bibi and am not really going to do it here, but I suppose one could say that the difference between him (and all the other prime ministers who've been amenable, in one way or another, to a Palestinian state- a list that includes Ben-Gurion but also Begin and Shamir!) and Lapid is that Lapid is just enough of a conventional thinker to actually *believe* this and believe a Palestinian state is, on the balance, a *good* thing*, while Bibi is just faking it to look good, knowing it will never happen under his conditions. I honestly think that it's not clear which is "worse"- certainly a true believe may be more willing to concede some of his red lines, but lying can't be too good either. (And let's be honest here, Bibi is pretty much lying when he mouths *right*-wing platitudes as well, or at least he doesn't care enough to follow through on them.)

    *That is not to say that Lapid believes it's a good thing because somehow the Palestinians deserve it out of some sense of justice. No Israeli believes that. It's just a matter of getting rid of them, one way or another.

    But I'm afraid you sometimes betray a bit of the Lapid attitude yourself. Let's look at the two arguments you make:

    "We have a Right to the land!"

    Well, yes, we do. (To be precise, we get it from God, who gives it to us under certain conditions, one of which is *not* sharing it with another nation.) Every believing Jew believes this. Even Jews who are not believing, but have a sense of history or justice or security do. (Even leaders of Peace Now have conceded this point under questioning.) Even if one believes it's impractical, it's still important to believe it, so as to stay grounded. And if one *really* believes it, then one won't want to give up land.

    "talk about transferring all the Palestinians somewhere else, or annexing everything and depriving Palestinians of voting rights"

    Why not? No cliches or sputtering, please. Why not? Why are "voting rights" so important, for example? Why could the Labor government of 1948 throw out hundreds of thousands of Arabs and we can't? Again, some real reasons, not vague appeals to conscience or invocations of Godwin's Law or "Apartheid," please.

    1. It was wrong then, even if you think it was necessary then for our survival. Its still wrong now especially when it isn't necessary. (Bowing of course to Israeli security experts, not to rw zionist rabbis.)

    2. And...
      Why have RZ jews not bothered to learn the first Rashi on the Torah?? We have no right to the Land. Hashem gives the land to those who behave properly. Hashem will return us to this Land as long we earn it. It’s not our land, we have no rights to us. Just a promise that we will be brought back to the extent that Hashem deems us worthy – and that promise is everlasting.

      And even if one believes that we do, then we still might want to give up some of the land for a better, more secure, more moral future for the Jewish People in their Homeland given demographic and political realities. Please don’t try to speak for all RZ Jews. There are plenty of us who are not adherents to the “Whole Land of Israel” ideology


      That is all.

    4. Not a fan, I'm not sure if you have the same Rashi I do. What you say is certainly true, and is mentioned elsewhere, but is *not* in that Rashi.

      And again, one way we earn it, according to the Torah, is by military conquest and expulsion of others. Which is why Hat's invocation of a Christian principle is so weird. The Jewish version, in this case, would be "Do unto others before they do unto you."

    5. @Nachum
      Black and white, dude. Black and white.

      בראשית - אמר רבי יצחק: לא היה צריך להתחיל את התורה אלא מ"החודש הזה לכם" (שמות יב, ב), שהיא מצוה ראשונה שנצטוו בה ישראל, ומה טעם פתח בבראשית? משום "כח מעשיו הגיד לעמו, לתת להם נחלת גוים" [1],שאם יאמרו אומות העולם לישראל לסטים אתם, שכבשתם ארצות שבעה גוים, הם אומרים להם: כל הארץ של הקב"ה היא, הוא בראה, ונתנה לאשר ישר בעיניו, ברצונו נתנה להם וברצונו נטלה מהם ונתנה לנו.

    6. Nachum, I'm not presenting moral arguments here. I'm presenting practical, political arguments. You say, "Why could the Labor government of 1948 throw out hundreds of thousands of Arabs and we can't?" Can you really not think of any serious practical consequences of acting in such a way? Heck, even Russia, which is vastly more powerful than Israel, understands that it can't just do as it pleases in the Ukraine.

    7. They even have a special section for Nachum

    8. Not a fan, that's not "black and white." Read the Rashi *in context*. It's talking about Hashem giving the Land to us because he wants to give it to us *and not to someone else*. In context, dude. In context.

      Again, there are many *other* places, in the Torah, that condition our holding of the Land. This week's parsha, for example. But that Rashi is *not* one of them- quite the opposite.

      Hat, you think I don't know that? I know full well. But we're not talking on an individual or societal level here. The Torah says, throw out the natives or you will be thrown out. That's much closer to the way I phrased it (and boy is that true after the Holocaust, by the way) than your moralistic therapeutic deism.

      Natan: Of course I can think of serious practical consequences. I can also think of serious practical consequences of *not* doing so, like, say, thousands of dead in terror attacks. And I can also think of lots of creative ways around the problem. Because I think they *need* to be found. Some people are happy with the status quo and/or the conventional "wisdom."

    9. And you Nachum - do you believe that the man was formed dust from the Earth or through evolution from apes?

      Let's get real here, Nachum. You're an adult. You have an education. You and I know the world is several billion years old. We both know the origins of the tanach. But when racism is involved, you suddenly find your frumkeit and insist on biblical literalism.

      Because the violence is what makes your ears prick up, not the bits about helping the poor or assisting your neighbor, the bit about helping the migrants because we were all migrants once in the land of Egypt.

      *Your* Judaism is an entirely solipsistic deism of the most base and degenerate kind. You are blind to my Judaism but I am not blind to yours.

    10. Well, it looks like you've got it all figured out. And you've got me figured out too! Good for you!

    11. Where does the Torah say anything about Arabs? It says to destroy the nations of Canaan. As the Rambam says, כבר אבד זכרם.

    12. Tanach speaks of the obvious danger of having a large different population living among you.

    13. @nachum no it doesnt. It talks about a specific command given in the time of Joshua, relating it to the issue of being lead to idol worship.
      That would seem to be irrelevant given that Islam is not avoda zarah. Plus we have no specific such command operating today.

  8. I share the qualms of other commentators as to its textual basis, but I think it's a good post. The Israeli right-wing outrage machine is cringe and dumb because it is rigorously focussed on motivating people who are cringe (religious Zionists high on Kookist woo) and dumb (Likud voters) to turn up and vote. The truth is exactly as Slifkin writes: Israel's policy towards the Palestinians hasn't changed and won't change regardless of who wins the next election. Whether Right wing or Left wing Zionists control certain ministries, their range of choices is determined by the realities of the international order and the ideological presuppositions they share. In any case, the Israeli military-industrial-security complex doesn't stand in elections. Moreover, within the paradigm they have set themselves, the Zionists are doing a pretty good job. Could any of us have run the Epstein operation or instigated civil war in Syria? These guys know their business, leave them to it.

    Over time I've learnt to prefer the Left wing Zionists to the Right wing ones. Yes, they do objectionable things like promote whatever form of deviancy and madness is hip in America, but they have very limited power to actually affect religious communities (MO don't count, obviously). Most of the degeneracy I see around me comes from 'nationalist rap' and other Right wing sources. On the other hand, the Left do some good things like promoting decent-qualityish public transport and pedestrianised city centers and, most importantly, they don't relentlessly insult my intelligence. In any case, as we prayed on RH, may the redeemer come and memshelet Zadon be destroyed from the earth.

  9. Dear RNS,
    You are completely wrong here
    First, the Gedalya assassins were traitors themselves, merely paid agents of a nearby kingdom.
    Second, many people, including myself, branded Bibi as traitor. Not only "two state solution" treason, he also voted for destruction of Gush Katif, for example.
    You are wrong when you say "no Left left": in contrary, the Israeli mainstream (political, justice, military) is all Left. As you (correctly) note, there is no major difference between Bibi and Lapid.
    Fourth, hear what Gantz, Gaby Ashkenazi and other generals say: they are eager to resume withdrawal and the settlements destruction.
    Last but not least, words are not nothing, many times mere words change really. Just recall, how many times you criticized leading rabbies for saying or not saying something?
    The right of Israel to exit is based on the historical connection between the Jewish people and the Land. If it is OK for you to take whatever part of the Land, then you deny the connection. I understand that in reality it's not OK for you and you only say so because you believe that it'll never occur. But the words keep doing their work. More and more people around the world are accustomed to think that Israel should disappear from the map.

    I understand you hate Bibi for his readiness to form coalition with Haredim and like Lapid from the opposite reason. But, once again, your hate towards Haredim makes you blind. Bibi and Lapid are both traitors, as well as late Rabin was.

    1. Brodsky.. I assume that the commentators did not respond to your comments in order to show them the contempt they deserve.
      But I feel there should be a form protest against what you wrote.
      Describing those who devote their lives to building a better future for the State of Israel as traitors is unacceptable. Even if you disagree with their vision for the future.
      More importantly it is dangerous. By using the language of 'traitors ' and 'treason' you label them as our enemies and open the door for them to be treated as such. This is shockingly irresponsible of you. You should stop now, you should apologise and never do something like that again.

      In a civil society we can disagree without resorting to treating the other side as an enemy.

    2. Dear "Not a fan",

      I need to confess, the first statement of your reply is beyond my understanding. Do "they" (the rest of the commentators) deserve the contempt?? I actively refuse to agree with that. (Some of them probably do, but absolutely not them all!)

      Is it a misspelling and you actually meant that "they" show **me** the contempt **I** deserve? If so, I don't believe the whole congregation of the commentators ordained you specifically to explain their intention. What is clear is that **some** of them would do that, because the common tactic of ignorant and unmannered people to show a contempt instead of proper answering.

      As for those who devote their lives to building a better future for the State of Israel, it might be surprise for you, but I completely agree: describing them as traitors is unacceptable!

      In contrary, describing traitors as traitors is mandatory, because that opens the door for them to be treated as such. And refraining from calling them so is shockingly irresponsible not only because that helps them to escape the fate they deserve but also because that urges others to betray as well and puts more innocent people at the risk.

      If you aware about any non-traitor that I called "traitor", please let me know and I will apologize, indeed. However I suggest you to check how Israeli law defines the term "treason" first, in order to avoid unnecessary wrangling. From my side, I would be happy if in the incoming year the traitors will disappear to let me "stop now and never do something like that again".

      BTW, I would like to use this opportunity to inform that I forgive all ignorant people that insulted me as result of their respective ignorance.
      However, being ignorant is a crime itself against the Lord and can not be forgiven by me.
      Gmar Hatima Tova!

  10. Nachum said:
    "It's a bit ironic that not two months ago, you were vehemently (and correctly) protesting how some groups of Jews re-interpret Tisha B'Av for their own political purposes, and yet here you are doing precisely the same to Tzom Gedaliyah"
    The Gemara says there was discussion about why Tisha B'Av isn't on the 10th since the burning of the Temple was more on the 10th. The result mentioned in it is that we still commemorate from the start of it.
    The usual YA

  11. In some ways, Lapid's speech was irrelevant. However, he could have made it relevant. All that would have been needed was included in this post. That is, Lapid needs to call attention to the Palestinians' insistence on the lack of any Jewish connection to the land of Israel. He could say that once that acknowledgement happens, a Palestinian state would be feasible. But he should say that anyone who lifts a finger for them in the absence of such recognition is not a friend of the Jewish people.

    If Lapid is unable to make such a speech, we should seek a leader who can.


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