Volume 10 Number 13
                       Produced: Sun Nov 21 17:11:50 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Martyrdom vs. _Living_ by Halacha
         [Frank Silbermann]
Poskim against Aliya, Poskim and Zionism
         [Gary Levin]
Poskim against Aliyah
         [Isaac Balbin]
Psakim against Aliya
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Satmar Rebbe
         [Jan David Meisler]
Secular Zionism vs. Religious Zionism vs. Love of Zion
         [Jamie Leiba]


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 93 10:37:48 -0500
Subject: Martyrdom vs. _Living_ by Halacha

During the Crusades and Inquisition millions chose to die rather than
give up their religion.  In mjl Vol. 10 #8 Finley Shapiro remarks:

>	I do not wish in any way to question or minimize the devotion
>	or martyrdom of the people.  However, perhaps it should be
>	pointed out that many, and probably most, of us are descendants
>	of people who made the opposite choice and converted back
>	when the situation improved or when they were able to go to
>	a different country.

Though we are commanded to give up our lives rather than engage in
public idolatry, we may take a lenient view of the Marranos, as Rashi
did not consider Christianity to be idolatry.  Considering that we are
commanded to _live_ by Halacha, I long wondered why it is considered
commendable to choose martyrdom over conversion to Christianity.
Eventually, I arrived at an understanding which makes sense to me.

During the Middle Ages, a goal of the Catholic Church was to make
Catholicism the universal religion, beginning with the lands under its
control.  Feudal royalty and nobility, however, found Jews useful, and
lobbied for us to be tolerated.  The church reluctantly agreed.  Though
other nonconformists were given the choice of immediate obedience or
death, it was not considered fitting to make a general policy of
exterminating the People of the Book.  Instead, they tried to be more
patient in their efforts to convert us.

Nevertheless, every once in a while a demegogue would lose patience and
incite a mob (or even a trained army) to force our conversion by threat
of the sword.  When the first Jews threatened all chose Kiddush HaShem
over conversion, the local prince often became furious at the
destruction of his human property, and stopped the pogram by punishing
its ringleaders with torturous executions.  The prince could justify his
action by reminding everyone that the Jews are a stiff-necked people,
and the ringleaders should have known that such an action would win no
souls for Chr*st, but only wreak havoc.  Thus, the other Jewish
communities were saved.  Jews everywhere showed their grattitude by
giving tremendous honor to any of the martyrs' surviving relatives.

However, when the first Jews attacked submitted to baptism, the prince
had no justification for impeding "G-d's work."  The mob would reach
every single Jewish settlement in its domain.

Though the preference for martyrdom over baptism seems to override the
command to _live_ by Halacha at an individual level, or even sometimes,
at the communal level, this preference is quite consistent when
considering the Jewish people as a whole.

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>
Tulane University	New Orleans, Louisiana  USA


From: Gary Levin <levin@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 93 11:04:45 -0700
Subject: Poskim against Aliya, Poskim and Zionism

In regard to the recent postings of Poskim against Aliya, Poskim and
Zionism, may I suggest the following sefer.

There is much discussion in the sefer "Torat Eretz Israel" on advice of
European Gedolim between the two world wars in regard to aliya.  This
sefer compiles the writings of Rabbi Tsvi Yehuda Kook.

I purchased it through the Jerusalem Post this past spring/93.

Gary (Gershon) Levin


From: <isaac@...> (Isaac Balbin)
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 93 05:01:58 -0500
Subject: Re: Poskim against Aliyah

I think people have been diverted right and left here from the original
issue. I think it started with Rav Zemba, H"YD.  I made the point, and
this was disputed by Rabbi Turkel, that in my view on issues of Pikuach
Nefesh as they relate to the perceived and real risks of a
life-threatening siege, one does not say that Posek A erred in halocho
and Posek B was correct in halocho.  My reason for this is that the
entire assessment of risk and the value judgement pertaining to that
risk is the input to the Posek.  If the Posek feels that decision A is
the correct one to take because it is more likely to save lives and *it
transpires* that decision B *would have appeared* to have saved more
lives then "that is life". Posek A did not err in Halocho.  In issues
involving the unfolding of history and cataclysmic events one must
realise that Yad Hashem is either actively directing---in a manner a
Posek can't hope to anticipate unless it is communicated to him
B'Nvius--- or it is a matter of Hester Ponim, and in this instance, the
Posek can't possibly *know* what is right because he must anticipate
someone *elses* (the oppressors) thought processes.  It is true that,
AFTER the fact, one path would seem to be better (today!) than another,
BUT this does not mean the Posek erred in Halocho.

Do we say that a Posek who commands someone to break Shabbos because it
is a Safek Pikuach Nefesh, and later it transpires that the illness
mimicked something more serious but was in fact harmless was WRONG? No
we do not. What is more, we do NOT say that the person who broke Shabbos
did an aveira. If all available information comes out *after* the
decision then, temporally, we do not retrospectively rule the previous
decision as WRONG.  We say that the Posek acted in accordance with the
facts before him and the Shulchan Aruch. That's all. When a Posek does
this, the Posek Paskens 'Al Pi Halocho'.

One Rov decided that it would be perhaps safer to stay in country X then
move to country Y. Another Rov decided the opposite.  Both Rabbonim had
*different* variables which played on their minds and influenced their
Shikul Hadaas. One may have had a terrible personal experience with
oppressors to the point that he would advocate leaving under any
circumstance because he was convinced there was no hope. Another may
have had come across miraculous situations in which people managed to
escape. Yet another may have been influenced by people who had escaped
and were subsequently murdered.  Either way, you don't say one was right
and one was wrong as far as P'sak is concerned. You can say that one
path proved safer (in that place at that time and for those people).

Having said all this, let me say that this does NOT mean that Rabbonim
are infallible. They *do* make mistakes. They can err in Halocho and
they can err in *logic*. I acknowledge that, of course and never denied

Let me also say that between the lines some people want to say that
Zionism has been PROVED correct by virtue of history.  Yes, I know some
say this is the thesis of Rav Teichtal, Z"TL, in Eim Habonim Smeicha.
There is another slant. Rav Teichtal goes to great depths to find
support for pro-Zionism in traditional sources. Why does he do this?
Because one cannot just say, `look there is a State' it stil exists, and
this and this has happened and so that proves that this is what Hashem
wants'. What Hashem wants must also be *theologically* based and in the
same way that Rav Teichtal argues theologically, so does the Satmer Rov
in V'Yoel Moshe. Now, I definitely am more personally inspired by Rav
Teichtel, but that does not mean that I can talk about one being *wrong*
and one being *right*.

A Rov may pasken positively or negatively regarding the Mitzva of Yishuv
Ho-oretz.  Until you show me where there is an ERROR in Halocho or an
ERROR in logic, the existence of the State of Israel cannot prove error
in halocho or error in logic!

The Gemora tells us quite clearly that the winds can blow and the rain
can fall, but `Lo Bashomayim Hi', and if you are one who believes that
Yad Hashem *is* positively involved in the creation of the state then
that is fine.  Say Bircas Hodaya. Say Hallel. But *don't* say that
proves other Poskim are *wrong*.  I don't agree with Satmer, but I don't
say that are *wrong*.

Nobody but nobody has a mortgage on THE truth until Eliyahu comes, and
until then all we have is a SYSTEM of Halocho.

Poskim applied this system correctly during the War years.  Tragically,
and without comprehension, peoples lives weren't spared. Those Poskim
did not err. If they would have had the range of inputs we can now 


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 93 05:01:54 -0500
Subject: Psakim against Aliya

With all due respect, and I am not being facetious, Ben Svetitsky's
reply that the main thing is that there were no psakim encouraging aliya
is a) not accurate (what about the Avnei Nezer, R. Yehoshua Kutner, et
al?); besides, the Alter from Slabodka and Reb Moshe Mordechai Epstein
zt"l who brought the bulk of perhaps the greatest Lithuanian yeshiva -
Slabodka - to Eretz Yisroel in the 20's?. b) sidestepping my question.
BTW, although I feel no need to defend the Agudah, the issue is not that
simple. Dr. Isaac Breuer zt"l, a well known ideologue of the prewar
Agudah, formulated highly sensible and eminently reasonable positive
approaches to the issue of Eretz Yisroel. The War, IMHO, is what
prevented these ideas from reaching fruition. It is true that the
Yerushalmi faction of the Agudah was rabidly anti-Zionist, and anti-Rav
Kook zt"l, which is why the Chofetz Chaim zt"l refused to meet with them
at the Kenessia Gedola.


From: Jan David Meisler <jm8o+@andrew.cmu.edu>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1993 11:45:03 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Satmar Rebbe

Someone on the list recently said that for the Satmar Rebbe zt'l to have
shown hakaret hatov to the man who saved him was a bit audacious.

Although I don't know much about the specific situation here, I do
happen to agree with what Esther Posen said.  She said that just because
the Satmar Rebbe was anti-Zionist does not mean that he did not show
hakaret hatov to the man that saved him.  Even if he did not do it in
public (which I don't know if he did or did not do), he may have shown
his hakaret hatov in private.

I once heard that when Moshe ran from Pharoah after killing the
Egyptian, and he saved the daughters of yitro from the shepards, in
order to feed and water their sheep, it says in chumash that the
daughter of yitro told yitro "ish mitzri hitzilanu", an Egyptian man
saved us.  The common understanding is that Moshe lt looked like an
Egyptian, and so that is what they felt he was.  But I heard another
understanding of this.  The daughter of yitro understood that it was the
Egyptian that Moshe killed who really saved them.  For if not for what
the Egyptian had done in Egypt, Moshe wouldn't have killed him, and then
would never have had to run to the desert, and the daughters of Yitro
would never have been saved.  Look at the extent that we must go to for
hakaret hatov.  

If this is the case, so too for the Satmar Rebbe.  To say that it is
audacious for him to show hakaret hatov might not be the right way to
look at it.

                     Yochanan Meisler


From: Jamie Leiba <leiba@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1993 11:28:00 +0000 
Subject: Secular Zionism vs. Religious Zionism vs. Love of Zion 

In this month's Jewish Observer there is an ad for the upcoming 71st 
Annual Agudas Yisroel convention.  One of the symposiums to be held at 
the convention is entitled:

"Secular Zionism / Religious Zionism / Love of Zion"

Does anyone know how "Religious Zionism" differs from "Love of Zion" ?
What is the basis for this difference ?

I have heard a comment that "Religious Zionism" is a contradiction in 
terms.  Can someone please explain this ?

References on this general area would be greatly appreciated.


End of Volume 10 Issue 13