Volume 20 Number 52
                       Produced: Wed Jul 19  6:35:19 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Following Orders
         [Carl Sherer]
Halachic arguments
         [Yisrael Herczeg]
Rabbis Rule: Don't Abandon IDF Camps
         [Joseph Steinberg]


From: <adina@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Sun, 16 Jul 95 0:05:55 IDT
Subject: Following Orders

As many of you may have heard already, this week nine prominent Rabbis,
including the former Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi, gave a psak halacha that it
is forbidden for soldiers to follow orders to evacuate settlements or
army bases in Israel which are to be turned over to the control of
non-Jews.  This psak goes much further than a psak given by Rav Goren
zt"l about a year ago because that psak was given privately to one of
his students (and was later publicized) whereas as this psak is a very
public psak of general applicability, and this psak includes army bases
which makes it more likely (lo aleinu) to be put to the test much more

Aside from the halachic issue raised by the substance of the psak (i.e.
whether it is permitted to turn over settlements and army bases to
non-Jews in a situation that can probably best be described without
getting into a lot of politics as safek pikuach nefesh in either
direction, that is that turning over the bases and settlements may save
lives but may also bring them into greater danger), to which I would be
interested in hearing people's reactions without having it degenerate
into a political discussion, I would also be interested in hearing
people's reactions in two other areas:

1. The whole concept of following orders in an army - does this concept
have a basis in Halacha and if so where? I thought of two bases myself -
one as an extension of dina demalchusa dina, and the other as an
extension of the powers of a king.  Whether either of these applies in
Eretz Yisrael today is a different question (I am aware of some
literature as to whether dina demalchusa dina applies in the Journal of
Halacha and Contemporary Society), but is that the basis of the
requirement for a soldier in an army to follow orders? And if it is,
what if the order is CLEARLY in violation of halacha? For example, three
weeks ago there was an (all too minor IMHO) uproar here because a hesder
unit was called out of its base on Shabbos to go to Ashkelon and guard
the arrival of Shimon Peres' helicopter on his way to Azza for a meeting
with Arafat.  If the soldiers had known in advance that this was the
reason they were being called up and not for a matter of pikuach nefesh,
would they be permitted to disobey the order?  (In all fairness, it must
be stated that the army is generally very careful not to call up hesder
units on Shabbos except in cases of Pikuach Nefesh).

2. To what extent is someone who does not accept one of these nine
Rabbonim as his personal posek bound by the psak? If one's own posek has
spoken on the matter, the answer seems obvious, but what if one's own
posek has not spoken on the matter? Is one required to accept this psak
(assuming that for some reason he has been unable to discuss it with his
own posek)? Is each soldier REQUIRED to go ask his own posek this
question?  And if one of these nine Rabbonim IS a ceratin person's
posek, but he did not ask the question, is he nevertheless bound by the
psak? Or since he did not ask the question, may he also ignore the

-- Carl Sherer
	Adina and Carl Sherer
		You can reach us both at:


From: Yisrael Herczeg <yherczeg@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 1995 14:53:03 GMT
Subject: Halachic arguments

In v20n46 Eli Turkel writes:
>     As far as the Talmudical rabbis are concerned Goldstein's argument
> of "AYIN PANIM LATORAH, the torah has seventy facets" is over-stated as
> are similar statements based on "Elu v-elu divrei Elokim Chaim" - both
> (Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai) are the words of G-d. Rav Moshe Feinstein
> in the introduction to the Iggerot Moshe and The Ketzot in his
> introduction state explicitly that, in general, one opinion in the
> Talmud is correct and the others are wrong. Those that are wrong still
> receive a reward since that is based on one's doing the best one can and
> not on reaching the heavenly truth.  Only in special cases are both
> sides right. 

This is not what Rav Moshe Feinstein and the Ketzot HaChoshen say.
Rav Feinstein writes the following:

"Sages of later generations are permitted, and even obligated, to render 
halachic rulings although they would not have been considered fit to do so 
in the generations of the Sages of the Talmud, for there is room for 
concern lest they do not arrive at the truth of the law as it conforms with 
the truth from a Heavenly perspective (`emet kelapei sh'maya'). But of  
truth as it relates to practical halachic decisions (`emet lehora'ah') it 
has already been said, `It is not in heaven.' Rather, it follows what 
appears to the sage after appropriate analysis of the Talmud and Codes in 
order to clarify the law, to the best of his ability, seriously, and with 
fear of God. What then appears to him to be correct is the halachic ruling. 
It is the truth as it relates to practical halachic decisions. He is 
obligated to follow it in his rulings even though it is not the meaning [of 
the law] from a Heavenly perspective. Of such a situation it is said that 
his words, too, are the words of the Living God, since the meaning [of the 
law] appears to him as he has ruled, and there was nothing contradicting 
his words. He will receive reward for his ruling even though the truth is 
not like his explanation...This applies to all arguments of our rabbis, 
both earlier and later (`harishonim veha'acharonim'), where one forbids and 
the other permits. As long as there has not been a final ruling like one of 
the two opinions, each is allowed to rule as he sees fit in his place, 
although the true law is only like one of them. Both of the Sages receive 
reward for their decisions."

Rav Feinstein is dealing with an issue which has been the subject of much 
discussion by Jewish thinkers. Man's perception always contains an element 
of subjectivity. All he sees or understands is viewed through the prism of 
his physical limitations and the sum total of his unique, individual, 
experience. He can never perceive truth exactly as God perceives it. How, 
then, can he rely on his understanding of the Torah? Perhaps it is a 
distortion of God's intent?

Rav Feinstein concludes that God sanctions the results of the honest 
efforts of the halachic decisor, even if they do not conform with the 
Divine perception of truth. God recognizes human limitations, and gave the 
Torah to Israel with the understanding that even the most honest and 
objective individuals will see it in different ways. A talmid chacham's 
halachic decision, even if it does not conform with `emet kelapei sh'maya' 
(truth from the Divine perspective), is still true by human standards, and 
serves as the norm for halachic conduct.

It is true that Rav Feinstein uses phrases like "he will receive reward for 
his ruling even though the truth is not like his explanation" and "although 
the true law is only like one of them" but it is clear from context that in 
 those phrases he is referring to truth from the Divine perspective. He 
earlier states that the sage who has arrived at a conclusion through the 
proper methods, even if it is not the truth from the Divine perspective, 
has arrived at `emet lehora'ah' (truth as it relates to practical halachic 
decisions), and that this decision serves as normative halachah. Indeed, 
the whole point of Rav Feinstein's introductory essay was to justify how 
someone like himself could have "the nerve" to render opinions on halachic 
issues. This is far from Mr. Turkel's assertion that Rav Feinstein says 
that halachic opinions which do not match Heavenly truth are "wrong."

Mr. Turkel claims that Rav Feinstein says, "Only in special cases are both 
sides right." I don't see this in Rav Feinstein's introduction. He seems to 
say just the opposite. Regarding the gemara in Eiruvin 13b which says of 
the arguments of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, "Both these and those are 
the words of the Living God," Rav Feinstein writes, "Since the Torah can be 
explained both like Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, we can accept both 
opinions until a majority negates one of the two." That is, in a situation 
such as the arguments between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, where a clear 
majority of the Torah community accepted the views of Beit Hillel, the 
opinions of Beit Shammai can no longer be put into practice. Most halachic 
arguments, however, do not follow this pattern. Since the days of the 
Talmud, halachic arguments are generally resolved more along the lines of 
those between Rav Yosef Karo, whose rulings form the foundation of 
Sephardic halachic practice, and Rav Moshe Isserles, whose rulings form the 
foundation of Ashkenazic halachic practice. In situations like these, both 
opinions are kept alive for centuries by groups who espouse them, without 
any clear majority rejecting one or the other. In arguments such as these, 
both positions have halachic legitimacy for those who adopt them. Of them 
we may say "eilu ve'eilu divrei Elokim chaim" -- both are the words of the 
Living God. They are hardly "special cases."

The Ketzot HaChoshen Mr. Turkel refers to makes essentially the same point 
as Rav Feinstein, that truth as perceived by the human intellect is the 
practical truth of the Torah, not truth as perceived by God. The Ketzot 
does not state explicitly or implicitly that "in general, one opinion in 
the Talmud is correct and the others are wrong."

Yisrael Herczeg


From: Joseph Steinberg <steinber@...>
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 12:07:35 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Rabbis Rule: Don't Abandon IDF Camps 

 From Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA:

The following is the complete text of the religious ruling released today
by the rabbinical leaders of Religious Zionism.  Participants in the group
include the former Cheif Rabbi of Israel, Avraham Shapiro and Rabbi Haim
Druckman, who can count tens, if not hundreds of thousands of religious
Zionists among his students.  When Rabbi Druckman was almost killed in a
terrorist attack in the winter of 1993 it served as a watershed event
which spurred tens of thousands of Israelis to join in the protest
movement against the Oslo Agreement.  He has played a key role since then
in keeping the protest movement within the limits of the law. 

Moshe Tzvi Neria (Israel Prize winner and the head of the Bnei Akiva
Yeshiva system) was also among those who joined in the decision. 


"Further to the rulings which were given by the Cheif Rabbinical
Assembly and other rabbis on the matter of the prohibition on the
relinquishing of parts of the Land of Israel, Judea and Samaria and the
Golan, we have been asked if it is permissible to participate and assist
in the evacuation of army camps or army facilities located in the area
which is inhabited by Arabs within the territory of the Land of Israel.

"A.  We set that there is a Torah prohibition to evacuate IDF camps and
transfer the place to the authority of Gentiles since there is in this a
nullification of a positive commandment and also the endangerment of
life and an endangerment of the survival of the State.

"B.  And it is simply clear that the area within which the IDF is
located and controls, the commandment of the settlement of the Land of
Israel is being observed as Ramban wrote, it includes also "to conquer
and not relinquish to the hands of the nations".  And the area which the
IDF will withdraw from will be under the control of the Gentiles and
this is a nullification of the aforementioned positive commandment.  In
addition to this, there is also an endangerment of Israeli lives and an
endangerment of the survival of the State and this is a matter of "do
not stand on the blood of your neighbor".

"C.  A permanent army camp is also in and of itself a Jewish settlement
for all considerations, uprooting and abandoning it in the hands of
Gentiles is basically uprooting a settlement in the Land of Israel which
is prohibited by law.

"D.  Therefore, in reply to the question, it is clear and simple that it
is forbidden for all Jews to participate in any activity which aids in
the evacuation of a settlement, camp or facility, and so it was ruled
(Laws of Kings Chapter 3) by Rambam that even if a king commands to
violate the Torah the command is not followed.

"E.  At no time did the army put its soldiers before a situation in
which they were forced to act against their conviction, religious, moral
or nationalist.  We call on the government and the leadership of the
Army not to put the soldiers into a situation in which they must
struggle between their loyalty to the values which their lives are built
on and army orders.

"F.  We turn to the government and those who stand at its head not to
give a hand to the splitting of the nation and the IDF and to strengthen
with all of its powers the unity of Israel in this difficult hour."

[Following the statement quoted was an analysis/background by Dr. Aaron
Lerner. In my opinion, the majority of that information was political in
nature and I have not published it in mail-jewish. If you would like
that information, I'm sure Joseph Steinberg would be happy to supply it
to you. Mod.]

Dr. Aaron Lerner IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis) (mail POB
982 Kfar Sava) Tel 972-9-904719/Fax 972-9-911645 INTERNET ADDRESS:
<imra@...> pager 03-6750750 subscriber 4811

(Reformatted by Joseph Steinberg)


End of Volume 20 Issue 52