Volume 20 Number 70
                       Produced: Wed Jul 26 21:54:43 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Following Orders
         [Carl Sherer]
Kavod Hatorah ve'Lomde'ha
         [Michael J Broyde]
Pikuah Nefesh & Pluralism; Eliahu
         [Richard Friedman]
Rabbinic Ruling on Forbidding Evacuation
         [Yehuda Gellman]


From: <adina@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 95 22:24:24 IDT
Subject: Following Orders

This post is in response to Kenneth Posy's post of July 19.
Unfortunately I no longer have the original post on my system.

Kenneth suggested that the psak of the Rabbanim that I had raised
earlier was based on two issues - mitzvas yishuv haaretz and lo saamod
al dam reecha (the mitzva to settle the land of Israel and not to stand
by thy brother's blood).  He asked where the Rambam talks of a positive
command to settle the land of Israel.  This is actually a very
interesting issue because the Rambam does not cite the mitzva of
settling the land in his Sefer Hamitzvos (where he lists the 613
biblical commandments).  The Ramban takes him to task for this (see the
fourth Mitvat Aseh - positive commandment - which the Ramban cites as
having been "forgotten" by the Rambam, citing Devarim 15:22), yet it is
not at all clear that the Rambam did *not* hold that the mitzva of
settling Eretz Yisrael is a Torah mitzvah (see, for example, the Rambam
in Hilchos Ishus 13:17-19 in which he paskens like the Gemara in Ksuvos
that a man and woman who are married to each other may each force the
other to move to Israel or end the marriage; or more impressively in
Hilchos Shabbos 6:11 in which he permits one who buys a house from a
non-Jew in Israel to tell the non-Jew to write a contract of sale
because the Rabbinic edict against telling a non-Jew to violate the
Sabbath for you does not apply against the Mitzva of settling Eretz
Yisrael - BTW he specifically *in*cludes Suria - see below).

The post referred to the holiness of Suria being only Rabbinical.  The
Gemara in Gittin 8a-8b gives a list of six items - in three of which
Suria is like Eretz Yisrael (has laws of tithes and shviis (sabbatical
of the land), one may come into it "betahara" (without becoming impure)
and buying a field in it is like buying a field around Jerusalem
(i.e. it is permitted to tell a non-Jew to write a deed for land in
Suria on Shabbos), and in three of which it is not like Eretz Yisrael
(its earth is impure, one who brings a divorce decree from Suria is
treated as if he brought it from outside Eretz Yisrael, and one who
sells his slave to someone in Suria is as if he sold him to someone
outside Eretz Yisrael).  The Rambam in Hilchos Trumos 1:4 comments
"Vehacol be-Suria midivrei sofrim" (and all dealing with Suria is from
the Rabbis).  Thus it would appear that Suria's holiness is only

As to the issur of lo sa'amod, the post refers to the issur as applying
only to not taking action that could save someone from a dangerous
situation and not applying to taking action that would put them into a
dangerous situation.  It strikes me that if one is required to save
someone who is in a dangerous situation when he is able to do so, then
kal vachomer it is not permitted to *put* him into a dangerous
situation.  (Sorry, I can't think of a concise translation for kal
vachomer - maybe the moderator can?). [It is surely the case - literally
it means "easy and hard" I think, i.e. from the "easy" case we learn
that it must surely be true for the hard case. Mod.]

Lastly, as to one side or the other being held liable if they do not see
the danger in the situation, as I think I stated in the post that
started this thread, without interjecting one's own political views and
without suspecting either side of impure motives, I believe that the
situation can best be characterized as a safek pikuach nefesh (a
doubtful case of danger to lives) in *both* directions.  Now we have a
rule that we are "machmir" (stricter) in safek pikuach nefesh.  How is
one machmir in such a case? One possibility would be to say that in such
a case where one has doubts as to the proper course of action and either
course of action is fraught with its own dangers the best solution might
be "shev v'al taseh" (sit still and do neither).  This would mean
leaving the status quo as is.  Now I will grant that in some sense this
would be giving one "side" a "victory" if you will, but until there is a
clear indication that taking action *would* save lives (something which
I, as someone living in Israel for the last four years, have yet to see)
I would submit that the proper halachic course of action is not to do
anything beyadayim (with our own hands) to change the situation.

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


From: Michael J Broyde <relmb@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 1995 08:57:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Kavod Hatorah ve'Lomde'ha

 Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund writes:
> What kind of person would look for excuses to permit someone to entice a
> nazer to drink wine? Fine, halachically, the enticer might be potur,
> d'oreisa, or d'rabbanen, but sof-sof, who wants to aid another Jew to do
> an avairah?

The term "what kind of person" in the context of the psak of an eminent 
rosh yeshiva, even one that one does not agree with is inappropariate.
On a substantive level for examples of other poskim who look for reasons 
(most to make money for Jews) to aid a siner, see Shach YD 151:6, Dagul 
Mevevavah  YD 151:6, Rav Yakov Ettlinger Binyion Zion 1:15, Rav Naphtali 
Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, Masiv Davar 2:32, Rav Moshe Feinstein  YD 1:72, Rav 
Ovadia Yosef, Yechaveh Daat 3:38 and many many more who outline the 
paramaters of when one may help a Jew sin merely to make money.  
Certainly Rav Amital's motives are to save the Jewish state and the lives 
of its inhabitant and his motives should not be villified, as was done by 
the above poster.  (Again, that does not mean that Rav Amital's analysis 
is correct; it certainly is not way out of line, however)
Rabbi Michael Broyde


From: Richard Friedman <RF@...>
Date: 25 Jul 1995 12:12:12 GMT
Subject: Pikuah Nefesh & Pluralism; Eliahu

     1. In MJ 20:63, Carl Sherer proposes a standard for when an
observant soldier should be allowed to perform m'lacha (labor normally
prohibited on Shabbat) on Shabbat because of pikuah nefesh (saving
life).  He would allow guarding a political leader's home, and
apparently guarding the leader when he/she leaves home on a mission that
was itself halachically permissible (e.g., traveling to a Cabinet
meeting for national security purposes), but he would not allow the
observant soldier to guard the leader when the leader traveled without
such justification (e.g., traveling to the beach -- I will put aside the
example of traveling to meet with Arafat, which is pure political
tendentiousness on Mr. Sherer's part.)  This is a very perturbing
standard, which deserves closer scrutiny.

     I'll assume, as Mr. Sherer does, that guarding a political leader
qualifies as pikuah nefesh so as to permit performing m'lacha on Shabbat
(traveling by car, carrying military paraphernalia).  My concern is, why
does it become less permissible to guard the leader's life just because
the leader is violating Shabbat?  I think this is not only of
questionable logic, but it raises serious concerns for the relationships
between halachically observant Jews and non-observant Jews in the same
society and polity.

     On the first score, if the justification for the soldier to travel
is to prevent or discourage an attack on the official's life, why does
that justification disappear merely because the official is engaged in
activity that the halacha forbids?  If the official goes to the beach,
is he/she in less danger?  Or perhaps, is his/her blood less red because
he/she violates halacha?  How does this distinction relate to R. Michael
Broyde's suggestion, in MJ 20:64, that it should be permissible to
suggest to a non-observant Jew who is bent on driving at night but has
his/her lights off, that he/she turn the lights on, because of the
danger to life?

     On the second score, it seems to amount to the observant
community's saying that it will save the life of the authorized,
democratically-elected leaders of the society only if they comply with
halacha.  It is one thing for observant Jews to insist, in their
dealings with non-observant Jews, that social relationships be
structured in ways that allow the observant to fulfill _their_
obligations as they understand them.  It is also entirely appropriate
for observant Jews to express to the non-observant their (the observant
Jews') opinions that the non-observant ought to follow halacha also.
But it is not tolerable in civil society for the observant to say that
they will carry out what are otherwise their obligations only if the
non-observant follow halacha.  There will be situations where the
violation by the non-observant Jew has direct halachic implications for
the observant one.  One example, though probably not the best, is
kashrut -- when practicality requires having a single food supply,
observant Jews can legitimately insist that it be a kosher one.  But if
there is any religious value at all in having observant and
non-observant Jews co-exist and cooperate in a single society, we ought
to be very cautious about definitions of our obligations that
effectively make demands of religion or observance on others.

     2. Eliahu.  In MJ 20:65, David Steinberg, while citing a source
saying that Eliahu was a Gadi, refers to a previous posting by Moshe
Kimelman on sources saying that Eliahu was a Kohen.  Does anyone have at
hand a citation to Mr. Kimelman's posting, or can anyone (re)cite those

          Richard Friedman


From: <GELLMAN@...> (Yehuda Gellman)
Date: Tue,  25 Jul 95 6:32 +0200
Subject: Rabbinic Ruling on Forbidding Evacuation

     A statement of the Rav, ZT"L, is being cited these days against the
recent psak of the Rabbis forbidding evacuation from the
territories. The Rav is reported to have said that political matters
should be left to the experts and should not be the domain of the
Rabbis. Since this statement does not support the purported present
conclusion it is important that the use of it for that purpose be given
a reasoned reply. Before giving that reply, however, I wish to state
that in principle I was in favor of territorial compromise in Yehudah
and Shomron for the sake of peace, but am in fact strongly against the
specific course of the present Israeli government.
     In the present instance, in the main the military experts are not
in favor of the impending agreement on withdrawal. Two weeks ago Prime
Minister Rabin himself publicly stated on two occasions that the army
was not in favor of the present withdrawal, but that since the political
echelons are the ones who make the decisions, he is over-riding the
military. Ehud Barak, the previous Chief of Staff, testified strongly
against the Oslo agreement before a knesset committee when he was Chief
of Staff. And the Chief of Staff before him, Dan Shomron, this week
presented his objections to the present withdrawal on security grounds,
and proposed an alternative plan. So if we are going to go with the
military experts, a good case can be made for not implementing the
proposed withdrawal.
     With regard to the political experts, the importation of the Rav's
trusting remarks from America, and pre-Watergate America at that, to
present-day Israeli politics is unjustified. Sad to say, Israeli
politics, on both the left and right, exudes an odor of at times
embarrassingly excessive self-interest and of stubbornness due to
ideological mind-sets; what we call in plain Hebrew, "negiot." This was
tragically exemplified in the infamous "concepcia" which prevented us
from being adequately prepared for the Egyptian attack in 1973. And it
is cause for suspicion of the present government, which gives the
impression at times of blatantly mixing the question of the fate of the
nation with the question of the ruling party and its leaders and of
being captive to its own "concepcia," whether or not related to reality
as it is.
     In addition, in America there is, or used to be, a consensus on the
broader moral issues and on the very essence of what the country, the
United States of America, is all about, so that broadly speaking the
political experts could be relied on for the broad issues. In Israel
there is no such consensus, except at the most ephemeral, abstract
levels. Other than that, there are deep and broad value divisions in
this country. Included in this value strife is a sense of there being
different ways of evaluating the sanctity of life and there being
different ways of evaluating the meaning of Jewish history for our
present existence. These perceived value differences erupted into the
open last week when the organizers of the Arad festival decided to go
ahead with it after children were trampled to death and others were
fighting for their lives, a decision warmly supported by some and
roundly condemned by others.
     On one side of this value opposition is a sense of a general
decline in traditional values in Israeli society. This is especially
strongly felt by the religious community, haredi and leumi alike,
although not exclusively by them. Many pronouncements, not directly
related to the political process, by prominent members of the present
government are perceived as expressing and being glaring symptoms of
this decline in traditional values. It becomes natural, even if not
always justified, to then suspect that political agendas defended by
those very same people are themselves motivated by a similar decline in
traditional values.
     So why should religious people and religious leaders who have their
own very clear traditional values and sense of Jewish history which they
perceive to be in gross opposition to those of the present government
even think of letting the decisions of these political "experts" go
unchallenged? To think otherwise seems to display an unfortunate even if
excusable naivete about the reality of Israeli life and Israeli
     This is not a defence of the Rabbi's psak. There may be other,
good, reasons for opposing it. I am not discussing those here. But I am
concerned to argue that one cannot get to support of the present
government by a simple invocation of the Rav's dictum, and one might
very well get to an opposition to it, instead.
                                             Yehuda Gellman


End of Volume 20 Issue 70