Volume 21 Number 17
                       Produced: Sun Aug 20 23:29:43 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Foreign Perspective in Israeli Politics
         [Kenneth Posy]
Halacha and Territorial Compromise
         [David Guberman]
Paying the piper
         [Burton Joshua]
Rav Amital on Abandonning Bases
         [Carl Sherer]


From: Kenneth Posy <kpposy@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Aug 1995 11:45:45 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Foreign Perspective in Israeli Politics

Rabbi Turkel wrote:
>    Similarly, I am bothered by non-Israelis who are very involved in
> the issue of "peace" for land and abandoning bases etc. Whatever, the
> outcome of this period of history those living in Israel will - G-d
> forbid - have to fight the next war, have missiles attack their homes or
> hopefully reap any benefits. I am not interested in someone from outside
> of Israel telling me what to do, on either side of the issue, when my
> sons and not his will be the future soldiers.

     My stomach fills with butterflies at the thought of responding to a
luminary such as R. Turkel, especially as I personally agree with him.
However, I would like to share the opinions of the roshei yeshivos of
the two Hesder yeshivos I attended during a period of intensive
political activism about the peace process. They both addressed the
question of "Should American Bochrim attend demonstrations regading
Israeli political and security issues?"
 At Sha'alvim, Rav Meir Schlessinger(sp?), shlita (who has since
retired, I am not aware of the opinion of the current Rosh Yeshiva,
although in general he is politically moderate) strongly agreed with
R. Turkels viewpoint. Americans, whose biggest concern was whether they
should spend $18,000 or $30,000 on their education, had no right to
express an opinion on policies that would effect the life and death of
Israelies. If you want privilege, you must first accept responsibility.
(I should note, most American bochrim didn't heed his words).
 In my second year, I was at Gush, and this issue was obviously even
more relevant. (I remember nights when the beis medrash was populated
only by "left-wing" american bochrim who decided that talmud torah was
more important than demonstrations). Rav Amital, shlita, although his
own opinions were probably opposed to the mainstream political leaning
of the bochrim, emphaticaly insisted that American bochrim care about
and involve themselves in the Israeli political process. Israel is the
home of all Jews he said, whether they are currently living abroad or
not.  Just as American citizens in foriegn countries retain there right
to vote, so to Jews in foriegn countries are still involved in the
political process in the Jewish State.
     I never heard first hand an opinion from the other Rosh Hayeshiva
at Gush, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein. (As I had no intention of attending a
demonstration anyway, I never asked) I did hear second hand that while
he agreed with Rav Amital in principle, he was reluctant to sanction
Bitul Torah but for extreme cases. Again, this is second hand, and I
also heard stories about how he used to demonstrate in front of the UN
in NY, so I don't know anything one way or the other.

Rabbi Turkel wrote, in response to Mr. Rafael's suggestion that the
president "impeach" the government:
> I also suggest that anyone discussing this issue list his place of 
> residence as part of any discussion.

     With all due respect to R. Turkel, I would like to point out two
things.  First, the opinions of American Jewry are extremely important
to the Israeli government in its decision making process. The US
relationship with Israel, both economically and militarily, is the
fundimental foundation of all Israeli policy.  Thus, frum Jews in
America have a right if not a duty to make their opinions and halachic
perpective a vital part of the US Jewish voice, and Israeli policy.
     Second, when discussing halachic implications of issues, it is an
empirical formulation that requires no direct experience. If we could
not discuss issues that we do not effect us personnaly, yisraelim could
never learn kodshim, unmarried rabanim could not rule on niddah issues,
urban rabanim could not rule on z'raim, etc...  The purpose of this
discussion, IMHO, is to address the halachic issues of a theoretical
nature, not give political advice or instructions to soldiers who are
laying their lives on the line. "L'hagdil torah v'lha'adira". Thus I
don't see how the residence of the poster is relevant. Any post that
give instructions to soldiers or politicians how to behave is probably
more appropriate for a different forum, anyway. (I refrained from
responding to Mr. Rafael's post for that reason, on one hand; on the
other hand I admit that I failed to take it seriously. If he would be
interested in discussing his suggestion in a serious matter, I would
love to correspond privately.)


From: <dguberman@...> (David Guberman)
Date: Sun, 20 Aug 1995 20:02:44 GMT
Subject: Halacha and Territorial Compromise

     A symposium in the current (August/September) issue of
_Midstream_ contains information relevant to the ongoing
discussion of the possible relationship of the halacha to Israeli
government policy regarding the peace process, in particular, and
questions of war and peace, in general.

     Rabbi Emanuel Rackman writes, in part:

          My great love of the halacha notwithstanding, my
     concern with Israel's peace process was not based on
     the halacha. . . .

          . . . [M]any of my colleagues have erred when they
     opposed the peace process because of the halacha's
     mandate. . . . [D]ecisions as to what the government
     should do in war and peace are to be made by the
     experts--political and military.

                             * * *

          . . . [I]n an Israeli periodical of _Ne-emanai
     Torah va-Avodah_--the movement of a very distinguished
     group of religious Zionist academics[,] . . . Professor
     Michael Z. Nehorai of Bar-Ilan University [proves f]rom
     the writings of Maimonides and Nachmanides . . . that
     despite their commitment to the conquest and settlement
     of Israel, decisions on war and peace in their day (as
     in ours) are not based on halacha but rather on the
     realistic needs of the moment.  None of the halachic
     prerequisites for the rule of the halacha were then
     available as they are not now.

          The halachic position about which I write was that
     of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik . . .

     Dr. Gershon Mamlak cites both Rabbis Soloveitchik and Moshe
Feinstein for the proposition that the issue of the cession of
territories for peace is up to the opinion of military experts.
Dr. Mamlak also quotes Maimonides:

     "And it is known that the war [for the land] and the
     conquesting of cities will not be [binding] except in
     the presence of a king, consent of the Sanhedrin, and
     the high-priest."  (_Shoresh_ 14, _Sefer HaMitzvoth_,
     p. 165.)

     Dr. Mamlak concludes:

          In summary: opposition to the peace plan is not a
     threat to the state: the paramount danger is the
     interjection of (a suspended) halacha, combined with a
     megalomanic assurance of having detected the esoteric
     signs of the messianic age.  Shifting the opposition to
     the peace plan to the halacha realm--especially when
     fusing this with messianic postulates--removes the
     rules of a political debate, replacing them with the
     self-assurance of a holy mission in which one's self-injected
     righteousness, or that of an apotheosized
     leader is decisive.  National discipline, elected
     authority, ethical codes, civic and/or religious, are
     impediments that should be removed by any means.

          Opponents and supporters of the current peace
     plan, secular and religious, should be aware of the
     potential hazard in transforming the issue of Israel's
     security into a nebulous theological controversy. . . .


David A. Guberman                  <dag@...>


From: Burton Joshua <ftburton@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Aug 1995 00:21:45 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Paying the piper

At the end of a long, informative, and temperate posting about the
role of gedolim and personal poskim in halakha, Eli Turkel astonished
me with the following remarks:

>     Similarly, I am bothered by non-Israelis who are very involved in
> the issue of "peace" for land and abandoning bases etc. Whatever, the
> outcome of this period of history those living in Israel will - G-d
> forbid - have to fight the next war, have missiles attack their homes or
> hopefully reap any benefits. I am not interested in someone from outside
> of Israel telling me what to do, on either side of the issue, when my
> sons and not his will be the future soldiers....  If Rafael wants to do 
> something about all of this I suggest he make aliyah and live in Yesha 
> instead of complaining.  I also suggest that anyone discussing this 
> issue list his place of residence as part of any discussion.
> Eli Turkel
> Raanana, Israel

First, for anyone whose modern Israeli geography is uncertain, neither
Ra'anana nor Rehovot is in Yesh"a, so honors are easy between me and
Eli at the moment, and I hope I may be permitted to continue
discussing the issue without more detailed postal credentials.  I must
admit that I share some of Eli's frustration at a certain stripe of
political busybody, who doesn't know Bamba from Bisli and yet is
willing to redraw maps on the back of a napkin (or, just as glibly, to
fight to the last Israeli for every inch).  But as Eli has managed to
libel most of my family (quite inadvertently!) in one stroke, I hope
to be permitted to point out that it is _not_ only `those living in
Israel' who have a stake here.  That excludes my father (z"l), who
walked out of his office on the afternoon of 5 June 1967---with no
promise from the senior partners that his desk would be there when he
returned---so he could drive a truck in Israel and free up one more
soldier for the front.  It excludes my sister, who arrived here on 17
January 1991, picked up her gas mask at the airport, and spent the
next five weeks oiling tank treads down at Qetziot in the Negev.  And
it will exclude me as soon as I return to the States for the fall,
even though Cousin Saddam broke one of my windows early that February.
(Ra'anana was in Zone A, just like Rehovot, so Eli presumably has war
stories of his own---again, I'm not trying to pull rank.)

So what's my point?  _Not_ simply that there are Jews in the Diaspora
who put their bodies where their hearts are when it comes to the
crunch...although that is true, and has been since before 1948.  Nor
that Eli should start taking advice from galutniks who don't interest
him...although I expect he'll continue to hear such advice as long as
he reads English-language mailing lists.  Rather, I want to emphasize
that we _all_ stand or fall with Israel, and that some of us (even on
our way back to a New England winter) aren't likely to forget it.  If
HaShem wills a peace we can live with, Am Yisrael will `reap any
benefits' as a whole...and if not, the price will be high enough to go
around.  Terrorists, rogue states, and old-fashioned anti-Semites are
not going to bother checking how we list our place of residence.

Joshua W. Burton
Earth (a tough neighborhood for a Jew)


From: <adina@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Fri, 18 Aug 95 16:22:32 IDT
Subject: Rav Amital on Abandonning Bases

Kenneth Posy writes:

> following chiluk (distinction): Even assuming that it is forbidden to
> relinquish territories, that prohibition would fall on the government,
> and therefore they would be in violation. The soldiers, who were merely
> moving equiptment do not/ should not know or care about the purpose of
> the order; and therefore are not liable under halacha and must obey.

There's a preliminary question that I still think has to be answered 
here.  Is there a halachic basis for a requirement to follow orders 
in the army and if so what is it? If anyone has one, I'd like to hear
it.  If there is no specific halachic source for following orders,
then it seems to me that it could be the case that one must only follow
orders when there is pikuach nefesh (i.e. in battle zones, etc. by the
definitions I've argued for in earlier posts).

Beyond that, even if there is a halachic requirement that a soldier
in an army follow orders, if we assume that giving up land in Israel
is forbidden by the Halacha, wouldn't carrying out an order be "mesayeah
l'ovrei aveira" (helping another to sin) which is generally prohibited?
And if in fact it is prohibited to help another to sin, under the Rambam
in Hilchos Mlochim Perek 3 cited a couple of weeks ago, one doesn't even 
have to listen to the King if he says to do something against the Halacha?

>      If I understand Mr. Sherer's argument correctly, he is saying that
> it is impossible for the soldier to divorce the reason for the order
> from the action. Thus, his actions are contributing to the issur. I
> think what Rav Amital is saying is that there is no issur for a soldier
> to leave, the chiyuv of Kibush Ha'aretz (if it exists) is only on the
> *government*.

Yes you understood my argument correctly.  Even according to your
(or Rav Amital shlita's) reasoning, I think there is a distinction 
that could be drawn between a soldier getting on a bus and leaving
as opposed to one dismantling the whole base.

By the way, how does the issur become an issur on the government?
(I realize that in many respects this is the same question as the
question about where the halachic requirement to follow orders comes
from).  And who *specifically* is responsible for it? After all the
government is lots of people, not one person.  Where would you draw
the line if you assume that there is an issur on the "government"?

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


End of Volume 21 Issue 17