Volume 21 Number 40
                       Produced: Wed Aug 30 21:54:39 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

American Jews and Israel (2)
         [David Guberman, Eli Turkel]
Expertise of Military and Political Officials
         [M E Lando]
Moving to Eretz Israel
         [Rabbi Shmuel Himelstein]
Moving to Eretz Yisrael
         [David Kramer]
Role of Galut Jews
         [David Steinberg]


From: <dguberman@...> (David Guberman)
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 14:24:27 GMT
Subject: Re: American Jews and Israel

     Elozor Preil wrote, in part:
> . . . [I]f we [Jews] in America honestly and sincerely believe
> that actions of the [Israeli] government, even a govewrnment
> of Jews, is endangering the lives and welfare of our fellow
> Jews in Israel, is it not our OBLIGATION to do whatever we
> can to save them from harm?

     There are (at least) four distinct questions involved:

     1.  Do we have an obligation to do something?

     2.  Even if we do not have an obligation, are we permitted to do
something, i.e., do we have the right to do something?

     3.  If we have either an obligation or right to do something, are
there any limits on what we may (must) do?

     Personally, I am more troubled by the "whatever we can" claim than
by the obligation/right issue.  My own view is that we may offer our
opinions, but _not_ do "whatever we can" to advance our opinions.  For
example, I do not think that we may violate Israeli laws, e.g., laws, if
any, affecting foreign contributions to Israeli political groups.  Thus,
although I have not thought the matter through completely, I also doubt
whether, as non-citizens, we have a right to engage in civil
disobedience within Israel or the territories.

     4.  But I also am interested in the fourth question, that of
moral/political consistency.

     (a) For those people who were of age during the late 1970s and
1980s and who subscribe to (at least some version of) Elozor Preil's
views: Did you defend the right/obligation of, e.g., American Jewish
supporters of Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), to do what they could to,
according to their lights, save Israeli Jews from harm?  Were you
silent?  Or, did you condemn (or support condemnations of) public
disagreement with Israel's government, e.g., as inherently inimical?

     (b) Whatever your age, and conduct, then, if the Likud were to win
the 1996 elections, would you defend the right of supporters of the
current government's policies to work to further those political goals
against the policies of a Likud government?

Achshav l'shalom,

David A. Guberman                  <dag@...>

From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 11:37:33 -0400
Subject: American Jews and Israel

    Elozor Preil says

>> The mitzvah min hatorah of "lo sa'amod al dam ra'echa" (loosely, do not 
>> allow harm to befall your fellow Jew) applies equally to all Jews, 
>> whether they live in America Israel, Russia, or anywhere else.

     The halachic question is when does the prohibition of "lo sa'amod
al dam ra'echa" apply? Everytime there is a disagreement between
neighbors or husband and wife is it my obligation to get involved and
support one side? It is one thing if a wife is being mistreated and
requests outside protection. To the best of my knowledge no group in
Israel is requesting Jews outside of Israel to protect them against an
abusive government. As I previously mentioned the 9 rabbis that issued
the psak consciously avoided including non-Israeli rabbis in their
psak. Several years ago when similar debates occurred Rav Shach
complained that the Lubavitcher Rebbe should not voice a psak because he
did not live in Israel.

    It is generally agreed among achronim that no one in our generation
can give proper admonition (tochacha). As the Talmud says the immediate
response is "fix yourself before you complain about others". Those who
complain about the situation in Israel should do something constructive
and not stay in exile and save the land of Israel until the last

   It is constructive to study Jewish history. There was trouble when
there was a controversy and everyone outside the community decided to
participate. What started as a local matter soon engulfed the whole
Jewish world and only made matters worse. If one has the obligation to
save the Israeli from his own elected government then some other
American Jew thinks he has the obligation to defend the government
against the settlers.  Personally I find that half the talking in shul
is about politics. It is bad enough in Israel and certainly even less
justified outside of Israel.  I know of several shuls in America where
there are major debates inside and outside of the shul for and against
the peace process. To my mind this accomplishes nothing except to
increase hatred within the community.  In any case they can't do
anything to influence the Israeli government.  Let me stress again in
response to Joshua Brickel. I have no objection in the least to anyone
coming up with new ideas no matter where they live.  However, there is a
thin line between suggestions and interference.

    In summary I think that Preil's question should have further
discussion beyond the question of American Jews and Israel.

Question: To what extent is one obligated (or prohibited) from getting
involved in some dispute - without being asked to intervene- based on
"lo sa'amod al dam ra'echa" and the mitzva of tochacha.

In answering this question each person should keep in mind: if there is
a dispute, minor or major, in one's family or community would one want
outsiders getting involved? On the other hand, to be fair, one needs a
mechanism to interfere when there is wife or child abuse. My personal
distinction is that interference into family life is justified under two
qualifications (1) the abuse is clear and not subject to controversy
among the community at large (2) the interference is done by the local
bet din or in their absence some recognized community body - not by



From: M E Lando <landom1@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 12:16:55 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Expertise of Military and Political Officials

In the thread concerning the Rackman article in particular, and the
question of returning territories in general, posters have referred to
the *better* information and expertise available to military and
political officials.  Having just returned from an intense 3 weeks in
Yerusholayim, I know that I lack the info and expertise to make such a

However, I am a graybeard who used the argument of better info and
expertise to defend Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam fiasco; often arguing "He
and McNammara must know something we don'y know."

With the recent publication of McNamarra"s book, there can be no doubt
that whatever better info and expertise available was simply was to
delude the American people, and perhaps feed Johnson's self-delusion.
How different are Rabim and Peres from Johnson and McNammarra?

 Mordechai E. Lando ha'm'chu'na Yukum


From: Rabbi Shmuel Himelstein <himelstein@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 14:46:31 GMT
Subject: Moving to Eretz Israel

In v.21n.37, Dani Wassner outlines various reasons why he is moving to
Eretz Israel, and Kol Hakovod to him for doing so. I would like to
suggest a few more reasons for moving to Eretz Israel:

a) The Mitzvot Hateluyot Ba'aretz - the Mitzvot that can are directly
dependent on Eretz Israel apply to those living in the country. To us,
Terumah and Maaser, for example, are of immediate day-to-day concern.

b) The qualitative difference in the performance of all the other
Mitzvot. Ramban, quoting the Midrash, tells us that when the Jewish
people were sent into exile, Hashem told them to observe the Mitzvot in
order not to forget them. This way, when they return to Eretz Israel the
Mitzvot will not appear strange to them. This is because the performance
of the Mitzvot is primarily meant for those in Eretz Israel. (Ramban's
words paraphrased, not mine).

If Mr. Wassner finds other motives for moving to Eretz Israel, fine -
but let's keep the emphasis on the main - i.e., Halachik - reasons for
doing so.

Incidentally, an increased number of religious immigrants will translate
into enhanced electoral strength. Maybe with that we can fight better
the inroads of violations of Shabbat and Kashrut, etc. We might even
wish to use our electoral strength to fight the cause of the Agunah.

In short, we need you here, but even more - YOU need to be here!

         Shmuel Himelstein
22 Shear Yashuv Street, Jerusalem, Israel
Phone: 972-2-864712; Fax: 972-2-862041
NEW ADDRESS: <himelstein@...>


From: David Kramer <davidk@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 08:58:57 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Re: Moving to Eretz Yisrael

> Only by living in Yesha can we strengthen it and, be'ezrat Hashem, save
> it.

As a resident of YESHA and very proud of it I would like to strongly
disagree with this statement.

Please - make aliya - to ANYWHERE in the country. You can have an impact
on policies and national character if you live in Tel Aviv as well! - by
voting, by speaking out, by participating in protests, or just by being
a good frum Jew who is kind and considerate to his fellow man.

 - David
[ David H. Kramer                     |  E-MAIL: <davidk@...>   ]
[ Motorola Communications Israel Ltd. |  Phone: (972-3) 565-8638  Fax: 9507 ]


From: David Steinberg <dave@...>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 09:50:57 +0100
Subject: Role of Galut Jews

There has been a recent debate about whether Galut Jews have the right
to state their position viv a vis internal Israeli affairs.

Several posters have stated their opinion that if one doesn't live in
Israel, one has no right to state a position or at least to axpect that
anyone in Israel take their position seriously.

I believe that this position is wrongheaded.

 From a halachic position, the concept of Arevut demands that a jew take
responsibility for the well being of other jews.  That Arevut does not
stop at the city border or the borders of the US.  When jews were in
desperate straits in the USSR and Syria, jews all over the world felt
their pain and responded.  We respond no less to the pain of jews in
Israel.  The fact that we are not Israeli citizens may mean we cannot
vote; It doesn't mean we are not affected.

What then should the role of Galut jew be.  Before you argue that we
should have no role, remember that the US goverment provides Israel with
billions of dollars of aid annually.  What are the parameters that
govern our behavior as US jews?  Are there circumstances where we as US
jews have an obligation to delineate our views?

Must one always support the Goverment of Israel and lobby in support of
that Government?

Assume that one accepts the psak that it is forbidden for Israel to give
up territory.  Should one lobby against US aid to facilitate withdrawal?

In any case, one could come up with a scenario where the answer is that
we must oppose a Government of Israel.  What then are the parameters
that govern our behavior?  Under what circumstances must Galut jews
voice an opinion?

This is not purely theoretical.  Many US jews lobby Washington via AIPAC, 
IPA (political lobbying arm of the OU) or by writing letters to elected 
and govermental officials.   

I fully expect that there will be a class of reply that says that the
answer would be for people to move to Israel.  IMHO, that does not
resolve the issue as it would fail to guide anyone who remains in Galut.

Dave Steinberg


End of Volume 21 Issue 40