Volume 21 Number 93
                       Produced: Fri Nov 10 15:14:06 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Question about FREE SPEECH
         [Shem-Tov and Sharona Shapiro]
Rabin assassination
         [Shmuel Himelstein]
Rabin's Killing and Halacha
         [Michael Graetz]


From: <mshapiro@...> (Shem-Tov and Sharona Shapiro)
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 1995 13:59:25 +0200
Subject: Question about FREE SPEECH

I know its not right to shout "fire" in a crowded theater, nor is it
right to say "Kill the Prime Minister", but what if a person were to say
the following:

        "I believe the Prime Minister is a traitor (or a murderer) and I
therefore urge everybody to use all LEGAL means to bring down the

Note: The operative keyword above is LEGAL indicating the person does NOT
want to incite violence or other action which is unlawful/immoral.

If the answer to the above is its okey, then what if he only said the
first half of the above sentence i.e. "I believe the Prime Minister is a
traitor (or a murderer)".  What is the default perception?  Is he is
urging legal or illegal means?

Finally, What is the U.S. or the Church's or other governments position
about people who hold up "Murderer" signs at Anti Abortion rallys?


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himelstein@...>
Date: Thu, 9 Nov 1995 11:09:28 GMT
Subject: Rabin assassination

There are a number of points in regard to the Rabin assassination that 
were raised to which I would like to respond:

a) The fact that Rabin commanded the force that opposed the Altalena is
common knowledge - not some hushed up secret. Whether the ship should
have been attacked has been debated ever since. To say that Rabin is
therefore a guilty party is a vast-oversimplification of an extremely
complex issue. At the very least, let me note that there was real fear
(possibly groundless, but nevertheless present) by the Yishuv
authorities (Ben-Gurion, etc.) that the arms which the Irgun refused to
surrender might be wanted by it for a putsch. Let's not oversimplify

b) Let us grant that the soldiers and police were brutal at
demonstrations. (Personally, I believe that police throughout the world
act the same way at many demonstrations - but of course this doesn't
justify it). Anyone who studies the history of the State will find a few
interesting sidelights in this regard: (i) there were a number of
demonstrations by the Left against the Likud government. Many of these
were suppressed using tear gas (by Jews and against Jews). See Yediot
Aharonot of November 30, 1981, which condemned this violently. While the
first use was in Yesha, it soon carried over to demonstrations in Tel
Aviv. (ii) On December 31, 1989, a demonstration by Leftists and Arabs
outside the Old City walls was suppressed using water cannons and tear
gas. Then, when the demonstrators began to flee, they were fired upon
with rubber bullets. Brutality is thus not a copyrighted trademark of
left-wing governments. These are but two examples of many. And, of
course, no demonstration by right-wingers was ever attacked by a
hand-grenade thrown into its midst - as was a demonstration by Peace Now
15 years ago, in which one marcher - Emil Grunzweig - was killed.  And
that was obviously not the result of anything a left-wing government had
done or said - the Likud was in power.

c) I assume that many readers have heard the song that was played at the
assembly just before Rabin was killed - Shir Hashalom. In Israel, it has
been replayed many times since then. Well, yesterday on TV, I found out
that when the song was first issued (about 30 years ago) it was
censored, and could not be played on the radio or elsewhere. The source
that forbade the playing? That paragon of free speech (and Arab
transfer) - Rehavam Ze'evi.

d) Josh Backon points out that Kanna'ut (zealotry) is recognized in
Halachah. However, we should note that a person who kills another in a
passion of zealotry can only do so *at the time the other is committing
the sin which deserves a death penalty.* A cold, premeditated murder as
this punk carried out is exactly that - murder - not Kanna'ut.
Furthermore, as Rav Maimon (the first Minister of Religions of Israel)
pointed out, if a person first asks a Rav if he may kill another under
this rubric, he may *not* do, and if he does, he is guilty of murder.
The reason is that Kanna'ut must come from a personal internal drive of
acting for Hashem, not based on what one is told by others. It may seem
strange, but that's the Halachah - don't ask, and you may be OK
halachically if you killed the person; ask, and you are guilty of

I would also like to add a few points that Rav Yehudah Amital made, in a
Shiur to the Har Etzion Yeshiva, just before the entire Yeshiva drove to
the funeral:

a) Even if one disagreed with all of Rabin's policies, the role he
played in the Six Day War alone is sufficient to atone for all the sins
he had. To quote the Rav: "How many merits he had!"

b) To quote from the Rav's speech directly, as distributed on the 
Yeshiva's Internet forum:
 "On the national level, I don't know who is responsible, Right or Left,
for using more inflammatory language. But on our level, in the Beit
Midrash, measuring with a Torah standard, I know. When a man is found
dead in the field, the Torah requires the elders of the neighboring city
to state: Our hands have not spilled the blood (Deuteronomy 21:1-9). The
sages explain that their declaration of innocence means that they did
not send off the victim without provisions and without escort. Rashi
elaborates: perhaps he left the town without food, and, out of hunger
and desperation, attacked another man and was killed.  This possibility,
far-fetched as it seems, will preclude the elders from declaring their
innocence if they did not provide him with food when he left. This is
the Torah measure of culpability! Those who spoke of the "reign of
iniquity" ("memshelet zadon"), who called the government a "Judenrat,"
who questioned the legitimacy of the government, who publicly issued the
ruling concerning disobeying orders in the army - are they less culpable
than the elders who failed to provide a traveler with provisions? Is the
connection more far-fetched?  Can they truly say "Our hands have not
spilled this blood?"

c) And further:
        "Where do people get the idea that they have to ask a rabbi
about whether to say "ve-ten tal u-matar," but regarding issues which
affect all of Israel, they can decide for themselves?  And the small
rabbis who speak of the need to use force - would they dare to issue
rulings about the laws of Shabbat or aguna?"

d) And again:
        "We must fight against hatred, Rav Amital continued.  After the
murder, we hear many people quoting Rav Kook zt"l, who said that just as
the Second Temple was destroyed because of sin'at chinam (baseless
hatred), so will the Third Temple be built because of ahavat chinam
(baseless or undiscriminating love).  But why call it ahavat chinam?
Are there not many others, yes even among the non-religious, who deserve
our love? There are many dedicated members of our society: members of
the security services who vigilantly protect us, boys who give three
years to the army, doctors who work for meager wages rather than seek
their fortunes overseas, and many others.  If someone does not share our
religious commitment, it does not mean he has no values, and it does not
mean that he has no just claim to our love."

The above extracts are quoted from MeimadNews, which forwarded it from
the Yeshivat Har Etzion forum. This is reproduced with permission.

           Shmuel Himelstein
22 Shear Yashuv Street, Jerusalem 97280, Israel
    Phone: 972-2-864712: Fax: 972-2-862041
   EMail address: <himelstein@...>


From: <raisrael@...> (Michael Graetz)
Date: Thu, 09 Nov 1995 18:57:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Rabin's Killing and Halacha

We are all in a shivah period, it is like real mourning for a
relative. I don't imagine that it can be the same for you, my friends in
the U. S. For us in Israel, Rabin was a daily occurrence. His voice was
on the radio, his image speaking to us on TV, every single day. His
mannerisms, his slow, slightly drawling, bass speaking voice, was easily
mimicked by comedians doing political satire. For those of us who
believed in his vision, we gained reassurance from his voice, and from
his fervent devotion to the vision of no more war. It is still
impossible to imagine that we will not hear that voice any more with new
ideas. I am almost incredulous at my own sense of mourning. But when I
saw the hundreds of thousands who came past the casket, leaving objects
behind, or when I see the tens of thousands coming at all hours to the
square where he was killed, I realize that I am not alone in this.

The song, "Shir la-shalom", is playing over and over on the radio. The
music of Ya'ir Rosenblum and the words by Ya'akov Rotblitt were written
as a joyous reaction to the peace with Egypt. I hope that it will become
the theme song of the era of peace, just as Yerushalyim shel Zahav was
the theme song of the era of military victory. By the way, Rosenblum
also wrote a most moving and beautiful setting to U-Netaneh Tokef, which
is popular here around High Holiday time (it would pay for you all to
get hold of that too).

People, are finding this very hard to deal with. Just as overwhelming as
Rabin's death, is the fact of who the killer is and his
motivations. Over and over people stop me and ask, is it true that
halacha supports murder? How do I explain the fact that famous rabbis
have justified what was done? People are demanding clear cut and
satisfying answers to those questions.

However, in reality there is no "Judaism", but rather viewpoints of
"Jews". We find Rabbis making contradictory statements about the same
moral issue. There is NO one clearcut Jewish viewpoint on any issue,
including this one. Torah is the responsibility of every Jew, to study,
to understand, and to practice as they see fit. A Jew cannot talk about
Torah, unless first answering the question "who are my rabbis?". This
murderer chose his rabbis out of the vast spectrum of rabbinic opinion,
and so every Jew has to make that choice. IN THE END A JEW MUST CHOSE

So, how do we make our belief, and thus our halacha, clearcut. The
bottom line is that PERHAPS there should be a move to put those
particular opinions OUTSIDE OF THE PALE OF JEWISH OPINION. Political
murder is not the only subject which is a candidate for such a
declaration.  Naomi Graetz has said that to those who keep wondering
"how can a Jew do this to another Jew, and in the name of Jewish
religon?"; I ask them to consider the following questions: "How can a
Jew beat his wife, and in the name of Jewish religon?" or "How can a Jew
think that an Arab or a non-Jew could be indiscriminately killed, and in
the name of Jewish religon?"


Arthur Waskow wrote the following: "So I put a proposal to those who
assert that they are horrified by the Rabin murder: Convene the broadest
gathering of Rabbis of all orientations and denominations to put
formally ***in cherem*** any Jew who calls for or approves the murder of
any human being as a way of carrying forward a political or religious
vision -- and define cherem in this context to include the cessation of
any aid whatsoever from any person or group or govt to those persons and
to any group or settlement that continues to have relationship with
     That would focus punishment on guilty individuals and at the same
time demand that their communities of support face the issue. And it
would redeem the honor of Torah and act to wipe out the chillul haShem
that is now passing for Torah."
 Let's do it.

Michael Graetz  <graetz@...>


End of Volume 21 Issue 93