Volume 21 Number 95
                       Produced: Sat Nov 11 23:59:29 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Does a Death Reflect a Life?
         [Stan Tenen]
Rabin and the Altalena
         [Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer]
Rabin's assassination
The Altalena -- F & F (2)
         [Mordechai Perlman, Avi Feldblum]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 1995 06:35:14 -0800
Subject: Does a Death Reflect a Life?

It seems to me that we can learn from several different levels of
understanding of the recent tragedy.

My reason for posting the following is to initiate a discussion of Torah
teachings on these matters from those who know more than I.  This is an
attempt to divert the discussion from politics or from the politics of
not discussing the politics and to get to the level of conscious
meaning, which transcends politics, that is at the heart of the issue.

It seems to me that the circumstances of a person's death can sometimes
yield a clue as to the character of the person.  We know that a person
of extremely high character, such as Moshe, can be taken up whole (for
want of a better term), and that a person such as Rabbi Akiva can leave
us in full consciousness even though undergoing what for others would be
the most extreme - and thus mind-blanking - torture, while one of R.
Akiva's colleagues left this world during (the PaRDeS) meditation.  I am
sure that there are many more examples of particular character traits
and levels of soul development that either lead to or seem to lead to
particular conditions of dying.  (I am more familiar with the spiritual
and psychological teachings of other traditions on these matters than I
am with Torah teachings.  There have been many popular books in the last
few decades that deal seriously with these issues.)

Is there a correlation between the way a person lives their life and the
way they or we experience their departure?
If so, what can we say of a person who is:
 taken in what amounts to an instant,
 painlessly or nearly painlessly (to the person),
 by a clearly deranged stranger,
 while at the height of their power and influence,
 after a full life,
 surrounded by loving friends and family,
 and after a life of service now crowned with apparent immanent success
(the peace process),
that from the person's point of view?  What sort of person merited these
conditions of their dying?

Some thoughts: This person did not (apparently) die consciously; it is
unlikely that he was able to say the Sh'ma.  This seems consistent with
the life of a person who was not religious.

This person died relatively quickly and thus, likely, relatively
painlessly.  What trait of this person's character, what action in his
lifetime, merited that?  To me it seems a special honor.  It was not
accorded to R. Akiva, for example.

I think it would be useful to ask these sorts of questions.  Rather than
engage in political debate or, even worse, hypocritically not-engage in
political debate - which is itself, politics - we might attempt to use
Torah learning to help to understand, if I may be so bold, "HaShem's
viewpoint" or apparent judgment of Yitzhak Rabin.  If we wish to make a
positive statement, to possibly change minds and to enhance healthy,
healing, feelings, then it seems to me that a true example of Torah
wisdom, demonstrated in this particular horrible instance, is what is
called for.

There is another matter that we might discuss.  What of the "curse"
pronounced a few weeks ago?  Did it work?  Are those involved pleased
with the apparent result?  Should we condone or condemn this sort of
spiritual terrorism? Now? In the future?  I recall asking a rabbi friend
if it was permitted to use "psychic" action to do things on Shabbos that
are not permitted.  If it were possible, could I will an electric light
to come on without touching the physical switch without desecrating
Shabbos?  The answer was no.  So, I ask here, does it matter if these
rabbis acted "psychically" in intending Yitzhak Rabin's death or is it
no different (in terms of responsibility) than if they had pulled the
trigger - particularly if they were certain in their own minds that the
curse would work?  (I am not saying that I believe in the efficacy of
"curses".)  If it is no different, what is the proper halachic response?
(If we ban or expel "heretics" does that amount to "unwarranted hatred",
itself worthy of being banned, and etc.?)

A further comment: When I have in the past attempted to discuss what I
describe as the glassy eyed look of many young yeshiva students (that I
have seen on the streets of Jerusalem and N.Y.), I have been strongly
rebuked or looked at in amazement as if no one else has ever noticed
this.  I remember that lost, beaten, look from my childhood also.  Many
children, not just yeshiva kids, have these sad, dull eyes.  Does anyone
know what I am referring to here?  How does this happen to a child?
.....And, what can we expect of such spiritually broken children when
they grow up?  If we teach a child high principles while they are
neurotically split from their own lives, how will they interpret these
high principles?  Do our teachers notice these things and are they
prepared to intervene when a child becomes no more than a caricature of
a student?  (...In grade school? In high school? In college?)  Isn't it
obvious that a hurt mind can interpret high teachings in a hurtful way?
Why do we, why does any school, why does any rabbi permit this?  Why
does it appear to be so common and so unnoticed?

I don't think we necessarily have ready answers for these sorts of
questions, but I do think that unless we address these sorts of
questions we are only using a superficial, a Pshat, view of Torah
teachings, and they will not serve to prevent future tragedies.

There is much more that we could discuss along these lines.  Here we
have an opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of Torah teachings
as a real science of consciousness and as a real means of achieving
healing - in stark contradistinction to the emptiness of political


Stan Tenen


From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer)
Date: Sat, 11 Nov 1995 21:29:52 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Rabin and the Altalena

I fully agree with Joseph Steinberg in MJ 21:92 that even if Rabin was
involved in the Altalena episode that is completely irrelevant to
current events. Amir was no go'el hadam, he was, plain and simple, a
rotzai'ach, who, not only commited the grave sin of Shefichas Damim, but
also the even graver sin of an extraordinary Chillul Hashem. It is
indeed high time that Orthodox Judaism disown any group that condones,
implicitly or explicitly, a sin that is in the panoply of Arayos and
Avoda Zara.

Mordechai Perlman's earlier post on the subject not withstanding,
however, I respectfully ask for some documentation of Rabin's role in
the Altalena - specifically, a quote from an authoritative historical
work. When I looked it up, the only well known political name I could
find associated with the incident was Yigal Allon. The only context in
which I could find Rabin in the '48 war was as commander of the Palmach
Harel unit that cleared the road to Yerushalayim.

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer


From: <Moss_M._Ellenbogen@...>
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 95 09:57:13 EST
Subject: Rabin's assassination

On November 4, Chaim Wasserman asks

>Rav Kook was around and very much involved when the infamous Arlozoroff 
>assassination tragically took place.  I wonder what would Rav Kook, zatzal 
>woulde be saying today to the media?  Is there anyone who could brave 
>extrapolating what he might have said?

The following is taken from "Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and Jewish
Spirituality," edited by Lawrence J. Kaplan and David Shatz (NYU Press

Chapter 5, written by Michael Nehorai (original Hebrew appeared in
"Tarbiz," 59(1990):481-505, a member of Bar-Ilan Philosophy department
and a Merkaz HaRav Musmach deals with the Rabbinic rulings of Rav Kook.

The text which the footnote below applies deals with a ruling on two
suspected nonshomer shabbos winery workers, the halacha of yayin nesech
and the issue possessing national significance.  Rav Kook forbid the
wine from being consumed--the Chazon Ish permitted it.

Rav Kook states (page 127), "If we miss the moment of opportunity at the
beginning of the development of the yishuv...and the arrogant hand that
is armed with lawlessness and the ways of the gentiles...[the arrogant
hand] that outwardly clothes life with an Israelite form whereas the
inside is completely nonjewish, [the arrogant hand] that stands ready to
turn into a destroyer and a monster and in the end also to hatred of the
people of Israel and the Land of Israel, as we already have seen to be
the case on the basis of experience--if that impure hand will prove
triumphant, then the magnitude of the tragedy is beyond conception.  But
in G-d I trust, that He will not let us stumble...We will begin to
establish Zion the precious cornerstone and to instill life in the
yishuv on the basis of purity of faith."

Footnote 21 to this text (page 151) ( all sources not included to keep
posting brief)

"Another Torah based opinion of Rav Kook worth mentioning is his stance
regarding the murder of Hayim Arlosoroff.  Rav Kook, despite the heavy
criticism leveled against him by the leaders of the yishuv, staunchly
defended the accused, Avraham Stavsky...  Judge Hayyim Cohen relates
that Rav Kook told him, "It is not possible[that Stavsky should have
been the murderer].  A Jew is not capable of murder; it is impossible.
In the Jewish souls there is nothing like this."  As opposed to this
widespread yet problematic explanation of the grounds of Rav Kook's
defense, it seems to me that Rav Kook was only following his own theory
that the halachic rule of "dina de-malchuta dina," the law of the
kingdom is the law, does not apply when the secular law conflicts with a
prohibition of the Torah (Iggeret ha-Re'iyah III, 136), and in a Jewish
state only the Sanhedrin has the authority to judge capital crimes."

I would be interested in who Yigal Amir is--the arrogant hand,the person
who can only be judged by the Sanhedrin, both or neither .


From: Mordechai Perlman <aw004@...>
Date: Sat, 11 Nov 1995 22:53:30 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: The Altalena -- F & F

On Thu, 9 Nov 1995, Steve White wrote:
> In #88 Mordechai Perlman writes:
> >...  Should we sympathize with the nirtzach 
> >regardless.  Should we forgive and forget?  May we?  and Why?
> I think yes -- at least forgive.  Avot also says "Dan l'kaf z'chut" --
> judge people meritoriously.  Rabin unquestionably did many good things
> for klal yisrael, too, and perhaps he had done teshuva over the
> _Altalena_.  (By the way, there's a somewhat fictionalized, but very
> approachable, account in Herman Wouk's _The Hope_.)  Forget is a
> different story, but the man is dead now.  "Not forgetting" means not
> letting mistakes happen again, not villifying a man who can no longer
> defend himself on earth -- and by the way, such villification invites
> loshon hara.

	I'm very sorry but I think you lack a fudamental understanding
of what it means to forgive.  If someone insults me and I forgive him,
it means that I consider it as if the event never occurred and the state
of our relationship returns totally to the friendly state that it was in
before the insult.  It means that as far as I'm concerned it never

Hob A Varme Vinter Zman
			Mordechai Perlman

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Sat, 11 Nov 1995 23:47:02 -0500
Subject: Re: The Altalena -- F & F

Mordechai Perlman writes:
> 	I'm very sorry but I think you lack a fudamental understanding
> of what it means to forgive.  If someone insults me and I forgive him,
> it means that I consider it as if the event never occurred and the state
> of our relationship returns totally to the friendly state that it was in
> before the insult.  It means that as far as I'm concerned it never
> happened

This depends on what Hebrew word you are translating as forgive. The
main discussion I am familiar deals with the levels of forgiveness
between man and Hashem, but I would argue that it is extendable to
issues between man and man as well.

There are three (at least, I am leaving out Kapara) main terms used in
out Yom Kippur prayers: Selicha, Mechila and Tahara. Very quickly,
without giving the sources at this point, Selicha describes the level of
forgiveness where you have done something wrong for which you deserve a
punishment, and the punishment is either delayed or removed. Mechila
represents the next level of forgiveness, where not only is the
punishment removed, but the negative action is "removed from the
books". There still is however a residue of the action. Using your words
above, the relationship has NOT yet returned completely to its previous
state. That level is Tahara, where even the "stain" of the action on the
soul of the person is removed in a special act of Chesed from HaShem.

So too, there are various levels of forgiveness between man and his
fellow man. First, where one no longer feels that the other need do
something to atone for his action against the other. Next would be where
he no longer feels anger or hurt due to the action. The highest level is
where it truely is as if the action had never occurred. I think this
last level is very hard for any human being to achieve without the help
of a special Chesed from HaShem to help in this.

Avi Feldblum
<mljewish@...> or feldblum@cnj.digex.net


End of Volume 21 Issue 95