Volume 21 Number 96
                       Produced: Mon Nov 13 18:48:28 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia - Words from your Moderator on Rabin Issue
         [Avi Feldblum]
Rav Amital's Address to the Har Etzion Beit Midrash
         [yeshivat har etzion virtual bet midrash]


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Sun, 12 Nov 1995 14:56:02 -0500
Subject: Administrivia - Words from your Moderator on Rabin Issue

 It is with a very apprehensive heart that I sit here starting to write
this message to the list. I take the responsibility of moderating this
list very seriously. The readership of this list has grown greatly over
the years, and I am very gratified when people tell me that they find
that mail-jewish presents a very even-handed appraoch to diffucult and
sensitive topics. Many of you who know me personally know that I have
published many postings that present positions that I strongly
personally disagree with. Sometimes I may post my own ideas and
comments, sometimes not, but as long as I beleive that the position is
valid within the context of Halacha, I have erred on the side of posting
the submission.

With this as an introduction, we come now to the issue at hand, the
responses and discussion about the assassination of Rabin. I think that
it is almost universally accepted that this is an important topic that
relates to the Jewish people as a whole, and to halakhic Jews possibly
in particular. Thus it is clear to me that it is an area that we will
discuss, and we have been discussing on mail-jewish.

As far as the peace process and Rabin's role in it, just to try and
clarify my prejudices as I look at submissions coming in, I will admit
for the record here that I have no strong feeling on this issue. My
feeling is that I understand somewhat the assumptions and positions of
the different groups, they each have pros and cons as far as I can tell,
and determining which side is correct appears too difficult to me. It is
outside any of my areas of expertise, so the most I find myself able to
do, is try and keep up with what is happening and pray to Hashem that
this will be a time for good for Am Yisrael, rather than a time of
increased darkness in our history. So I feel comfortable stating that I
view myself as being able to act as a moderator in regards to articles
involving the peace process. In general, as far as this medium has been
concerned, I have kept us out of much of it, as I felt is was more
political than halakhic. While I know that at least a few of you feel
the same way about the response to the Rabin assassination, I feel that
it is too important an issue to ignore, and is one that is being
addressed by many Torah leaders.

I am enclosing in this issue a copy of the summary of remarks that Rav
Amital made to the students of Yeshivat Har Etzion. This is being
included here with the permission of Yeshivat Har Etzion. This past
Shabbat the Rabbi of my shul used excerpts from Rav Amitals words to
deliver a very strong message. I have also seen this message stated by
several other people I respect. Basically, the message is: There is a
strong sense of guilt that should be felt by those who did not protest
the rising level of rhetoric. 

I feel very strongly about this. I will not allow mail-jewish to become
a place of rising tensions battle in these trouble filled days. I am
committed to support those that wish to use this as a time of
introspection, and I will also continue to place all Rabin related
issues in their own issue, so that those that do not want to deal with
this issue can easily skip it.

I will not post articles supporting the killing of Rabin as positive
religious act or duty. I will not post articles that say that Rabin was
an evil person and therefore it was right that he was killed. If you
want to know that there are people saying that, there are. Beyond that
fact, I don't think it adds to the discussion. If you want to write in
and say that Rabin was Tzadik and the greatest Yoreh Shamayim, I have no
interest in posting that either (no, I don't think anyone has said
that). If you want to discuss how we as a community should react, that
is fine. The issues about what Rabin had done wrong in his past, I'll
let a bit more of that through, but to be honest, I really do not
understand the relevance of that. That is for Hashem to judge, now and

OK, sorry for the long posting here, but I felt I needed to make my
position clear. I hope this has done so.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish moderator


From: <yhe-about@...> (yeshivat har etzion virtual bet midrash)
Date: 12 Nov 95  9:11:33 
Subject: Rav Amital's Address to the Har Etzion Beit Midrash

[Reprinted with the permission of the Yeshivat Har Etzion Virtual Beit
Midrash Project. Mod]


     On the Assassination of Prime Minister Rabin Z"L 

        On Monday, November 6, Harav Yehuda Amital shlit"a, the Rosh
Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion, addressed the Beit Midrash, in response
to the tragic murder of Yitzchak Rabin z"l, Prime Minister of Israel.
Following his address, the entire Yeshiva boarded buses in order to
attend the funeral in Jerusalem.

        Rav Amital began by stressing the importance of the Yeshiva
students attending the funeral, even though the actual ceremony was
closed to the general public.  He then proceeded to quote from the Book
of Samuel.  "When Avner ben Ner was murdered by Yoav (II Samuel 3:33),
King David intoned, 'Should Avner have died the death of a churl?  Your
hands were not bound, your feet were not put in fetters; but you fell as
one falls before treacherous men....You will know that a prince, and a
great man has fallen this day in Israel.'  We today are stunned and
shattered, depressed, disgraced and shamed, pained and sorrowed, by the
abominable murder of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, in this,
reishit tzemichat ge'ulateinu, the dawn of our redemption."
        Rav Amital then cited the Ramban, commenting on the commandment
to appoint a king, who states that whomever the Jewish people choose is
the choice of God.  If God had not approved, the election would not have
succeeded.  This horrible act, directed against the kingdom of Israel,
is also an assault on the kingdom of God.  It is an assault on the
entire people of Israel, not only because of the act itself, but because
one man cannot say: I will decide for everyone, I have the right to
assault the anointed of God, chosen by the people, a man who dedicated
his entire life to the Jewish people.  How many merits he had!  Even if
one disagreed with all his policies, the role the Prime Minister played
in the Six Day War alone is sufficient to atone for anything else he
might have done.  Our sages tell us even a sinful idolater cannot be put
to death unless the highest judicial authorities condemn him - and now,
along comes an individual who decides that he is the Sanhedrin.
        Aside from this, we are obligated to rend our garments over the
desecration of God's name.  Have we become like Sodom, do we resemble
Gomorrah?  The Jewish people, who taught the world absolute morality,
beginning with the prohibition on murder; the Jewish state, the only
democracy in the Middle East, a nation founded on the vision of
redemption - now resembles some Third World banana republic.  This
obligates us in keri'a (tearing), if not in rending our clothes, then in
rending our hearts.  What has happened to us?
        Rav Menachem Zemba zt"l, commenting on the argument in Agudat
Israel sixty years ago concerning the partition plan, stated that the
continued suffering of the Jews in the world constitutes a desecration
of God's name.  The State of Israel, the refuge of all Jews, represents
the sanctification of God's name after the Holocaust.  And now, Rav
Amital continued, I tremble - for God does not forgive the desecration
of His name.  There is a double chillul Hashem (desecration of God's
name), when one who claims to be a ben Torah, who sees himself as
serving God, is capable of this deed.  This is Torah?  This is Torah
education!?  What a terrible chillul Hashem!!  Anyone who is not shocked
lacks even a iota of yir'at shamayim (fear of God); he has no idea of
what is the honor of God.
        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?"
        And as for the title "traitor" which they constantly shouted at
Rabin - why did they think he was a traitor?  For money?  To save
himself?  Or because he had a different opinion, because, looking ten
years ahead, he feared for the future?  Is there here less
responsibility for what happened than in the case mentioned in the
gemara?  After the Goldstein massacre, how many rabbis condemned it
outright, without hemming and hawing?  Don't you see the connection
between that and the current tragic events?  Rav Amital then cited a
midrash: "You shall love the Lord your God - be loved by others,
distance yourself from sin and from theft, even from an idolater, for
one who steals from an idolater will eventually steal from a Jew, and
one who lies to an idolater will eventually lie to a Jew, and one who
sheds the blood of an idolater will eventually shed the blood of a Jew;
for the Torah was given only to sanctify His great name in the nations."
        On an educational level, I think this tragic event also reveals
something frightening. A law student, an educated person, thought that
by killing Rabin he would solve all of Israel's problems!?  What
primitivity, what shallowness, what a lack of thought!  In our school
and youth movements, have we educated so shallow a generation, where
slogans have replaced critical thought?
        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?  I am gravely worried by this entire
ideology of force.  And I am even more worried about the dangers posed
by people who believe in "sinning for the sake of Heaven." Reb Yerucham,
the mashgiach of Mir, said that the verse "...pen yifteh levavchem,
ve-sartem va-avadtem elohim acherim" teaches us that the evil impulse
can persuade us ("yifteh") that even idolatry is permissible - and even
more so, it is a mitzva!  And so too with murder, adultery, and all
other sins.  We are not inoculated against this danger, which lurks
especially in the ideology of force, and is doubly dangerous when people
begin to speak in the name of God.
        Turning to the future, Rav Amital expressed guarded optimism.
"I have a feeling," he said, "that extremism on both sides will lessen.
We can continue, even while disagreeing, to find the will and the
strength to build the State of Israel, for this is the will of God.
Despite our differences of opinion, we still have much to unite us.  I
believe that God will continue to guide us from afar, with all the
mistakes we are likely to commit."  He then recounted the statement of
Rav Herzog zt"l, that we are assured that the Third Jewish Commonwealth
will not fall.
        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 real battle is over the Jewishness of the State.  That is
where we must concentrate.  Abba Kovner, the poet and socialist leader,
once proposed to me to join him in spreading some Yiddishkeit among
Israeli youth - I would contribute the Torah, he the literature.  One
year before his death, he said to me, "We've lost a generation; as far
as Judaism is concerned, they won't listen even to me anymore.  They
associate Judaism only with militancy."  In the battle for the Jewish
soul of the nation, we have received a stab in the back.  Now we have to
prove that "derakheha darkhei noam" ([the Torah's] ways are ways of
pleasantness).  We must constantly remember that every action, every
appearance, can be a kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God's name).  "We
will increase unity and avoid hatred; we will find the ways to see the
positive aspects of every Jew; we will pray to God that he will protect
us and purify our hearts from hatred, envy, and slander; and we will
continue to build this great undertaking which is the work of the hands
of God - the return to Zion - until we witness the coming of the
redeemer, speedily in our days, Amen."

Copyright (c) 1995 Yeshivat Har Etzion.  All rights reserved.

                   YESHIVAT HAR ETZION
                  VIRTUAL BEIT MIDRASH
             ALON SHEVUT, GUSH ETZION 90433
                 E-MAIL: <YHE@...>


End of Volume 21 Issue 96