Volume 9 Number 28
                       Produced: Mon Sep 20 21:29:25 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
First Temple
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Gedolim and the Peace Agreement
         [Michael Kramer]
Rosh Hashana and the Peace Agreement
         [Shaul Wallach]


From: mljewish (Avi Feldblum)
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 93 21:28:32 -0400
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

I would like to wish everyone a Shana Tova, a good and happy New Year. I
hope that you all had a very good Yom Tov. As you can see by the
messages that you have gotten tonight, I am back at work on getting
mail-jewish out. At this point I have cleared out almost all of the
September backlog of submitted messages. If you have submitted something
during September and you have not seen it, please do contact me. I still
have something like 70 messages to go through from August. I will try
and see what is still relevant and get those out between issues of new
stuff. I will try and stick with a maximum of 4 issues in any one day
(I'm not counting the unnumbered message on the new stuff in the archive
in tonight's quota) and I will give preference to short submissions (say
less than 50 lines) over long submissions (say more than 100 lines).
There are a few people that sent me mail about not getting issue #16.
That issue is available in the archives, so just send the message:

get mail-jewish/volume9 v9n16



to get it.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 93 20:46:46 -0400
Subject: First Temple

I would like to point out in response to the posting that Persia
conquered Egypt, that in the Jewish Action article it is noted that
the secular historians confused a Babylonian general with a Persian
emperor, after all, the Prophet Yechezkel mentions explicitly that
Egypt would be conquered by Babylon, and Velikovsky's ancient
manuscripts on the invasion of the "Persians" of Egypt eerily dovetail
with the descriptions in Yechezkel.


From: <mpkramer@...> (Michael Kramer)
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 1993 16:03:18 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Gedolim and the Peace Agreement

In MLJ 9:24, Rabbi Karlinsky noted that the psak [rabbinic ruling] "pkuakh
nefesh doche shtakhim" [saving lives overrules territories] has been
misinterpreted by the press to suggest that the agreement recently reached
would automatically be considered an instance when the psak should be
invoked.  And, of course, he is absolutely correct to note that the poskim
involved need to consider the facts on the ground before reaching any

What I didn't understand is why Rabbi Karlinsky thinks that the Likud is
more trustworthy on these matters than the Rabin government?  Were they
more successful in curbing terrorism?  Do they boast more generals?  Are
they more honest?  If the only answer is that the Likud _seems_ to have
been more sympathetic to religious concerns over the years, then I have a
serious problem with Rabbi Karlinsky's evaluation.

Using his own analogy,  if a rav has a medical question essential to a psak
and receives two opinions, one from a renowned doctor who is a recognized
expert in the field but who happens to be anti-religious and another from
a frum doctor who is less expert in the field, I would hope that decision
of the rav is not tainted by the extraneous considerations of the piety of
the doctor.  Now, I am not suggesting that Labor is expert and that Likud
is not, but I am suggesting, and hoping, that the poskim will set aside
other "agendas" (to allude, deliberately, to another discussion) and decide
the case on its merits.

Michael Kramer


From:         Shaul Wallach <f66204@...>
Date:         Mon, 20 Sep 93 16:22:15 IST
Subject:      Rosh Hashana and the Peace Agreement

     Shaya Karlinsky has already posted a good account of rabbinic
opinion on the recent peace agreement in response to the query by
Yosef Bechhofer. My own impressions are essentially the same. Indeed,
neither Rabbi Shach nor any other of the Torah scholars has voiced
any explicit opinion on how the Haredi Knesset members should vote on
the peace plan. The main theme in their public statements so far is
that they have no faith in any actions of the current government. This
theme was aptly expressed in a letter to Yated Ne'eman (the daily of
Degel Hatorah), in which the writer suggested that before asking
whether the government has the right to return Gaza and Jericho, we
should ask whether it has the right to control Tel-Aviv. I hope the
message is clear.

    On this occasion, I would like to share with the readers my own
feelings about the peace agreement and its timing. At first glance, it
seems indeed quite a paradox that, after decades of yearning for peace
with our neighbors, we should have such great reservations about it
when it is finally being offered to us. The reason, of course, is that
it is coming at the price of part of Erez Yisrael, something which is
very painful to many of us, particularly those who believe that the
State of Israel is the "first sprouting of our Redemption". On the
other hand, our Rabbis told us to receive everything that happens to
us with loving acceptance, and to say, "Everything that the Merciful
One does, He does for the good." Perhaps it might help us to stop and
reflect a little and look for any possible good that may come out of
the current situation, so that our Rabbis' dictum not be something to
be taken on faith alone.

    In doing so, I would like to present first an idea that I found in
Hovot Ha-Levavot (Duties of the Heart) towards the end of the part
dealing with the virtue of Trust in God. The author says that one who
seeks gratification of his worldly desires without performing his duties
toward God is like a businessman who takes a surety from a trading
partner in whom he has no trust. His action is reprehensible on several
grounds, among them the impudence of taking a surety from a person whom
one already owes a debt in advance.

    The moral is quite clear. God has been very kind towards us in our
generation, having given us material prosperity outside of any measure
of our own merit. He has also given us Erez Yisrael for the first time
in nearly 2000 years and has let us see and enjoy the fruits of our
labors in making the Land of our Fathers once again a fertile and
inhabitable land, in the face of determined opposition from implacable
enemies. Dare we imagine that the establishment and survival of the
State of Israel is anything short of a miracle? But what have we done
in return for this immeasurable kindness? How much of our duties toward
our fellow man and toward God have we performed? Where is our gratitude?

    True, the Talmud tells us that Erez Yisrael is given to us only
through suffering, of which which our people has known quite a
disproportionate measure. But the Torah also warns us that disobedience
of God will result in exile, Heaven forbid. Our Divine gift of our land
is therefore never unconditional, and we should be more than grateful
for His continued patience with our disobedience ever since our return
to Zion began more than 100 years ago. We have had far more than our
fair chance to demonstrate our thanks to God by keeping his Torah. To
use the language of the Hovot Ha-Levavot, the recent turn of events
marks the start of the foreclosure of Erez Yisrael in return for our
failure to live up to our obligations.

     The behavior of our generation sadly recalls that of the
generations which followed the building of the Second Temple in the
time of Ezra. Our Rabbis told us that they should have had a miracle
done for them, just as one was done for them in the time of Joshua,
but their sins decided instead. The result was that Prophecy ended
soon afterwards and there was no Divine Presence in the Second Temple
as there was in the First Temple. From the history we know also that
our people enjoyed political independence in our land for only a short
time during Hasmonean rule.

    Years ago one of our leading rabbis said that world politics is
like a puppet theater, in which the statesmen are nothing but puppets
being guided from Above. The show is being put on for our benefit, but
we are also involved in that our behavior has an indirect effect on
Divine guidance of world affairs. In this view we should all be looking
at the present train of events as a mirror of our own behavior. That is,
we have not our government to blame but ourselves.

    More specifically, we should be seriously contemplating the current
peace plan, by which parts of Erez Yisrael will be handed over to our
erstwhile enemies, as a stern Divine warning that our merits are now
being called to judgment. Who could have failed to note the timeliness
of the words of the Musaf prayer that we all said on Rosh Hashana:
"And on the nations it is said therein - which one to the sword, and
which one to peace ..."? As we stood in awe and dire concern over the
future of our Land, there could have been no more tangible expression
of Rosh Hashana as our national Day of Judgment.

    The shofar's call to repentance should accordingly wake us up to
our actions on many different planes, both public and private. On a
national level we must realize that strength does not last forever,
and that we must mend our ways now in order to base our title to our
Land on right instead of might. To do this, we must also recognize
the urgent need to reach out to our brethren who have strayed from our
faith to such a degree that they have no idea of what being Jewish is
all about. The danger of losing most of our people to Judaism through
assimilation, a danger already present in the Diaspora, will pose itself
in Israel as well with the coming of peace. Voices are already being
heard here to repeal the religious laws once we have made peace with our
neighbors. Yet year after year, people still seem to display the same
air of complacency and even indifference towards these very real threats
to our continued existence as the Jewish people. Rosh Hashana and Yom
Kippur come and go, but no real change comes over us.

    In order to make the High Holidays an experience of lasting benefit
for us both as individuals and as a people, we have to do a more
thorough job of soul searching this time than before. We have to make
stronger efforts to break habits which become more and more ingrained
in us as we become older. Among these habits, for example, we can
easily point to our chasing of material comforts and affluence far out
of proportion to what the Torah mandates. It is this waste of precious
resources on our own aggrandizement which is to blame in part for our
failure to bring our wayward brethren back to Judaism. Another reason
is our petty preoccupation with differences of custom among the various
groups among us. Instead of looking at what divides us, we should be
looking at what unites us. This way it will be so much easier to present
the Jewish way of life to those of our people who are not yet living it.
In general, we have to discard our self-centered ways of thought and
devote our lives more for the sake of Heaven. Anyone who takes even a
quick look at Hovot Ha-Levavot or any other book of Jewish ethics will
readily see how much room we have for improvement in all this.

    The people of Israel, the Eternal People by virtue of the Eternal
Torah, has outlived all the rulers and governments, all the wars and
all the peace agreements which it has lived through. It is our steadfast
faith that we will survive the newest peace plan as well. But our
challenge this time is to see all the inner meanings and make the most
of all the opportunities God is offering us, for our own sake and for
the sake of our posterity. In this way we will truly be able to say
in our hearts as well as with our lips, "Everything that the Merciful
One does, He does for the good," and we will be able to thank Him for
it sincerely as well.

    May the Holy One, blessed be He, guide us all in the path of
sincere repentance, gives us atonement for our sins, and may He speed
our complete Redemption in our day, for His sake and for the sake of
His people, and may He seal us in the Book of Life and the Book of
Remembrance with all of Israel. Amen.

Shalom and Gemar Hatima Tova,

Shaul Wallach


End of Volume 9 Issue 28