Volume 9 Number 36
                       Produced: Mon Sep 27 18:01:35 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Gedolim and the Peace Agreement (3)
         [Shaya Karlinsky, Michael Kramer, B Lehman]


From: Shaya Karlinsky <HCUWK@...>
Date: l        Sun, 26 Sep 1993 17:01 IST
Subject: Gedolim and the Peace Agreement

     In MJ 8/28 Michael Kramer wonders:
>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...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.
     Then, in MJ 9/30:
>In response to Sam Gamoran's response (MLJ 9:29) to my response to
>Rabbi Karlinski's remarks on "pikuakh nefesh dokheh shtakhim"
>[saving lives overrules territories]...IMHO, the Labor government's
>past or present record on religious issues (or the Likud's for
>that matter) is very much beside the Halakhik point. Indeed, it
>might very well be the sort of agenda that, some have argued in
>recent numbers of MLJ, influences Halakhic decision-making.  After
>all, the issue is pikuakh nefesh, not shabbos or kashrut or

     I certainly never meant to imply that the record of the Labor or
Likud parties on religious issues (a very mixed record for both of them
over the years) was a relevant factor in determining the issue of
pikuach nefesh.
     However, their _attitude_ to Torah could be relevant.  If an expert
in a certain field doesn't RESPECT a Torah value system, thinks it is
irrelevant, or even detrimental, this could affect his (or her)
credibility, and our ability to rely on his input in making a Halachic
decision.  I will try to give two examples where the medical input would
be questionable.  1) A doctor who believes in euthanasia, even if he is
the biggest medical expert in the field, should not be relied upon to
provide us with the medical information necessary to decide if an old
person should or should not fast on Yom Kippur. When he tells the Rav it
is OK for the old man to fast and it won't endanger his life, I have to
worry that he doesn't share the same degree of worry about the
ramifications of a wrong diagnosis that other experts (and that we)
have.  2) A psychologist who believes that a woman's "right over her
body" permits abortion on demand, can't be relied upon to determine that
a woman's mental stability is at stake if she goes through with a
pregnancy.  I would need to hear that from someone who shares - or at
least has DEEP RESPECT - for the Torah view on the status of a fetus,
before that diagnosis could form the basis to allow an abortion.
     A Posek has to be convinced that an expert in any field is taking
our (Halachic and Hashkafic) concerns seriously, and that his technical
assessment is giving us the accurate information we need for a proper
HALACHIC decision based on our value system.  Obviously, the opinion
solicited must come from an expert.  But the absolute biggest expert in
the field (even if such a determination would be quantifiable) isn't
necessarily the person a Posek has to rely on.  A example from real
life: In many Halachic decisions that relate to gynecological matters,
the biggest Jerusalem poskim always had two doctors, neither of whom was
religious, that they relied upon unquestionably for medical opinions,
whether it was about the ramifications of a woman getting pregnant, the
source of vaginal bleeding, et al.  These doctors had demonstrated over
the years an appreciation and respect for the Torah system, even though
neither of them conducted their lives according to it.  (In one case the
VERY opposite was true...)  But they always showed deep respect and
appreciation for those who did, especially in family purity matters.

Michael continues:
>And it would be eggregiously defamatory, as well as untrue, to
>suggest that _any_ Israeli government--or any of its ministers,
>even the ever-denounceable Ms. Aloni--does not care, constantly and
>desperately, about Jewish lives.
     Oh, how I wish this were true.  The historical evidence indicates
differently - about both political parties.  On this twentieth
anniversary of the Yom Kippur war, many documents are now being
published and many interviews being given here in Israel about the war
as well as the Agranat commission.  I haven't followed all of them, but
the uncontested gist is that the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister
had unequivocal intelligence reports on their desks days if not weeks
before Syria and Egypt attacked.  But with elections around the corner
and their desire not to upset the electorate with a mobilization of the
reserves, they convinced themselves that the threats were overblown.
And then they lied repeatedly to the Agranat commission about "what they
knew and when they knew it."  As far as the Likud - and I bring this
example to negate the "conventional wisdom" that Rav Shach is playing
favorites against the Labor/Meretz coalition, not because his opinion is
the only valid one - Rav Shach gave a talk in the Poniviz Yeshiva a
couple of years ago where he pointed out that in the Lebanese war, the
politicians (read: Ariel Sharon) placed their own political agenda ahead
of concern for Jewish lives in the way the war was conducted.  (An
interesting aside: The media made a big deal out of this accusation,
showing this as another example of Rav Shach's anti-zionism, even though
during and after the Lebanese war they wrote the exact same accusations
against the Likud.)

     To bring us back to the issue of this "peace agreement":
>Now, one might argue that it is ultimately impossible to predict
>the results of the peace agreement in terms of pikuach nefesh,
>short term and long term.  But that is a different question with
>other implications.
     That is THE question - and the ONLY question I believe stood before
the Gerrer Rebbe, the Vishnitzer Rebbe, Rav Shach, et al in their
attempt to assess this agreement.  (The media, as is their predilection,
found many other motivations.  Anyone who has been fortunate enough to
personally meet any of our Torah giants from any side of the spectrum, -
Rav Soloveitchik zt'l, Rav Yakov Kaminetsky zt'l, the previous Gerer
Rebbe zt'l, Rav Shlomos Zalman Auerbach or Rav Shach ybl'a, et al - and
discussed these kinds of matters with any of them would walk out
convinced of their single-minded devotion to the welfare of ALL of KLAL
YISRAEL.  Even if you may disagree with their conclusion.)
     The Gedolim assess whether the politicians and generals are
presenting them with accurate information, based on a realistic reading
of the situation.  For this, the general credibility of the speakers has
to be weighed.  Are these honest people, or will they say whatever needs
to be said to get what they want.  Are they saying one thing to the
Gedolim and another thing to the media or to the Palestinians?  (This
itself doesn't make their opinion unreliable - it depends on why they
are doing this, and to whom are they telling the TRUTH.)
     I think the weight that one places on the expert opinions also has
to take into account the speakers' overall value system, for the
following reason.  This situation has "pikuach nefesh" built into it,
whether Israel accepts the agreement or rejects it.  There is a danger
of continued and even worse terrorism, as well as the possibility of war
if you reject; there is danger to Jewish settlers if you give the PLO
authority over security, and danger of Hamas getting a strong foothold
which could lead to disaster a year or two from now if you accept this
agreement.  Every path is dangerous.  But if the politicians view the
settlers as being "obstacles to peace" and endangering the life-style
that the politicians view as being the ideal for Israel, they may not
view the danger to the settlers' lives quite as seriously as the danger
to the lives of Israelis who want to take a vacation in Egypt or Amman,
or be able to drive safely straight to Turkey.  I am not saying that
this is the stated priority of the Labor/Meretz coalition, or that it is
a factor in their haste to enter into an agreement with the PLO, but
there is room for a posek to worry about it.
     Finally, there is the question of ones relationship to Eretz
Yirael.  I would like to share with you something I recently heard from
one of Rav Hutner's closest students, which has bearing on this
discussion.  While we should move out of parts of Eretz Yisrael to save
Jewish lives, Rav Hutner zt'l said to him twenty years ago, it is
required that we give up our lives (yehareg v'al yavor) before signing a
document which says that a part of Eretz Yisrael belongs to non-Jews.
Do any of us feel such a connection to Eretz Yisrael today?  Do we view
the loss of parts of Eretz Yisrael so seriously?  Food for
thought...(and probably a few MJ responses!)

GMAR TOV, and Chag Sameach.

Shaya Karlinsky
Yeshivat Darche Noam / Shapell's
POB 35209, Jerusalem, ISRAEL

From: <mpkramer@...> (Michael Kramer)
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1993 09:31:13 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Gedolim and the Peace Agreement

I found Frank Silberman's analysis of the issue of "pikuakh nefesh dokhe
shtakhim" admirably reasonable (yasher koakh).  But, of course, things
aren't always reasonble.  In the same number (sorry, I forget which, but
today is 9/27) Jeff Mandin offers two arguments, one from Degel
Hatorah's R. Ravitz and the other from Shaul Wallach's recent homiletic
posting, that suggest that unrelated political/halakhic agendas can be
"dokhe pikuakh nefesh."  To say the least, I find the attitude

But rather than offer my layman's opinion, let me ask if anyone out
there actually knows what the various rulings of the Gedolim were, now
that the vote is in (UTJ--against, Shas--abstain).  Did Rav Shach decide
that the agreement did not constitute a bona fide case of pikuakh
nefesh, or did he decide that Labor could not be trusted to provide
security for the people of Israel because they are anti-religious?  (In
other words, if Likud had come up with the same agreement, the vote of
UTJ--or of Degel Hatorah, at least, would have been different.)  And
what sort of ruling led to Shas' abstention?

Please understand that I'm not arguing for or against the agreement.
I'm only interested in clarifying the halakhic concepts involved.

I hope everyone had an easy and effectual fast.  Hag Sameakh to all.

Michael P. Kramer
UC Davis

From: <BLEHMAN@...> (B Lehman)
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 93 14:12:43 -0400
Subject: Re: Gedolim and the Peace Agreement

From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>

> "With respect to the peace process in Israel, the real issue is security,
> not the holiness of the land."

 With respect, I would like to try and [reply to] some of Frank's comments.

1) If the real issue were security, then the last 40 years (should) have
taught us that what we gave back, gave us nothing. If God forbid we did
not have the land as a buffer zone on Yom Kippur 20 years ago (and
keeping God out of the equation) we probably would not have won (?) the
 The "real issue" is American and world pressure for peace agreements.
I do not accept speeches re the holiness of Israel from any body,
especially one who does not live in Israel.
  The argument is not if Israel is holy, but, What was so obviously a
God given gift in June 1967, we can not lightly give back to our enemies
(& yes, they still are our enemies). At best we do it with a very heavy
heart, tears in our eyes, and a prayer that we are not doing a gross
  From a security point of view, we are taking a big risk.

> "It might be argued that `land for peace' in fact endangers Jews,
> particularly the lives of the Gush Emunim settlers.  I consider this a
> very cynical argument -- the Gush Emunim knew"....

      In a land for peace agreement the Gush Emunim settlers (150,000)
will be back in the post agreement area, and so the "endangering the
Jews" argument is totally valid.

> "On the other hand, Rabbi Moshe Hirsch of Netorei Karta advocates
> turning over to Arafat the _entire_ state of Israel immediately." 

 I'm not so sure why this was mentioned, and I will also refrain from
commenting as I do not want to bother our hard working moderator with
deleting my comments re [R.] Hirsh and [].

> Given that our Gedolim (all of whom are intelligent, pious and learned
> in Torah) diverge into such a disparate variety of opinions, the wise
> course of action would seem to be moderation, guided by worldly
> considerations and a sense of what kind of example we wish to set for
> the other nations of the world, "

     I repeat what I wrote above. The cynicism is when people sit back
and tell me to be an example to the world. Frank, move to Israel, do
with us army service 30 - 45 days a year, UNDERSTAND THE ARAB MENTALITY
TOWARDS US, and then the advice you give will not bother me so much.


End of Volume 9 Issue 36