Every Yeshiva Bochur Should Know This

One of the great tragedies of the modern Jewish State is that the Zionist movement, which birthed it, was (and still largely is) dominated almost exclusively, both mainstream and Revisionist, by committed secularists, most of whom were ignorant of, if not antagonistic towards, having previously rejected it, our shared rabbinic/spiritual tradition. Additionally, the choice by most of Europe’s rabbinic leaders to not participate compounded the resulting crises. Many of these crises, due to the narrow, to put it charitably, interests of today’s charedi leadership, persist to this day, including the glaring near absence of any Jewish deep-values or traditional wisdom in the public forum.

Perhaps the most familiar discussion in Talmud, one a first-year student learns well, begins the tractate Baba Metzia. Known as Shnayim Ochazim b’Talit “Two people claiming a Talit“, it teaches that if one person lays claim to an entire piece of property and the second, by only claiming the half he currently holds, thus effectively granting the crook possession of the half he just usurped, the first person, the crook, is rewarded that half which he “claimed”. The ‘disputed’ remainder is then divided between the two claimants. In other words, by relinquishing one’s claim to half of what’s really yours, you end up with just a quarter of it.

This tragic precedent was set in response to Churchill’s White Paper of 1922, stripping away more than three-quarters of the original British Mandate for the Establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, in order to create a brand-new and completely judenrein countryTransJordan. Although Zionist leaders both in Europe and the Old Yishuv (pre-independence Palestine (when the term “Palestinian” referred only to Jews)) were far from happy with this development, all accounts report they accepted it without effective and coordinated protest.

In terms of our Talmudic model, when they acquiesced to Arab sovereignty of what should have been our land, at least passively acknowledging the Arab claim to that more-than-half they stole, we opened the door for their next assault and so forth. As they repeated their claim for all of the former mandate as Arab land, judenrein (free of all Jews) for eternity, and we granted them half of it (all that land east of the Jordan River) the best we could hope for was about one-half of the land west of the Jordan, pretty much what happened at the armistice of 1949 when Yehuda and Shomron, renamed the West Bank, was taken from us.

Even after recovering much of that land in 1967, but, especially, by refraining to annex and apply sovereignty to it, we’ve only encouraged the Arab sense of ownership and the international perception that their criminal claim was, instead, legitimate.

Any Yeshiva Bochur could instantly tell us that if we now cede the lands of Yehuda and Shomron to the “Palestinian Authority”, we will then be left with only approximately one-half of what’s left “inside the ‘Green Line'”. And, as there will be an immediate assumption of Arab sovereignty over that land, the following claim/land-grab will leave us holding merely one-quarter, and then one-eighth, until, as has been their plan all along, Israel would cease to exist.

Of course you can object that Halacha, specifically Jewish Civil Law, holds no sway anywhere in the world except in very few isolated communities. If you don’t find Halacha central to your life, at least enough to have ever internalized it, you probably have no idea that Halacha is not merely prescriptive, it is actually quite descriptive. With or without a  formal legal structure based on halacha, this is pretty much the way any process of constant retreat and surrender inevitably develops in the “real world”.

There’s no doubt that secular Israelis love Eretz Yisrael just as fiercely as do religious Israelis (although many secularists no longer extend their sense of identity to the eastern half of the country (Yehuda/Shomron/East Jerusalem), except, perhaps as a military/security imperative). While it’s more likely that a religious Israeli will experience and declare the Kedusha of Yehuda and Shomron as equal to that of “inside the (infamous) “Green Line”, those with even superficial knowledge and experience of Talmud will also understand that giving away any land in an effort to diffuse and appease will directly lead to Israel’s disappearance on the land of our destiny.

Which is exactly what our enemies count on.

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7 Responses to Every Yeshiva Bochur Should Know This

  1. Jacques Ruda says:

    Ariel Sharon, obm, in his biography, said the problem with secular Israelis is they do not know they are Jewish and the problem with the Haredis is they do not realize they are Israelis. In defense of the early Zionist leaders, they were willing to accept any State, no matter what the borders were to give Jews self determination. Some foresaw the Holocaust coming. After the World War II, they were also desperate to have a place for the survivors to go. There was only a small window of time when the world would have permitted the creation of the State of Israel. Even by the 1950’s the UN would not have permitted it. We should never take Israel for granted and I view it as a miracle as great as any since the destruction of the temple and the establishment of Yavneh.

    • I 100% agree that Israel’s existence is a miracle and I am immeasurably grateful to the founders, secular as the majority were, for their hard work and sacrifice. The essay was not condemning what was done, but offering a talmudic argument on moving into the future. While compromises, such as the 1922 White Paper were unavoidable at that time, as was accepting the armistice (we were, of course, exhausted and depleted, mourning the loss of more soldiers than we could ever “have afforded”, and while those decisions at the time were, in balance, wise, moving forward we must not surrender territory just because our enemies claim to own it.

  2. Ted Falcon says:

    I’ve been wondering how to respond to your posting, Rabbi, without entering into a no-win argument. If I encourage support for Israelis and Palestinians, there are those all-too ready to denounce me as a self-hating Jew, or even worse. But you leave no room for a greater rachamim, a love for all people expressed by one of my teachers, Rav Kook.

    So all I can do is support your right to express what I fear will simply lead to even greater suffering, and take the risk of letting you know, even as I honor you, that I do not agree.

    • I’m equally baffled by the stands that condemning the Palestinians to a totalitarian kleptocracy which has demonstrated repeatedly, in word and in deed, that it’s supremely disinterested in the welfare of Palestinians but only focused on destroying Israel and slaughtering every Jew there, which has brutalized generations of children by turning them into death-worshipers, is, somehow, decreasing suffering. Granted that Israel doesn’t do a perfect job equalizing services and support in the Arab sector with the Jewish sector, nonetheless, those living in Israel or areas Israel controls are the only Moslems in the entire Middle East and North Africa (with the exception, perhaps, of Tunisia) with any semblance of civil and human rights.
      Applying civilian sovereignty to Yehuda and Shomron, taking administration out of the realm of the military, offering a path towards citizenship towards those who choose, secure residency with full rights to those who don’t, would vastly improve the lives on everyone concerned, Jew, Moslem and, especially, Christian alike.
      I too long for peaceful brotherhood, cooperation, the synergy of people working together, but I don’t think that’s even slightly achievable with our eyes closed to reality. I’m sure that a vast number of the Palestinians, just as I know from personal experience that the huge majority of Jews, want to live in peace and mutual respect. But, as with most things, it doesn’t take many to destroy dreams. Turning Yehuda and Shomron into a virtual aircraft carrier to launch genocidal attacks against Israel, as witness Gaza, will not bring peace. If it truly would, I’d be first in line to try it out.

  3. Mr. Cohen says:

    Alan M. Dershowitz said:

    “The security of Israel is not assured. Israel is the only nation in the world who very existence is threatened by enemies, external and internal, supported by a majority of the United Nations. It is the only nation in the world whose national movement, Zionism, has been declared a form of racism by the United Nations. It is the only nation in the world threatened by genocidal war, the purpose of which is not military victory alone, but extermination.

    The genocide of Israel’s Jewish population – a population roughly the size of the Polish Jewish population at the beginning of World War II – is not an unrealistic nightmare. Nothing today prevents it other than Israel’s military superiority over the combined Arab armies and terrorist organizations. If the Arab armies and terrorists were capable of defeating Israel, destroying its Jewish population, and “reclaiming” ALL of current Israel, there can be little doubt that they would try to do so. Indeed, if any Arab leader were militarily capable of destroying Israel, but refrained from doing so, he would be replaced by someone who would at least try.

    …Although there are some moderate voices within the Palestinian and Arab movements, these voices are listened to only because Israel is too strong today to be defeated totally.”

    SOURCE: Chutzpah by Alan M. Dershowitz (chapter 7, page 247) published in year 1991 by Little Brown and Company ISBN: 9780316181372 ISBN: 0316181374

  4. Mr. Cohen says:

    Alan M. Dershowitz said:

    “…if Israel’s military power were ever to be diminished to the point that the combined armies of the Arab world could defeat it, I believe there would be another Holocaust.

    No Arab dictator who could defeat Israel and forebore from doing so would survive the continuing frenzy for jihad. And an Arab military victory over Israel – unlike the Israeli victories over the Arabs – would not result in a mere occupation or even detention of Israeli Jews.

    It would result in a mass slaughter, designed to rid Arab holy land of Jewish intruders.

    Most Jews know this, though they rarely speak of it openly. But then again, most Jews did not speak openly about the Holocaust before it happened, while it was happening, or for several years after it was over.”

    SOURCE: Chutzpah by Alan M. Dershowitz (chapter epilogue, page 352) published in year 1991 by Little Brown and Company ISBN: 9780316181372 ISBN: 0316181374

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