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Jan 29, 2007

Eilat - a reminder from the terrorists

Last week I received an email alert about a psak from Rav Elyashiv. The psak was regarding the status of Eilat in regards to how many days of yom tov would one need to observe in Eilat (it also referred to Antalya, Turkey, a popular vacation spot for Israelis, but that is not relevant for my post).
The question is based on the fact that Eilat is not halachically considered part of Eretz Yisrael and does not have kedushat haaretz, the various agricultural laws of the Land of Israel do not apply to Eilat.
Rav Elyashiv paskened that Eilat is not part of Eretz Yisrael and it has a Jewish community. Therefore, just like in other places in the diaspora, an Israeli found in Eilat for the holiday must observe the second day of the holiday as they do in the diaspora.

The Chief Rabbi of Eilat, Rabbi Hecht, argues the point and says they keep one day of holiday just like in Israel.

I am not sure what the logic was behind Rabbi Hechts position, as the article did not elaborate.

I suspect that Rabbi Hecht is simply stating the facts. Israelis generally keep one day of yom tov even in America, except the most haredi of them. In Eilat for sure the majority of Israelis are only keeping one day for the holiday. It is not really a halachic position, rather a statement of facts.. I am not sure if that is the case or if he is of the opinion that Israelis should only observe one day of yom tov. The article was unclear.

Sometimes we need our enemies to remind us of who we are and what we need to be doing. It was said about the holocaust (and many other tragic events in our history) that our enemy did not allow us to assimilate. No matter how hard we tried, they always remembered and reminded us that we are Jews and cannot avoid it.

Sometimes we get so involved in the minutiae that we forget the big picture, which is often just as important.

As a friend of mine said to me today, "If there was a suicide bombing there, it is clear that it is part of Erets Yisrael."

Our enemies recognize that Eilat is part of Eretz Yisrael, yet we are arguing whether it is or is not. It seems to have been very prescient that this argument about the status of Eilat just occurred and almost immediately was followed by a sharp reminder by our enemies.

Maybe, perhaps, though this pains me to suggest, Eilat suffered today's suicide attack, after hardly ever having been affected by terror attacks, precisely because of our haste to deny it status as part of Israel. We want to throw it out, so Hashem, with the aid of the terorists, threw it back at us and said this is just as much Israel as Jerusalem, Sderot, Tel Aviv, Haifa and everywhere else..


  1. Dear Rav Elyashiv-

    Please go home. It is time.

    We love you. We admire your lifetime of scholarship. We want to be able to consult you on a 1-1 basis. But please, it's enough. Your desire to conrol and your desire for power is simply failing. The people are simply not responding and couldnt care less.

    We have internet, we have cell phones of all kinds, we still ride egged routes, we go to any kupat cholim, we wear any shaitel, we fly any airline.

    It is a sure sign of irresponsible rabbinic leadership to wake up after 58 years and decide to change the rules for Eilat. Rules that have been followed by virtually all Torah Jews, including your followers.

    Tell the goons to get lost, go back to giving a shiur in your local synagogue and enjoy your next 20 years in peace.


    A Jew in Israel

  2. "I am not sure what the logic was behind Rabbi Hechts position"

    i assume this is based on the ritva, who argues that there is an irrevocable kedushah shelishit that applies to the entire land (as opposed to kedushah sheniyah, which does not include eilat because it was not part of the borders during the second commonwealth). it has been 15 years, but frmo what i remember, the ritva holds that kedushah sheniyah is only for terumot u-maasrot, shemitah, etc. (which is why i think the bet shean valley settlements don't observe shemitah?).

    "Israelis generally keep one day of yom tov even in America"

    my favroite are israelis who've been here for 20 years and still hold 1 day because they consider themselves israeli. (though i was taught in yeshivah that israelis in hutz la-aretz should really hold one day if just temporarily visiting).

    "In Eilat for sure the majority of Israelis are only keeping one day for the holiday."

    i doubt they keep even one day

    "Eilat suffered today's suicide attack, after hardly ever having been affected by terror attacks"

    i don't know if they still do this, but the last 2 times i went to eilat the highways into town had checkpoints and we had to show id to get by.

  3. So in lower Manhattan Jews should hold one day because of the 9/11? Last I heard, halachic decisions have nothing to do with terror attacks.

  4. I am sure the King of Denmark who wore a yellow star during the war appreaciates being lumped in with "they." Or all the other 'righteous' gentiles.

    The fact is that the holecaust was a terrible event in our history.

    As a Jew I would appreciate it if the haredim stopped hijacking the holecaust and misrepresenting the holecaust in an effort to tighten the noose on their power structure.

    It is no wonder that eilat would not be recognized as part of Israel, the whole conceptof orthodoxy is about living in the past and not adapting to new times.

  5. what took R' Elyashiv so long to address Eilat anyway? he knew what they held up until now. It is interesting that Eilat never had an attack till now, now that he paskened . One could be led to say, he is the cause of the attack, similar to the gemaras case of the guy who translates dreams.

  6. ari - ""In Eilat for sure the majority of Israelis are only keeping one day for the holiday."

    i doubt they keep even one day"

    motzei la'az on a klal? I'm disappointed.

  7. I heard that only one seder is required if you eat kitniyot--which is the minhag of Eretz Yisrael. Those who like to pretend that they're still in Ashkenaz and abstain from kitniyot should go all the way and hold two sedarim.

  8. ari - It could very well be.. I know the tzitz eliezer paskens Eilat holds one day because of the Ritva. It might be the source of Rav Hechts opinion, or maybe something else is the source.. The article did not elaborate and was very ambiguous as to what Rabbi Hecht said...

    anonymous - I did not argue on the psak, nor did I say that Rav Elyashiv should base his psak on a terrorist attack. I simply said that when we treat Eretz Yisrael without the proper respect, it sometimes forces us to remember in other ways..

  9. Scary thought I just heard it on the radio this morning.

  10. dan - I specifically spoke about terrorists. Any reference to "they" was referring to the terrorists and enemies mentioned in the title and elsewhere in the article. Not every gentile is an enemy of the Jews and wishes to kill us, though an awfully high percentage of them do.
    Your buddy the king would not fall into the category of "they" in this post.

    Nobody hijacked the holocaust. I was not comparing this to the holocaust. I was just using the holocaust as an example of a time when we think we can avoid reality but it comes back to sting us.. it is true of many points in history, that was simply the one that came to memory first. I even added (and many other tragic events in our history) in order not to be using the holocaust as a comparison.

    Shaya - Rav Elyashiv actually addressed the issue a long time ago. The psak he recently issued is nothing new. He was asked by a group of tour guidea putting together packages for Pesach hotels and he gave his answer. It was not spontaneous.

    Ari and shaya - aside from the motzei laaz, it is also not true. Many Israelis go away for Pesach to hotels. All hotels, including those in Eilat, make package deals for the holiday. No matter how irreligious the area might be during the year, over Pesach almost all the hotels are catering to a religious (of various levels) crowd.
    And that is aside from the fact that there is a religious community in Eilat. and even a hesder yeshiva.

  11. Your argument here sounds exactly like the claim that we should base our definition of a Jew on the Nuremberg laws. If Eilat is not EY, an Arab pig doesn't have the power to turn it into EY, any more than Hitler had the power to turn a gentile into a Jew.

    As for Rabbi Hecht, the quote in the newspaper merely says what actually happens in Eilat. The report doesn't say that he contradicted RYSE's psak at all; the reporter probably didn't even ask him about it. She probably just asked him what people do, without giving any context for her question, and he answered factually. He certainly did not pasken that this should be so.

    AIUI he personally keeps 2 days, and if you approach him privately for a personal psak, he will tell you to keep 2 days. But as LOR of Eilat, it's not his business to turn the majority of his city into mechalelei yomtov. The principle "mutav sheyihyu shogegin" is often misquoted and misused, but this is a clear example of a case where it properly applies.

  12. milhouse -as I wrote "I suspect that Rabbi Hecht is simply stating the facts. Israelis generally keep one day of yom tov even in America, except the most haredi of them. In Eilat for sure the majority of Israelis are only keeping one day for the holiday. It is not really a halachic position, rather a statement of facts.. I am not sure if that is the case or if he is of the opinion that Israelis should only observe one day of yom tov. The article was unclear."
    so you agree with me that what he said is unclear from the article and he might simply be stating the facts on the ground. or maybe he paskens like the ritva as does the Tzitz Eliezer. From the article we cannot know.

    As far as your other point, I did not say we base any psak on the terrorists. Just that we shoul dbe careful how we talk about Eretz Yisrael. If we talk negatively about Eretz Yisrael, as the discussion surrounding the letter in various forums has effected, Hashem can send us a reminder that His kavod is nifga.

  13. I know that he doesn't pasken like the Ritva. He personally keeps two days, and AIUI if you ask him privately he will pasken that you should keep two days. In public, AFAIK, he refrains from paskening on the question.

    How is discussing Eilat's halachic status "talking negatively about EY"? RYSE was asked a shaylah, and answered as he sees the halacha. It's a genuine question, and there's nothing at all remarkable about the answer. That an ignorant journalist thought it newsworthy is irrelevant. If Eilat is not EY for this purpose, then there can obviously be nothing wrong with saying so; and if it is, there can still be nothing wrong with discussing a genuine halachic question. We must never be afraid to ask a shaylah because of political correctness, or some fear that it will be seen as somehow disparaging EY. That is how Torah is suppressed, and that is far more likely to anger HKBH.

  14. How sad that this would even be an issue. And how sad the attack was.

  15. milhouse - the "complaint" is not necessarily against Rav Elyashiv. I do not know what he said or how he said it, other than what was written ni the srticle. I do know that around the internet people have been talking about the psak and deriding Eilat.

    I think it is simply a bit of mussar that if we talk harshly against parts of Eret yisrael, it will defend its honor.

    Stacey - thanks for stopping by and commenting...it was very sad. It was the first suicide bomb in Eilat ever.

  16. But you are begging the question --who said that Eilat is Eretz Yisrael?

    Besides which, holding one or two days might have nothing to do with Eretz Yisrael, at least according to the Rambam. In fact, this was the minhag before the Bet Yosef -- Jews who lived in towns that were essentially Arab held two days (cf. Lod versus Ramle).

  17. anon - I think everybody agrees that Eilat does not have kedushas haaretz, but most agree that it is part of Eretz Yisrael in some aspects... The Tzitz Eliezer considers it part of eretz yisrael. I have a 6 page teshuva from the Tzitz Eliezer explaining why and why hepaskens in eilat they should hold one day yom tov. If you want to see it, email me offline and I can send it to you.

    But that is aside from the point.

  18. Rafi,

    Although you probably didn't mean to insinuate that Rav Elyashiv psak disrespected Eilat: hence the terrorist bomb [for that would be the stupidist thing you've ever written]. Rather, you most likely referred to the disrespecet Eilat has received from the bloggers on the internet and drew the link to that. Still not very impressive reasoning and probably needs to be reworded to sound intelligent.

  19. Dear A Jew in Israel (who wrote such a thoughtful letter to the biggest poseik in our generation),

    RYSE lives on Rechov Chanan 10. His Beis Medrash is around the corner. If you have a sincere piece of advice for him, I am sure that he will take it seriosuly. If, of course, you dont have any real advice, and you just want to mock a Gadol - he who is considered the leading poseik ofthe generation, then just stay at home and work and dont discuss things with him.

    In any event, do you know how paskening shailos works at all? Do you think RYSE called up some newspaper and told them to publicize his opinion on the matter? Someone askes his opinion and he gave it. You sounds kind of ignorant of RYSE's entire life if youthink he went to the papers to talk. He probably *still* doesnt know that he was quoted in some chiloni press. And he probably doesnt care.

    Oh, and one last thing - The velt here doesnt wear "any" shaitel. Thevelt uses kosher cell phones. The velt put their money where their mouth was and took a large financial hit with the ElAl thing.... Looks like he has more of a following than you or anyone you follow. Would you agree to that?

  20. I wish you anonymous commenters would use a name so the rest of us could figure out who is the same person and who is not. Make up a fake name and use it or something...
    nice response letter, anon.


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