Jun 18, 2007

amazing story behind the scenes of the OSIRAK bombing

A couple of weeks ago in the Mishpacha magazine, there was an article about the Israeli operation to bomb OSIRAK - the Iraqi nuclear reactor, and some of the religious aspects of it.

In this weeks Mishpacha there was a "Letter to the Editor" in which the author relates a fascinating story related to the above article. I felt I had to share the story with you.

I am going to translate the letter (from Hebrew) as it was printed. I do not know if the details are accurate and how much of it the writer was actually privy to, but this is what he wrote:

In that year, 1981, on Lag B'Omer, as the Holy Rebbe Rav Moshe Mordechai of Lelov was leaving the grave site of the RASHB"I (Rav Shimon Bar Yohai), he turned to a group of his chassidim and said, "I have accepted upon myself something that is beyond my capabilities, but I had no choice."

The chassidim, obviously, had no idea what he was talking about. The rebbe continued, "If one fights with the power of evil, one is capable of overcoming it, but one must take into account that there will be casualties."

A few days later, at midnight, the Rebbe (who lived in the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem), took a taxi to the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital. He went up to the Neurological ward and went from room to room checking everything out. Without saying anything and no explanation, he completed examining the ward. When he finished, he got a taxi and went back to his home in Geula.

A couple of weeks later, on the eve of the Shavuos holiday (this was June 7, 1981 - the day of the attack), the Rebbe told his gabbai to call Prime Minister Menachem Begin and to bless him with good fortune and success for the operation.

The gabbai did as instructed. When Begin received the message, his face fell in distress. He was concerned that the greatest State secret had somehow been leaked.

As the holiday of Shavuos began, the chassidim in the shul of the Rebbe noticed that something unusual was happening. The Rebbe asked a number of times if anybody had heard any news. The Rebbe turned often to the Aron Kodesh. He opened and closed it a number of times. His prayers were more intense than usual.

At the end of the holiday, the Rebbe was informed of the success of the operation to blow up the nuclear reactor. Immediately after he heard the news, he became completely paralyzed.

He was immediately taken to the hospital - Hadassah Ein Kerem. He was placed in care in the Neurological ward and remained there, in complete paralysis, for 6 years, until his death.

Only then did his chassidim understand his cryptic messages from Lag B'Omer, and his behavior over the holiday. One cannot imagine how much affliction the holy tzadikkim take upon themselves in order to save and protect other Jews.


  1. woowowow - I have chills reading this story.
    אשריכם עם ישראל

  2. Rafi,

    What I find interesting is that you post this story [which I being a non-chassid traditionally tend to doubt] and the one above this about Rav Chaim Kanievsky - either of which if true, say an awful lot about the greatness of these individuals. Yet, you don't hesitate to criticize them over stupid nonsense that you read in blogs like the menuval Dovbear and others and refer to them derisively as the "Hareidi Leadership" etc.
    Which one is it? Do they know things that the rest of don't or not?

  3. Rafi
    If its true, its a great story, any way to do some followup research? speak to any chassidim who where thee?
    I dont see the "setira" evryone agrees that we have great tzaddikim among us, even some "Baalei Mofetim"
    but being a tzaddik does not meant that your infallable or perfect. its not an either / or scenario.
    (just take a look at last weeks parhsa, korach was a "gadol" by any standard, yet he was capable of making a grave mistake)
    In those instances where rafi did criticize certian leaders, was when he believed they were mistaken.

  4. anchorite,
    "but being a tzaddik does not meant that your infallable or perfect. its not an either / or scenario."

    Absolutely correct. What it does mean however, is that it takes more than an average joe with a partial view of the situation [usually gained from blogs!] to refute him. It takes someone on his level and our dear blogger is not there yet. This is a basic rule in the Gemara that says ,"Ain Beis Din Yochol Levatel Divrei Beis Din Chaveiro Ella Im Kein Gadol Mimenu B'chochmah U'Beminyan"

    "(just take a look at last weeks parhsa, korach was a "gadol" by any standard, yet he was capable of making a grave mistake)"

    Right - and it took Moshe Rabbeinu to point out his fallacy.

    It is very common to insist that Chareidim think they're Gedolim are infallible due to their hesitance in criticizing them. That is not the case. The mere fact that often two Gedolim will argue on a point ought to lay that silliness to rest. The basic point is that it would take a person of their stature to refute them. That doesn't mean a person can believe differently, but it ought to give one pause before writing for the masses about how the "Hareidi Leadership engage in power grabs and choke their constituents etc." - words taken right off this blog.

  5. correction:
    "That doesn't mean a person can believe differently,"

    should read:
    "That doesn't mean a person CAN'T believe differently,

  6. A number ofpoints I will make, in no particular order.. just the order they come into my mind..

    I have said other times on this blog, and if I was not clear enough then I will try to be more clear now, Generally I do not believe the gedolim are behind any of the issues of which I criticized (whether I saw those issues on Dov Bears site, the general news or elsewhere is irrelevant). I believe it is (usually) the"askanim" (as they are known in Israel. the askanim think up these issues and then bring them before the gedolim. They get some sort of approval for their ideas and then they blow it up out of proportion.

    Does Rav Elyashiv sit around and think of what to do about El Al or the latest style in sheitels? No. He is sitting and learning and pays attention to nothing else. Other people (read: askanim) come in and complain about issues x, y and z and Rav Elyashiv says, "really? That's horrible. A pirtza. It must be fixed." and then it gets blown up.

    Maybe I am wrong, but my criticism for haredi leadership is generally not the rabbonim but rather is against the askanim.

    I have no problem with someone who says I do not want to wear a sheitel, but a tichel because a sheitel is not frum enough.

    I have no problem with someone who says I do not want to fly El Al because they were mechalel shabbos.

    I have no problem with someone saying I want (my wife) to wear a burka because it is more tzanua.

    Any other issue you can think of, I have no problem with you saying you want to keep chumroh x, y or z.

    Go ahead. Keep every chumroh in the book and make up a bunch more. It will not bother me.

    My problem is only when you tell me what chumrohs I should keep. Keep your chumrohs to yourself. Don't insist I keep your issues.

    I greatly respect the gedolim. I have, over the years, gone to see and gotten brachos from gedolim such as Rav Kanievsky, Rav Steinman, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rav Elyashiv, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, The Boyaner Rebbe, the Toldos Aharon Rebbe, Rav Meir Bransdorfer, Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Rav Eliezer Abuchatzeirah, Rav David Abuchateira, Rav Ovadia Yosef, Rav Yisrael Meir Lau, Rav Bakshi Doron, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, among many others I cannot think of right off the top of my head.

    They are all tremendous talmidei chachomim. Much greater than I will ever become, and I have no words of criticism for any of them. Again, my criticism is on those askanim who try to force society to keep newer and more chumrohs at their whim.

    Furthermore, just because someone is a gadol does not mean he cannot be wrong. I am not taking them to beis din to force them to change their opinion. I am writing a piece on why i think their position is wrong (when I do, which I have tried to keep to a minimum - there were a number of posts I wrote in that vein that I thought got too critical of the rabbonim themselves, and as that was not my intention, I deleted and di not post those posts.)

    I am not punishing them for it, as Moshe did to Korach.

    I believe in Judaism we are meant to question. Ain ha'bayshan lomeid - the person embarassed t ask questions does not learn. Kinas Sofrim tarbeh chochma - jealousy of torah study leads to increased wisdom.
    This does not mean just to ask questions on the piece of gemara you are learning. It also means in general life. If you do not question the decisions of the Rabbonim, but just take everything as it is dished to you, you will never learn how decisions are come to. You will not learn hashkafa of a frum Jew and what is important to frum jew. You will just know that a frum jew should not fly ElAl. You will not really know what is really wrong with it. I have learned a lot by criticizing and questioning the issues I am not willing to take sitting down. Sometimes in the end I change my opinion and sometimes I do not. But even when I do not, I come away with a better understanding of the positions.

  7. ancorite - I have no way to check if the stories are true or not, or to get more details.

  8. "Maybe I am wrong, but my criticism for haredi leadership is generally not the rabbonim but rather is against the askanim."

    Rafi - which way is it? Do they know about Osirak but can't figure out what the heck their askanim are talking about, or not?
    On the one hand you attribute such utter brilliance to them, on the other, you make them out to be total fools manipulated by a bunch of conniving jerks.
    Which way is it?

    Somehow, Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Elyashiv can't seem to figure out that the causes they sign on to are bogus but you and the menuval Dovbear can?

    Sorry - this is not about what you innocently term "questioning" at all. We are all permitted to question. It's quite another to openly engage in criticism and that's what you've engaged in on more than one occasion. Remember, what you write is on the internet for permanent record. It's not as innocent as you pretend.

    True - you're not as bad as some others but you also know a lot better. Forgive me, if I expect more of you than others. When I see you post these kinds of stories, you give off that impression.

  9. sorry, but I see nothing wrong with criticizing. When I see something I do not like, I will criticize it.

    Maybe my position is wrong in my criticism. I have been known to be wrong before. But if I feel something is wrong, either in attitude or fact, I will point it out and criticize it. That does not mean my opinion is right, but I am entitled to it.

    Nobody appointed any rav to the position of pope and no rav and especially not an askan is beyond the realm of being "criticizeable", imho.

    I have been told by very chareidi rabbonim, on more than one occassion, that nobody, not even the gedolei ha'dor, are infallible. They told me it is a mistake to think so. Rabbonim, even the greatest of them, make mistakes like anybody else.

    The proof of that is the fact that the Torah instructs about a specific korban for when sanhedrin makes a mistake.

    If the sanhedrin ha'gdola can make a mistake, for sure any rav can. And nobody nowadays matches up to the sanhedrin gdolas of the times of the beis hamikdash.

    And I never heard of any rules saying who is allowed to point out those mistakes and who is not.

    I do not know who you are, where you live, or what you are familiar with. But here one seens signs all the time signed by various gedolim decrying all sorts of things. As a side point, if the gedolim spent all there time thinking of these issues and planning how to deal with them, they would have no time to learn. These issues are dealt with by askanim, who sometimes have agendas in how they pick their issues, who then bring an issue to a gadol and get approval for dealing with the issue.

    Any Rav will tell you that when you ask a question, how you ask is very important to how he will answer the question. So do I have to trust the various askanim that they ask the questions in objective ways to get true halachic answers? maybe they are asking their questions in ways designed to get specific answers. Are the askanim beyond criticism? Are they so pure and holy that nobody has a right to criticize them?

    I am not a talmid of any of the gedolim I mentioned earlier. I respect them all. When I have a question and do not know how to proceed, I ask my rabbonim.

    When you see a sign on the wall or in the newspaper (hamodia, mishpacha, yated, whatever) saying sheitels are assur, signed by various gedolim, do you run to your wife and make her switch to tichels? No? Why not - the gedolim said sheitels are assur. do you know more than the gedolim?

    When the gedolim say (via the signs on the wall) that internet is assur - do you run and cancel your membership with your ISP? No? Do you know more than the gedolim?

    That is not how most people live their lives. Whether it is right or wrong I do not know. Maybe we should all be lemmings and run every time a sign goes up in mea Shearim, but that is not how I live my life. Again, maybe my style is wrong though.

    I am in no way a team with DovBear. I only read his blog occasionally and the issues I pick on are rarely the same as the ones he picks. While I find his content interesting, I have argued on his blog in the comments more than I have agreed with his positions. I am not sure why you compare me with DovBear (not that there is anything wrong with it, but I am hesitant to be connected to anybody without understanding the connection).

    How can I know when something is wrong if the gadol does not? I don't, but I do come with a different perspective. Maybe from their perspective they are right and I am right from mine. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe only I am right. It does not matter to me. Just because someone says something in the name of Rav Elyashiv or Rav Steinman or Rav Kanievsky or rav whoever else you want, does not mean I am not allowed to have my opinion. Again, my opinion could be wrong (and it would not be the first time), but it could also be right.

    I will now present a fictitious discussion - Let's say someone comes to Rav Elyashiv and says "it is horrible that there are schools in frum neighborhoods that teach kefira." Rav Elyashiv says, "Of course - it is a pirtza that must be closed."
    Signs immediately go up in the relevant neighborhood saying Rav Elyashiv said school x must stop teaching secular studies or we will shut it down.

    Did Rav Elyashiv say that? No. But to those askanim he did. they consider that kefira and they manipulated the question to get the answer they were looking for. They then took an answer and distorted it to fit their agenda.

    So, do we close the school down or are we allowed to have a different opinion? I would say maybe that is not what he meant. Maybe the school is for kids who cannot handle studying Torah all day and need to learn some secular studies. Maybe I would say that it is wrong for the "chareidi leadership" (more directed at the askanim) to do such a thing.

    the above is a fictitious situation, but it is based on stories I have been familiar with.

  10. ancorite - I have no way to check if the stories are true or not, or to get more details.

    Wouldn't you be able to check with the hospital if the Rabbi was admitted at that day? That would be an interesting (and different) thing for your "adventure" series.

    all the best

  11. edh - yes, that would be interesting. But I do not have time for investigative reporting. I take them as I see them. If I have a friend or acquaintance connected somehow to a story or to the subject of a story, I can check it out a bit, but if not, I take it as I see it.

  12. Rafi,
    "I have been told by very chareidi rabbonim, on more than one occassion, that nobody, not even the gedolei ha'dor, are infallible. They told me it is a mistake to think so."

    Perhaps this is the root of the problem. You actually needed to be reassured of that fact by a Rav? Are you truly that simpleminded? Normal people do not believe that anyone is infallible. That is not a Chareidi position so stop pretending that it is and that you disagree with it.

    "And I never heard of any rules saying who is allowed to point out those mistakes and who is not."

    Once again - this would be something that common sense would dictate. Just as your opinion of how bio-physics works is irrelevant in the face of experts in that field, your opinion about halachah is not much more relevant. If your dissent with them was based upon the opinion of Rabbonim who are their equal or at least highly respected, it would have merit. Very rarely do you quote anyone but your own self. As I said, this is a matter of common sense. So far, you haven't demonstrated that this is not your strongest point.

    Rafi - by all means - go ahead and criticize anyone you like. I'm merely pointing out that you're pretty inconsistent. Therein lies the association with the menuval Dovbear who is the strong man of the blogosphere behind whom all mortals must march. Knowing you from the past, and knowing where your heart is [or at least thinking that I know], it's hard not to believe that much of the negative stuff you write about Chareidim and their Rabbonim is your way of stepping in line with the menuval and his ilk. It's the only way small guys can earn credibility in the blogosphere.

    Before you respond in a huff, think about what I'm saying. I promise you, I have no ones best interests here at heart other than yours. Feel free to delete this post as soon as you see it if you feel that it's too openly critical of you but I know of no other way to communicate with you.

  13. anon,
    an interesting example I myself have been witness to. when I was living in RBS I had gone to the home of a well know Posek (chareidi) with a shaila, we'll call him Rabbi X.
    While I was there there was a knock on the door, and in came three serious looking men with a letter. The premise of the letter was that a certian all womens gym was to be put in cherem since they had TVs on and the women might watch them. Rabbi X expressed concern that this was a harsh move, and it requirded more thought and investigation, especially since the owner of the gym was a frum jew. the "askanim" then became agitated and began to verbally abuse rabbi X.
    I was shocked, i had never seen such behavior. The final straw was when they said "Rabbis Y and Rabbi Z both signed, you dont want to be the only one who dosent sign"
    (rabbis y and z were the other two major chareidi rabbis in RBS and RBSB).
    Rabbi X reluctantly signed. I concluded my buisness with him and went home.

    Two nights later I happend to be at the home of rabbi Y, (another shaila) when... surprise, who walks in but the three "askanim"
    the scenario repeats itself, with Rabbi Y even more vehement against signing. the same abuse, with the final argument:
    "Rabbi Y and Rabbi Z both signed, how can you not?"
    Sure enough, he signed.

    This is just an example of how some misgueded zealots and manipulate promenent rabonim and talmidei chachamim.
    If I had not seen it with my own eyes I would never have believed it.

  14. anchorite -that is an amazing story...

  15. anonymous - again, I have no association with DovBear and am not sure why you insist I do. As far as I know, he does not read my blog. He does not comment here (unless he comments anonymously), even if he does read my blog. he did link to (I think) 3 of my posts at the time when he was doing links to quality posts, during the running of the jibawards, but other than that I know of no connection this blog has with him. I do not show him my posts and get clearance or approval or anything like that.

    This blog is not a work of halacha, it is not a sefer of pilpulim being writte, it is not a shu"t sefer. Nothing said on this blog will ever reach the point of becoming "there is a machlokes between Rav Kanievsky and Rafi G".

    This blog is simply my thoughts on life, Israel, Judaism, current events, and whatever else I feel like writing on. Nothing I say is authoritative, it is all simply my opinion.

    Do I contradict myself sometimes? Maybe. You think so. My inconsistencies do not disturb me. Life is not black and white. It is full of grays and even some color. Things contradict other things all the time. Maybe I hated the Chicago BlackHawks because they stink, does that mean I have to hate the Chicago Cubs because they also stink? According to you yes. But I like the Chicago Cubs and enjoy following them (to the limited amount I am able to). Is that inconsistent and possibly a contradiction? According to you yes. But life is not black and white. It is built on middle ground. I can be impressed by something because of some qualities it has and be disturbed by other qualities the same thing has.

    The talmidei chachomim are tremendous people. Does that mean they cannot be manipulated? From anchorites story that he saw first hand, it shows that is not the case. I have no criticism for any gadol, or any other rav (except in individual cases) - I have criticism of issues that I do not like.

    You don't like it? You find me inconsistent? Sorry, but I do not see that as inconsistent, rather the makeup of life.

    Feel free to criticize me whenever you have something to say. I appreciate your trying to set me straight. Sometimes I agree and change my position based on criticism I receive and sometimes I do not.


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