Apr 9, 2008

Interesting psak from Rav Chaim Kanievsky: it is ok to be a settler

The Haredi askanim claim there is a moral and ideological difference between the regular settlement enterprise, and between the settlements of the Haredi public (such as Modi'in Illit and Beitar Illit).

The difference is that while the settlement enterprise has its goal of taking over Eretz Yisrael and settling the land (mind you, it is a mitzva), the Haredi public simply requires cheap housing for its public, and these places provide cheap housing with a Haredi environment. For some reason, they think that that should give them a pass, politically speaking, and even when all building everywhere else is frozen, but in the Haredi areas it should be allowed to continue. After all, we are not living there because we are ideological and believe in settlements, but we just need the cheap housing.

There is a Halachic issue with living in the settlements, and this is one the Haredi community is generally very quick to use in their defense (such as why not to go to har Habayit, why not to support settlements, etc.). The concept is known as "Lo L'hisgaros Ba'Goyim" - not to do anything to contravenes the wishes of the nations of the world.

This "prohibition" (which is not clear in halacha whether it is an actual prohibition or not), is very vague, and it is based on, if I understand it correctly, the idea that we were sworn by God not to start up with the nations and return to Israel by force. So any time we do anything that might be against the wishes of the Goyim, you will hear people screaming not to do it because we are being "misgareh ba'goyim" - starting with the goyim.

I am not going to discuss the actual halachic standing of this concept, as I am not the expert and many of you could probably argue it either way much better than me. I just wanted to give that intro as background.

So somebody wanted to buy an apartment in Beitar, a Haredi settlement in the Gush Etzion area, but was unsure whether he was allowed to, as it might be considered dangerous and it might be considered "starting up with the goyim".

He went to Rav Gershon Edelstein to ask for a psak to his question.

His answered was published:
The psak says - Rav Edelstein said that in previous governments there was room to believe that building ni these areas would fall under the category of "starting with the goyim". However, with the current government and their statements to the public and their actions, they cannot be described as starting with the goyim. Their also is not considered a danger to live there (the article does not explain why).

He then told the guy asking the question that he should also go to Rav Chaim Kanievsky to ask for a psak in this matter, and Rav Kanievsky agreed with Rav Edelstein's psak.

So, any Haredi living in Beitar or other Haredi settlements (Modiin Ilit, Emannuel, etc.) that moved to these places during previous governments did so against halacha? But regardless of the past, it is now permitted to live there.


  1. Not all non-chareidi settlers live where they do for ideological reasons. There are plenty of chiloni people living over the green line to save a buck.

    The askanim's line of reasoning also begs the question of whether someone may live in a chareidi neighborhood over the green line for ideological (i.e., taking over Eretz Yisrael and settling the land) reasons.

    I'm sure the answer has something to do with the fact that I lack da'as toyrah.

  2. what you say is correct, but my comparison between the movements is on a movement level. Sure some Haredim move for ideological reasons, and sure some dati leumi move for economic reasons and sure some blah blah blah, but as a movement, in geberal, the Haredi settler movement is spurred on by the need for cheap housing, while the DL settler movement is spurred on by ideology.

    I would guess that your question would be asked of his rebbi by someone planning such a move (if he was accustomed to asking such questions before acting)


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