Apr 29, 2009

The uncertainty of Yom Ha'atzmaut

I suspect there are a lot of people who will identify with what I write in this post. Despite that, I only speak for myself, as I will describe my own conundrum.

Yom Ha'atzmaut is a day of doubt and uncertainty for me.

I do not mean "what do I think of the State?". I mean how do I celebrate that.

By nature I am a very patriotic person. I love Eretz Yisrael and I live Medinat Yisrael. I sometimes do not like things any specific government might do, and think they are going against the values I think should be promoted, but as a State, I love Israel.

We might forget 61 years later, but the State was founded with the goal of creating a homeland for the Jewish people. Nobody wanted us back then. Now we look back and say we could have lived anywhere. But when we say that, we are saying with the perspective and history of 61 years that would be completely different if not for the State of Israel.

The State gave us the ability to live as Jews in our own country, and it also gave us the ability to live as Jews in other countries. Ask any holocaust survivor, ask anybody who was around at the formation of the State and they will describe to you how everything was different, in western countries, after the State was founded. Nowadays we have the freedom and forgetfulness to gripe about how bad the State is while ignoring the fact that it is only because we have a State that we have the ability to live as Jews freely. Yes, even in the United States.

So what is my doubt and uncertainty? I live in and am part of the greater haredi world. For all intents and purposes, in the range of haredi, I fall somewhere within. Maybe in a specific niche of mixed ideas and beliefs - mixed with more open-mindness than the average haredi, more liberalism, more zionism, more independence, etc. But I am part of the general haredi world.

As I said, I am a patriot. I love Israel. On Yom Ha'atzmaut I feel the pride and the patriotism bursting out, just as I feel the sorrow on Yom Ha'Zikaron, and just as I feel the weight of history on Yom Ha'Shoah.

Yet because I am part of the general haredi world, that sense of pride has to be suppressed to a certain extent - more than I would like. If not, then there would be repercussions. It is my decision to be part of that world, and therefore my own fault, to a certain extent, but I do not think I am in a unique situation.

What is one to do? I feel the pride, but I am not allowed to celebrate. Even worse is that I do not know why. Other than a few platitudes about how the State is secular, I have no idea why the rabbonim are, at best, so ambiguous, or perhaps "ambivalent" is more accurate, to the State and Independence Day.

I am not claiming the rabbonim should declare us all to say hallel. That does not interest me. That is a purely halachic debate, and I am fine with whichever side you put yourself on. If you feel it is halachicly right to say hallel, say it. If not, don't say it. I can accept both opinions. I am talking about the general celebrating of the occasion. One can not say hallel, but still wave the flag and be joyous about the momentous occasion.

So why don't we, in the general haredi world? Why are we afraid that if we wave the flag we will be ostracized? Why will we be ostracized if we wave the flag?

I don't know.

The rabbonim and shuls all plan programs for the day of Yom Ha'Atzmaut. Programs of learning Torah for men who are normally at work but have the day off. It is great to be able to spend part of the day in the beis medrash learning. They plan special shiurim usually - perhaps even on interesting topics. But do they ever plan a shiur on the topic of Yom Ha'atzmaut? Do they ever explain to us that it is ok to celebrate somehow, or if it is not ok why it is not ok? All I know is that it is not accepted, but I have no idea why.

The mere existence of the State has given our nation so much, that I have no understanding of why it is wrong to celebrate it. It seems that if the special shiur was on the topic of Yom Haatzmaut (either explaining why it is right or wrong to celebrate), aside from the fact that that beis medrash hosting such a shiur would likely be packed that day because so many people want to hear a torahdikke discussion on the inyan, many people would know how to approach the day properly - with direction from their rav via the shiur.

the way it is, people want to celebrate somehow, think they cannot, don't know why, and have nobody to turn to. They think that if they ask then they will look too much like a Zionist and their kids will be thrown out of school, they will be chased out of the neighborhood/community, or just thought of as being too modern.

Why can we not get guidance on this?

(I am not looking for someone to write in the comments an explanation of why we do not celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut, though feel free to do so if you wish to. I am looking to understand why the rabbonim do not talk about it and give us the Torah perspective how to relate to the day)


  1. My place of work is charedi. For the siren I went to a private room to avoid having to stand at attention alone while everyone else went about their business (which happened last year, and was very painful for me to see). As I stood and looked at the window overlooking the courtyard of a boys yeshiva, I saw three or four (definitely charedi looking)boys stop and stand at attention. I wondered about who they were and how they were being educated at home that they would do this..


    I don't know if you are familiar with yeshiva university but I tried to publicly arrange a non-hallel minyan and got forced by the mashgiach to cancel the minyan. Without getting into a lot of details, I never grew up with zionistic feelings even though i want to live in israel with every fiber of my being and have made career choices to reflect that and assist that goal.

    Besides having a very close rebbe and mentor who does not say hallel, I cannot articulate great arguments as to why one shouldn't say hallel or be unabashedly zionistic. Will i love in Israel way before a lot of my american bnei akiva friends... absolutely!

    We need our chariedi rebbeim to explain how they have hakoras hatov for being safe there and really examine the issues and not be afraid! We should not be going around doing things without being to explain them especially when it comes to things as sensitive as yom haatzmaut!

  3. great post. i think there are a lot of haredim or american haredim like you.

  4. It could very well be that current attitudes are simply a relic of the past that has not gone away.

    Today we see that the state has indeed been a boon for Torah Jewry as well as The Jewish people as a whole. No unbiased ans sane person can deny this.

    But back in 1948 and up through not to long ago (10-20-30 years?) things were not so simple. There were reall fears at what living under an anti-religious regime would do. The fact that they were Jewish was irrelevant - the Yevsektisia whom the Chofetz Chaim claimed were Amolek were also Jewish. And in fact the state did do things that were horrible early on - Yaldei Teiman, Yaldei Teheran, Forced Autopsies, the promotion of a culture that trivializes the Torah and our connection to it.

    ANyone who reads first hand accounts of religious (haredi?) survivors and their dealings with the State see very clearly that the state at it's outset was no freind of religious Jews.

    Also back then when the Mapai was all powerful they were that much more dangerous. Today we have a more serious democracy and things are much better.

    So I think that old attitudes are hard to change and that collectiver attitudes are passed down from one genration to the next.

    Surely today we can be happy and thankful for having the state of Israel in general - but the fact that 5 Iyar when it was chosen was in fact a date fraught with trepidation for Torah Jewry colors the attitude towards that day.

    May Hashem grant that Haredim realize that we have moved past 1948 and the time is ripe for a re-evaluation of our relationship/attitude with/towards the state and we can see indeed a full reconciliation between all segments of klal Yisroel and that we can all together be Modeh and mehallel (lav davka with Hallel) to Him for all the good he has bestowed on us (even it is only recognizable retroactively) through the state of Israel.

  5. Interesting post. I have never understood how the Haredi world could be anything but excited about the state.

  6. I mentioned some examples of abuses of the state above - but really those are just symptoms. The larger issue was the genral attitude of the early zionists which was to 'redefine' the nature of the Jewish people.

    Instead of being a nation bound to Hashem in a unique and ancient bond etc. we were cholila just like any other nation.

    This attempted redefinition was something anyone to whom the TOrah and/or Klal Yisroel and/or Eretz Yisroel means something to was something that had to be fought against.

    Again, that was then this is now. I believe that whatever redefinition has happened has happened and it is no danger anymore. The future of Torah Jewry and hence Jewry as whole is secure. But it will certainly be hard to erase the residue of decades of siege mentality caused by being a scorned and threatened minority.

  7. Rafi,

    Excellent post. The keyword is AFRAID.

    Why are Charedim afraid of doing things that have no bearing on their following of halacha?

    They have to be afraid of what the schools will say,afraid of what their rav will say, afraid of their kid's shidduchim, etc.

    Was Rav Kanehaman afraid when he put the flag over Ponevizh on Yom Haátzmaut? Of course not. He understood the idea of Hakaras HaTov for the opportunities the Medina present for Bney Torah.

    I was at the tekes/celebration in Ulam HaSport last night. B''H there were many people there. Among them were many people who Iknow to classify themselves as very Charedi. They follow certain rabbonim, send their kids to certain schools and portray themselves as "charedi".

    There was also music, dancing, etc. IN THE MIDDLE of sefira!

    If these people actually feel (as I do) that the creation of the medina is a nais and what to be celebrated then I understand them attending such an event during sefira.

    If they don't feel this way (ie they would never wave a flag or stand for the sirens) then they must ask themselves:
    what was I doing there? Would my Rav give me a heter to go when he would never allow me to listen to music, shave, etc during sefira? Or am I just going to make my kids happy and have a nice evening out?

    I personally feel that many Charedim, just like Rafi, do feel hakaras HaTov to the medina and would like to express this feeling (and it doesn't have to be through hallel) but they are afraid.

    And WHY are they AFRAID?

    Because unlike rabbonim such as Rav Kahaneman,Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer and others who guided with Torah, Derech eretz and mutual respect we today have leaders who lead by fear and social coercion.

  8. not to get into a debate about the early zionists and the relation of the religious to them and their anti-religious leanings, I would like to take this opportunity, now that the topic has been mentioned, to point out what I find ironic.

    We hear a lot of talk how they were very anti-religious. and it is clear that they were. Many of them were real "am haaretz" in the real sense of the word - they had hatred for talmidei chachomim, unlike today when they are just ignorant (for the most part).

    However, we also see that because the religious were wary of that anti-religious attitude, many rabbonim, admorim and rosh yeshivas told their followers to stay in Europe and not try to go to Paelstine, or even to America (each for its own specific reasons). As a result many died in the holocaust.

    We also see that they are also upset that the anti-religious zionists used their resources to bring more like them and fewer religious jews out and over to palestine.

    However accurate that is or is not (I am no historian), I find the issue ironic. The rabbonim told their flock to stay in europe and we consider that holiness (though some say they were clearly mistaken), yet the zionists said the same thing - stay in europe and we relate to it as anti-religious... they were basically following daas torah according to this argument! But really, why should they not have given priority to use their resources to save their own kind? Did frum organizations not prioritize their resources for saving frum people and communities (and still do so today)?

  9. rafi,
    your post brings tears to my eyes. the palpable fear of the possible results of trying to understand and act on the ratzon hashem is a stream of yiddishkeit that while i understand the reasons, is foreign to my mesora.

    i imagine the explanation goes something like a combination of (1) of course you are right theoretically but the cost of allowing the masses to be makir tov to "the other" is too great and(2) how can we explain that the enterprise was supposed to fail(per our previous leaders)-again, the cost is too great)

    btw in a system whose prime directive is fealty to top leadership, it's unreasonable to expect any leader tied to the system to question who has clothes on.

    we all have to decide where to live physically and philosophically - on the latter there is a real lacunae for me


  10. thinking about this a bit more over the course of the day, I came to a comparison. When we consider talking to our children about sex and/or the opposite gender, a very common psychological claim is that the parent should try to talk about it openly with the child, at the right age of course whatever age that might be, because if the parent is not open, the child will get the info from "the streets" - his buddies, the playground, strangers, internet, etc.

    Very similar - if the rabbonim would give us the direction and proper hashkafa on this, we would accept it and act accordingly. Without that direction, we get our information from the secular media and then they wonder why we all think differently than what the torah mandates.

  11. I am someone who is very grateful to live in EY but am not a Zionist. Let me ask you some questions which I hope will give you food for thought

    1. If Herzl were alive today which country would he say represents more closely his dream of solving the problem of anti - semitism, Israel (where almost 20,000 Jews have been killed for being Jewish) or the US (where Jews clive safely)

    2. Can you substantiate the claim that Jews in the US only enjoy their freedoms because there is a state of Israel?

    3. Do you think that it is consistent for a Torah Jew to believe that the State of Israel guaranties that the Holocaust will "never again" occur because of its military might?

    4. Do you believe the bravado of Zionism that we are now better than the galut Jew, whereas in reality we are living in a ghetto of 5 milion Jews subject to the whims and acceptance of the rest of the world and suffering the exact same attitudes as we suffered in galut (eg Durban 2)

    5.When Ben Gurion declared a State knowing that there would realistically be war for the forseeable future was he doing us a favour?

    6. In short was there anything missing in good old Judaism which has been supplemented by Zionism? I am not denying (and am grateful for) all that the State does for us but I am not convinced that we are currently in a better situation than if the Old Yishuv had simply continued. Before 1900 when the Zionists came with their ideas of taking over the country there were no pogroms in Israel. The Zionist movement and declaration of the State whipped up unprecedented anti-Semitism in Israel and Arab lands. I would need to be conviced that the pros of the State outweigh the cons (almost 20,000 Jews killed to date)

    Can you prove that the Jewish Stete is good for the Jews?

  12. Just to follow up on a previously made point - I think that the failure of Zionism to re-define the Jewish nation (while being phenomenally successful at cultivating the land and building the state) is in fact the reason for the phenomena known as 'post-zionism' - for the post-zionists and their ideological forebears - the most important thing (if only) about zionism was this re-definition of the Jewish nation. Since the Jewish nation has maintained as a whole it's self-perception as a 'special' nation. (by both observant and many non-observant as well) they see no point in continuing and are willing to sell the state down the river.

  13. TO the Anonymous questioner:

    I think your opening statement gives the answer to the most fundamental of the questions you asked: Is the Jewish State good for the Jews?

    Your answer: "I am someone who is very grateful to live in EY "

    Your living here for all intents and purposes has been made possible by the State. True, you might claim that Jews lived here before the state but I do not think that YOU (an AMerican Jew, I presume) would even dream of living in a country with little infrastructure and modern amenities etc. This goes for many many other people who live here today. The Old Yishuv was not exactly paradise from a material point of view. And maybe we think we are so holy that we could sweat it out like they did and live on the dole the rest of world Jewry but we are simply fooling ourselves.

    And maybe we could have had a modern place to live w/o a state, I guess it could have happened. But this is the way Hashgocho had it happen - the ability for non-Tzadikim Gemurim to live in EY is a direct result of the creation of the state. All of the mosdos haTorah from which the Torah spreads around the world is due to the state. This is a fact. I do not know that the founders of the state intended it to be that way exactly - but Hashem works in funny ways (to us).

    Why can't you be makir the TOva of HKB"H for the ness of creating a fountainhead of TOrah in EY davka from the midst of those trying to uproot it?

  14. When I was in Ohr Samayach every Yom HaAtzmaut Rav Nachman Bulman would give a special talk to the whole yeshiva explaining the Charedi derech, putting it in the middle between the Satmar way and the Zionist way. The Ohr Samayach site has his talks for sale, see

  15. 1. True, 20,000 Yidden were r"l killed during the 61 years of the state.

    DO you know how many Yidden were r"l killed in the 61 years prior to the state?

    2. I do not know about 'freedoms' but having a state certainly gives Jews respect from the Americans and any other host nation.

    3. WHat does this have to do w/ whether or not we benefit fromt he state? If some people have an incorrect hashkofo regarding the state- nu, this means we do not benefit from it?

    4. see 3.

    5. Maybe it was indeed a mistake. But that still does not eliminate any of the benefits of the state. Even it was a mistake to declare the state 61 years ago - we are now benefiting from that mistake. Hashem works in funny ways. "Rabos Machshovos b'Lev Ish - v'Atzas Hashem hi sokum". Actually this is the rub, that the 'holy' chareidim refuse to recognize that Hashem is running things whenever they think about Israel.

    Also, we have been in a state of persecution for 2000 years. I am not sure that this state of war is worse than the persecution.

    6. Nothing was chas v'sholom, missing from Judaism. But something was missing from our ability to be mekayem our Judaism - i.e. the ability for every Jew to live in EY. On a technical Haredi level - if rov yidden move to EY - we can mekayem Terumos and Ma'asros - midOraisa - would not that be cool?

    More fundamentally, see Ramban al haTOrah Bechukosai where he is essentially quoting Midrosh Rabba that all kiyum mitzvos outside of EY is just 'practice' for the real thing - keeping the mitzvos in EY.

    Even more fundamentally - we know have an opportunity to have a G-d as CHazal say - those who live in chu"l are like those w/o a G-d.

    So yes, our practice of Judaism has been enhanced (not to mention all of the Yeshivos that sprouted in EY since the state came into existence, would that have happened under the British).

    BTW, have you heard of Yeshivas Nezer haTorah? The RY R. Rottstein wrote an article showing how fundamental living in EY is to being Jewish. It is in one of their yearly journals. BTW, he is Haredi l'mehadrin and no 'Tzioni'.

  16. 'Can you prove that the Jewish State is good for the Jews?'

    anon, I wonder if Frenchman ask themselves these questions. Or how about Englishman? Is Britian good for the English? Hey, is the US good for Americans?

    only Israel has had to consistently defend her right to exist. While obviously, you did not intend to open that can of worms known as anti-semitism, you have. These are the types of questions that Israel has had to contend with from inside and out. There is no lack of self hating Jews out there.

    I don't mean to lecture you, but you should be careful before putting such pronouncements out there on the world wide web.

    I for one would like to thank the state of Israel and the city of Tel Aviv, where I was born 36 years ago Friday. Happy Birthday Israel and Happy Birthday Me.

    American Sabra

  17. I am disqualified by commenting. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Religious Zionist.

    But I will say that this is one of the most important posts you've written here, on this blog.

  18. I received the following responses to my question :
    Can anyone prove to me that the Jewish State is good for the Jews?

    1.Having a state gives Jews respect-
    not sure if I buy that one- you could easily make the opposite argument especially if serveys of US Jews are to be believed

    Jewish State makes it possible to live in EY with modern conveniences and we benefit from the State.
    True, there are pros to the State, but also cons. Is it clear that pros outweigh cons (mortal danger to Jews in Arab countries and Israel)

    Jews were in danger before the State-
    True, but can you prove that State made Jews safer. At the moment unfortunately EY is one of the most dangerous places to be a Jew

    Maybe State was a mistake, but Hashem decided to run the world that way-
    true, but do we need to celebrate every possible mistake which was part of H’s Hashgocha?

    Living in EY is fundamental to being Jewish-
    I agree but it’s not relevant to our current discussion.

    Why are you disputing Israel’s right to exist, you are a self hating Jew-
    I am not disputing Israel’s right to exist. No rational person can. I am simply waiting to be convinced that the State of Israel is good for the Jews and that I should therefore be celebrating Yom Ha’Atzmaut. And none of the above arguments is very convincing.

  19. I did not say you are a self hating Jew. I said you are giving those anti semites and self hating Jews ammunition. and that is a problem for me.

    that should concern you.

  20. You are conveniently distorting what I wrote and ignoring certain points that I made which answer the questions quite handily.

    You asked seven questions; 6 specific and one genral.

    Each answer I gave is to only the specific question it adresses, please do not mix and match.

    Also at the end of this post you ask a new question - should one celebrate Yom ha'atzmaut. This is a different question than "is Israel good for the Jews?"

    Back to the original question:

    Why is the fact that over 5 million Jews now live in Artzeinu haKedosha solely due to the existence of the state not enough to justify Israel being an overall positive?

    DO you beleive in the nevuos of Kibbutz Galuyos?

    If this is a fulfillment of those nevuos is that not enough of a good thing?

    BTW, the US (and Europe) is just as much at risk from Iranian Nukes (as well as Pakistani NUkes in Al-quada suitcases) as Israel is. Chazal also talk about Yishmael before Moshiach - Oy mi yichye mishno - Kel- this was going to happen with or without a state.

  21. please stop giving this guy a forum to express his status of "tinok shenishba". it is unfortunate that all he does is regurgitate (sorry for spelling) the same close-minded, short-sighted views of the general chareidi population that has not yet found the ability to look beyond the self and view am yisroel and e'y on the level of klal.

  22. As this post has to do with Yom haatzmaot, and not the general good or bad of the country - i will refrain from pointing out that even the most RZ roshei yeshiva realize that there is tons and tons of bad in this country, tons of chillul shabbos, chillul hashem, apikorsus being taught etc.

    regarding YH, i dont see what it has to do with hakaras hatov. Are you so gung ho that our American brethren should say hallel on july 4? If the whole hallel stems from hakaras hatov, i dont see anything different.

    Rather, you are letting your zionist leanings show that the issue is not one of hakaras hatov, but rather you dont like that the chareidim reject your entire hashkafa - bc on one of the happiest days of your year, a day which you see as relevant for the entire nation - the "frum oilam" rejects as silliness at best, and more likely a mistake.

    If you insist that it all stems from hakaras hatov, please show me another instance in which we say hallel as an expression of hakaras hatov.

  23. anon - the issue of hallel and the issue of hakaras hatov are two different issues. nobody says hallel for hakaras hatov. if you say hallel, it is because you hold that the miracles involved in having been able to declare an independant state warrant saying hallel.
    The hakaras hatov issue is one that mandates celebrating the day in general - regardless of hallel - simply recognizing the importance of the day in whatever way that might be - hanging a flag, going on a tiyul, having a BBQ, singing hatikva - whatever - every person will display his recognition in his or her preferred method. but some sort of recognition of the importance of the day would be warranted..

  24. Very thoughtful post Rafi.

    There are many good comments too.

    As someone who's run the gamut from MO to Chareidi Light and is now RZ I've had many of the same feelings. I think it was the Zionism issue, more than any other, which led me away from Chareidism.

    I can't relate, for the life of me, to a hashkafa which is anti or even neutral to the founding of the state. For people, chareidim especially, who see hashgacha pratis in the most minute and remote events to give G-d a virtual smack across the face is the height of absurdity. (In another time and place it would have been called heresy.)

    The "warts" which so many people have mentioned are man made. As I've heard in the name of Rav Ruderman, there's a critical difference between the "state" and any particular government. The "state" was a divine gift. To the extent that much of the chareidi world has turned its back on the state they are at least as culpable for the problems which have resulted.

    While some of the early Zionists were anti religious, most had much more nuanced and complex ideologies than the standard Chareidi lore allows for. Too much support and accomodation for religion was built in from day one for it to be quite as sinister as so many want it to be.

    I strongly urge everyone to read Rav Soloveichik's "Kol Dodi Dofek" to gain an insight into the miraculous nature of the founding of the state. And also "Eim Habanim Semacha" to gain insight from a European WWII anti-Zionist Chareidi Gadol who toward the end of his life understood the error of his ways.

    There's so much more to say, but Rafi, you belong down here in Sheinfeld with us. :)

  25. One of the Anons said:

    1. If Herzl were alive today which country would he say represents more closely his dream of solving the problem of anti - semitism, Israel (where almost 20,000 Jews have been killed for being Jewish) or the US (where Jews clive safely)

    Of course this is a specious argument. First of all toward the end of Herzl's short life he began to experience a turn toward traditional Judaism. So if he were alive today he might be frum!

    Also, it's very likely, were he not frum, that he'd view the US with the same post-Dreyfus lens he viewed France, i.e. give them an excuse and they'll turn on us. I happen not to believe that there's an anti-semite under every non-Jew, but he'd had have a much harder time believing that.

    Further with his post-Dreyfus ideology of wanting to preserve the Jewish people as Jews he would very likely see the current US landscape as nothing less than an ethnic holocaust. Of the 6 million Jews remaining in the U.S. there are roughly 2 million who are lost, i.e. who don't even self-identify as Jews. Another 2 million who self-identify but who have no Jewish affiliation.

    I think those numbers and the fact that demographically, by now there should be more like 12 million Jews in the US would go a long way to bolstering his Zionism.

  26. On second thought - we take it for granted that the US is freindly towards Jews since this is the reality we grew up with, thank G-d. But not too long ago - during WW2 a large number of Americans - somewhere between 25%-50% were highly suspicious of the Jews according to polls taken at that time.

    Harry TRuman was an anti-semite, Henry Ford Charles Lindbergh etc. etc.

    The US used to be a racist society against blacks - there is no reason it couldn't have turned out anti-semitic as well. One can make a strong argument that the State of Israel had what to do with that.

    Also Orthodoxy was on the fall until the state both in Israel and around the world. 1948 seems to have been the trough of the slide of Jewry into non-observance and assimilation - since then the tide has turned. The pride in being Jewish fostered by the state certainly had what to do with that. Where as little as 61 years ago many thought that the Torah's future was uncertain, today it is only m'choyil el choyil.

    Are the hundrds of Yeshivos/Chadorim/Bais Yaakovs etc. here not a good thing? (you know they are supported by the state which is why there is a ruckus now regarding the cutting of funding)?

    Are the thousands of American/European bochurim/yungerleit who learn here each year not enough of a good thing? It is embarassing to even have to mention these obvious so obvious points.

    WOuld Eish haTorah/Ohr Someach have taken off were it not for the Kosel being visited by thousands of yidden ?

    How about the Israeli Ba'a' Teshuva scene?

    You seem to be a person to whom the kiyum of the TOrah is the #1 measure from which to judge things - so has the State, whatever it's intentions were - lma'aseh - has it enabled or hindered or neutral the Kiyum haTOrah?

  27. And on Security (Rafi G should like this point) - if it is really so dangerous as you say for Jews here - why aren't our Gedolim telling us to leave? Au contraire mon frere I personlly know that at the height of the intifada R' Schenberg and R' Elyashiv and others were calling on people to move to EY. I have not heard anyone say that because of the rosho/yokel in Iran we should start packing.

    DO you trust the Gedolim? Maybe really they should be telling us to stay in the US like we did pre-WW2? If it is really so dangerous then it is a galling lack of leadership to not warn the flock of the dangers!!

    I my freind however have comeplte Emunas Chachomim and since no one is saying scat - we have nothing to fear - (this does not mean should not fight the rosho with Teshuva and Tefilla etc. but there is no reason to run away)

  28. That there are many people in the haredi world who feel this way is, to me, a very good sign.

    What many people do not realize or refuse to even consider is that the establishment of the State is the fulfillment, to some degree, of the mitzvah of kibush and yishuv EY.

    Why, at the root, do so many rebeim avoid the topic? The basic answer, I believe, is that to a large extent the haredi world is clinging with both fists clenched to a galut-mode version of Judaism.

    To admit that there is a mitzvah component to the very existence of a state is to broaden one's perspective of Judaism to include things which are way beyond the confines of the Polish ghetto, or for that matter the Judaism of Jerba or Saana.

    Part of the fear involved, I believe, is that the haredi world sees itself to a large extent as the vanguard of Torah, the "true blue Jews." Of course this is pure nonsense and gaavah. As the Zohar pointedly says, this is like what the builders of the Tower of Bavel said: "let us make a name for ourselves."

    The truth is, Judaism kicking into gadlut, into geulah-mode, means the end of haredism.

    To even entertain the notion that the state is the fulfillment (in part at least) of a mitzvah would be like tugging at a strand which may very well end up pulling the carpet out from under one's own feet. There is lots of truth to this assertion.

  29. Ohr Bahir, very well said. I will add this quote from Rabbi Teichtel in Eim Habanim:

    "Even the greatest gadol in Torah and righteousness should not trust himself when he opposes the movement to build the Land. He should not think that his intentions are fully for the sake of Heaven, for he is certainly not greater in Torah and righteousness than the princes whom Moshe sent."

  30. I should have qualified my comment better. A person might celebrate yom haatzmaut for other reasons than hakaras hatov. He might feel it important to be part of the celebrations of such a miracle. At minimum one should be celebratory, or at least respectful of others celebrating, because of hakaras hatov.
    The form of celebrating could be personal - the examples I gave others might consider silly and say that is exactly why there is no reason to participate. What kedusha is there in a BBQ? They were just examples. Maybe you can celebrate by going to the kotel and davening to thank Hashem. Maybe you will learn an extra hour. Maybe you will go to a party. Everybody will choose their celebration how they prefer it.

  31. Why cant you celebrate the ability to live in EY every day, 3 times, when you say modim?

    Why a special day to mark to zionist enterprise which was built on jewish blood and based on the tossing of Yahadus out the window?

    Just curious -- how many of you UNDERSTAND the chareidi position? How many understood it before they claimed it was wrong? Or was it wrong first... and heres why.

    And a machaah at Mr Bahir who basically called all chareidim, including the gedolei hador arrogant and "pure nonesense" - based on some made up halachos that he or more likely some Rabbi found for him. RYSE does not live in galus mode. He does not live in Geulah mode. he lives in TORAH mode. Kulo Torah. The reason why you dont see it, is because you fail to chaap what a gadol b'yisroel is. You think hes a very very educated rabbi who knows a lot. While thats true, there is more. There is the marriage to the torah which even rybs discusses, the "leebi omer li" of Rashi etc.

  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. Just curious -- how many of you UNDERSTAND the chareidi position? How many understood it before they claimed it was wrong? Or was it wrong first... and heres why.this is exactly the point of the post. We could use a shiur to explain the position, yet no shiur is given.
    Every holiday and quasi holiday we have shiurim and drashos based on the date - lag b'omer time we will hear a drasha in shul based on the fire of torah, or some other lag b'omer based concept. Purim we will hear about kimu v'kiblu or the hidden aspect of hashgachas hashem, shavuos about limud torah, etc.
    The only time we hear nothing is Yom Ha'atzmaut. Why can we not get a shiur explaining the torah hashkafa of the day, from a general chareidi viewpoint (obviously there will be a range), about Yom Ha'atzmaut. Why the ambivalence?

  34. Laughing and cryingApril 29, 2009 11:27 PM

    Ya just gotta love these anonymous chareidi people quoting all the gedoilim when it suits them, for ammunition against this or any other issue that they don't have an interest in/don't have a yetzer hara to do. Yet one has to wonder: how is it that these very same "gedoilim experts" aren't aware of the view of the gedoilim vis a vis internet use? My bet is that some of the gedoilim would rather you make a Yom Hautzmaut BBQ and disconnect your internet. If you're so sincere about the kulo torah aspect that gives the gedoilim almost G-d like clarity, why don't you follow everything they say 100%? And don't bother to defend yourself with some work-related defense b/c this blog ain't work!

  35. I understand the charedi position because:

    1) I used to be haredi in my hashkafa.

    2) I've done some reading.

    The halacha I was referring to is not some little known, obscure halacha in hilchot schenim. It's clearest, most explicit source in the rishonim is the Ramban, commentary on Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam, positive mitzvah 4 (if I remember correctly). Basically, as far as I am aware no one really disputes this.

  36. We could use a shiur to explain the position, yet no shiur is given.
    I believe the answer to your question was given by R' Jessup -
    Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have more responsibility here than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. I know deep down in places you dont talk about at parties, you don't want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it. I prefer you said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand to post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to!
    (Kaffee): I want the truth!
    (Col. Jessup): You can't handle the truth! KT\
    Joel Rich

  37. Anon said:

    Just curious -- how many of you UNDERSTAND the chareidi position? How many understood it before they claimed it was wrong?and

    The reason why you dont see it, is because you fail to chaap what a gadol b'yisroel is. Of course we know the Chareidi position. It's fairly monolithic and straightforward. One has to wonder if anon "chaaps" that there are gedolim b'yisroel outside that the Euro-yeshivish orbit most Ashkenazi chareidim travel. There are gedolim outside the modern "daas Torah" that was invented by the Agudah in Europe.

    I think this goes a little way to answering Rafi's anguished question. The constraint of this "daas Torah" makes it very difficult for the local chareidi Rabbi to do anything more than rehash the accepted position of said "daas Torah".

    Of course historically there was a much less monolithic approach to the founding of the state, even among "chareidi" gedolim. But that's water under the bridge. Rabbi Gil Student put together a sampling of them over on Hirhurim.

    Like you said in your post Rafi, this is really of your own doing. Step outside your haskafic daled amos and you can hear vibrant shiurim on the subject.

  38. RAFI:

    do you think you would feel more comfortable in a chardal community?


    "i think there are a lot of haredim or american haredim like you."

    my wife's friend is considering aliyah. one problem she has is that that communal demarcations in israel are much more rigid that in america. in most aspects they are haredi (or rather yeshivish, in an american context) and would prefer a haredi environment in israel. but in some aspects (attitude to the state, working etc.) she doens't fit into the israeli haredi mold.

  39. RAFI,

    see the second to last paragraph here


  40. LOZ - I would say that is a symptom of this problem (really of a greater problem, but I could see this as part of it). If people would get guidance, they would not have to sneak around and hide. That is about the people who are afraid of people knowing what they do, this is about the leaders who do not guide us on this issue.

    As I said in a different comment - if they are not going to tell us, then we will get the info and direction from other sources. Then they will complain that we have a secular or RZ attitude to the day. Well, we have that attitude because they are the only people who talk about it.

  41. What I find so strange is that in the early years of the state and shortly pre-state, important rashei yeshiva and poskim did speak up. Their views were nuanced, in many cases generally positive or appreciative, in some cases (such as the Lubavitcher Rebbe before the last one) they were pretty antagonistic. But either way, one heard more than Rafi says he's getting now. Rav Kahanaman, Rav Zevin, Rav Roth, Rav Frank, and others. I suspect that many hareidi rabbanim today don't know clearly enough what they think, and so don't want to go into it. Reminiscent of what Rav Teichtahl said about anti-Zionist poskim in Europe before the war (including hiimself). They actually didn't have time or inclination to formulate articulate views based on our sources, so they just objected/opposed and left it at that. Rav Teichtahl was talking about great rabbinic figures of then; it could be true today, as well.

  42. Rcognizing the good of the state could unleash a whole can of worms - i.e. if the state is good - maybe we should be serving in the army, participating in the national discouse, Working instead of schnorring for a living, etc. etc. It could change the entire fabric of Haredi life as we know it.

    Better keep the lid closed.

  43. that attitude you describe is, I think, more in line with those associated with the hard core Israeli haredi. I would not even expect them to have an open minded discussion about it.
    There is a large range in the haredi world. Why in the more open haredi parts, such as the anglo communities specifically but others as well, where people are more open minded, and many already working/army/partaking in the national discourse, etc. - why in these places is there no discussion about this?

  44. Thinking.

    This is what the Charedi leaders are afraid of. What will happen if we think for ourselves.

    Yes there are dictums of "aseh l'cha Rav", and "r'ue ainecha". However there is also an inyan to think for yourself.

    Why must Rav Shteinman, who is quite up there in years, have to come to RBSA to tell me whom to vote for? Can't I make a decision for myself? If he is going to expend that much energy I would have like to seen him come and give chizuk or speak to our youth.

    Why do I need posters with every gadol telling me where to give tzedaka? First of all how can the same Rav tell me that I should give all my tzedaka to 5 different organziations? (Will the real tzedaka please stand up?). Secondly, as the rav of my shul has said, "putting a gadol in front of a tzedaka box is like putting a bikini model to advertise a sports car".
    Why can't I look into what the tzedaka organziations do and make up my own mind?

    Thinking. It is what the Charedi leaders are afraid of.

    As a Charedi Jew i would like to celebrate Yom Ha'atmaut as I please and not have to worry about what my kid's school is going to do. Or what the shadchan will say about my children. or who will now not eat in my house because it sports a flag.

    It is something between me and HaShem and HE is the only One that I am afraid of.

  45. As a Charedi Jew i would like to celebrate Yom Ha'atmaut as I please and not have to worry about what my kid's school is going to do. Or what the shadchan will say about my children. or who will now not eat in my house because it sports a flag.

    It is something between me and HaShem and HE is the only One that I am afraid of.
    You mean he is the only one you (we) should be afraid of. Because we are, to some extent, afraid of what the school will do, the neighgbors, the shadchanim, etc. will do, otherwise we would all be hanging our flags and sticking the flag on our cars and whatever other form of celebration you would prefer...

  46. Many people fail to distinguish between two interconnected but distinct realities. There's the state itself, and there's the particular regime which is in power.

    The state itself is a tremendous development of geulah. Of course, this illumination, to be allowed to come down, also gave koach to certain kelipot.

    Many haredim confuse the state with the regime. But the two are distinct. This is Political Science 101.

  47. What I really don't get is why you and the many others who have open minds about a range of political and social issues continue to stay a part of such a community. There are many many D"L and Chardal families who live complete Torah lives (including no TV or the same DVD/computer setup that many charedi families secretly have) without having this dictatorship mentality (for lack of a better term) hanging over them.

    This fear you describe sounds like you're living in East Germany in 1983. Why is it necessary to stay in such a community in order to live a Torah life? What is the attraction? I'm truly mystified.

  48. How can one celebrate yom haaztmaut - the state was set up on a basis of kefira in the torah in that the country is run according to its own invented laws even if they go against the torah, even most of the religious laws were only created to placate the chareidim. Moshol lemo hadovor doime if the church were to distribute free food to all the jewish poor and fund the yeshivos, we should celebrate the foundation of the church [and many say for this reason we shouldn't accept money from the state - there are many moisdos that do not take money and are thriving, it is a havtochoh shelo tishtakach torah myisroel], it is said godol hamachtio yoser mihahargo, meaning the early zionists that lead people away from the torah were worse than our enemies that kill us, as these only cut off our physical life which is anyway not forever and these cut us off from eternal life. and as far as shiurim on the subject go the eida chareidis do arrange shiurim on the subject on yom haatzmaut. the problem with the mainstream chareidim is the opposite, because they take money and enjoy the benefits of the state they cannot openlY and honestly discuss the evils of the state. And about living in eretz yisroel, you should know that r' yaakov emden and others did not come to live in ey for fear they were not great enough, as an aveiroh commited in e.y is reckoned far worse than in chul [as it says in the posuk velo soki ho'oretz eschem]. I would recommend reading vayoel moshe shloisho maamoros and then coming back.

  49. once you mention vayoel moshe, you have made your comment irrelevant to the discussion. I am not looking for the viewpoint of extremists. With all due respect, his opinion on the matter was rejected by most of klal yisrael.

  50. Rafi,

    You responded to me that:

    "You mean he is the only one you (we) should be afraid of.Because we are, to some extent, afraid of what the school will do, the neighgbors, the shadchanim, etc. will do, otherwise we would all be hanging our flags and sticking the flag on our cars and whatever other form of celebration you would prefer...
    I am not afraid of them.

    Rafi- I flew my flags, stood at the siren, davened in a minyan with hallel and held a BBQ.

    Let the chips fall where they may

  51. why does it make my comment irrelevant, if the argument is a good argument then it is very relevant, you are just avoiding the issue. I personally belong to the yeshivish litvish community that follow the gedolim that did not agree with the satmar rov on all he writes, but the core issues they all agreed, the main argument was whether to join the knesset in order to fight from within, for that reason I mentioned to read vayoel moshe as the main hashkofo issues which all the chareidi gedolim agrred to are explained clearly there.

  52. ok. I did not understand that from your comment.
    I agree with let the chips fall where they may, but some battles are also not worth fighting. How would I find new schools for 7 kids? I cannot even imagine the trouble. Right now, for me, this is a battle not worth fighting.
    I am not even saying I need to fly the flag. I just want to hear a shiur in our community explaining what the hashkafa is - one way or the other. if it is wrong to fly the flag, tell me why. if right, tell me why.
    Then the battle might be worth fighting. Right now I want to fly the flag, but I do not know if that is right or wrong.

  53. Anonymous (one of many): you did everything to show your Zionism... except sign your name!

  54. Here is my small contribution to the debate.
    1.The current charedi hashkafa is based on the Brisker Rov (with some adjustments like voting),and his talmidim, including Rav Schach.
    Some gedolim may be more open to the Medina ,but no current gadol will want to be cholek openly with the Brisker Rov or Rav Schach. The influence of the Satmar hashkafa should also not be minimized.
    2. For the gedolim 61 years is not long enough to judge whether the State is something positive or not.It is the type of issue that can only be judged with hindsight within a long time span.
    They will not tell you what to do because they don't know if it is good or not.

  55. In this weeks HaShavua b'Yerushalayim they have a whole writeup on the opinion of Gedolei TOrah towards the state.

    It was somewhat informative.

    Most of what they quoted was from 60+ years ago and there for not entirely relevant - if one thinks the state of Haredi Jewry in EY or the state of Israeli Jewry in Genral is the same as 60+ years ago - then there is no use discussing the subject.

    The most recent quote was R' Wolbe zt"l and that quote was from 1976 - still too far away, in my opinion.

    Interestingly enough R' Wolbe lists some very positive things about the state - like a point I made earlier - that the State helped Jews around the world feel pride in being Jewish. Also - it was a great sting to the catholic church as R' Soloveitchik writes in Kol Dodi Dofek.

    Even the Brisker Rav is quoted as saying that the medina is a 'Divine smile'

    Yes, there is a ot of warranted ambivalence towards the state - but still - it was a 'Divine Smile".

  56. I'm Zionist Because G-d IsApril 30, 2009 2:54 PM

    Anon of 11:08,

    Your choice of words frightens me.

    "zionist enterprise"? This sounds like something out of the mouth of a Palestinian or Ahmenjaned.

    I don't know if you live in the "Holy land" or are writing from Chul but I do have questions...if you do live here and actually feel that the medina was built on Jewish blood and that Yahadus was thrown out the window

    Do you:

    1) Give back kvutzat yeladim that you might receive each month?
    2) Pay for your doctor's bills to the doctor himself in cash (not through Kupat Cholim?)
    3) Pay the government for any monies your kid's school receives?
    4) Not walk/drive, etc. on public roads and sidewalks?
    5) Dispose of your garbage in Chutz L'aretz instead of relying on public pick up?
    6) Pay the government back for the bread, milk subsidies, etc.

    If you answered no to any of the above then you are benefitting from blood money.

    Perhaps you should rather take leave of the "zzionist enterprise" and return with moshiach "al kanfei nesharim"

  57. its interesting rafi g,

    in the past when we have had discussions and I have brought up numerous examples of how segments of judaism practice and judge and live a form of judaism that I reject, you have often told me that one must seperate judaism from jews, that one must have the ability to live as a jew in the manner they understand and desire.
    Yet in your own life you find yourself doing or not doing behaviors because of other people's attitudes and not from a belief in the rightness of wrongness of the jewishness of that behavior.

    So can or cant one seperate their personal manner and understanding of being a jew from ones community of being jewish?

    this case is a wonderfull example of why I reject orthodox judiasm as a legitamite form of judiasm. According to these "gadols" its ok to reject the brethren who have sacrificed and been maimed and died for the Israel and the behavior that is really important is the nuance of issues like bugs on strawberries that you cant see.

    So yes I am sure these "gadols" are very smart people and know lots of lots of pilpul to decide which chumrah to enact next. but when jews for J or evangelical christians are more respectfull and supportive of people dying for Israel then charedim, it makes me wonder who the real jews are.

  58. To me, it's not so much that the Satmar shita is extreme, as that it's a forced reading of sources. This is said with a feeling of respect for R' Yoel, who was a great tzadik and tahor.

    An example: the Hesed l'Avraham said that any Jew who lives in EY is considered a tsadik, even if he's otherwise a sinner, because otherwise the land would have spit him out. The Satmar Rav was well aware of this source and interpreted it by saying that the Zionists make the ground under their feet like chutz l'aretz. Of course, this ends up lacerating and contradicting the plain meaning of the words themselves

    To be fair, only the Satmar Rav created an anti-Zionist ideology which attempted to deal with all the pertinent sources. Nevertheless, even thought there is a kernel of truth in that shita (basically, he was relating to the kelipa of the Erev Rav that the illumination was attached to), with all due respect to the Satmar Rav, the Satmar shita entails a contrived and implausible reading of the sources.

  59. Rafi your assumption is that all Charedi Rabbonim, Mechanchim are theologins, are at least have the כלים to describe and defend their own השקפה. This isn't true. There are גדולים that have formed the party line of present Litivsh Charedi Hashkafa (R Elchonon, RaV Dessler, Satmar-voting issue, R Aaron Kotler [sort of] Chazon Ish, the Steipler R Hutner and Rav Shach come to mind.
    On the other hand R Kahaneman, R Elya Meir Bloch and R Shlomo Zalman R Zvi Pesach Frank and the Tzitz Eliezer were not card-carrying Zionists but clearlt had a different approach than the former regarding these matters. Of course this is rarely mentioned in Yeshivish circles.
    However many Yeshivish people spend their time learning and never dealing with these basic hashkafic questions.
    One of the Ner LaElef programs that prepares Avreichim here for community Kollelim in Chu"l, has a lecture called "Eretz Yisrael and refuting Zionism" or something like that.
    The working assumption is that Bnei Torah in their mid-twenties have not given a moments thought to these matters beforehand, and thus have to be spoonfed these thing from a speaker that is expert at doing so.
    Many don't speak about it because they simply don't know how.

  60. Mul - I am assuming that every rav in a community has the capabilities to prepare a shiur. I am not looking for a shiur on the topic from one of the local avreichim. The rabbonim who take the time to prepare shiurim on every topic under the sun about every holiday can take the time to prepare a shiur/drasha about the proper Torah approach (from a haredi standpoint) about Yom haatzmaut. Such an important and contentious topic is deserving of some attention.

  61. dan - you are already arguing about specific points of what they hold - "they reject". I have no idea what they hold because aside form a few platitudes I have never heard anything on the subject from the rabbonim. They basically ignore the day as much as possible. I would like to get their position and direction.

    In my personal life there is very little I do or do not do because of what other people will say or do. However, we live in a community and there are times, it happens, that such thigns must be considered. As I said in a different comment - is this really worth fighting a battle over? Do I really want to have to look for new schools for my kids just so I can wave a flag? I decide that at least withgout knowing what the proper approach should be (rather than just assuming it the way I and others do now), it is not worth it. So on this issue I give in.
    Who says if I change my lifestyle I will be any better off? non-orthodox jews have no social pressures? Religious Zionist jews have no social pressures? You gotta be crazy if you really think that. Just changing a lifestyle for this one reason is stupid, because I would be entering other social pressures I might like even less.

  62. "non-orthodox jews have no social pressures? Religious Zionist jews have no social pressures? You gotta be crazy if you really think that."

    Sorry Rafi- but you're fooling yourself if you think the Charedi type of social pressures are found in RZ communities. There are expectations for Torani schools, but nowhere near what goes on in the charedi world. Unless you refuse to put a skirt on your daughters or decide not to keep shabbat anymore, I really can't think of anything that would force a parent to "look for new schools" for their children.

    The charedi community is first and foremost about social control, not just social pressure. Social pressure is feeling bad when you don't have the right kind of flat screen TV or cell phone, in the secular community. But no one forces you out of the community for not buying these things.

    So you still haven't answered about what is the attraction to staying in such a controlled community and why you can't live a Torah life outside it.

  63. I dont need to "justify" or show the attraction This is my life. Every time someone does not like something in his community he has to go change his whole life?
    I prefer to try to get direction on this. Who knows - maybe I am seeing things from the wrong perspective. Maybe not.

  64. Rafi,
    "I would like to get their position and direction."

    WADR you already have - the fact that it is an unmentionable is the hound that didn't bark.

    I would also say that the social pressure you describe is an integral part of the community you have chosen (I don't mean that negatively) in that meeting the prime directive I described earlier requires that deviations from the norm be dealt with before they flatten the distribution (I love talking actuarialese)
    Joel Rich

  65. I'm honestly not trying to be antagonistic or asking you to justify your choices. I'm really just trying to understand what is the attraction/advantage of a charedi community for raising a family of Yirei shamayim vs. a chardal/frum D'l community? Particularly if you value critical thinking, as you seem to?

    As for whether it's "worth it" to do battle over displaying a flag- this goes back to the issue of critical thinking. If you want to role model CT for your children- it might be worth it. It depends if you want to pay the price or not, which you seem to not want to. That's ok, it's just good to be honest with yourself about what the issues are.

    Critical thinking and thinking for oneself are high priorities for me, so if I were in your shoes, it would be worth it for me.

  66. To add to Abbi's comment and to address your original question a bit...

    This "control" extends to the realm of Jewish thought. Chareidi rabbanim, certainly with exceptions, are unwilling or incapable of giving over the teachings of non-chareidi gedolei Torah. (Indeed there are many who I'm sure would see that statement as an oxymoron!) However, a decent treatment of this subject must include their teachings, even if only to reject them.

    On the other hand in the MO/RZ world Rabbaim are much freer to include the teachings of all gedolei Torah. So practically you're much more likely to hear an MO/RZ rav bring in Rav Shmuelevitz or even the Satmir Rav than you are to hear a Chareidi Rav quote Rav Soleveichik or Rav Kook.

  67. Abbi - but I am not changing my life just because of something we are all presuming. Antagonistic? not antagonistic? there will definitely be a range and no 2 rabbonim will have the same opinion - like on anything else. And perhaps it is not necessary in many communities. But in a community such as RBS, which is much more open, and maybe because a lot fo people have made aliya and have some sort of openness to some form of Zionism, perhaps such a shiur in this neighborhood is not only a good idea, but necessary.

  68. Menachem - I would suggest a reason for that might just be history. How long has the religious Zionist community been around? 61 years? 70 years? 120 years? 150 years?
    The "orthodox" community in general containing such rabbonim you mention like the chasam sofer and others of his ilk, have been around for thousands of years. Sure they have undergone changes and I know this sounds insensitive or mean (though I do not mean it to be), but if a rabbi now is going to look for a source among the RZ community, he is very limited. That does not mean there have not been great rabbonim among the MO/RZ communities - there have been and there are. But the pool is much greater among the non MO/RZ.

  69. Rafi-

    There are two points that I think you know, but are simply ignoring when you ask your question- why don't the haredi rabbis take the time to explain their position regarding Israel:

    1. anything Jewish that is not created by the haredim inherently has no value. i can't imagine you will lack for examples (for an easy one, think one week before yom haatzmaut).

    2. the basic haredi opinion is really not to be anti anymore. like many commentators have mentioned, such a position is very difficult to maintain. therefore, the prudent thing for the haredi world to do (see #1 above) is simply to ignore it. they're not going to read "Vayechal"- they're simply not going to acknowledge it. this includes explaining why they don't acknowledge it.

    I think this is Haredism 101.

  70. I hate to go off-topic, and certainly to open up a can of worms that no one wants to talk about, but I'm not sure why you think the general "orthodox" community is made up of the chatam sofer, and the other gedolim from the last 2000 years.

    Certainly an argument can be made that before the CS, what is now considered "MO" (and its mutation to RZ) was the norm for all great rabbis.

    Amongst the rishonim there can be no doubt, but I don't see how one can make a serious argument that the curriculum and hashkafa of the great acharonim is closer to haredi than MO.

  71. I'LL add in my shava perutah to this question of "proving the state is good for the Jews". how about the response we give to EVERYTHING else that happens - kol madavid rachmana, litav avid! everything god does, god does for our good.

    you may not like some or all of what the state does, so what. god allowed it to be, respect it.

  72. From Rafi G.

    I would suggest a reason for that might just be history. How long has the religious Zionist community been around?

    Your suggestion would be valid but for two issues. First I specifically mentioned "modern" gedolim. In order to compare apples to apples you have to "factor out" any gedolei Torah who lived prior to the mid 19th century. L'maase it is much more likely for Rav Matisyahu Solomon to speak at an MO shul than it is for Rav Shachter to speak at an Agudah.

    Also, when discussing the issue of modern Zionism it would be quite scholastically dishonest not to include those gedolim who supported it regardless of how "modern" they are. And you have to know that there are many Rabbanim in the Chareidi who B'shita will not or cannot give over their torah whereas an MO Rav can and will give over the Torah from a scholar from the same period.

  73. Jeremy - what you are saying is that they ignore because that is their position - to ignore.. Ok. I don't like it, but it is an explanation that sounds valid.

    Menachem and Jeremy - it might just be my bias - I grew up in haredi yeshivas (even though my family was not like that). So when I think of rabbonim in history, I see them as being closer to todays haredi (maybe not in everything, but as a general appearance) than to RZ.

  74. "It might just be my bias"

    Yup. And again, how many non-Chareidi Rabbanim were you exposed to in those Yeshivas? Also, keep in mind that there really was no such thing as "Chareidi" the way use it today before the mid-20th century when the Agudah basically invented the concept along with their concept of "Daas Torah".

  75. Which of the great rabbis of the past might you be referring to?

    The rabbis of the talmud, who had jobs?

    The rishonim- a great many of whom were doctors, and used advanced philosophy, mathematics, and science to determine their worldview?

    Or the acharonim? Ironically, while some (but by no means most) acharonim would in fact sympathize with the Haredi "torah-only" program, their elitism would not allow them to agree with what goes on there today.

    Rafi- out of curiosity, what did Haredi teachers say to you to make you think that rabbis of the last two thousand years were "closer to today's haredi"?

    Of course, creating such an image is the only way the haredi world can relate to these rabbis. As was said before, if they're not haredi, we can't learn from them . Therefore, instead of seeing a real difference between RSBY and R' Yishmael, we make them all the same.

  76. Rafi, Jeremy et al,

    Go right back to the dispute between the Perushim and the Tzidukim that pops up all over the gemara, especially well known by the argument as to when to start counting the omer.

    Check out the article (linked) and tell me which among today's versions of Torah most closely resembles that of the Tzidukim...

  77. רמב"ם הלכות תשובה פרק ג
    הפורש מדרכי צבור ואף על פי שלא עבר עבירות אלא נבדל מעדת ישראל ואינו עושה מצות בכללן ולא נכנס בצרתן ולא מתענה בתעניתן אלא הולך בדרכו כאחד מגויי הארץ וכאילו אינו מהן אין לו חלק לעולם הבא

    Joel Rich

  78. Rafi, I find this idea that rabbanim of the last two thousand years are closer to today's haredim quite remarkable. Remarkable because the simple evidence seems to point the other way! As one of the last posts points out, the holy Tannaim, Amoraim, and Rishonim include a large number of people who had jobs, engaged in commerce, the sciences of the time, philosophy, even (Heaven forfend!) the arts. Ever read any of the poetry of the Rabi Yehudah Halevi and his peers? (The Hatam Sofer, btw, had a very strong Zionist bent, as Rav Kasher amply shows from his writings and activity with his students.)

    My education is almost the opposite of yours - mostly in Religious Zionist institutions. So, let me clue you in: Menahem is right. We learned, if so inclined, Rav Bloch from Telz, Rav Dessler, the Hazon Ish's letters. Also, of course, Rav Kook and Rav Soloveitchik. Whatever seemed worthy of attention. More of interest, I think, (and I suspect you don't realize at all) is that in matters of emunah/hashkafah we learned mostly Tanach, Hazal, and Rishonim. There is very little philosophizing in the writings of modern Religious Zionists. Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook referred in his talks mostly to early sources and Rishonim. The few later authorities he did point to were mainstream, and usually poskim like the Pithei Teshuvah in Shulhan Aruch. Religioius Zionist thought is based on a rigorous analysis of the primary sources; not vague later musings based more on objection than positive learning. What better model than Rav Yosef Dov Halevy Soloveitchik standing at the head of Mizrahi? And that by itself is also a model of how the Religious Zionist community is not locked into one mode of thinking or learning.

    But none of this helps, because your real angst stems, as you've said, from the lack of education in the haredi community on these issues.

  79. I agree - lack of education in that area. I learned in yeshivas where we learned the classics, as you did; rishonim and very few acharonim. Achronim were mostly those classic ones as well - Reb Akiva Eiger, those related to Telshe when I learned there, Reb Chaim, etc. Nobody from more modern day and few other achronim from back then as well.
    I don't know how to tell if a rav who lived 1500 years ago is more haredi or more MO or more RZ. What would we base it on? Just if he had another job or not? There was no state of Israel, so the main or perhaps clearest difference did not exist then.
    What is the difference nowadays between haredi rabbonim and RZ rabbonim? Just whether they have a job or not? Nowadays RZ rabbis are also only rabbis and usually do not hold other jobs. The general populace does, and I would say in America and Europe the general haredi populace does as well.
    So what really is the difference between haredi and RZ? Just the issue of the State and the type of kipa on the head?

  80. rafi,

    my point was not to tell you what to do or not do, my point was that the argument of "don't judge judaism by jews" is a false argument because if you are in a charedi community you must be the right type of jews.

    and to argue that I have those same social pressures is way off base. I am deeply and intimatly atheist, as you know. I am in the community of reform/egalitarian jews. I send my kid to an day school where 95% of the kids are orthodox. i have had zero pressure from members of my community regarding that or any other choice. To a one each person in the community, from the rabbis to temple acquaintances have been supportive and curious and non-judgmental of every "religious" choice my family makes. So as a humanist jew I have the ability to be the kind of jew I want to be, with a strong community and zero pressure.

    now Im not saying become me or follow my path, but the diffrence between charedi and mo or rz is more than a kippah and yom haatzmut, its a hashkafa. if you do the exact same actions with a different intent and understanding you are not the same person doing the same action. We may not understand or comprehend fully our intentions, yet they still matter.

    And so too hashkafa from the charedim matter, its not just that theyy (at minimum) ignore yom haatzzmut, it is the culture of fear that guides their version of judaism. theat they ignore yom haatzmut is just one of the symptoms, not one of the causes. And I dont understand, and perhaps this is my failing, but I do not understand how one can be emotionally/spiritually/mentally healthy while living in a fear based society.

  81. And I dont understand, and perhaps this is my failing, but I do not understand how one can be emotionally/spiritually/mentally healthy while living in a fear based society."

    How correct you are! I learned in Charedi yeshivos but am blessed with parents who allowed me to think and to NOT be afraid of what others might say.

    I have a relative that also lives in RBSA that lives in this fear.

    How their children dress (I'm talking about color/style etc. as tznius is never an issue with us).

    Will anyone see them eating at Aroma.

    I collect in my neighborhood for Lemaán Achai. They are even afraid that people shouldn't know that they donate to this amazing organization! I mean like get a life..it's tzedaka we're taliking about!

    So I agree with you..it is truly impossible to live and grow spiritually/mentally/emotionally when one is paralyzed by such fear.

    Perhaps this too is a reason why we are seeing more and more disenchanted youth in our communities.

    Why would anyone want to grow up with such a life?

  82. Most people do not live in fear most of the time. Most people live normal lives by the standards they choose amnog the people they choose. Some people look for a little bit more leeway and flexibility, and they have this occasional "fear" or uncertainty.

    I consider myself an independent living mostly in the haredi community. Kind of like Joe Lieberman with the Democrats.
    Because of that, situations arive in which I want to do the right thing, but sometimes it is too much for my surroundings. Most of the time I can do my own thing with no problem.

    The anonymous commenter gave some examples - I collect and help Lemaan Achai openly. With my name on it. I post here for them, I am a collection point. I deliver matanos la'evyonim for them.
    I ran a marathon as part of a running group that includes women (if anybody wants details on how that can work in a frum community, email me offline - not for this discussion). I play in a softball league. Those are just a few of the examples of how I am independant and living without fear. I do all that openly and without fear. I go to the games in my uniform. I run out of my building in my tshirt and shorts. I hang signs for Lemaan Achai. etc. Every now and then an issue arises that is more community involved or community sensitive and I have to be more cautious.

    I protest the suggestion that people are living in fear. Most people are not. Just the people who are not haredi but choose to live within haredi society - and they have that fear as much as they allow themselves to have it.

  83. rafi-in your original post you said "They think that if they ask then they will look too much like a Zionist and their kids will be thrown out of school, they will be chased out of the neighborhood/community, or just thought of as being too modern"

    how does that comport with:
    "I protest the suggestion that people are living in fear. Most people are not. Just the people who are not haredi but choose to live within haredi society - and they have that fear as much as they allow themselves to have it."
    Joel Rich

  84. Joel - most people are not like that. Most are not interested. I would not expect such a shiur to be given in Ponevezh, Kol Torah, Chevron yeshivas, in most of Bnei Braq or Ezras Torah along with many other places. For most haredim this is not an issue. They have no interest, they have no zionist feelings (or if they do they deal with it in their own way) and this whole discussion is irrelevant. Maybe they too need such shiurim, but that is not my topic.

    the ones who have this need are those of us living in more "modern haredi" areas. Most of us in RBS, for example, work, made aliya and probably a lot of the people have some sort of Zionist feeling at one level or another. Very few people move here from London, USA, South Africa or most other places and come here hating the State and being completely not interested in Zionism. It is in a community like RBS, along with other similar ones, where people do work and are more open minded and receptive on this issue that such a shiur is needed, because in such a place people are afraid to rock the boat on this issue. If they knew, one way or the other, what the "proper" approach (proper being based on how they choose to live their lives with the derech from their rav on this issue), they will know what they can or cannot do and will not have to be afraid to do anything.

  85. "If they knew, one way or the other, what the "proper" approach (proper being based on how they choose to live their lives with the derech from their rav on this issue), they will know what they can or cannot do and will not have to be afraid to do anything."

    But the proper approach is obvious- zionism, YH, anything to do with appreciating the state is pas nisht. I don't think that's under question. The why's and sources for this antagonism might be under question, but the general premise doesn't seem to be up for debate.

    The fear you described does not stem from not knowing what to do. It stems from fearing the consequences of openly expressing appreciation for the state. You stated clearly that the consequences could be having to look for new schools for your kids and generally not being welcomed.

    It sounds like you're looking for a charedi rav who is willing to stand up and say it's ok to appreciate the state (basically validating your views.). Unless you go chabad, it doesn't sound like that's going to happen any time soon.

  86. This comment has been removed by the author.

  87. funny you mention chabad. chabadniks seem to be fairly pro-israel, yet the rebbe was on record as having said that yom haatzmaut is not a day of redemption but has caused the delay of the redemption. The rebbe said ti should not be celebrated as a holiday.

    I am not looking for a rav to specifically speak up in favor of zionism, at whateer level. Just to relate to the importance of the day somehow. Even if you are against it, there is obviously importance. Neturei Karta protests the day and they dont just ignore it.
    Even if the rabbonim hold there is no significance and it should just be ignored, the rabbonim of those communities that the congregants are more open and inclined to favoring some level of zionism shoudl "lead their flock" and give them direction. Even if he gets up and says yom haatzmaut should not be celebrated but ignored because of thsi that and the other, I think that would be better than just ignoring it.

    Or maybe I am wrong. Maybe by their ignoring it they are allowing us to celebrate it however we want. I had a large BBQ on my porch, so even though I did not wave the flag, the whole immediate neighborhood knew what we were doing (so all this talk of my hiding is not really true). Others put flags on their cars, and others hung them from their windows. others went to partake in parties, etc. So maybe it is better they ignore it.

  88. Rafi, I think you're underestimating the types of issues, which you originally raised, that you have yet to face.

    You and many American yeshivish types like you can be mavericks for now. But, and I've seen this happen, you will have to toe the line for the sake of your kids eventually, whether because of high school, yeshiva gedolah, shidduchim, or your grandchildren.

    Right now, there's pretty much only one yeshiva high school in the country that meets your hashkafic needs. My son went there. But even from there, a school that has limudei chol, bagruyot, and acknowledges the state, almost all the graduates go on to yeshiva gedolah with little or no thought of making a parnassa on the horizon.

    So for now, you can enjoy your YH barbecues and softball, but at some point, whether because of you children or grandchilren, something will have to give.

    I hope I'm wrong. I'm there is a critical mass of people like you growing in RBS A. But I've see too many fold, by choice or not, to be that hopeful.

  89. RBS Ir HaKodeshMay 01, 2009 4:21 PM

    Rafi you said:
    I collect and help Lemaan Achai openly. With my name on it. I post here for them, I am a collection point. I deliver matanos la'evyonim for them."

    I am very new to the community and even newer to your blog.Please help me understand how Lemaán Achai is not part of the Charedi community.

    I know of the director Rav Leventhal who seems to be quite Charedi (he was also a well known magid shiur in Chutz Laáretz). They seem to practice chesed and tzedaka on a high level. Why would giving to them or volunteering for them be a problem for a charedi.

    This I just can't understand.

  90. RBS Ir - lol. trying to get things riled up here on that? this post has enough conversation going on without working up people on that issue. I only mentioned it as an example because the commenter before me mentioned it.

    Lemaan Achai helps haredi people just like anybody else. There is nothing non-haredi about it. Simply they are the "competition" to the other perhaps more exclusively haredi tzedaka organization, so they have been painted to create a perception that they are not haredi. Lemaan Achai is non-denominational and they help everybody - haredim and non-haredim alike.

  91. Rafi,
    I have to agree with Abbi on this one and I'm told a number of American Charedim don't consider Aliyah (besides those who don't think it a priority - isn't Boro Park [and to be non-denominational Teaneck] an ir hatora where we can wait for mashiach?) because they know they will not fit the mold.

    In any event, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you success in your chosen derech. I have to admit I worry when I see the modesty signs in the supermarket in RBS and hear of the tzedaka rivalry but it's the only country we have and a maamin has to believe it will get better.

    Joel Rich

  92. rafi dear,

    what you do in RBS is an exception and abnormality. You have a greater sense of self-awareness and confidence because of your upbringing. most people do not do what you do and in fact don't, specifically because of what others might say. you do not have that propblem because of who we are. we grew up with person x always worried about the "rabbis" and we all realized, screw them. most people do not have our "G Family" abilities. Of course, we know what else that comes with, but that's a dif story.

    You are simply anecdotal evidence that in fact is an exception, the rule is that most people do make their external decisions based on community bias and most would not make your choices.

    Of course, that's what makes us, us.

    luv ya!

  93. How long has the religious Zionist community been around? 61 years? 70 years? 120 years? 150 years?Well, at least 2000 years, since the Maccabim were religious Zionists. That is, if you define Zionist the traditional way.


  94. dont overlook what the word charedi actually means.

  95. anon - that probably depends on the debate touched on earlier in the comments whether you consider the rabbonim and lifestyle of previous generations as more similar to haredi or more similar to RZ (or whatever other lifestyle someone might suggest). That is probably a debate that will never be resolved.

    Way - charedi means to tremble, but in its true sense to means to tremble before God - not to tremble before your neighbor.

  96. CORRECT,

    and that begs the question: do you want to be a jew who defines your relationship with your god (and therefore define the nature of your jewishness)through trembling; through fear?

    why not define your relationship through one of the many aspects you asy god haas, through love or logic or mercy or empathy or art or knowledge or enlightenment or pain or pleasure, why do you choose fear?

    fearing your neighbor is an effect of defining your god and jewishness through fear. Fearing your neighbor is not the cause.

  97. I dont see how you made that connection.

    There is a place for fearing God, along with the fact that it is one of our obligations along with loving God.
    Why does a government have all sorts of laws with punishments? To create a certain sense of fear - you don't break law x y or z because you know the punishment is a b or c. Obviously this is necessary only for certain things. You dont need to be told not to murder or else you will get the death penalty - you are not a murderer. But maybe you jaywalk so you are told if you are caught jaywalking the fine will be 6 months of community service and $150 fine, or whatever. Different laws with their punishments imbue a certain sense of fear into the citizens of the state.
    The same is true with God, i think, We are obligated to fear Him, and that fear keeps us in line to a certain extent. It does not have to define someone as being the essence of his relationship, but it might. Some people might excel in their fear and others might excel in their love. Others might excel in neither and others might find some sort of equilibrium of the two.

  98. if a parent sets rules and consequences for their child, the child does not define themselves as living in fear of their parent or the rules.
    if a govt sets rules for its citizens they dont define themselves as living in fear of those rules.

    although sadly, we know children who do define themselves that way and we know citizens who do as well, in places like north korea or under the taliban etc.

    so there is a diffrence between defining yourself by fear or recognizing rules and consequences.

  99. See yishayahu 15:5 and the commentaries thereon and you will see what charedim means. It's not to shake, it's to rush quickly to do the dvar hashem (which is why I seek to be a true charedi)
    Joel Rich

  100. Rafi,

    You're correct, to a point. There's normal fear, like that of living in the U.S. It's in the background and for the most part it keeps people on the straight and narrow. Then there's abnormal fear like that of living in the former Soviet Union or any number of Moslem countries.

    I believe that in some Charedi communities it's more analogous to the latter.

  101. whoo hooo

    just wanted to be #100

    ok - y'all go back to being serious again....

  102. argghh

    my computer can't count, i'm 101.

  103. I guess you dont win the prize!

  104. So what do I get? :)

  105. I'd say a flag for your car, but you probably have one! :-)

  106. I had three! But there were all ripped off by you-know-who. :(

  107. I'm late at posting, Rafi, but I just had to ask: why can't you have your cake and eat it, too? Aren't there any communities of Torani, serious-minded halachik Israelis (even, perhaps, based around a yeshiva) who b'shita will send their sons to the army and celebrate the State? Are the communities truly so polarized that you are either in a non-Zionist neighborhood or a RZ neighborhood where you couldn't find like-minded people/chinuch/mosdot?
    I just can't believe that that's the case.

  108. Tamar - you are missing my point. I am not saying there are no communities as you describe. RBS is even one of them. There is a very strong torani RZ community in RBS with schools that I hear are great..

    My question is not how can i celebrate and get away with it. My question is that in a haredi community, one that I am part of, that is more open than perhaps the average Israeli haredi community, why do the rabbonim not address the relationship to the State? We (I) can use some direction on that. I know what I think, but then I see the ambivalence of the rabbonim and I wonder if within this lifestyle if perhaps I do not understand the position. I see a community full of people who have made aliyah, love Israel, and have some sense of connection to the State - even if they are unlike the average Israeli haredi, but come Yom haatzmaut and suddenly people have to play anti-state or they look bad, suddenly people dont know what they can or cannot do, suddenly the lines are blurred and nobody wants to say too much of what they did or plan to do because of how it might reflect upon them.
    In a community like this, I think it would be appropriate to receive direction from the rabbonim.

    I am not saying there is no other community i could switch to.

  109. I guess then I'd have to ask what you find attractive about such a community -- where asserting your individuality is viewed by the mosdot that you're involved with as such a threat? While Shaya mentioned that you might be immune to most of the social pressure, why not seek greener pastures where you can find like-minded people who allow for those particularities that makes each person so different and special?

  110. So Rafi, I'm still convinced after 106 responses that the reason is that the question is better than the answer. I'd love you to ask the Rabbis of your community (I think it was R'Schwab who did something similar about TIDE) for responses & publish them.

    BTW if you have a minchat asher vayikra, look at the end of acharei mot (iirc) and you'll see the meta answer (discussing chukat hagoyim)
    Joel Rich

  111. a relevant imho post - someone here commented about how charedim relate to RZ rabbis and vice versa

  112. "Why cant you celebrate the ability to live in EY every day, 3 times, when you say modim?"

    That is the main thing I think of every day while saying the phrase "veal nisecha shebichol yom imanu".

    That does not preclude also giving thanks on the day when such living became possible (i.e. when a Jewish government existed to permit immigration and prevent persecution of Jews in EY).

  113. "Menachem - I would suggest a reason for that might just be history. How long has the religious Zionist community been around? 61 years? 70 years? 120 years? 150 years? The "orthodox" community in general containing such rabbonim you mention like the chasam sofer and others of his ilk, have been around for thousands of years." - Rafi G

    "Farming itself is an expression of the mitzvah of settling the land by bringing forth its holy fruit... Thus a person in Israel - who wants to exclusively learn Torah and doesn't want to farm - is like one who says that he doesn't want to put on tefillin because he is studying Torah. It is possible that this is also true concerning all occupations which help develop society - that they are included in the mitzvah of settling Israel." - Chasam Sofer Sukkah 36b

    As can be seen from the above quote, the "the chasam sofer and others of his ilk" were actually much closer to religious zionism than to modern charedi haskafa. It's more accurate to say that charedism actually dates back only 60-70 years, to the Chazon Ish and R' Kotler.

  114. thanks for that quote from the chasam sofer. very good

  115. Beis - nothing wrong with it at all.

  116. I would like to know how many charedi think like Rafi. Satmar are anti-Zionist and even the late Lubavitcher Rebbe never used 'state' when talking about Eretz Israel.
    My guess why many non-Zionists are shtumm about Yom Ha'atzmaut etc is that benefiting from the state of Israel while contributing very little to its defense and economy doesn't make them look good


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