October 3, 2010 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm #592513yosrMember
This open letter (slightly revised since) was published in Israel National News in 2008; and I feel it is very much relevant today. I wrote this then, not to in any way hit the honor of the great Rabbanim of our times, I wrote this letter to seek clarity.
I write in regard to the numerous questions posed to the Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah concerning the border communities of Eretz Yisrael, which are endangered. I have seen the unofficial response of the Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah and I remain very perplexed. Were it not for the importance and urgency of the matter – the honor of God’s Name, and life and death for the nation of Israel – I would have remained silent.
One of the greatest issues facing the Jewish nation today is if we have the right to hold on to certain parts of Eretz Israel, even if it will cost Jewish lives. Before we can start tackling this issue, we must first understand that pikuach nefesh and mesirut nefesh is part of war; there is no war in which life is not endangered. With every other mitzvah for which the Torah commands, “Allow yourself to be killed rather than transgress”, there is no justification to put yourself in a situation that would warrant this self-sacrifice. Only a Milchemet Mitzvah, a war commanded by the Torah, is a mitzvah for which you must endanger your life from the outset. But who ever said that we were fighting an obligatory war, and what does it have to do with the communities of Yehuda v Shomron?
The Torah commands us that Eretz Yisrael be under Jewish control, as the Ramban writes, “Behold we were commanded with conquest in every generation.” (Supplement to the Rambam, Sefer HaMitzvot, positive commandment #4). Assuming that the Ramban is not correct, and there is no mitzvah to conquer the Land, is there a justification to continue living and fighting in Yehuda v Shomron? Can Jews continue to live in Chevron and other dangerous places? Well if one looks at the definitions that the Rambam gives for a Milchemet Mitzvah, one of his definitions is, “To save Israel from the hand of the enemy.”(Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Milachim, 5:1) Due to the fact that today our main enemy sits in Judea and Samaria, there is a halachic need to control that area. But what does that have to do with Jews living in those areas? To fulfill the Rambam’s definition of Milchemet Mitzvah, it should be enough just having army bases in those areas.
Speaking as a former soldier, it is much easier to control an area, when there is a friendly population living there. Second, we all know that the best defense is a good offense, and the Halacha clearly understands this: “When it is a city close to the border, then, even if they want to come only for the purpose of (stealing) straw and stubble, we desecrate the Shabbos because of them; for they may conquer the city and from there, the rest of the land will be easy for them to conquer.” (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 329:6) Even the smallest threat against the country must be taken seriously; you do not allow your enemy to even to move a piece of straw from Eretz Yisrael. Because the communities of Yehuda v Shomron are border communities of Eretz Yisrael there is even a higher obligation to guard them. If the Jews living in these communities would all leave, it would bring the enemies of Israel even closer to the major population centers, thus endangering the entire Jewish nation.
What specific dangers will an expulsion pose?
1. The expulsion of nearly 300,000 Jews. The lives of 300,000 Jews will be ruined, as will yeshivot, shuls and kollelim, and the beautiful communities will be handed over to the enemy.
2. Surrendering the entire mountain range of Yehuda v Shomron will be handed to the enemy (Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, etc.). Rockets from Hebron will hit Beersheba and Kiryat Gat; Bethlehem will hit Jerusalem; Bodrus will hit Ben-Gurion Airport; Rantis will hit Tel Aviv; Kalkilya will hit Kfar Saba and Raanana; Tulkarem will hit Netanya; Jenin will hit Afula and Nazareth.
3. The surrender of eastern Yerushalayim and Har HaBayit. No more visits to the Kotel. Even with Israeli control over eastern Yerushalayim and Har HaBayit, the army has shut down the Kotel for hours at a time due to security concerns. In addition, the Jews in western Yerushalayim will have to deal with constant rocket and mortar attacks, as did their parents and grandparent up till 1967.
4. The surrender of over 1/3 of Israel’s water supply. Israel already faces a severe water crisis. The aquifers of Yehuda v Shomron are of the highest quality and supply the domestic needs of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheba and most of the cities in the center of the country; they are also used for irrigation of large agricultural areas along the coastal plain, the piedmont, the Beersheba valley and the Jezreel Valley.
5. The release of thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of Arab murderers. This will strengthen the armies of Hamas
There is also another issue involved in the mitzvah to conquer the Land. We learn from Sanhedrin 74a-b, “Rabbi Yochanan said… in public, even for a minor commandment one should be killed rather than transgress. What is a minor commandment? Rava bar Rabbi Yitzhak said in the name of Rav: even to change the lace of one’s shoe.” When non-Jews decree that the Jews transgress a mitzvah for the sake of humiliating the Jewish people and the Torah, then there is in fact a mitzvah to give up your life and not transgress. The Gemara even applies this rule to a minhag as insignificant as changing shoelaces.
Today, because the nations have made numerous decrees and resolutions (at the UN, through the EU, etc.) that prohibit the Jewish people from conquering and settling Eretz Yisrael, we have even another reason for self-sacrifice. Even if one could argue that the mitzvah of yishuv-kibush Eretz Yisrael does not apply in our time, I would certainly hope that Eretz Yisrael would rank higher than a shoelace.
Today we are fighting one and even possibly two simultaneous Milchemot Mitzva. The first being the Rambam, “To save Israel from the hand of the enemy” and the second brought by the Ramban, “Behold we were commanded with conquest in ever generation.” Either way, the communities of the Yehuda v Shomron play a vital role in the fulfillment of these two mitzvot. In addition it seems very clear that the Torah’s command of “Thou shall not stand by thy brothers blood” (Vayikra, 19:17), applies in this case. Even if the expulsion does occur, G-d forbid, and a strong Palestinian terror state is created, do we not have the obligation to be able to declare in loud and clear voice, “Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it” (Devarim 21:8)?
The Jews living in the communities of Yehuda v Shomron, the Jews who are sacrificing themselves for the security of the nation, should be aided and applauded. The communities of the Galut must do everything in their power to aid and strengthen the border communities of Eretz Yisrael.
Respectfully awaiting a response,
YosefOctober 4, 2010 6:36 pm at 6:36 pm #698662MiriamMember
Kol HaKavod Yosef. This open letter that you wrote is so well thought out. You write that you are a former soldier. I want to thank-you for defending our land.
I live in the western Negev, an Yishuv 10 km. from Asa. During the last war this area in the Western Negev was bombarded with Kassams and grad missiles. We had a grad missile land down the street from us. Another landed a block away. Residents of Sedrot have been tortured for the past 9 years and finally our government said enough and went into Gaza, but unfortunately they didn’t finish the job and the kassams and mortars are still falling and Gilad Shalit is still in the hands of our enemy.
My grandchildren who live in this area learn in bomb fortified classrooms and have had many kassams land in their school yard.
Another daughter lives in Gush Etzion, 15 minutes from Jerusalem. The gush is one of the most beautiful parts of our Holy country. Go into the communities of Bat Ayin, Efrat, Alon Shuvt,& the many other Yushuvim and see beautiful Jewish religious children learning, playing and loving our land.
You are correct in saying that if G-D forbid Yehuda and Shomron were to be evacuated, hamas would just come in closer to Jerusalem, Bnai Brak and the rest of the country. Look what happened when we gave up Gush Katif…….the rockets didn’t stop, they just increased and have been able to go further into the country.
Our government today must be strong and stand up to the Americans, E.U. and U.N. These countries do not have our best interests at heart. When we decide to put our faith in Hashem instead of the world and say Israel is a Jewish country and will always remain a Jewish country, the land is Holy, a gift from Hashem, Moshiach will come and there will be peace.
Thank-you for posting your letter and making people on this list aware of the dangers in Eretz Yisrael. Am Yisrael Chai!October 5, 2010 3:18 pm at 3:18 pm #698663charliehallParticipant
“One of the greatest issues facing the Jewish nation today is if we have the right to hold on to certain parts of Eretz Israel, even if it will cost Jewish lives.”
Many gedolim, including Rav Soloveitchik z’tz’l and Rav Shach z’tz’l, held just the opposite.
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