VIDEO: HaRav Shalom Cohen: Hatikvah is A ‘Foolish’ Song



HaGaon HaRav Shalom Cohen Shlita has elicited the ire of many as he said the national anthem, Hatikvah, “is foolish”. It is reported the head of Shas’ Torah Council made his remark during an election kenos held in Sderot in the presence of party leader Aryeh Deri and rabbonim of the Torah council, HaRav Shimon Ba’adani Shlita and HaRav Reuven Elbaz Shlita.

Rav Cohen explained he was by Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef’s ZT”L side for 60 years, and for him there was nothing other than Torah. He explained at events that were seated at one another’s side, and at the coronation of Rav Yitzchak Nissim was they began singing Hatikvah and thought to himself “what fools”. He added that the rav stood but he remained seated. He stated it was strange for him to see Rav Ovadia stood, and when he asked, Rav Ovadia told him that he recited עלינו לשבח. Rav Cohen added “A genuine person who did not wish to have that foolish song influence him in any way”.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. I listened to the video. It took place in Netivot. Now I know both are in the South and end with “ot,” but isn’t it a little hard to confuse the two? They really don’t sound the same and the demographic group is completely different!).
    I understand it’s easy to confuse things, but if something is mentioned at least twice in a video, then the writer or editor (because a respected reporting agency should have someone edit articles) should have caught this.

  2. Hiddush here?

    It insults all Shomrei mitsvos by its line that the dream of the Jewish people is to live a life free of Torah and Mitsvos. It also insults many loyal Arab citizens of Israel. Plus it is set to the melody of a goyish folk melody.

    In all fairness, problematic national anthems are common. Britain’s includes a line about crushing Scotland. The Canadian, in French only, “disses” descendants of modern immigrants. The French one is so blood thirsty as to be a bit of an embarassment these days. The American is infamously difficult to sing (probably a function of it having been set to the melody from a drinking song – enough liquor and one wouldn’t worry about it being off key).

  3. Yishai, Kahlon, Bennett and Netanyahu probably high-five each other every time R’ Cohen opens his mouth. Between R’ Cohen and Deri we may yet see siyum haSh”as.

  4. Not sure why this is news. It is well known that “Hatikva” is not a song based off of Torah ideals. It is full of lies also. Like all we wanted in the passed 2000 years was to “be a free people in our land”. Uhh not really, the Jews being persecuted in the Shtetel 300 years ago was not dreaming to “be free” rather he was dreaming of how he can serve Hashem in peace.

    PS. YWN I really don’t understand you guys. You know very well that there are many people here who think with emotion rather than logic. When they see a headline like this it lowers Rav Cohen in their eyes (they same was true with the article about the Satmar Rebbe). But anybody who thinks with logic or has a purely Torah Hashkafa knows that this is not a unique stance and it is not a chiddush and it makes a lot of sense to anyone with understanding. Yet you don’t explain in the article what the problem with Hatikvah is or what the problem with Zionism is and why these Gedolim are saying what they say. So you just cause the masses to hate the Gedolim by making it like they are “against Israel or against achdus”. Nothing can be further from the Truth.

  5. Several points.

    First is the world of difference between Maran and his successor.

    Why did Maran stand up during the singing of the Israeli National Anthem when he attached no real importance to it?

    Because he attached importance to the feelings and sensitivities of his fellow Jews who did attach importance to Israel’s national anthem. So he stood up and said Aleinu to himself, thereby avoiding to hurt the feelings of his fellow Jews. And for the same reason, Maran did not publicly call Hatikvah stupid.

    So why didn’t HaRav Cohen stand up and why did he call Hatikvah stupid?
    Because while Maran was Maran, HaRav Cohen is HaRav Cohen.

    The second point –
    that Charedim do not not like Hatikvah because it calls for the day that Jews to be free people in their land, and they consider this to be against G-d.

    Every year at Pesach, which celebrates our FREEDOM, I recite from the Haggadah: “This year we are here. Next year, may we be in Eretz Yisrael. Now we are slaves. Next year, may we be free men.” Clearly a theme taken from the Haggadah by the author of Hatikvah.

    Perhaps the Charedim should delete this offensive, anti-G-d phrase from the Haggadah, or perhaps at least say it in a whisper so no one hears it.

    Regarding HaRav Cohen’s denial of the need for an Israeli army. I cannot argue against the leader of the Council of Sages, but I can state an opposing shita.

    There is an idea that while G-d produces the results, we are not supposed to just sit back and wait for G-d. We must do our part. We are partners with G-d in creation and in running and correcting the world. And so, even though G-d took us out of Egypt, we needed to kill the pascal lamb and put its blood on the door lintel.

    And even though G-d split the sea, Nachshon ben Aminadav had to first enter up to his nose.

    And even though G-d brought us into the land and gave us victory over the enemies, we had to have an army that fought those enemies.

    In fact, the Torah demands and describes the very type of army that HaRav Coehn thinks is superfluous.

    that Shas explains how long the Rav has lived in Jerusalem and explains his understanding of Eretz Yisrael, this is not the only understanding possible – there is an entirely different understanding from the National Religious Rabbonim.

    Maaseh Avos siman l’banim. In the days of Moshe, 10 Gedolei HaDor rejected the land and brought the people to reject the land.

    Only 2 Gedolim (Yehoshua and Calev) praised the land and said let’s enter it and conquer it (Yehoshua headed up the army as well as the being the transmitter of Torah sheb’ al Peh).

    In recent history, HaRav Kook and his son Rav Tzvi Yehuda were the Calev and Yehoshua of our time; the Haredi Gedolim are not.
    Haredi Tzionim should vote for Eli Yisha/Boruch Marzel.

  6. With all due respect to HaGaon Rav Shalom Cohen shlita, and recognizing the irreligious nature of parts of “HaTikva”, the fact remains that thousands of Jews both religious and secular relate to the State of Israel and its national anthem in a positive light. Gedolei Yisrael must realize that in the internet era (and even before with the secular press always ready to “draw blood”), every seemingly anti-Israel statement will be immediately broadcast and lambasted. In my humble opinion, some things, even if true, are best said in private, and not in public, forums. [Many responsa were kept oral and not printed for this very reason.] If Shas would like to garner the votes of not only Sefardic bnei Torah but also the more traditional “mesorati” Sefardic public who adored Rav Ovadia zt”l, then statements such as these can only harm.

  7. So unimportant to even discuss.

    Soon we will find out that the colors BLUE & WHITE belong to Koferim. Why does the Chasuva Rav even go in this direction?? Their are schools that sing “lheyous am Kodesh” instead of the other line.

    Most people believe that “free” means without pogroms, assaults, from foreign influences.

  8. You know, one important point that people miss when they say that Hatikva’s author wanted Jews to be “Free from Torah and Mitzvos” is that the line “Lihiyot am chofshi b’artzeinu, Eretz Tzion, Yerushalayim” is not in the original version. The original version was “Lashuv el Eretz Avoteinu, l’Ir asher bo David Chana” – to return to the land of our forefathers, to the city in which David (Hamelech) dwelt.

    But that doesn’t fit with the propoganda, of course, so nobody bothers to publicize it, right?

    an Israeli Yid

  9. bklynmom : Most Israelis believe that “Free” meants free from the yoke of Torah. That’s why one the more vocal ultra-secular groups chose “Am Hofshi” as its name. It’s wishful thinking of the Religious Zionists to believe otherwise.

  10. This is the only true Jewish National Anthem:

    G-d is our King,
    Him do we serve
    The Torah is our Law
    And in it we believe.
    And we do not believe in the government of the heretics.
    And we do not care about its laws.
    We will go in the ways of the Torah
    In fire and water.
    We will go in the ways of the Torah
    We will sanctify the Name of Heaven

  11. #6- ‘thousands of Jews … relate to the State of Israel and its national anthem in a positive light’ – Thousands? The vast, overwhelming majority of Jews – many, many MILLIONS of Jews – ‘relate to the State of Israel and its national anthem in a positive light’. To say the least.

    #8- I believe that you have confused two different songs. The line ‘Lashuv el eretz kodsheinu, ir bo David chana’ is from a song written by harav Kook. Having said that, the Satmar propoganda that ‘am chofshi be’artzienu’ means ‘free of Torah’ is the merest mean-spirited drivel.

  12. iirc Even The JPOst editor admitted a few years during the tumult about the song that it is a rather undistinguished piece of 19th century verse

    Yagel libi,
    showing your ignorance or your disingenuousness once more?

    “‘am chofshi be’artzienu’ means ‘free of Torah’ is the merest mean-spirited drivel. ”

    The original version was actually different(as you probably are aware but choose to ignore)

    How come it was changed?!

    Are you aware that secular askenazim specifically articulate ‘chofshi’

    with an archaic ‘Kamatz’?

    Like their ‘free” european forbears?!

    How come?!

    Can you guess?!

  13. Satmer101,

    Like the medrash about memuchan

    “the emptier the pot ,the more noise it makes”

    If you feel Satmer is mistaken ,that’s okay .Change your moniker.

    But obviously you seem to have little clue what really happened.

    If you and your family are at all religious today ,you ought give all your thanks to all those you tried to slight.

  14. After Begin was elected PM, he was scheduled to visit Washington and meet with President Carter. There was one problem: the meeting was scheduled for the nine days, when we are told to avoid court cases with non-Jews because of the bad mazel of those days. Begin asked Rabbi Porush to ask HaRav Shach whether the warning about the nine days applied to his having an official meeting with the U.S. President. HaRav Shach answered that the warning about the mazel of the nine days only applies to an individual, not the community, and he said that Begin should go. But, “Before he speaks with the President, he should read through Parshas Vayishlach.” Begin thanked Rabbi Porush and told him, “Menachem I want you to know I am not [only] a maamin be’emunah sheleimah; I am a meimen be’eminohshleimah.” (Putting a spin on the pronunciation, Begin switched from Hebrew to Yiddish – using his inflection to signal to Rabbi Porush that he wasn’t merely dati [at heart]. He identified internally as a heimishe Yid.

    Satmer101,if what you posted would have any credence at all then he,the Ultimate zionist, should have,say, gone to Tzvi yehudah

  15. ‘YW’ will stoop so low to disparage Gedolim just to be able to insinuate another plug for the lovely all inclusive yachad party. You know very well how so many naive people will now hate R’Yosef but you don’t care. Please remove the word Yeshiva from your name.

  16. Satmer101: I agreed with you entirely.

    akuperma: The song does not say “free from the yoke of Torah.” The plain meaning is that we want to be free from oppression, pogroms, persecution. It takes a lot of twisting to come up with the malicious intent you find there.

  17. No #12, there is an earlier version of Hatikva which was “updated” as it was too religious for the leftist Israel pioneers. Albeit,
    Hatikva is not the ultimate Song of Emunah is quite clear. Still, what is the point of belittling something dear to millions of Israelis and Jews the world over?

  18. Akuperma

    I guess when I use the expression “chofesh” for vacation, summer intercession, visit to friends — I am also planning to leave Mitzvah Observance & the Yoke of Torah behind!!!!

  19. #12, Yagel Libi – no, I’m actually correct on the original text of Hatikva – as written by Naftali Hertz Inber, and adopted originally by the Chovevei Tzion as their anthem, the language is as I state. Go to Wikipedia, if you’d like, and you’ll see the full original text. Per Wikipedia (not sure if this is 100% accurate), the change was made by the settlers who founded Rishon LeTzion.

    an Israeli Yid

  20. To #5:
    “that Charedim do not not like Hatikvah because it calls for the day that Jews to be free people in their land, and they consider this to be against G-d.

    Every year at Pesach, which celebrates our FREEDOM, I recite from the Haggadah: “This year we are here. Next year, may we be in Eretz Yisrael. Now we are slaves. Next year, may we be free men.” Clearly a theme taken from the Haggadah by the author of Hatikvah.

    Perhaps the Charedim should delete this offensive, anti-G-d phrase from the Haggadah, or perhaps at least say it in a whisper so no one hears it.”

    To quote Chazal: “Ein lecha ben chorin ela mi sheosek baTorah, One is not free unless he studies Torah”.
    Is this what the author of Hativah had in mind? Is this what you think he had in mind? From the hatred oozing from your venomous comment, I wouldn’t think so.

  21. To all those who say that the song is Keneged hatorah i.e Akuperma read the haggadah this year “This year we are here. Next year, may we be in Eretz Yisrael. Now we are slaves. Next year, may we be free men.” Im not CH”V a Zionist… but a little intellectual honesty.

  22. Reform and Conservative ideology is also “dear” to millions of Jews the world over. We still must denigrate those ideologies as well as the Torah-denying Hatikva.

  23. Unnecessary article. The title is very misleading and can cause some to make the great Hacham lower in their eyes. What’s really foolish is this article.

  24. Why do people try to defand the Zionist people who created the state, people know well what they meant not saying all of them but most of them didn’t believe in God they were more non jewish then lapid is today, galicianer, what they meant chofshi is not what the Haggadah meant don’t be stupid I think you understand that.

  25. I happen to agree with akuperma here, which is something rare.
    The song is definitely against the Torah. Please don’t delude yourselves with parallels from haggada such as bnei choirin, or comparing it to choifesh , which means vacation. When the zionists made the anthem and used the words להיות עם חפשי בארצנו they meant to be free like all the other nations in a secular manner. There is no other way to interpret that. They also did not want hashems name mentioned, so as to be completely devoid of yiddishkeit. Therefore, the song is worse than stupid, its blasphemous.
    However, not withstanding the above, it must be clear that this has nothing to do with the issue of protecting the land of Israel and the Jewish people, which is mandatory according to the Torah as paskened in shulchon oruch, despite who is at the helm of the government.
    Unlike satmar who confuse the 2 issues and are ready to surrender the land of israel,in order to conform with their mistaken hashkofo.

  26. To all who claim proof from the haggadah shel Pesach:
    “Cheirus” (“ben chorin”) is NOT the same as “chofshi.” For instance, אין לך בן חורין אלא מי שעוסק בתורה, so it depends on loyalty to Torah, not in eating felafel, wearing Israeli sandals, or even in serving in the IDF. It is the freedom of mind and spirit that Hashem grants someone who is oseik ba’Torah not to be enslaved to the frivolous and often destructive attitudes of the Umos HaOlam (and those Jews who unfortunately think like them).
    “Chofshi” is something else entirely. In fact, it is the opposite of a free mind and spirit that is engendered by aisek ba’Torah. Chofshi is a casting off of our obligations to Hashem. The gemara (Niddah 61b) says דאמר רבי יוחנן: מאי דכתיב (תהלים פח, ו) במתים חפשי, כיון שמת אדם – נעשה חפשי מן המצות.
    So, according to Chazal, a person can be “chofshi” only when he’s dead! Not exactly what most people, and certainly not a frum Jew, would want to aspire to. It would seem that those who endorse singing “Hatikva” like the idea of being a “dead nation in our land.”
    Which has nothing at all to do with “ben chorin” and the Pesach haggadah, and the restoration of the Bais HaMikdash with the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu במהרה בימינו אמן.

  27. Beans: Even if the word “chofshi” has a connotation of freedom from Torah, it’s not the simple translation. There is no open k’fira in this song. So no need to deride it. Secondly, the word “metumtam” is lowly street slang, unworthy of a Talmid Chacham. He could have said “kafrani”.

  28. It might also be sickenly worthy to note that the author of Hatikva put tefillin on a dog and walked it through the streets of yerushalayim r”l

  29. By the way, even R’ Kook didn’t like HaTikvah and he wanted to replace it with something else. This is well known and it is even on Wikipedia.