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Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Difficult questions

Hey all -
So I was in Yerushalayim for Psachiya's bar mitzva, and it was fantastic, deeply moving, and thoroughly exhausting. I'll post more about it soon.

The situation in Gush Katif is heartbreaking. There's really no other way to describe it. And the soldiers are feeling almost as much pain as the residents. The dismantling of a Jewish neighborhood, in Israel, by Jews, raises so many questions and echoes so many historical 'expulsions' that no one article or blog entry could possible capture it.

I found myself wrestling with a lot of questions this morning as I rode the bus into work, and many of them are well articulated in this blog entry: http://israelperspectives.blogspot.com ("Religious Zionism at the Crossroads"). I found this through the Jewish Blogging aggregator site - www.jewishblogging.com.

Here's my problem: Let's say you believe Hashem meant for us to come back to Israel and take it over. For reasons of diplomacy and politics, the government isn't ENTIRELY based on Halacha. Okay. We still have a chief rabbinate and a court system and they're in charge of religious life, right? They'll handle marriages, divorces, religious education, and so on. "Status quo" was the de facto agreement reached between the secular zionists and the rabbonim at the time.

Then the Masorti (Conservative) movement and the anti-religious movement pushed to break the Orthodox hold on Israeli civil life. Why should buses not run on Shabbat? Why should movie theaters and stores be closed on Shabbat? Good questions, all. Do we have a right to 'force' Yiddishkeit on people who don't want it? It's what the left-wing called 'כפייה דתית.'

So I don't know the answer. I know that it rubs me the wrong way to read the kol koreis (broadsheets) that call for an immediate boycott of Bank Mizrachi because some of its ATMs are on during Shabbat. Never mind that their name is Mizrachi - that's grounds for vandalism right off the bat. But seriously, isn't there room to live and let live? Or am I just an apologist for secularism and relativism now? Has the 'goyishe oilem' affected me so? Or are intolerance and hatred bad things?

Aharon Hakohen, whose yahrtzeit was only a few weeks ago, never said, "Sarachta - you've messed up." This is brought down in the medrash raba and gemara. He always approached people with love and understanding, and influenced them far more deeply than a fire-and-brimstone preacher would have. But at the end of the day, isn't there also an aspect of din - law - to which we have to adhere? Or can we save that for the Heavenly court? Here's my 64 Million-Shekel question: What's going to happen when Moshiach comes?!?!

And back to Gush Katif - is the government acting in accordance with diplomacy and exigency, and thus turning its back on Torah values and Torah Jews, or is disengagement the right thing to do? What should 'frum' people in the government do? What should people who have thus far supported the government do?

I think the 'prayer for the state' that R' Mordechai Tendler שליט''א modified is a good beginning. He says, depending on who's in power, "ויתן אמצעים לתשובה/לילך בדרכיו לראשיה, שריה, ויועציה." (And may Hashem intervene to allow the government to return [from its incorrect ways], or to follow His ways.) What else can we say?

If anyone has links/suggestions for books or articles that address the fundamentals of religious zionism vis-a-vis the secular state, please e-mail me.

Thanks, and may we be blessed with the fulfillment of: ה' עוז לעמו יתן, ה' יברך את עמו בשלום

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