Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Defense of Torah Based Zionism

There are those on the religious right who attack Zionism as being a rebellion against the sages of the 1940's. I previous condemned harshly the Neturei Karta movement as treasonist. But there are also those of that anti Israel perspective in philosophy, only who do not advocate actually supporting Israel's enemies. They think that way, but care too much about people in Israel to encourage terrorists. This essay is a defense of being completely religious AND pro Zionist in the face of that more benign, non treasonist, anti zionist perspective.

Halachic dissent with the government has to be in a respectful Torah way, like many great rabbis in Israel today, but not in the pro terror Neturei Karta way. Policy by policy opposition, but not as attacking an enemy. Such utter vilification is part of the sinas chinum, baseless hatred, that delays Moshiach (messiah).

As with Neturei Karta missionaries, anti Zionists like to quote rabbis from 100 years ago who opposed a philosophy that has little to do with the practical survival of Jews in the Holy Land today. That is due to God, and our faithful adherence to the Torah to the best of our ability. Including the Torah command to not sit idly by the blood of our fellow. That command is part of the halachic reason to support God's angelic army, the IDF, and do nothing to undermine it. A drowning person does not say to a lifeguard, "Stop, get on more clothes before you try to rescue me! You're not modest enough!" So too, we don't demand that the IDF first become completely religious before we stop trying to verbally bash it publicly.

If he who saves one life is like he saves the world, then what kind justification is there for those would would fight hasbara and risk increasing danger to men, women and children by adding moral support to terrorists incidentally while concurrently lowering the esteem of Israel and the IDF.

Metsiyus (actuality) has profound meaning in halachah (Jewish Law).  You can't only quote rabbis from long ago, you need to know the current halachic trend. This trend is only valid if the adherents are utterly dedicated to Talmudic principles. Most but not all Orthodox rabbis fall under this umbrella. Neturei Karta on the right and Open Orthodoxy on the left are examples of halachic deciders outside the bounds of Orthodox adherence to Talmudic law. The halachah follows the majority of kosher Torah sages in each generation.

We must protest outrageous public sin, otherwise it can seem like we are God forbid condoning it, (as per, the Talmud in Shabbos 54b-55a.) The government of Israel is not automatically immune to such protestation. A good Zionist would not want the government to do wrong policy either.

Secular Zionists who are under philosophic attack by this philosophy are often, at least in part, protected in halacha under the rules of “tinuk shenishba” from full liability for any aspects of foreign philosophy. But unfortunately the Neturei Karta themselves are involved with a first generation rebellion and it is forbidden to take their side in a dispute, as we are commanded to not only avoid a Korah, but also "his congregation."

For dissent against Zionism to not violate halachah, is to be done as a line by line protest, issue by issue. No global slander that saves nobody, but strengthens evil in the world.

If the Satmar Rebbe is your rebbe, so follow his opinion in your home, but don't use it to attack your fellow Jews whom you are supposed to show love for. It is an opinion (primarily from a previous generation), not a halachic mandate to campaign against the Jewish State. Great rabbis can surely express an opinion, but it is wrong to use any opinion, and certainly a minority opinion to hurt people with.

As the halacha for the nation is not like that opinion, but according to the majority, one surely can't use that minority opinion as justification to endanger the nation actively or even passively.  Free speech has a limit in halacha; you can't advocate that which would endanger life.

There is no justification to attempt to undermine hasbara globally whatsoever. Only an issue by issue protest is acceptable under halachah.

What I have written here is the basic halachah on these matters. I studied from great rabbis of blessed memory, my father, Rabbi Leon Eliezer Friedlander, and also Rav Aharon Soloveichik, and also Rav Chaim Yisroel Belsky from whom I received rabbinical ordination. There is no doubt among them as to the veracity of this position that we have stated here.

I hope this essay can help those on the wrong side of this matter to come over to the correct side of the fence. May those confused about this matter soon turn away from the wrong path and do good for our people.  May it soon be so, b'Ezras HaShem Yisborach, by the grace of God.

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