True Torah Jews Annual Gathering Exceeds All Expectations

Dec. 12, 2007

On Monday, December 3, True Torah Jews Against Zionism, also known as Natruna, held its annual inspirational gathering in Brooklyn, New York. Unlike gatherings in previous years, this gathering was held in a large banquet hall, the Continental, on Rutledge Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood. The organizers expected a large crowd, but even they were surprised by the turnout of over 1,500 people.

The purpose of the gathering was twofold: 1) To strengthen the faith of the large Jewish community already opposed to Zionism, by reviewing the Torah view taught by all rabbis in past generations and expressing our protest against those who make false claims in the name of the Torah. This is especially necessary in recent times when we have unfortunately seen many religious Jewish groups forget the Torah view and become the most militant Zionists, saying that "Jerusalem is ours" and rejecting all efforts toward peace. 2) To raise funds to strengthen Natruna activists in their struggle to spread the true Torah view to Jews outside the community, and to make the true Torah position known to the world at large.

A membership campaign was conducted at the gathering, and many new members were enlisted. To be a member, one needed to undertake to give only $10 each month throughout the year toward Natruna's activities. Members received a free copy of the English book "In the Footsteps of the Flock". For individuals of greater means, a higher level of membership was available for $30 each month or $360 a year. Those members received a free copy of the book "Efes Biltecha Goaleinu."

Light refreshments were served, and on the tables were hundreds of copies of the 72-page brochure "Natruna and its Activities". This brochure is written in Yiddish and can be viewed at:

http://www.truetorahjews.org/images/brochure.pdf

The brochure detailed some of the history of the activities of the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum (1887-1979) in publicizing the Torah view against Zionism, and explained that Natruna, although founded only seven years ago, is actually a project that the Rebbe worked on throughout his life. The Rebbe attempted several times to found a public relations organization that would unite Jews from various communities in opposition to Zionism, as well as convey to the world the true Torah view, using whatever media tools necessary. The organization was to be called the "Ichud Olami". The Rebbe also wrote many books against the Zionist heresy in order to reach Jews both inside and outside his own community, saying, "If I succeed in bringing even one Jew to recognize the truth, it is worth all my efforts." Therefore Natruna sees itself as continuing the Rebbe's work.

The brochure also gave a glimpse of Natruna's multi-faceted activities, including this website, the parsha sheets, the two books recently published, the question and answer office, the current events section, the new website (natrina.org) in the holy tongue, the press releases and the radio advertisements.

The evening's lineup of speakers began almost immediately with Rabbi Lipa Klein's introductory remarks. Rabbi Klein is a lecturer in the Kollel Mishkenos Laavir Yaakov. He greeted the crowd who had come together "without any personal interests, only to sanctify the name of G-d." He quoted the introduction to the Mesilas Yesharim in which the author writes that he has not come to say anything new, only to review and remind people of what they know already to be true. The same, he said, is true of tonight's gathering. We are here only to review the age-old Torah approach to exile and redemption. He quoted the Satmar Rebbe's statement that all Jews have an obligation to protest against Zionism in all places and at all times. That is a tall order for most of us, for who can be in all places at all times? But by supporting Natruna's activities one has a share in all of their activities. Through the online media, it is actually possible to be heard in all places at all times. Natruna, in its seven-year history, has accomplished a lot, with over 7 million visitors to its site. The non-Jewish world knows about Jews opposed to Zionism, and in the Jewish world many former Zionists have begun to see the truth. Most Jewish Zionists, he said, hold their positions only out of ignorance; they have only been exposed to one side of the debate. When they hear the other side, they begin to understand things better.

The next speaker was Rabbi Yitzchok Ahron Fogel, rosh yeshiva of Beis Dovid, Monsey. Among other things, he said that many people ask: Yes, the Zionist state is a great sin, and a rebellion against G-d's decree of exile and His Three Oaths. But why is it necessary to constantly speak against it? He said that the Three Oaths actually inspire us and strengthen our faith in the coming of moshiach, because they command us to wait passively, even in the darkest hours of our exile, relying only on the redemption of G-d. Thus by speaking against Zionism we are actually expressing our faith in G-d and in the redeemer sent by Him.

The next speaker was Yirmiyahu Cohen, one of Natruna's staff of writers. He gave the audience details about Natruna's recent activities, including the two books, the questions and answers office, and the news articles. He made the important point that many Jewish groups claim to oppose Zionism, and they truly are the followers of great rabbis in the previous generation who opposed Zionism. But since they were never taught exactly what Zionism is, the end was that they themselves became the biggest Zionists. Out of ignorance they say that "Zionists" just means irreligious Jews, or the current government of the State of Israel. They may even think that by advocating Jewish rule over Jerusalem and opposing the peace process of the current leaders of the state, they are fighting Zionism! Nothing could be more ridiculous, but such are the consequences of lack of education on this important subject. Rabbi Cohen said the news articles on the website help keep readers up to date on who's who in the Zionist and anti-Zionist worlds, clarifying these issues of what Zionism is and is not, and what we must protest against.

Next spoke Rabbi Yaakov Ahron Shapiro, rabbi of Congregation Ohr Avigdor in Bayswater and a great nephew of the late Satmar Rebbetzin. He spoke about the importance of the Satmar Rebbe's books and how they took the material on the Three Oaths and related subjects, all of which existed previously, and gathered it together into one unified Torah subject. This was similar to the Chofetz Chaim's universally accepted work on the laws of improper speech, which merely reviewed Torah material that already existed, yet was a landmark in its field because it made this subject organized and accessible to all. The new work Efes Biltecha Goaleinu, by supplementing the Rebbe's work with hundreds of additional source-texts, was a landmark contribution to this field.

He also spoke of the need for an organization like Natruna to set the record straight, in view of the many lies and distortions of history and fact spread by the Jewish Zionist media. He said that it was really a shame that Natruna hadn't been founded earlier, and that there weren't more organizations like Natruna.

The next speaker was Rabbi Moshe Yehudah Meisels, son of the late Rabbi Nussen Yosef Meisels, who was the Satmar Rebbe's right-hand man for many years and was a strong backer of Natruna until his passing three years ago. Rabbi Meisels spoke about the importance of making no physical effort toward the redemption, as well as the exhortation of the Talmud not to join the wicked and to stay far away from those who do join wicked.

Rabbi Lipa Klein then thanked the organizers and sponsors of the gathering, including Moshe Betzalel Bodek, Shlomo Boruch Witriol, Boruch Shapiro, Yisroel Yaakov Hirsch, and Benzion Schwartz, who had donated the lion's share of the expenses of the gathering in memory of Rabbi Avraham Leitner, who passed away just two months ago.

He also thanked those who donated the refreshments for the gathering: Chaim Elimelech Kohn of Hamayan Products who donated the fresh fruit, Avraham Shmuel Weiss and Mendel Kohn who supplied the hot buffet, and Moshe Smilowitz of Smilowitz Bakery who supplied the cake platters.

Then Rabbi Klein called upon Rabbi Shlomo Nissan Domb, rosh yeshiva of the Krasna Yeshiva, to give a speech in remembrance of Rabbi Avraham Leitner, who supported Natruna as a rabbinical advisor and was always ready to participate in their efforts to sanctify G-d's name. Rabbi Domb is a grandson of Rabbi Yerachmiel Domb of London, who has fought Zionism for over 50 years and whose video interview is featured on the homepage of our site. He spoke about the great work of the activists of Natruna and exhorted everyone to do his part in funding them. He said that the sin of violating the Three Oaths amounts to no less than meddling with the Divine plan of exile and redemption, which is among the foundations of the world. He then described Rabbi Leitner as someone whose whole life was dedicated only to sanctifying the name of G-d, and noted how appropriate it was that this event, whose purpose was sanctifying the name of G-d, should be dedicated to Rabbi Leitner's memory.

The final speaker was Rabbi Shimon Zev Meisels, dayan of Kiryas Joel. He spoke of the great accomplishment of Natruna in publishing the work Efes Biltecha Goaleinu, which makes clear through hundreds of source materials that opposition to Zionism was not merely the view of the Satmar Rebbe, but the view of all rabbis from all Jewish circles, in all generations. Almost all of the book is quotations from sources other than the Rebbe's works. The point comes across clearly that according to tradition Jewish thought, we were sent into exile by G-d as a punishment for our sins, not because of any weakness on our part. Therefore it is unthinkable that the exile could end through the Jews' own strength of arms. G-d clearly wants us to be in exile, and only when He wants will He bring it to an end.

He said that the rabbinic commandment to light a menorah on Chanukah was not considered a new commandment, in violation of the prohibition to add to the 613 mitzvos of the Torah, because it was only to remind Jews of the mitzvos and strengthen them in their observance. The Torah commands that a mezuzah be placed on the right doorpost to remind Jews of what is written inside. But there came a time when the Jews, despite having mezuzos on their doors, were forgetting the mezuzah's message. Then the Rabbis enacted that a menorah be placed on the left side of the door to remind us of what is written on the right side. Similarly, the Torah exhorts Jews to wait patiently in exile and hope only for the redemption of G-d. There came a time when Jews needed more strengthening in this subject, and so the Rebbe wrote Vayoel Moshe to remind them of what had already been said. Now, 47 years after the Vayoel Moshe, many Jews have Vayoel Moshe on their bookshelves yet do not internalize its lessons. Natruna has addressed this problem with the publication of Efes Biltecha Goaleinu and their other important activities.

The gathering was brought to an end close to midnight.