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Was the Avnei Nezer anti-Zionist or pro-Zionist?

01/17/13

My name is Ari Wexler i am 15 years old and i live in bet shemesh
i go to a high school yeshivah and we are doing an essay in history about the haredim and zionism. I have read online that rabbi avraham of sochetchov, the avnei nezer, was an anti zionist, and they bring a letter that was published in "igros shapirin".' i looked into "igros shapirin" and the letter was not there.
i would also like to state that the avnei nezer was pro zionist as he is says in his shu"t avnei nezer that a man should make aliyah to israel
i want a response to this question
thanks

Dear Ari,

The letter from Igros Shapirin you mentioned is posted on Yoel Elchonon's site:

http://www.yoel-ab.com/katava.asp?id=57

It's in Igros Shapirin siman 80 in the midst of a long footnote. The relevant section is at the end. In the printed edition it's on page 155. (The version on hebrewbooks.org is poor quality and you can't really see every letter.) From this letter we see that the Avnei Nezer was against the secularism of the Zionist movement. He says that they are deniers of the Torah who pretend to be good by talking about the love of Eretz Yisroel, which is a good thing. He did advocate aliyah, when done in the proper way with observance of all mitzvos.

In the teshuva you mentioned (Shu"t Avnei Nezer Yoreh Deah 454) he makes it clear that he advocated aliyah only when it does not run counter to the Shalosh Shevuos, the Three Oaths. He explains at length there that the oaths were imposed on the roots of the Jewish souls in Heaven and carry a severe punishment - being cut off from Hashem's protection. See this page on our site, where we have quoted this part of the teshuva.

http://www.truetorahjews.org/avneinezer

He explains that the only correct way to make aliyah according to the Torah is with permission from the ruling power. Then even if many Jews come, it does not violate the prohibition on mass aliyah, because it is not "beyad chazakah." But if no ruling power is granting permission, such as in 1948 when the British simply left the land and allowed the Zionists and Arabs to fight over it, there is no heter and this is definitely considered "beyad chazakah."

It is also important to realize that the Avnei Nezer passed away in 1910 and he definitely did not discuss the idea of statehood, even with permission from the ruling power. Statehood is worse than peaceful immigration because it violates the prohibition (oath) on ending exile.

For more about the Avnei Nezer and whether his arguments are relevant to 1948, see the following page where we respond to common Zionist arguments:

http://www.truetorahjews.org/qanda/aviner

For more about hareidim and Zionism, I highly suggest you take a look at the Rabbinic Quotations page:

http://www.truetorahjews.org/rabbinic_quotations