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Divrei Yoel Shoftim


1. "You shall not plant a tree of idol worship...near the altar of the L-rd...." (Devarim 16:21)

Throughout Divrei Yoel, the Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, constantly reiterates the importance of single-minded devotion to Torah and mitzvos. We are so very fortunate to have the treasured gift of the Torah. How could we ever turn aside from it to look in other directions? However, due to the powerful influence of the Yetzer Hara, which blinds our eyes and confuses our minds, we must struggle to overcome the temptations it hurls at us, trying its best to lead us astray with false ideologies. When someone, chas v'shalom, slips into a perverted philosophy, this is tragic enough. Worse yet, however, is when a group of misguided people attempt to be devout followers of both the holy Torah, and l'havdil, avodah zarah. This condition is manifest today in the phenomenon of "religious" Zionism. The adherents of the Mizrachi and "Settler" movements attempt to blend Torah study and mitzvah observance with the twisted heresy of Zionism. They are, so to speak, planting a tree of idol worship near the mizbayach of Hashem.

In what is perhaps the greatest chilul Hashem occuring today, so-called religous Zionists wave Israeli flags and guns at weddings, long peyos and beards flapping all the while. When these people wrap a meis in an Israeli flag instead of a tallis, they desecrate the bodies of their brothers and sisters with symbols of heresy and bloodshed. We, the Torah-true Jews, must act with uncompromising adherence to the Torah and mitzvos. We pray that this will shed light to the fools who roam in darkness, bringing them to a proper understanding of Torah and mitzvos, spurring them to teshuvah and genuine ma'asim tovim.

2. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, in Divrei Yoel (Parashas Shoftim, pp. 101 - 102) discusses the mitzvah, taught in this week's parashah, for the Jewish People to appoint a king over themselves. The Rebbe explains that the obligation to keep this mitzvah applies only when there is a navi; otherwise, it is not obligatory to appoint a king, only voluntary. Additionally, the Rebbe notes that the one of the purposes of having a king over the Jewish nation is to bring glory, honor and splendor to the Jewish Nation. When a Jewish king rules in accordance with the Torah and mitzvos, there is no greater kiddush Hashem. However, when this concept is twisted, the worst chilul Hashem, R"L, occurs.

This is clearly evident today. Some people mistakenly believe that the establishment of the "State of Israel" is somehow a fulfillment of the mitzvah to appoint a king over the Jewish People. This idea is wrong on numerous counts. Firstly, as the Rebbe explains, the mitzvah to appoint a king is not in force in our times. Secondly, a true Jewish king must be from the House of Dovid. Thirdly, a true Jewish king must rule in accordance with the Torah. Fourthly, a true Jewish king creates a kiddush Hashem, bringing the light of the Torah to the entire world. Not only has the Zionist State failed to do any of the above, it has consistently acted in complete contradiction to all of the above-mentioned requirements for a Jewish king.

At the time Moshiach comes, there will be a great war -- a war of tumah versus taharah, of heresy versus Torah, the war of Gog and Magog versus Moshiach. The Rebbe explains in Al Hageulah V'al Hatemurah that the Israeli government and army will be on the side of Gog and Magog, fighting together with the evil gentiles against Moshiach, the scion of Malchus Beis Dovid. The Zionist government and army is on the side of the sitra achra against Malchus Beis Dovid. Certainly, then, they are not the ones from whom the kings of Klal Yisroel will come. The truth is readily apparent to any person with open eyes. We must strengthen all around us against the heresy that pervades the world today. It is the responsibility of those who understand the Torah's view on Zionism to share this knowledge with those who do not understand. May we merit to come close to Hashem and to bring others close to Him.

3. The Satmar Rebbe in Divrei Yoel (Parashas Shoftim, p. 106) discusses the great obligation that exists to always find the good in other Yidden, to always judge others favorably, and to speak positively regarding them. The Rebbe explains the proper way to go about this. He explains that if a leader would act in this fashion publicly and openly, saying only good about his followers, this would in no way benefit the followers who need mussar in order to correct their sins and become better. Rather, the quality of finding the good in other Jews comes into play during the tefillos of a tzaddik, who must defend his generation, in order to prevent a kitrug in shomayim. In other words, a leader of Klal Yisroel must act in two ways: He must admonish the public to do teshuvah and reach for higher levels in avodas Hashem, not compromising or condoning improper behavior. At the same time, he must daven to Hashem to save the Yidden since even when they commit aveiros, they do so because of the pressure of galus, an overwhelming Yetzer Hara, etc. This, the Rebbe explains, is the mission of the true Jewish king.

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Many people mistakenly believe that the Rebbe hated other Jews and simply wanted to condemn them whenever possible. The truth is that the Rebbe gave mussar to Klal Yisroel, leading them away from heresy, toward Torah and mitzvos. A true Torah leader who delivers strong rebuke does so only out of true Ahavas Yisroel and a desire to see Yidden grow better and stronger in avodas Hashem. A Rabbi who justifies improper behavior and does not encourage his congregants to rise out of the depths of sinfulness to Torah and kedushah is guilty of a very severe offense, and every aveirah committed by those he has justified is on his head. We must awake from our slumber and realize that a Jew cannot remain a Jew if he is constantly told by a rabbi that even though he does not observe Shabbos, Kashrus, Taharas Hamishpacha etc. properly, he is a good Jew as long as he feels good, supports Israel, and keeps giving this Rabbi or his organization money. This is not ahavas Yisroel. This is complete disregard for a fellow Jew. This is what is destroying Klal Yisroel.

It is absolutely imperative that we cling to the Torah and mitzvos without compromise. We must display true ahavas Yisroel by speaking out openly against the wicked, explaining to all that the heretics are truly not out for the good of Klal Yisroel. They are only looking for power and prestige. May we merit to disseminate the word of Hashem in truth and purity, Amein.

4. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, in Divrei Yoel (Parashas Shoftim, p. 114) develops the concept of kingship from the House of Dovid and what effect such rulership has on the world. The Rebbe explains, in essence, that when a king from Malchus Beis Dovid rules, he is able to bring all the kingdoms and nations of the world to an acceptance and acknowledgment of Hashem's singular Kingship over the entire world. Not only are the Jewish People brought to much higher spiritual levels under the guidance of a king descended from Dovid Hamelech, but an awareness of Hashem is brought to the entire world. A monumental kiddush Hashem occurs.

Perhaps we can gain a further insight into this section of Divrei Yoel be explaining as follows. Kriyas Shema is our acceptance of Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shomayim. Shema is, in a sense, the definition of acceptance of Hashem's Kingship. In Kriyas Shema, we say: "Shema Yisroel..." addressing our fellow Jews specifically. Since Shema, the essence and physical manifestation of Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shomayim, is directed at the Jewish People, how do the non-Jews accept upon themselves the yoke of Heaven? Perhaps the answer to this is as follows. When the Jewish People accept upon themselves the concepts of Shema and reject heresy, the non-Jews clearly recognize the Jewish People as Hashem's chosen nation. They gain a deeper understanding of true G-dliness. This enables them to perform their own Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shomayim. If, however, much of the Jewish People has, chas v'shalom, accepted heresy, all Jews are viewed by the non-Jews as nationalistic barbarians, even the Yidden who have not accepted the heresy. It is only when heresy is eliminated that the Jewish People will gain true honor and prestige, nullifying all wars and contention between Jews and non-Jews. This is the task with which the King of Klal Yisroel is charged.

Today we no longer have a king. In absence of such a divinely appointed ruler, we must listen to the talmidei chachamim, who are also called kings by the Torah and Chazal. We must listen to and heed the guidance of our Torah sages, even when their advice seems to contradict conventional political "wisdom." The talmidei chachamim and tzaddikim are the ones who truly understand what is going on in the world, and their words must be heeded. This, of course, only includes the true talmidei chachamim and tzaddikim, and not settler "rabbonim," who, despite what they would like to claim, do not have the first clue about the Gemara or Shulchan Aruch, They have gone to university and become heretics, and they have no regard for the true leaders of Klal Yisroel who are infinitely far above the heads of these impudent, foolish heretics.