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How do you answer those who say the UN gave it to us? And how can Zionists go against the Chofetz Chaim?

Oct. 21 2007

Dear Rabbi,

Hi, I of course am in agreement with most of what you say, however, how do you answer people who say that the Holy Land was not taken by force, instead given by the United Nations.

Moshe Shmuel

Dear Moshe Shmuel,

1) The land actually was taken by force. Although the U.N. voted that there should be a state, this was no more than a recommendation since the U.N. did not back up its decision in any way. The Zionists were left to fend for themselves, and they knew full well that founding a state would mean fighting the surrounding nations as well as the local Arabs.

2) The oath not to "go up as a wall" is interpreted by many commentators to mean any mass immigration, even with permission from the nations of the world.

3) Besides this oath about which there is disagreement, there is another oath not to "push for the end" of exile, and any establishment of a state without G-d's command constitutes pushing for the end, bringing about the end of exile on our own, which is forbidden according to all opinions, even if the nations allow it. The opinion that says the oath does not apply when the nations let was only referring to immigration, not founding a sovereign state.

4) The borders of the Jewish state proposed by the UN are a far cry from the borders actually conquered by the Zionists. It is a thin strip along the coast, the Negev desert, and a strip in the northeast. These three pieces are barely connected. And all of Jerusalem and its environs are deep within the Arab state. Take a look at the map of the 1947 partition plan, and then decide if you really think the Zionist state can be justified by the U.N. vote.

I have to say, that I agree with you, when you look at the next generation of the two schools of thought, it becomes abundantly clear who the true Torah Jews are. It's still a very hard pill to swallow, as Israel is just so appealing, its the oddest situation, it is the most dangerous place in the world for a Jew to live, yet the only reasons I ever hear people give for not making Aliya are economic!

Thanks for replying

Another question, I read on your website that the Chofetz Chaim disagreed with the Mizrachi movement. How could a Mizrachi Rabbi disagree with the Gadol Hador, a man many considered a Tanna?

Moshe Shmuel

Dear Moshe Shmuel,
We know that the Chofetz Chaim was the gadol hador, but many people at that time did not think this way, especially when they were in the process of breaking away from tradition. Furthermore, the Chofetz Chaim was very humble and did not usually act as if he were the gadol hador.

As far as the general Mizrachi world not listening to the Chofetz Chaim, you have to realize that although it was known that the Chofetz Chaim and other gedolim such as Reb Chaim Ozer, Reb Chaim Soloveitchik and Reb Elchonon opposed Mizrachi, all of their reasons were not well known. The Chofetz Chaim on the Torah, Parshas Devarim says that Zionism puts the Jews in danger, but most people had not read that at the time. Instead, they assumed that Chofetz Chaim was against joining the secular Zionist movement as the Mizrachi did, or against other modern innovations in the educational system implemented by the Mizrachists. This left open the counter-argument that if truly religious Jews jump on the Zionist bandwagon they can influence the building of Eretz Yisroel in the right direction. In Kol Kisvei Chofetz Chaim, we find that the Chofetz Chaim's own son Aryeh Leib Kagan made this very argument and writes that he therefore became a Zionist. He was surely aware of his father's opposition to it, but in his biographical sketch of his father he writes stories portraying the Chofetz Chaim as hopeful that the redemption would soon come, seeing the aliyah as possibly the beginning of the ingathering of the exiles, and asking only that the people coming to Palestine keep the Torah. This all has nothing to do with permitting a state, but he selected these comments of his father because they tended to support his own ideas.

This is all no excuse for going against the gedolei hador, but I'm just trying to explain to you the selective quotation process used by Zionists when viewing gedolim.

The notion that he was on the level of a Tanna comes from the dybuk
story publicized chiefly by Reb Elchonon, and it probably was not well
known during those days (before the publication of Ohr Elchonon).

Dear rabbi,

That's interesting, it always makes the argument more difficult when his son supports the opposite view and passes it off as his father's.

I still maintain the proof is in the second generation and when my community Rabbi stands up and says that he is Mizrachi in philosophy, but not what the movement has become today, I question that philosophy.