The Test of Fertility-Challenged Couples

The tremendous grief of the childless * Is impotence a punishment for sin, or is it fate? * The dispute among the Sages about to what extent can good deeds change a Jew’s fate * The conditions of one’s life is determined by destiny, and some people are intended to deal with agony * Sometimes excessive pleas in prayer is incorrect * Prayers and good deeds do not return empty-handed * The special importance of love between husband and wife, specifically if they are childless

The Agony of Infertility

The agony of the childless is difficult. Our Sages said: “A man who is childless is accounted as dead” (Nedarim 64b), as it is written: “Rachel realized that she was not bearing any children to Jacob. She was jealous of her sister and said to Jacob, “Give me children! If not, let me die!” (Genesis 30:1). Our Sages taught us this so that people know just how great the grief of the childless is, and seek mercy for them to conceive (Tosafot, ibid). Couples who already have children but hopelessly wish for more are also likely to be extremely sad, especially if they live in an environment where having large families is the norm.

Attempting to Understand the Meaning of Suffering

The question is: What is the significance of this suffering? Is it a punishment for one’s sins, and in order to have children one must awaken and do teshuva (repent)? Or perhaps one’s fate was determined even before being born, and he cannot be blamed for his torment?

The answer is very complex. Sometimes trials and tribulations stem from sins, other times from fate, and occasionally, a combination of both. Sometimes repentance and prayer are helpful, and other times not; the matter depends on countless factors. I will begin to explain.

The Significance of ‘Mazal’ and Fate – Raba and Rav Chisda

Our Sages said: ” Raba said: Life, children and sustenance depend not on merit but [rather on] mazal (Mo’ed Katan 28a). “Life” is the number of years a person lives, “children” – the number of children he will have, “sustenance” – his livelihood. All of these are determined by the mazal of a person at the time of his birth, and not according to his merits. The proof of this is that Raba and Rav Chisda were both righteous individuals, and in times of severe drought, both of their prayers were answered. Nevertheless, their fate was totally different. Rav Chisda lived ninety-two years, while Raba lived just forty years. In Rav Chisda’s house there were sixty weddings, and in the home of Raba there were sixty cases of bereavement. Rav Chisda’s house abounded with wealth, and even the dogs were fed well, while in Raba’s house they were poor, and could not even afford to buy cheap barley bread for all the members of the family. Similarly, our Sages said: “There is no reward for a mitzvah in this world,” i.e., the reward for mitzvoth and punishment for sins is not paid in this passing world, but in the eternal world of truth (Kiddushin 39b).

In our terms, mazal is called fate. Just as we know today that at the time of conception a person’s genetic map is formed, determining if he will be tall or short, intelligent or slow, healthy or sick, ugly or beautiful, similarly, our Sages said that at the time of a person’s birth, his mazal is determined with regard to “life, children, and sustenance.”

Can Jews Change their Mazal?

Nevertheless, there is apparently a dispute between our Sages on this issue (Shabbat 156a); according to Rabbi Hanina, Israel does have mazal, namely, Jews are also under the rule of mazal, and within this framework, which is not subject to change, they must choose to do good, thus correcting themselves and the world. According to Rabbi Yochanan, there is no mazal for Israel, in other words, Israel has the power in their prayers and actions to change their mazal.

However, the commentators have already clarified that everyone is in agreement that mazal does have influence, and all agree that more than any other nation, the nation of Israel at times has more power to change their mazal through prayer and good deeds. The dispute is whether it is a common feature that a Jew can change his mazal, or only in exceptional cases (see Tosafot, Shabbat, ibid, and Ritva and Ran, ibid).

A Few Words about the Significance of Suffering

Everyone has a certain destiny, according to which a person’s mazal is determined. Sometimes, in order to realize one’s destiny, it is good for him to be poor and suffer pain, and other times it is advantageous for him to be rich and healthy. Sometimes a person’s fate is sealed, and nothing he does will help him to escape it, except in very rare cases. Sometimes a person’s fate is not absolute and by sinning, tilts his fate to the negative and must suffer; if he does good deeds, he will merit greater blessing, even in this temporary world. At times, the agony one suffers purifies and saves him from a greater evil, and in such a case if he is righteous, he will merit having trials and tribulations. In any event, as long as the world is not morally remedied, there will be people who suffer in agony, and by dealing with the anguish, the world is gradually purified from a moral perspective.

Making an Effort

Regarding the effort childless couples are required to make, both medically and spiritually, I hope to write about at another time. At present, I will attempt to further clarify the purpose of trials and tribulations.

Unanswered Prayers

Sometimes, all the prayers, repentance and strengthening in Torah and acts of kindness do not resolve the problem. Months and years pass, and a husband and wife are not able to have children. Maybe their fate is sealed and cannot be changed because the souls that they could have given birth to belong to another world, whose time has not yet arrived. It could be that if they were able to change their fate, the child born to them would be tremendously evil, seeing as he is unsuitable for his time, and therefore, God mercifully prevents them from having a child who would ‘bring down their old age to the grave in misery’. In a similar manner, our Sages said (Berachot 10 a) that after the destruction and exile, the ministers of the nations mocked the nation of Israel for being barren and not receiving the blessing of having children in the in the Land. Israel answered them: ‘When evil dominates the Land, it is better to be barren and not give birth to wicked children who will go to hell, just as you will’. This is the meaning of the verse: “Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; for the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman says God” (Isaiah 54:1).

It is also written in several Jewish sources that the childless need to be careful not to plead too much in prayer, rather, to always ask God that if it is not good in His eyes for them to have a child, then they forgo on their request. Because sometimes Heaven knows that if children are born to them, they will be wicked or suffer in terrible agony, and in order to alleviate the parent’s distress, they are not granted children (Shevet Mussar 23:19).

Nevertheless, such couples should know that all the prayers, good deeds, and Torah they perform are not lost in vain, because even if such actions are not useful for themselves, they help other childless couples to conceive. And at any rate, they are beneficial for bringing tikkun olam closer, to the day when the souls of their children can be born.

The Importance of Love and Joy

And now we come to the essential tenets: The childless couple is faced with a tremendous, immense and awesome test: Will they sink into their sorrow and lose their faith and joy, or overcome their grief and increase their love, fulfill the mitzvah of onah (conjugal relations) joyfully, and always think of ways to add good and happiness for their family and friends. For in truth, although they are childless, their relationship has great self-worth.

Love without Children

We have also learned that our Sages asked (Breishit Rabba 45:4), why our foremothers were barren. One of the Sages explained: “So that they might lean on their husbands despite their beauty”. Another explained: “So that their husbands might derive pleasure from them, for when a woman is with child she is disfigured and lacks grace. Thus, the whole ninety years that Sarah did not bear, she was like a bride in her canopy”. And so, from a certain aspect, couples who do not have children can increase and enhance the love, passion and joy between them.

Spiritual Children

This is the meaning of what the Sages of the Kabbala clarified, that every conjugal relation performed out of love and passion, adds an abundance of life and blessing in the world. And the Shlah (Shnei Luchot HaBrit) wrote: “From every conjugal relation performed in holiness, something good comes out of it. And even if one’s wife does not become pregnant … a holy soul comes into being… because from every conjugal relation a soul is produced, and from these souls, others are born”. Therefore, “Abraham had conjugal relations with Sarah even though she was barren, and God forbid that it was in vain.” The Zohar explained that by means of the complete conjugal connection with devotion and passion of the two righteous individuals, Abraham and Sarah, souls were created in the upper worlds that later descended and were born as children to different families. And when these same children grew up they were drawn to Abraham and Sarah and converted by them, and in regards to them the verse says, “and the soul that they had made ​​in Haran” (Genesis 12:5). Thus, when a childless couple overcomes the sadness and unites with devotion and passion, they become partners in lowering souls to the world, giving them sparks of soul from their union.

Pairing for the World’s Sustenance

Moreover, when a childless couple succeeds in strengthening their faith despite the sufferings and sorrows, deepening their love and pleasing one another in the mitzvah of onah – they merit adding life and blessing to the world. Because their love has a special purity, for it is unconditional and not based on children born to them, rather, it is completely based on the very love between them, which contains an expression of the unity of God revealed in the world.

True, they did not have children, but they merited revealing the value of life itself, and therefore, add life and sustenance to all the worlds. Or as the Ari HaKadosh explained, that there are two kinds of couplings – one for the purpose of giving birth to souls, and the other for the purpose of life and sustaining the world’s (Sha’ar HaMitzvoth, Breishit, pg.7). Indeed, spouses who do have children also merit fulfilling the second type of coupling for the purpose of life and sustaining the worlds when one’s wife is already pregnant, when she breastfeeds, or when she is older. But since among childless couples this is their only type of pairing, it carries greater influence. However, this is provided that through the love and joy between them, they are indeed able to break through the sadness, to see a better world, rejoice in their family and friends’ happy occasions, be productive, and do kind deeds for others, according to their ability.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

Words of Comfort for the Childless

Painful responses to my articles on the commandment to be fruitful and multiply * Childless couples seek attention to their sorrow and struggle of faith * I am not familiar with the problem up close, so I find it hard to write words of truth and strength * The torment childless couples experience raises them to higher spiritual levels * Happiness and love between husband and wife also brings blessing to the world

Discussing the Commandment to Be Fruitful and Multiply

Usually, after I write about the importance of the commandment to be fruitful and multiply in its various aspects, I receive heartrending letters from families waiting and hoping for children, to no avail. In particular, the responses have increased in the last few months in which I elaborated in my study of the commandment, as was reflected in many articles.

Since there is enormous moral benefit in understanding the pain of childlessness, I will mention some of the letters.

The Reply of a Mother with an Only Daughter

“To the honorable Rabbi Melamed, peace and blessing.

Each year, especially on the Torah portion Shemot, you write about the issue of procreation, fertility, and of course, the age of marriage, the delay of which, you take pains to clarify, causes damage to the fulfillment of the mitzvah.

As a fertility-challenged woman, (and not on my part, but rather, due to my husband, he should live and be well), each time anew, I grieve and weep over the matter. These issues are difficult for me and penetrate my heart like an arrow, causing me pain and distress every time.

And I ask: Where is God in all of this? Why are we so sure that we are the ones who decide on our lives and future? Who determined that if we get married at the age of 20, we will merit having a lot of children? Doesn’t the main partner have a word and decision in the matter?

I truly wanted to marry at an early age, but I was delayed against my will. It was the will of God the Almighty to bring me to the covenant of marriage at the age of 27. I wanted children, and lots of them, so badly that I didn’t even take pills before the wedding – the most important thing was to get pregnant as quick as possible, and without any hindrances. Am I to blame that God, Blessed be He, allotted me a pure and shinning soul only after five years? Am I responsible for my husband’s severe fertility problems? After all, God created him that way.

It seems to me we won’t have more children, and therefore against my will, I must be content with our only daughter, and be grateful from the bottom of my heart for the special girl we were given by God Almighty, Whose honor fills the entire world.

Rabbi, I call for you to speak about the fertility-challenged, of whom unfortunately, there are many in Israel, even if only to convey to all of us that we are not to blame”.

Reply

Dear…, Shalom.

Your words were very moving. I am sure that you also understand it is important to encourage the public about fulfilling the commandment, and this is the purpose of what I wrote. Nonetheless, I would like to write positive and gladdening words to the fertility-challenged, and with God’s help, I will merit doing so. In order to write about such a deep, sad, and challenging matter, I need seeyata d’shmiya (help from Heaven). If you have articles on this issue, I would be happy to receive them.

“Shalom Rabbi,

First of all, I would like to thank you Rabbi for your kind words. Of course I realize that your intentions are desirable and very good. The issue is difficult for me because seemingly, I was delayed in two main issues – marriage and having children, and not because I did not want to. I work on these issues internally all the time. Just recently I realized how HaKadosh Baruch Hu is the one, and the only one, responsible for everything – and everything comes from Him, Blessed be He. He decides and determines when, why, and how. It’s a pity infertility is not spoken about in yeshiva’s and seminaries.

The idea that immediately after the wedding, within nine months, a child is born is a terrible mistake which also consists of the ga’avah (pride) of “kochi v’otzem yadi” (“It was my own strength and personal power”). Perhaps knowing that giving birth is not guaranteed will awaken those who complacently delay marriage, thinking that after getting married they will definitely have children. I hope what I said was not rude towards you, Rabbi – this was not my intention at all.

The most important thing is that the Jewish nation continues to grow and advance with greater strength and greater sacred courage, to be a holy and singular nation in the Land.”

A Reply from a Childless Man

“Rabbi, we read your article on the importance of the commandment to be fruitful and multiply, and what can we say? We agree with every word. Unfortunately, however, there are many couples who go through physical and spiritual agony in fertility treatments for many years, with no success.

We are a religious, married couple aged over 40, from the center of the country. We met each other at the age of 30 but then parted our ways, because, naturally, a man can always find a prettier partner, and a woman can always find someone from a superior combat unit. Today we understand that the silent clock had already started ticking away back then.

We met again at the age of 36, and by the grace of God, literally at the last second, we escaped belated bachelorhood, but pregnancy was late in coming. For years we went through the terrible course of fertility treatments – from the easier treatments to the harder – including in-vitro fertilization, but they all failed. During the years of treatments, we also went through an abortion. Today, the doctor’s claim the chances for pregnancy are nil, and inform us about finding a solution in fertility clinics abroad. We are saddened by the thought of solutions that might be problematic halachically, genetically, and financially.

Every day we are faced with difficult questions. What should I answer my wife when she asks ‘What did I do to deserve this suffering’? What should I say to myself, when I so badly want a son who will carry on the family? How should I answer people’s questions, who see us as being abnormal? Couples like us read your articles, Rabbi, and our eyes long desperately for something that is unachievable. Rabbi, aren’t you personally familiar with a childless couple?

I would be happy to read an article by you, Rabbi, about the correct spiritual way to deal with this issue. Incidentally, quite often we hear answers like ‘look on the bright side of life’, and ‘it’s the sorrow of the Shechina’. Such answers are only a small consolation. Our hope is that we will merit in the coming month of Adar to a “ve’nafachu“, and that the “chances are nil” we have been told will, God willing, turn into a great salvation for all couples in this situation, including ourselves.

All the best and kudos for the interesting and important articles each week.

Sincerely, a married couple from the center of the country.

Answer: With God’s help, one day I hope to be able to write about the important issue you raised. Until now, I felt I had nothing to add. Even the customary answers you mentioned about ‘look on the bright side of life’ and ‘the sorrow of the Shechina’ – which, of course, are correct answers – I cannot write about properly, because I find it difficult to write about something I do not understand completely, in mind and heart. I need to assimilate things in a complete manner. In regards to your question whether I am personally familiar with a childless couple, indeed, I am not, and apparently because of this, I am less aware of the problems they face.

I hope that in the coming years, perhaps when I learn the laws of marriage and reproduction once again, I will feel with all my heart the sorrow of the childless – to truly cry with them, and thus, be able to fulfill your request.

A Recent Comment

We read with interest and great pleasure the column ‘Revivim’ in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and I’d like to take this opportunity to say ‘yasher koach‘ Rabbi, and thank you very much!

Maybe you can explain a certain point that bothered us: Rabbi, in recent months you have written a lot about the importance of the mitzvah to be fruitful and multiply and high birthrate. As a couple going through fertility treatments and waiting so long, making a great deal of effort, and experiencing physical, mental, economic, and social difficulties, we wanted relate our feelings upon reading the columns.

When you read sentences (including the statements and the general mood) like “the world was created only for procreation”, and how the commandment of yishuv ha’aretz depends on reproduction and numerous other phrases, we understand and agree intellectually, but the feeling that we presumably have no part in all these important things is unbearable.

We also have a difficultly with the notion and presumption that having children is obvious and a person’s individual choice, without reference to all the numerous couples who cannot, and do not, know when or if it will happen.

Of course the issue of having several children is important and requires strengthening, but we feel it is important to remember the side of the couples who want so badly, and are waiting for a child. It might be appropriate at least to be mindful of this, and raise awareness of their sorrow.

We hope we are understood, and once again, a big yasher koach on everything!

Answer: I understand. Thank you very much for the important clarification. With God’s help, I will strive to find a way to write about the immense and sacred challenge facing the childless in the coming weeks.

Embarking on Responding to the Request

Lately, while dealing with the commandments of onah (conjugal relations) and puru u’revuru (procreation), I dedicated several weeks to the issue of childlessness in Jewish law and Thought. To some extent, I delved into the realms of sorrow, despair, and pain of the childless. Countless tears flowed from my eyes as I was with them in thought, and thus, I wrote a chapter composed of eight sections (in the style of ‘Peninei Halakha’), titled “Consolation of the Childless”. In this chapter I dealt with the agony of infertility and its roots, which sometimes are due to the fate and destiny of a person, which makes it almost impossible to change; teshuva (repentance) and prayers are indeed beneficial for tikkun olam, but do not entitle the parents to have children. Sometimes the trials and tribulations are intended to inspire the parents to rise to a higher spiritual level, in which case repentance and good deeds can be helpful, as was the case of our forefathers and mothers, most of who suffered from infertility. I also wrote about the importance of the entreaties of the barren, as we learned from the prayers of Hannah. In addition, I wrote about those who adopt children, or help in the rearing of children, and by doing so, are deemed as if they gave birth to them. I also wrote about educating children and giving charity towards their education, in which case the educator and the donor are also considered as if they had given birth to the children.

However, the most important idea I wished to explain, and as long as I had not understood it properly, I could not write about all the other related topics, is the section dealing with the importance of the love and joy between the childless husband and wife. The idea is both simple and profound at once, and essentially, if in spite of the suffering and sorrow the childless couple is able to strengthen their faith, deepen their love for one another, and greatly please each other in conjugal relations – they merit adding life and blessing to the world.

God willing, if there are no burning issues in Israel or outside of it, I will continue this important topic next week.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

Not the Way to Win

When the leadership is concerned with survival and security, rather than momentum and vision – hope for victory is unrealistic * What could be considered a victory also in the eyes of the enemy, and why it cannot be achieved in the present way of thinking * The bravery and dedication of the soldiers * To point out the responsibility of supporters of Oslo and the Expulsion, and the media * The ingratitude of Israeli Arabs, and the responsibility of the ‘Yisrael Beiteinu’ Party * In coordination with Egypt, to encourage the migration of residents from Gaza * To do whatever is within our power: increase settlement in Judea and Samaria, even in the time of a partial building freeze * Strengthening the birthrate, in the memory of the fallen

Results of the War – An Interim Assessment

It is still too early to assess all the results of the war, but in the meantime it seems that overall, considering our present national situation, it is difficult to have achieved more. When the leadership is engaged in survival and not initiative, in security needs without vision, and along with this, the majority of the elite and the media relate to Jewish and Zionist values with hostility or detachment – hope for victory was unrealistic.

Victory will be achieved only when we conquer the Gaza Strip as part of Eretz Yisrael, crush the terrorist organizations, rebuild all the Jewish communities in Gush Katif that were destroyed, encourage mass emigration of Arabs who do not wish to live with us, and enable a better life for those who support us. Even from the perspective of the Arab enemy, only such a situation would be considered a loss.

But for that to happen, the leadership and the Israeli public must return to the basic values and part from the delusional notion of “peace” and “two states for two peoples”. As long as this does not happen, Israeli leaders will not be able to achieve more than a temporary and shaky cease fire. Therefore, in the current situation, the decision of the Prime Minister and the Security Cabinet on the withdrawal of the I.D.F. from the Gaza Strip is understandable. There was nothing more to do there.

We are left to hope for one of two things: both the Prime Minister and those close to him repent and return to their roots, or another and better leadership be elected.

The Failure

Unfortunately, even within the current limited framework we were unable to strike the Hamas leaders. Apparently, we lacked military intelligence, or they were hiding among numbers of civilians and we could not find the moral courage to bomb them in any case, despite that in principle, such action is permitted under international law. Now, they will surface from their holes and reap huge sums of money to line their pockets and to finance terrorism – all under the auspices of “peace” and “compassion”.

Another failure of senior army officers who still have not learned their lesson: to distance non-combatant troops from the line of fire. As a result, our soldiers were killed in two needless events.

The Soldiers

On the other hand, it is impossible not to have great esteem for the I.D.F. soldiers, who are willing to sacrifice their lives in defense of their people and homeland. Thanks to them, the Jewish nation continues to exist in the State of Israel.

It is incredible how the reserve forces mobilized so willingly and how wounded soldiers asked to leave the hospital to return to battle. Even parents who lost their holy sons found within themselves the spiritual strength to encourage the soldiers to carry on. Such people deserve a leadership of vision and courage.

Awakening

We had hoped that now everyone would open their eyes; that the supporters of Oslo and the leaders of the expulsion from Gush Katif would apologize for all the harm they caused Israel. But no; this is their religion. Everyone has to believe in something, and they believe that everything will work out when we withdraw from Judea and Samaria and another Arab state is established.

One can still hope that as a result of the military operation, people who were not devout followers of the hallucinatory peace religion, will sober up and realize that a further withdrawal would be disastrous.

Furthering Awareness

Still, it is important to know: If the right-wing leaders fail to take advantage of the reality which has exploded in our faces for the purpose of awakening and weaning ourselves from the hallucinatory peace, and return to the values of Judaism and Eretz Yisrael, there is concern that believers in the delusional peace will be able to take advantage of the situation for their own purposes. Once again, they will instill false hopes about regional cooperation that can allegedly guarantee stability if we continue to withdraw, or at the very least, demand a freeze on settlements in Judea and Samaria.

In order to deepen this awakening, the supporters of Oslo and the expulsion from Gush Katif must be confronted with the question: How did they lead us to such a complicated and difficult situation?! How did we get from a situation where Jewish women together with their babies could shop in the marketplace of Gaza, to the point where missiles are being fired at all of Israel from the very same place, and when we try to resist, the entire world sharply condemns us?

Protest vigils should be organized outside the homes of the supporters of Oslo and the expulsion from Gush Katif, in order to remind the public who plunged us into this current situation.

It is also necessary to point out the media as a major partner in the fiasco. Therefore, the decision to close down ‘Kol Yisrael’ was good. We should continue to work for the closure of ‘Galei Tzahal’ as well. Hopefully, the more privatized public broadcasting becomes, the more the broadcasters will have to serve the people. As long as the I.B.A. (Israel Broadcasting Authority) belittles Jewish and Zionist values, the private stations permit themselves to do so as well and thereby abuse the Israeli public.

The Attitude towards Arab Citizens of Israel

In wake of the abduction of the three Jewish youths and the war, the true faces of many Israeli Arabs were revealed. Instead of thanking the Jews for all the good that has befallen them in comparison to their brethren in the Middle East, they do not stop complaining against the Jews and the State of Israel, and wishing for the victory of the enemy. If our leadership shows responsibility, it will change its policy towards Israel’s Arab citizens, and require them to shoulder the national burden. If they don’t want to serve in the army, then let them serve by paving roads.

Instead of speaking so much, one might ask the ‘Yisrael Beiteinu’ party, for once, to fulfill their promises to the voters. Let the Minister of Public Security who they appointed, Mr. Aharonovitz, work to impose the rule of law in Arab society, see that all rioters are prosecuted, and assist the authorities to enforce building and tax laws and court decisions in the Arab sector. Is this too much to ask for from a party who promised countless times, to fulfill its promise? The public also has a responsibility to demand this of its leaders.

Arab Emigration

Hopefully, as a result of the vast destruction in the Gaza Strip, many Arabs there will decide to emigrate to other countries. They can already understand by now that with the leadership they chose for themselves, they will not gain a decent life. It is estimated that one third of the Arabs in Gaza do not agree with their leadership. Perhaps they will find a way out and leave for other countries. Israeli officials would be wise to request the Egyptians to open their gates, or at least grant the Gazan’s transit visas via Egypt to other countries.

It’s Up To Us

Sometimes it is disheartening to see how after all the “peace agreements” that have blown up in our faces there are still people who do not understand that withdrawals and concessions on our right to settle our land result in war and terrorism.

But the truth is to a large extent it is up to us. After all, there is a very large population who understand the importance of the Land of Israel, and the existential danger of an Arab terrorist state in the heart of our country. Surely, not everyone can go settle in Judea and Samaria. Some are engaged in educational callings in their communities, others must take care of their parents; some people’s jobs do not permit them to move, while others live in the north or south, and thus already fill a settlement function. Still, there many people who can settle in Judea and Samaria – to fulfill the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz which is equivalent to all the mitzvoth – and thereby save the nation and the Land. Despite the partial freeze in construction, in many communities there are still plots of land which long ago were rezoned for construction, upon which tens of thousands of apartments can immediately be built that can absorb between 100,000 to 200,000 Jews. If construction is begun on all the plots, presumably additional plots will open up.

If as a result of the war and the self-devotion of our holy soldiers, many families begin moving towards the settlements in Judea and Samaria – we will win the main battle, and save our people and land from the existential threat of a terrorist state.

Sometimes people question me: Why write about this in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper? Preaching to the convinced? Indeed, this is the reason; the most important thing is to preach to the convinced. If convinced people will do everything they understand – most of the problems will be solved. It is up to us.

The Housing Problem

The housing problem which Israeli society suffers from can also be solved by expanding settlements in Judea and Samaria. After all, the problem is that the State of Israel is small and crowed, especially in the central region. Naturally, prices will only continue to rise. By building thousands of apartments in Judea and Samaria, in places relatively close to employment centers, it will be possible to release the pressure from the center of Israel, and thereby lower housing prices without the government having to spend huge sums of money subsidizing apartments whose prices continue to rise. However, such a broad settlement drive is dependent on government decisions.

Birthrate

Another thing is up to us: strengthening ourselves in the mitzvah of puru u’revuru (procreation), which is also dependent on the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz. In light of the devotion of our holy soldiers, the importance of the mitzvah should be enhanced. I was contacted by an individual who was very moved by the personality of one of the officers who died al kidushat Hashem (in sanctification of God) in Gaza. His heart was filled with sorrow over the wonderful fallen officer, and his sympathy went out to the noble family. He really wanted to do something in his memory, to continue his legacy, and to console his dear family. He me asked what he could do.

Consolation

Reverently, I replied: If you and your wife are unsure about having another child, my advice is that you decide to have another child in his memory, and after the baby is born, go to the parents of the soldier and tell them that in his merit, you decided to have another child. To a certain extent, this child is like their own grandchild. Keep in touch with them, go visit them on birthdays, and let them be part of your family.

If a child already born is named after a fallen soldier, it is a beautiful gesture. But if by virtue of the soldier’s self-devotion a family was given the strength to have another child – this is something remarkable and awe-inspiring. There is no greater and genuine consolation than this.

Some will argue: The only reason for giving birth to a child should be the child himself (inspired by the philosophy of Kant). But this is a mistake. Every action we take is done for numerous and different reasons that are incorporated into a main goal; this is a reflection of unity. Indeed, it is obvious that a child is not a means to serve other goals, but national ideals and the desire to console can merge with and enhance the value of life and the desire to have more children. True, it is forbidden to impose on a child filling the place of someone else, but you can give his life additional moral meaning, significance he will be proud of, and not be a burden on him.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

The Land of Israel is Not the Problem – It’s the Solution

Rectifying the Sin of the Spies during the Three Weeks by settling the Land * Withdrawals from parts of the Land of Israel over the last hundred years have not brought about the long-awaited peace, but instead, increased international conflicts and tensions * The surrender of parts of the Land led Israel to the difficult war presently being waged in Gaza * The solution to the war: Building thousands of houses in Judea and Samaria, reoccupying the Gaza Strip, and rebuilding the settlements

The Sin of the Spies

These days, when we mourn the destruction of the Temple, we must work to rectify the Sin of the Spies – the root of all calamities. This week’s Torah portion, D’varim (Deuteronomy), also deals with this.

Our Sages said: “On the Ninth of Av, it was decreed that our fathers should not enter the Promised Land (as a result of the Sin of the Spies, which took place on that day), the Temple was destroyed the first and second time, Beitar was captured, and the city of Jerusalem was ploughed up” (Ta’anit 26b).

We have to understand: what exactly was the sin of the Spies? According to the plain meaning of the verses, in their assessment, entering the Land of Israel would have involved risking their lives, and in order to save the lives of their children, they needed to stay if the desert. Should they have ignored the danger?!

Rather, their sin was that they despised the cherished Land. Their basic attitude was that conquering the Land and settling it was a difficult matter – a serious “problem.” It would be better to remain in the desert – to eat bread from heaven and quail, and survive miraculously. Therefore, when they saw the giants and fortified cities, they decided it was impossible to conquer the Land, and thus, melted the hearts of the people. But in the end, they were punished and delayed for forty years, “until the last of your corpses lie here in the desert”. They chose to protect their bodies, and despise the vision of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land of Israel), and remained dead corpses in the desert.

Because Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) is not the problem of Jewish existence – the Land of Israel is the solution.

Jews in the Diaspora and the Question of Eretz Yisrael

There were Jews in the Diaspora who wanted to forget about the Land of Israel – to stop feeling like foreigners, and assimilate into society. But the Gentiles did not let them forget the Land of Israel. “Jews to Palestine” they yelled at them. Many Jews believed that if they could just forget about their connection to Eretz Yisrael, everything would be fine – then, they would be accepted among the nations, and be able to influence them. The Reform movement even erased the Land of Israel and Jerusalem from their prayer books.

In the end the Holocaust took place, or at best, the decrees of the Communist regime, and it was no longer possible to immigrate to Israel.

Because the Land of Israel is not the problem, it is the solution.

Students of the Vilna Gaon and the Precursor’s of Zion

The Vilna Gaon (also known as the ‘Gra’) and his disciples began speaking about the importance of immigration to Israel and rebuilding the Land, but their words did not attract enough followers – the yishuv in Eretz Yisrael was built minimally. Even a generation later, when the gaonim Rabbi Kalisher and Rabbi Guttmacher aroused the public to immigrate to Israel and build it, only a few heeded their call, because the leadership and the people thought it was too difficult to immigrate to Israel, and live there. Hardships and persecution increased on the one hand, and assimilation on the other.

Because the Land of Israel is not the problem, it’s the solution.

Founding of the Zionist Movement as a Rescue

We were not worthy of having multitudes of Jews immigrate to the Land of Israel, motivated by a desire to fulfill the mitzvah from the Torah and the vision of Redemption, and anti-Semitism greatly increased. And thus the Zionist movement was founded as rescue movement for the persecuted Jewish people.

From the onset, it was clear that the place of refuge for the Jewish people would be in the biblical Land of Israel, including the eastern side of Jordan. With the grace of God, the nations of the world also recognized this at the time of the Balfour Declaration and the decision of the League of Nations.

However, when the Zionist leadership saw that the claim to Eretz Yisrael caused problems and required struggles with the Arabs and the British, it was decided to solve the “problem” of Eretz Yisrael by conceding the eastern part in exchange for a promise to settle the western side of the Jordan and the transfer of the Arab population to the eastern side. And lo and behold – conceding the eastern side of the Jordan did not help. The pressures and rioting in opposition to the Jewish settlement increased, and instead of the Arabs moving to the eastern side of the Jordan, masses flocked the western side to enjoy the fruits of Jewish settlement. The problem gradually intensified, and the British restricted Jewish immigration and allotted parts of our holy Land to the Arabs – as well as land purchased by Jews.

Because Eretz Yisrael is not the problem but the solution; therefore, conceding the eastern side of the Jordan only exacerbated the problem.

The Partition Plan

However, the Zionist leadership did not learn a lesson and continued to relate to the question of Eretz Yisrael as a problem, and in order to prevent bloodshed during the riots (1936-1939), agreed to give up most of the area west of the Jordan, in accordance with the proposal of the Peel Commission. But instead of getting peace, security and unrestricted immigration to save Jews from the claws of the Nazi’s, the riots continued and the British imposed further obstacles to immigration to Eretz Yisrael.

For indeed, the Land of Israel is not the problem, it is the solution.

If We are Worthy, We Build; If Not, We Save Lives

When the Jewish people are worthy – we engage in the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land), attempt to bring as many Jews on aliyah as possible, to settle as many parts of the Land as possible, and thereby attain peace and security, prosperity and immigration, national respect among the nations, and strengthening the Jewish spirit. When we are not worthy to engage in yishuv ha’aretz, we are forced to engage in saving lives. In recent generations at least we can take comfort that with all the troubles and dangers, by the grace of God, we are privileged to make progress in settling the Land – but in a difficult and agonizing way.

Only after the dreadful Holocaust were we able to find the strength to establish the State of Israel. Only because the Arabs continued to attack us with a lust for murder and destruction, were we able to liberate portions of our homeland and began to settle Judea and Samaria.

This is the meaning of our Sages statement concerning the Redemption: “If they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, it will come in its due time” (Sanhedrin 98a) – if they are worthy – through the joy of building the Land; if not – through difficult and horrible suffering.

The Moral Problem

There are certain morally conscientious people around the world who argue against the State of Israel: “You are robbers, for you have forcefully conquered the Arab’s land” (in which they never had a state). There are also morally sensitive Jews who argue “occupation corrupts”. They believe that if not for this messianic affinity to Judea and Samaria, all wars would cease, the world would consider us enlightened people, and Israel could be the exemplary society we dreamed of establishing. But for that to happen, we need to get rid of the “problem” of the territories (a derogatory name for Eretz Yisrael).

In actual fact, the Arabs were given broad autonomy in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip but instead of peace – hatred and terrorism increased greatly towards us, anti-Semitism spread throughout the world, and international pressure against Israel intensified.

Because the Land of Israel is not the problem, it is the solution.

If we are worthy – we settle the Land for the sake of the mitzvah. If not – we must conduct repeated wars, and only through suffering, merit to slightly expand Jewish settlement.

America and the Entire World’s Problem

Even the United States and the rest of the Western countries have a serious problem with the Land of Israel. If not for the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, world peace could have been achieved long ago, the Muslims would calm down, and democracy would flourish in all countries. Instead of this, they are forced to hear about more houses being built in the settlements.

And as long as Jews build in the settlements the international media is forced to cover it, and does not have time to report about the millions of murdered people in Islamic countries, and about the hundreds of millions of starving and sick people in Africa. As long as the settlers keep behaving with terrible violence by scribbling graffiti against the Arabs, world leaders and the U.N. are unable to find time to solve the problems of international terrorism, nuclear weapons, and conflicts between countries.

And lo and behold, they began solving the “problem”; they succeeded to expel Jews from Gush Katif and freeze construction in Judea and Samaria. But for some reason, tensions are rising, the Muslims are not satisfied, and anti-Semitic incitement is increasing. Countries are collapsing in blood, fire, and pillars of smoke.

Because the Land of Israel is not the problem, it’s the solution. By building it, nations who desire justice and peace could have sent a clear message to all assorted criminals that violence, falsehood and evil do not pay. This is the correct way for the West to put all evil regimes in their place. This is the way to bring peace to the world.

The War in the Gaza Strip

This is how we got to the complicated war in the Gaza Strip.

Had we been worthy – we would have engaged in the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz, building and expanding Gush Katif. We would not have sinned in the Oslo Accords, and not grant the Arabs any collective rights in the Land of Israel. True, we would have to deal with international pressure and threats from the Arab enemy, but handling it would have been relatively easy. It could have been a positive struggle which builds and reinforces.

But since we were not worthy and sinned in the Oslo Accords and the destruction of Gush Katif, we went to a complicated war in Gaza in order to save Jewish lives from the fires of Muslim terror, and our precious soldiers have to sacrifice their lives in the defense of the people and the country.

The Only Way to Win is Settling the Land

If the government continues to ignore the vision of yishuv ha’aretz, we cannot win the war. For the Arabs know that the key issue concerns the sovereignty over the land, and as long as they remain steadfast, and their claims receive international attention – they win. Even if we kill thousands of their soldiers and citizens, and destroy thousands of their houses, they will be rewarded with more funding to build their military strength. And thus, we will have to go from one military operation to the next, to bend and twist and confront international pressures – because the Arabs will always have demands, and there will always be more terrorists to violate the peace.

The only way to win is by returning to the mitzvoth of yishuv ha’aretz. If as a result of the war in Gaza the government comes to understand that further talk about withdrawal from Judea and Samaria is forbidden and they must expand the Jewish settlements, this war can be depicted as a somewhat victory. If the enemy knew that as a result of the war, the government would decide to build tens of thousands of homes in the settlements of Judea and Samaria, they would realize they have lost. If they heard that the Israeli government intends to occupy the Gaza Strip, to rebuild the destroyed communities, to encourage emigration of the refugees and enemies of Israel, their dream of victory over Israel would fade, and gradually international pressure would diminish, and the terror swamp would dry up.

The Role of Individuals

During the period of mourning over the destruction of the Temple, each individual needs to be motivated to rectify the Sin of the Spies by building the Land. Anyone who can join the settlements in Judea and Samaria is called to do so. Those who cannot move there for family reasons, or because they fill other important functions, such as in the fields of education or social welfare, are called upon to encourage those who can – to rise up, and join the settlements.

Of course, those people standing guard over the communities on the Golan Heights and the Negev, the Galilee and the Arava, should remain strong where they are. The call is directed to the residents of central Israel, who, without losing their jobs, can fulfill the great mitzvah of saving our nation from the existential danger of the establishment of a terrorist state in Judea and Samaria. Because settling the Land is the solution, and in its building, we will be comforted.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

Jewish War Ethics

Prayer for the success of our soldiers, and the defeat of our enemy * The false prophets of the “peace process” plugged their ears to all our warnings, which have proven right * The political system is gradually being cleansed of Oslo and Disengagement supporters * Will the Prime Minister retract his support of a Palestinian state, which harms our right to the Land? * Media interviewers have no tough questions for the “peace architects” * When the enemy shoots from within civilian populations they must be bombed, and not endanger our troops * The conventional wisdom of the leaders and elitists prevents victory over Hamas by means of conquering Gaza and ousting them from power * Our present task

Prayer for Our Soldiers

We are all praying for the success of our soldiers who are fighting bravely for the defense of our people and the cities of our God. The appropriate perek of Tehillim (Psalms) to be recited for our situation would be Chapter 83, for it contains a prayer for victory and vengeance on the wicked, enemies of God who raised their heads, are full of craftiness, and plot against Your people. They say, “And let us wipe out Israel as a nation—we will destroy the very memory of her existence.” They said, “Let us seize for our own use these pasturelands of God!” And we pray: “O God, don’t sit idly by, silent and inactive when we pray. Do to them as once you did to Midian, or as you did to Sisera and Yavin at the river Kishon, and as you did to your enemies at Ein-dor, whose decaying corpses fertilized the soil. O my God, blow them away like dust; like chaff before the wind— as a forest fire that roars across a mountain.  Chase them with your fiery storms, tempests, and tornados.  Utterly disgrace them until they recognize your power and name, O Lord.  Make them failures in everything they do; let them be ashamed and terrified until they learn that you alone, Hashem, are the God above all gods in supreme charge of all the earth.”

The Virtue of the Soldiers

The enormous virtue of the soldiers who sacrifice their lives for the sake of their nation and homeland is inconceivable. Going out to battle with self-sacrifice for the clal (the whole of Israel), they rise to the supreme level of kedushat clal Yisrael. Now, they have to fix the mistakes of all the governments since Oslo.

We Told You So

We said that as a result of the Oslo Accords missiles would be fired on us, and they mocked us, claiming we were terrifying the public.

We warned that retreating from Gush Katif would strengthen our enemies, but government and defense officials responded arrogantly, saying that, on the contrary – withdrawal would increase security.

We cautioned that without Israeli control over the Gaza Strip it would be stockpiled with weapons and missiles directed at us, and they said there were agreements with the Palestinians and Egyptians that only rifles for the purpose of policing would enter the Gaza Strip.

We warned that withdrawal would weaken our right to the Land and the world’s claims against us would increase, and they, in their dreams, painted a rosy future according to which, after the recognition of the P.L.O. and the withdrawals, the entire world would recognize our right to exist in Israel. Currently, our international status is far worse – even the U.S. government makes demands on us that they never would have dreamed of in the past and incitement and anti-Semitism has grown immeasurably throughout the entire world, and also within the State of Israel (just listen to the Arab representatives).

We said that withdrawing from Gaza would bring Hamas to power and that when we would have to fight them after the withdrawal, the war would be much more difficult. They claimed that, on the contrary, if after withdrawal the Arabs open fire on us, we will then be free to strike them relentlessly.

We asked: “But they will shoot missiles from civilian homes?” Condescendingly, they snapped: “First of all, they don’t have missiles. Secondly, if they do fire a missile, we’ll destroy the houses from which they are fired, with all its inhabitants.”

And now they are shooting missiles, but we do not respond immediately by bombing them out of fear that maybe civilian inhabitants will be injured, and as a result, put our soldiers in danger of death.

All these misguided and misleading people – leaders, experts, and pundits – must now ask forgiveness from the Jewish nation, and leave the public scene for people more competent than themselves.

Hopes for Improving Leadership

In a gradual and exhaustive process, the supporters of Oslo and the Disengagement are finally leaving the stage. They aren’t apologizing, but at least, to our relief, they are vacating the arena. The Knesset Speaker and the incoming President are already people who opposed the Oslo Accords and the destruction of Gush Katif. The Minister of Defense objected to the destruction of Gush Katif. Many Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu ministers opposed the Oslo Accords and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

On the other hand, the Prime Minister did indeed object to Oslo, and in the final stage he also opposed the destruction of Gush Katif, but in recent years, he announced his support for a softer version of a Palestinian state. In this manner he endangers the State of Israel, and hinders the potential of explaining our right to the Land of Israel. Minister of Justice Livni proudly led the destruction of Gush Katif, and to this day, has not apologized and asked for forgiveness. Most likely, these two individuals, Netanyahu and Livni, will also be leaving the scene in the coming years, but it is taking too long. The ‘Yesh Atid’ Party, which has revealed itself to be much further left than it tried to present before the elections, will presumably also lose its popularity, but for now we are stuck with them.

Still, the question remains – who will replace them? Will their replacements repeat all the same mistakes? Or perhaps there’s still a chance the Prime Minister will repent, draw conclusions, and lead the people of Israel in the expansion of settlement throughout the entire country, in the deepening of Jewish identity, and by putting the Arab population in its place? Halevy!

The Media

Try to hear on Israel’s public radio station ‘Kol Yisrael’, an interviewer ask tough questions to Oslo supporters – those who trust in the religion of peace, and the advocates of “two states for two peoples.” Try to hear them at least ask an innocent question – how did we get into this situation? How, within the span of twenty-five years, did we go from a situation where Jewish mothers, along with their children, could buy vegetables in the marketplaces of Gaza, Schem, and Qalqiliya, to having these areas turned into nests of murder, terror, and anti-Semitic propaganda, unparalleled since the Nazis?

Yet, you will not hear the interviewers at ‘Kol Yisrael’ ask questions to the point. All their chutzpa is directed towards people who believe in Greater Israel, rabbis, and those who support family values and the Shabbat; on the other hand, for the peace idol worshippers, who have entangled the State of Israel up to its neck, they have no questions.

‘Kol Yisrael’ should have been closed down a long time ago. Even when they talk about our righteous soldiers who fell in their battle for the defense of the people and the country, they are unable to hide their views.

The time has come to close Arutz 10 (Channel 10) as well. Their debts have been waived countless times. If they are obliged to express leftist positions – let them do it at their own expense. It’s time to close down ‘Galei Tzahal’ (Army radio) as well. Incidentally, without German financing, the ‘Haaretz’ newspaper would have been closed down long ago.

Criticism of those who endanger the lives of our soldiers

Unfortunately, in this war as well, we have heard leaders and commanders boasting that pilots and soldiers have refrained from attacking terrorists situated in the vicinity of civilians. True, we no longer hear a Machat (Brigade Commander) say publicly that he would prefer his soldiers got killed so as not to harm the women of the enemy, as was the case in Operation Defensive Shield in the Jenin refugee camp (where 13 of our fighters were killed, and the officer was not suspended).

Nevertheless, we are still far from acting appropriately from a Jewish, ethical standpoint, and as needed to achieve victory. Therefore, it is imperative to criticize those leaders and commanders who have mercy for the lives of our enemies’ civilians, and endanger the lives of our soldiers. Expressing this position is tantamount to pikuach nefesh and saving the lives of our soldiers.

The correct moral position is that in time of war, the enemy is hit together with the civilians beside them. War is not created by individuals. The ability to accumulate weapons, coordinate an army, and seize power requires broad public mobilization. Therefore, the public that brought Hamas to power with a huge majority bears full responsibility for its actions, and especially since they are so jubilant about every one of our soldiers who is killed or kidnapped.

This was also agreed upon by the U.N. in the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), namely, that when fighters are hiding among civilians, and there is no other option, it is permitted to hit them together with the civilians surrounding them.

How to Win the War

It’s difficult to beat Hamas. As long as they remain in power – they win, even if we kill thousands of combatants and destroy thousands of homes. The worse the situation is in Gaza, the more they gain. Arab and Western countries will provide financial assistance to rehabilitate the houses, of which a significant part will unquestionably go to additional ammunition, and another large part of the money will slip into the pockets of the leaders of the organization. So what’s wrong with hiding in the meantime? Every day that passes, the more they gain.

There is no doubt that in the Oslo Accords and withdrawal from Gaza we complicated ourselves way above our heads – with all the nations, and with all the laws. There is only one way out of this serious complication: the re-conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, the imposition of full military rule, eliminating all the terrorists, and dismantling all terrorist organizations. In terms of the Egyptian position, this is the appropriate time.

In order for the solution to be complete, it will be necessary to return all the Jewish settlements to their original locations, and enlarge them several times over. At the same time, we should work vigorously to rehabilitate all the Jewish sites in the Gaza Strip, including the synagogue located in the center of the city.

The Difficult Problem

The problem is that the current Israeli government is incapable of doing this. It is trapped in worldviews that don’t allow her to do what is necessary. Only if Hamas continues to attack relentlessly, the government may be forced, for lack of any other option, to conquer the entire Gaza Strip. And even then, the government won’t know what to do next.

This is not only a problem of leadership. This is a much more difficult and deeper problem. It is a problem which lies in the ideological foundation of the Jewish society’s elite, in all its components. The State of Israel should be based on the vision of the Return to Zion, but the Jewish elite are fleeing this grand vision.

Our Responsibilities

At this point, a reader may ask: I’m just one, small person. What can I do?

First, one should be aware that alienation to the vision of the Return to Zion is the root of the problem. Or as the old saying goes: The question of a wise person is half the answer. Understanding the problem is the beginning of the solution. The clearer the Jewish vision becomes, so will the way of dealing with the problems become clearer, and fewer errors will be made. Ultimately, all the problems we are facing today were created by the mistakes of the Israeli leadership.

Secondly, whenever a person is given an opportunity to act and take a stand, he should do so. And even when the overall vision cannot be realized, one should always choose the position that further promotes the vision of the Return to Zion – whether it is in elections, or any public educational or informational activity.

Not to mention, of course, working as vigorously as possible to strengthen the settlements in Judea and Samaria, encouraging aliyah and having children, and genuine Jewish education.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

The Logic of Torah Policy

The need for a national reckoning regarding the delusional vision of peace and the transformation of democracy into a religion * The political position derived from the Torah is both logical and rational * Would a Palestinian state really improve the lives of its citizens? * What exactly characterizes the Arabs of 1967 as being a separate people deserving its own state * The security and demographic dangers of establishing a Palestinian state * The gloomy demographic forecasts were proven false in reality * The Torah perspective rejecting a Palestinian state is correct in terms of security, morality, and demographics * The challenge: To strengthen Torah awareness and the settlements in Judea and Samaria

Soul-Searching

The days during the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B’Av are days of soul-searching, in which the Jewish nation is required to correct the sins that led to the churban (destruction). This is especially true in light of the government’s weakness in dealing with Hamas.  

In truth, the two fundamental sins that occurred on the 17th of Tammuz still require correction. Today, the continuation of the Sin of the Golden Calf which led to the breaking of the Tablets of the Law is the delusional vision of “peace”. And the continuation of the placing of an idol in the Holy Temple which led to its destruction is currently the religion of democracy, which holds that granting equal rights to all is the supreme value, upon whose altar the lives of people and nations should be sacrificed.

The coupling of these two mistaken beliefs is what leads the Israeli left to support the establishment of a Palestinian state in the Land of Israel. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister is also corrupted by this concept, and as long as he does not renounce it, he will not be able to achieve victory over Hamas. 

Who is being Logical?

There are leftists who arrogantly claim that their position is the rational one, whereas the right-wing position is based on religion and faith, and thus, irrational and impractical.

However, thus far Jewish history has proved that the Torah’s position was the most logical, but alas, due to our sins we did not act according to the Torah’s instructions, and were exiled from our Land.

In modern times as well, we did not act according to the Torah. When the gates of the Land of Israel were opened, many Jews failed to fulfill the Torah mitzvah of immigrating to Israel and remained in exile; their fate was the Holocaust, Communist decrees, and assimilation. On the other side, the majority of the secular Zionist leadership did not follow the Torah, and relinquished Transjordan and Judea and Samaria. And in regards to the Arab citizens of the country, they did not attempt to deal with them in line with the principles of the laws of ger toshav (resident alien). 

According to these principles, non-Jews who fulfill the Seven Noahide laws and recognize Israel’s sovereignty over its land can live together with us in dignity. And those who do not, we must try to remove from the country according to internationally accepted methods, as could have been done immediately after the Six Day War. Today as well, we can moderately encourage migration to other countries. 

Questions for a Rational Leftist (with the hope there is such a thing)

If there are leftists who are willing to contemplate the future rationally, they are invited to address a few questions I will present in a number of areas:

Morality or Rights

Do you support the establishment of a Palestinian state because, in your opinion, you believe that all Arabs should be given equal, democratic rights, or because you want their lives to be as best as possible (employment, individual freedom, religious and national expression)?

In other words, if you knew that in a Palestinian state within a few years a secular dictator the likes of Saddam Hussein would arise, or a religious ruler like Khomeini or Hamas who would suppress the people and violate their individual rights, would you still support the establishment of a Palestinian state?

If in such a situation you would not support the establishment of a Palestinian state, what would be your position if you knew that the chances of dictatorial regime taking power in such a state were fifty percent?

To illustrate this point, a similar question can be asked: Western countries imposed various types of boycotts on South Africa to force her to grant equal rights to the black population. Twenty years ago, the white regime in South Africa succumbed and gave the blacks equal rights; consequently, they came to power and overturned the previous administration. During those twenty years, the average life expectancy in South Africa fell approximately fifteen years, from 64.5 years, to 49.5 (with the decrease among the blacks even greater). If the Western countries knew in advance about the expected heavy price in human life and their well-being, would they have pressured South Africa to immediately grant equal rights to the blacks even then? Or perhaps they might have sought to implement an extended, gradual process leading to the granting of equal rights, even though doing so violates the sanctity of the principle of equality?

National Rights

You claim that all people have the right to self-determination, including the right to national sovereignty, and for that reason, the establishment of a Palestinian state is just and moral.

Apart from the basic question of how a nation is defined – for, by any objective criterion, Israeli Arabs do not deserve to be considered a nation – it is necessary to clarify: Who has the right to self-determination – all Arabs in the Middle East, or all Arabs residing between the Jordan and Mediterranean Sea? Or perhaps a distinction should be made between the Arabs of ’48, and the Arabs of ’67?

If you support the establishment of a Palestinian state for the ’67 Arabs (residents of Judea and Samaria), will they have the right to demand unification with the Arabs of the Middle East on the basis of their national rights? And will the Arabs of the Middle East have the moral right to gain control over the Palestinian state, as part of an Islamic or Arabic caliphate? 

Also, does empowerment give the Arabs of the Galilee the privilege to demand national rights, or to merge with the Palestinian state? If not – what is the moral justification for preventing them?

Surely, a leftist would answer that Arab residents have the prerogative to decide what their national rights will be, and since they are presently demanding a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, this is what the State of Israel is obligated to grant them. However, the fundamental question is crucial, because chances are if given a state in Judea and Samaria, after a year or two they will claim their national rights also apply to Arabs in the Galilee and the Triangle, and some Arabs will argue that national rights includes all Middle East Arabs.

Rights in Terms of Demography

As a leftist, you most certainly assume and believe that there are two and a half million Arabs living in Judea and Samaria. What would be your position if you discovered there are only a million and a half, as various distinguished researchers from the right claim? Would you still believe they are entitled to a state? And what would you say if they number only a million (and perhaps we can achieve this by encouraging voluntary migration)?

To put it differently: How many Arabs must there be to entitle them to demand a state? And another important question: In your opinion, how many people (settlers) can be expelled justifiably in order to grant a state to a million and a quarter Arabs?

Another question: If it turns out that the demographic process is not as the left customarily believes it to be, but rather, the number of Arabs in Israel will not grow significantly in the future, while the Jewish population does grow quite rapidly (thanks to a high birthrate and aliyah), so that within a generation the Jewish population, including those who identify with us, will number over 75% between the Mediterranean and the Jordan (including the Gaza Strip) – would you change your mind?

If you are a rational person, would you not agree that there is a further need to check the numerical data and the demographic process more thoroughly and accurately, and not to rely on conventional demographic beliefs which over the years were discovered to always be mistaken?

Security

As a rational leftist, what do you think is the danger that if a Palestinian state is established, it will merge with other enemy countries and initiate a war against Israel? If you knew that the prospect this will happen within twenty years is greater than fifty percent, would you still support the establishment of a Palestinian state?

What do you think the probability is that from within the areas of a Palestinian state, rockets will be fired on all Israeli cities, like what has happened in recent years in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip? If the danger is greater than fifty percent, would you still support the establishment of a Palestinian state? If so, at what level of risk would you oppose its establishment?

The Security and Demographic Aspect

As a rational leftist, what do you think the chances are that a Palestinian state will absorb four to six million additional Arabs, funded by UNRWA and other Arab countries?

What do you think the chances are that a Palestinian state, with eight million citizens in Judea and Samaria, will continue to demand from the State of Israel compensation for its refugees, and the right of return? In your opinion, what are the chances that marches of tens of thousands of starving women and children will climb the fences of the State of Israel? Do you think there will be a way to stop them without committing mass murder?

What are the chances that this will lead to a cruel and prolonged war, at high and low degrees of intensity? Can the results of such a war be better than our present situation?

The Instruction of the Torah is the Logical Position

It seems that after outlining these questions, it is possible to see how the Torah’s position rejecting the establishment of a Palestinian state in the Land of Israel, is moral and logical. I will summarize:

Regarding the question of morality, since the overwhelming odds are that the individual rights and quality of life of the Arabs will be adversely affected, as happened in Gaza – there is no moral justification to demand the establishment of a Palestinian state for them.

In regards to the question of national rights, the reasonable difficulty of defining Israeli Arabs as a nation obligates a return to the basic position that there is no “Palestinian people”, but rather, the Arabs living in Israel are part of the Arab nation that resides in the Middle East, and thus, they have no right to demand a separate state for themselves in portions of the Land of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people. 

Concerning the demographic aspect in point of fact, there is a positive growth trend of the Jewish nation in Israel – since the establishment of the State, for sixty-six years, we grew tenfold. In contrast, the predictors of gloom about Arab population growth compared to that of the Jews, always proved wrong and misleading. It turns out that the demographic threat is not critical, and we should reduce it by adopting a policy that will enhance the growth of the Jewish people in Israel, prevent Arab immigration into the Land of Israel, and if possible, even encourage emigration of those who alienate themselves from the Jewish state.

From a security perspective, the establishment of a Palestinian state is liable to endanger the existence of the State of Israel, since the chances of each one of the risks mentioned is over fifty percent. And no international guarantee will help prevent this risk, just as the U.S. and European countries failed to stabilize the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the rest of the Arab countries.

The Challenge before Us

In light of all this, we are charged with a twofold challenge: 1) to strengthen the consciousness of Torat Eretz Yisrael, from which comes the instruction of coping realistically with the difficult complications facing us. 2) In practical terms, to join the settlements in Judea and Samaria; this is the most effective way of fortifying the State of Israel, both spiritually and physically.

This article appears in the ‘Basheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

The Golden Calf and the Religion of Democracy

The murder of the boy from Shu’afat is just an excuse for the outbreak of Arabs’ hatred towards Jews and the State of Israel * The Arabs’ learned most of their fraudulent claims from the Israeli left * Turning democratic rights into a supreme value is exploited by the immoral, and causes great suffering in the world * The lone solution to our security problems: regaining control of Gaza, and Judea and Samaria * Fast days were established mainly for introspection on a national level * Turning democracy into a supreme value is similar to placing an idol in the Temple * The claim that the Torah is not relevant in our times is similar to the burning of the Torah * False libels against Israel and the settlers is similar to the breach of the walls of Jerusalem

The Arab Public’s Hatred

The Arab public is cynically and viciously exploiting the horrific murder of the Arab boy from Shu’afat. All the leaders of the Jewish community – from the President to the last Member of Knesset, from the Chief Rabbis to the last community rabbi – expressed their shock, grief, shame and condolences for the mourning family, a response unlike any other from the Arab public about any murder of Jews – even the most horrific. And yet, the Arabs continue to blame the murder on all of the Jews – and in particular, the right-wing religious community.

Furthermore, it is clear the murderers will be punished to the full extent of the law, in accordance with the maximum penalty that exists under Israeli law. Nevertheless throughout the country, Arabs are rioting, smashing, burning, destroying, attacking with stones and Molotov cocktails, and blaspheming the State of Israel and the Jews. Can anyone possibly believe that the reason for all this is the murder of the boy?!

The obvious conclusion is that the murder of the boy is merely an excuse and justification for uncovering of the intense hatred of Jews and the State of Israel by the Arab community. A hatred that has been going on since pre-State days when they wanted to throw all the Jews into the sea, till today, when rioters dare to proclaim that they will continue what Hitler started but did not finish.

When the State was established, the Jews agreed to accept the partition plan and concede the heart of the Land of Israel to the Arabs. However, the Arabs tried to continue what Hitler started, and failing to do so, want us to recognize their ‘nakba‘; in other words, we should compensate them for their failure to annihilate us as they originally planned.

Even though as individuals they were granted the status and rights they never would have received in any Arab country, they riot and murder, and what’s more, even accuse us that they are forced to do so because they don’t have more political rights and economic benefits with which to destroy us! As long as Israel exists, they will feel deprived. Their pride will be hurt.

Breaching the Walls of Jerusalem

It should be pointed out that most of the false allegations against Jews in general originate from the Israeli left. They taught the Arabs to claim discrimination, while completely ignoring the Arab’s failure to bear the burden of defense and the economy.

From the Israeli left, the Arabs learned to hurl the argument ‘why don’t you intend on destroying the homes of the families of those who murdered the boy from Shu’afat’, when the difference is so clear it shouts to the skies! The families of Arab terrorists support them, boast of their deeds, and elevate them to the level of saints, while the Palestinian Authority pays salaries to the families depending on the nature of the murder – the more appalling, the bigger the paycheck. In contrast, Jewish families oppose their actions and are ashamed of them.

But for the Arabs, and unfortunately also among the Israeli left, logic and facts are irrelevant – the main point is that the Jews are always to blame. Even when Arabs murder other Arabs, the Jews are to blame. This is akin to the breach in the walls of Jerusalem.

Decent Arabs

There are Arabs who want peaceful relations with us, and even appreciate all the good they enjoy thanks to the Jews and the State of Israel –particularly when they see what is happening in the neighboring Arab countries – the sea of flames and mass murder on the streets and in the mosques. However, they are threatened within their own society, and do not receive adequate backing from the Israeli government. There could be more of them; they could live with us in respect, love and peace. Unfortunately, though, we have become accustomed to rewarding evil. This also is an expression of the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls – the walls of justice and peace.

The Europeans’ Position

In Israel, Europe, and all other countries, the Arabs have learned that it pays to be violent – to rant and rave, and constantly blame the government of discrimination. They discovered that making such claims yields monetary benefits and various rights, because they arouse the glands of European conscience, which became very sensitive after the horrific bloodshed they committed in the two World Wars and during their prolonged colonial rule.

Abandoning the Religion of Democracy

The situation today is complicated, considerably more than it was before the Oslo Accords. Yet, it is still possible to gradually reach a reasonable solution. But to do this, we must wean ourselves from the delusional illusory peace which they have been trying to sell us in various and sundry ways for years.

We must also wean ourselves from the religion of democracy, which demands full and immediate equal rights for all. We have seen the awful consequences of this position in the Arab countries and Africa. Masses of people are being slaughtered on the altar of this belief. In many countries, life expectancy has dropped on behalf of “equality now”. On the altar of the religion of democracy, Khomeini rose to power and turned Iran into the center of international terrorism. On this altar, Egypt was nearly destroyed and turned into an equivalent of Iran.

China and Russia

One can compare the process that occurred in the Soviet Union to what is currently happening in China. In the Soviet Union, they immediately switched over to full democracy, which was interpreted in the minds of the people as an anarchy of ‘might makes right’. Life expectancy has declined, and agricultural and industrial production has decreased dramatically. From being a well-developed country, Russia has turned into a marginal state with a large nuclear arsenal. Putin is currently attempting to restore order to the country by other than purely democratic means, but the fact is that life is improving and becoming more convenient for the majority of the citizens.

In contrast, China chose a moderate and gradual route of development which did not topple the power of the central government and did not damage economic development, rather, the opposite – it encouraged growth and prosperity. At the same time, new leaders are emerging who are more committed to the values of human rights, and the standard and quality of living is gradually improving, much to the chagrin of the ‘religion of democracy’ purists in the world.

Undoubtedly, there is a great deal of injustice in the Chinese and Russian governments today. Nonetheless, the lives of so many people cannot be sacrificed on the altar of some unrealistic ideals which cannot be realized at present.

The Only Solution to Restore Security

There is one path ahead of us against the Arab enemy – to recapture the entire Gaza Strip and impose law and order there; to disband the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria; to dismantle all armed militias; and to stop the rampant incitement in mosques and schools.

All of the Arab municipal administration should be subject to Israeli government institutions, while allowing them to organize within the framework of municipalities and local authorities, which will collect taxes and manage all the regular civilian issues.

Hopefully as time passes, a responsible Arab leadership will emerge that can take upon itself additional powers in managing Arab public life. This plan should include all Arabs living in Israel, without exception.

The Main Purpose of the Fast

The main purpose of the fast is repentance and national introspection. Indeed, each individual should also conduct a private reckoning, but the fasts were established primarily for the purpose of national reflection.

Our Sages of the Mishna said: “Five misfortunes befell our fathers on the seventeenth of Tammuz and five on the Ninth of Av. On the seventeenth of Tammuz the Tablets of the Law were shattered, the daily offering was discontinued, a breach was made in the city, and Apostomos burned the Torah and placed an idol in the Temple” (Ta’anit 26a).

The Illusion of Peace is Today’s Sin of the Golden Calf

The illusion of peace which entails retreating from parts of our country is today’s sin of the Golden Calf. The great vision of Israel’s’ return to their Land as God said in the Torah and through His Prophets seems too difficult, so instead, people search out a closer vision, as it were, more convenient for the Jews, and acceptable to the Gentiles. And in order to avoid confrontation with the people, even Aaron the Priest, the man of peace, participated in the sin of the Golden Calf.

The vision of peace is a lie, like the Golden Calf. Just as the Golden Calf did not take Israel out of Egypt, so too, the present vision of peace has increased hostility, and hurt the Jews and Arabs alike.

As a result of the Golden Calf, the Tablets of the Law were broken. In the wake of the imaginary vision of peace, the covenant between God and Israel in which He promised this good Land to our forefathers and us was broken. They shattered the mutual responsibility among Israel, creating a barrier and hate between left and right. And all of this for a futile dance around a vision of imaginary peace.

The Discontinuation of the Korban Ha’Tamid (Daily Offering)

The korban ha’tamid expresses the everlasting connection between Israel and God, and the eternal values of the Torah. These values are expressed in the overall unique character of the Jewish nation, such as the sanctity of the family, the Sabbath, holidays, and in particular, the education that has continued from one generation to the next.

It is not difficult to see how the rejoicing around the Golden Calf, while at the same time ignoring Israel’s heritage, is connected to the discontinuation of the korban ha’tamid.

Burning of the Torah

The concept that the Torah is not relevant today, but rather, its place is in the heavens with its letters floating in the air, or at the very least, concealed within the walls of the kollels, devoid of any contact whatsoever with reality, is similar to the burning of the Torah. The tikkun (correction) is the recognition that the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land) and all the other Torah instructions, penetrate from the heavens to the earth, and bring blessings to the people of Israel in all areas, both spiritual and physical.

Placing the Idol of Democracy in the Temple

Every idol is assigned a specific idea, however, it is only one idea out of a full range of ideas; consequently, when turned into “the supreme idea” – this is idolatry. Introducing the idol of democracy into the temple is analogous to inserting one idea into Israel’s sacred and moral sanctuary.

Instead of striving for the benefit and welfare of mankind, an idol was placed in the temple, and in face of the various difficulties, its’ priests’ prophesize: “Thus commanded the God of Democracy: No matter if the world is destroyed and people are miserable, the most important thing is to fight for democratic rights for all!”

Breaching the Walls of Jerusalem

The event upon which the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz was ultimately set was the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem, which expresses Israel’s grand vision.

The sin of the breaching of the walls in our times is expressed in the harsh libels against the Jewish nation, and in particular, against the settlers who are protecting Jerusalem and Israel with their very bodies. Unfortunately, radical left-wing Jews are also partners in these libels, however, the root of this stems from a lack of faith and recognition of our role – which ultimately is our responsibility. If we were to clarify for ourselves the grand vision of the connection between the heavens and earth, the unification of the various ideas and their implementation in the world, the walls would stand fortified.

Atchalta d’Geula (Beginning of Redemption)

After being privileged by the grace of God to atchalta d’Geula in the Ingathering of the Exiles and the settling of the Land of Israel, we must return and correct all the ills which brought about the destruction of the Temple. May it be God’s will that on the fast of 17th of Tammuz, we merit fixing the walls of Jerusalem, and thus merit the building of the Temple and the complete Redemption on Tisha B’Av, and the days of fasting and mourning will become days of joy and happiness.

This article appears in the ‘Basheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

Beautiful and Dignified in their Difficult Hour

The noble heroism of the Fraenkel, Yifrach, and Sha’ar families * Sad and humiliating to hear that the Cabinet convenes over and over again, but cannot decide on an appropriate response * Arabs murder us because of the struggle over the Land, therefore, the appropriate response to the murder is strengthening our hold on it * The Government should promote the construction of thousands of homes in Judea and Samaria, establish a settlement where the murder took place, and approve the Levy Report * Supporters of releasing terrorists must make a serious accounting * The wisdom of our Sages forbidding the ransom of captives for more than their value * Close down the Israel Broadcasting Authority, which has abused its public function

The Beautiful Families

Even as the Yifrach, Fraenkel, and Sha’ar families sit shiva, I cannot refrain from expressing my deep admiration of the noble way they conducted themselves. Like public representatives aware that the eyes of the entire nation were lifted up to them, they stood humbly and upright. Inside their houses, they cried – you could see it on their faces. But when they went out to speak to the media, they dressed respectfully, in honor of the Jewish nation, so as not to cause faintheartedness, and so the Arabs wouldn’t mock us in Gaza, ‘lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, and the pagans laugh in triumph’.

They stood husband and wife, three families together, bearing their private grief and sorrow as a public sacrifice for all of Israel. Calmly, they strengthened the security forces and encouraged the public, who, along with them, were stirred, prayed, and anticipated a miracle. Moreover, their hearts were filled with concern that perhaps the disaster had already occurred, and the public would feel disappointment that their prayers were not accepted. And thus, we found one of the mothers take special pains to convey that prayers are helpful even if they do not bring about the desired result. Thus, the public at large was exposed to the exceptionally beautiful side of the religious community; ordinary citizens engaged in Torah and work, dedicated to the nation and the Land.

May it be God’s will that from now on their future will be only one of good and blessing, and they merit to raise their children to Torah and mitzvoth, to the wedding canopy and good deeds, and be privileged to see from them grandchildren and great-grandchildren, settling the length and breadth of all of the Land, and be comforted in the building of Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.

The Feeble Response

How sad and humiliating it is to hear how the Government of Israel’s Security Cabinet repeatedly convenes, but cannot reach a comprehensive conclusion that can change, even minimally, our strategic situation. It is their obligation to do so, seeing as the abduction and murder of the three youths openly expressed the attitude of the Arab enemy towards us.

We had nearly three weeks to see just how deep the murderous hostility of the majority of the Arab population is towards us, among both the leadership, and the masses. We were proven once again that this is the position of the majority of the Arab population in Judea and Samaria and a significant percentage of Arab citizens of Israel. This is indicated by the systematic incitement in the media, schools, and mosques.

This hostility is reflected in all forms of contempt and humiliation towards the Jews – their people, and religion. Arabs danced and handed out candies, gloating all the while. On the Temple Mount, groups of children in contempt of the police and the Jews mockingly pointed three fingers as a sign of victory. And when Abu Mazen, out of vested interest, expressed opposition to the abduction, he was declared a traitor by a member of Knesset, a representative of the Arab public.

Lacking a vision of settling the Land of Israel, the Government is helpless. It instructs the army to shell empty houses in Gaza hoping to appease Israeli public opinion, but in effect, humiliates our national honor – the most important asset in the Middle East.

What a Responsible Government Should Do

With the knowledge that the whole war against us is over our right to all of the Land, the Government should have understood that with the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land) we will win the war, and in its abeyance, we will lose. Therefore, the first response should be the approval of the construction of 30,000 housing units throughout Judea and Samaria.

Furthermore, in the exact same place where the holy boys’ bodies were found, a new settlement should be established in their memory – ‘Yad Ha’Sholsha‘, while allocating enough land to build 3,000 apartments. Halakha (Jewish law) determines that a met mitzvah (an unattended corpse) whom someone finds and has to bury acquires the right to be buried on the spot where he was killed, without having to pay the landowner (Bava Kama 81a). In our context, the halakha should be broadened, determining that a met mitzvah acquires the right to establish a new community in the Land of Israel where he was killed. This was the reason the boy’s were murdered, and therefore the proper response is to establish a new settlement in their memory.

The Levy Report should be adopted immediately, which determines the legal status of the Jews in Judea and Samaria as having equal rights to those of the Arabs, thereby fundamentally changing the attitude of the judiciary system concerning the rights of Jews in Judea and Samaria. It is impossible to demand national respect from our neighboring Arab counties, when we ourselves are not concerned about resolving the legal status of the Jews in their own country.

After these actions, which clarify and implement our rights to our Land, the roadblocks, whose removal allowed the abduction, should be returned; we should pursue the return of released prisoners to jail, since they violated the terms of their release; the conditions of confinement for security prisoners should be more severe, and family visits should be reduced to the minimum required under international law; the internal organizations within the jails should be dismantled, and their privileges revoked; the Temple Mount should be completely closed to Muslims, since they used the sacred mountain to incite, destroy, and defile any trace of Jewish history; and all the illegal construction of mosques, squares, monuments, and soccer fields on the Temple Mount should be removed.

At the same time, preparations should be made to impose law and order in all of Judea and Samaria, including the demolition of all illegal construction in East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and announce the commencement of a withdrawal process from the delusion of establishing a “peaceful” Palestinian state. In place of this, the Arab population should be allowed to form municipalities and regional districts, with each such entity having autonomous administrative rights, subject to Israeli rule.

The Benefit of Presenting an Alternative

A reader of this column might ask: There’s no chance in the world the current Israeli government will do all this, so what’s the point of writing an imaginary proposal?

There are a number of reasons for this. First, who knows? Perhaps in the face of the shocking murderous actions which were supported by a broad population, even this Government will come to its senses. What’s more, a significant part of the suggestions I’ve written are required by law, which the Government negligently does not implement.

Who commissioned the Levy Report? Who declares loyalty to the rule of law? Shouldn’t the law be imposed in Judea and Samaria, and all the more so, on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem the capital of Israel, as well? Moreover, who declared loyalty to the Land of Israel, if not the Likud government? Shouldn’t this be expressed in extensive construction in Judea and Samaria?

Apart from that, the situation, unfortunately, is not going to change for the better, despite all the hopes and fantasies of the dreamers of “peace in our time” (as Chamberlain said after the Munich agreement in 1938, where it was agreed that the Nazis would not initiate any more wars). If we do not take these steps now, we will have to do so in the future – after more disasters and worse conditions.

What’s more, there are quite a few ministers and Knesset members from the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, and of course the Bayit HaYehudi Party, who are all-ears for these types of suggestions, and for that reason it is very important to express them.

The Painful Question

At this point in time, it is impossible not to present the painful question to all those who supported and pressured for the release of terrorists in all the various deals: Are you regretful? Can you look us in the face and say publicly: We were wrong?

By the hands of one of the released terrorists in the deal you promoted, Deputy Major General Baruch Mizrachi, hy’d, was murdered, while leaving behind a widow and orphans, wounded in body and soul. Can you admit that the motivation to kidnap and murder Jews increased due to the release of terrorists in exchange for living soldiers, or for dead bodies?

The question is directed specifically to the security personnel who arrogantly preached for the release of terrorists. At present, they are required to render an accounting of their souls and consciences’ before the public.

The prayers for the holy youths were helpful, in that their bodies were found by Jews, and brought for Jewish burial, without a single hair falling from the head of a Jew as a result of agreements to release murderers in exchange for their bodies, as the killers had planned.

The Laws of Redeeming Captives

This is the fitting opportunity to reiterate the words of our Sages in regards to the redemption of captives, a statement which possess both wisdom and morality. They said: “Captives should not be redeemed for more than their value because of tikkun olam” [for the good order of the world] (Gittin 45a). The main reason for this is to avoid creating an incentive for thieves to kidnap increasing numbers of Jews, after realizing that we are willing to pay any price for their release.

Indeed, some poskim (Jewish law arbiters) are of the opinion that when a captive is in a life-threatening situation, it is permitted to redeem him for even more than the usual ransom. However, the majority of poskim wrote that even in a life-threatening situation, the captive should not be redeemed for more, because of the danger it will cause to the rest of the Jews (Ramban, see Pitchai Teshuva, Y.D. 252:4).

All this is refers to ordinary thieves. However, when it comes to war, any surrender to blackmail is prohibited. And even if the thieves came to steal straw and hay from a town located on the border, we must go out to war against them, because if we capitulate to them over straw and hay, in the end, they will come to murder (Eruvin 45a). We have also seen that Israel went to war to redeem one woman captive (Numbers 21:1, Rashi). Therefore, it is forbidden to ransom a captive for more than their value – namely, one captive in exchange for another.

Closing the ‘Kol Yisrael‘ Radio Station

Recently, ‘Kol Yisrael‘ has been conducting a campaign against the closure of the I.B.A. (Israel Broadcasting Authority). Secular, left-wing personalities have been preaching to us about the importance of public broadcasting.

Besides the fact that the I.B.A. is mismanaged, it also has failed its primary function. Instead of expressing the views of the public in all its diversity, it serves as a tool for the positions of the secular, Left-wing. People like me have no chance of expressing their views on public broadcasting. The closing down of the I.B.A. is essentially the closure of an authority that worked to promote the positions of the secular Left with our tax money. Perhaps in a new framework they will be able to create a more balanced broadcasting system.

This is the occasion to strengthen Minister Gilad Erdan for his courageous action. Presumably, his public standing will be strengthened thanks to his justified position, and we hope that it will be for the glory of the Torah, the nation, and the Land of Israel.

This article appears in the ‘Basheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

Having Children: Understanding the Value of Life

The criteria for the mitzvah (commandment) to be fruitful and multiply according to the Written and Oral Torah * Is it enough to have just a son and a daughter * Financial hardships as an excuse to prevent pregnancy * All married couples are obligated to have at least four or five children * Under what circumstances can couples waive having additional children * How attorney Dr. Aviad Bakshi, graduate of the ‘Shiluvim’ program in Yeshiva Har Bracha, helped re-arrest Hamas murderers released in the Gilad Shalit deal

The General Mitzvoth

In the last few months, I dealt with the importance of the mitzvoth of puru u’revu (‘be fruitful and multiply’) and marriage, and I will now clarify its criteria.

First and foremost, it should be understood that there is general mitzvah to have children, and the mitzvah is so great that our Sages said: “The world was created for the sake of reproduction” (Mishna Gittin 4:2), because this mitzvah gives parents the privilege of participating with God in the birth of a human being.

However, lacking binding criteria on how to fulfill this great mitzvah, it is liable to remain vague and leave many doubts. On the one hand, seeing as with the birth of every child one fulfills a great mitzvah, perhaps it is enough to have just one child – as he alone is like an entire world. On the other hand, since the mitzvah is so great and important, maybe everyone should make an effort – even beyond their powers – to have as many children as possible, and to do so, get married at the youngest possible age, and shorten the period of breastfeeding in order to have as many children as possible. Consequently, it was necessary for halakha (Jewish law) to determine the criteria of the mitzvah.

The Obligatory Mitzvah from the Torah and from Our Sages

The Torah obligated each and every Jewish male to have one son and one daughter, similar to God’s original creation of Adam and Chava, as it is written: “God [thus] created man with His image. In the image of God, He created him, male and female He created them. God blessed them. God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the land and conquer it…” (Genesis 1:27-28).

Our Sages added as an obligatory mitzvah to have additional children for two reasons: 1) because of the tremendous importance of life, and 2) to ensure the fulfillment of the Torah obligation (Yevamot 62b). I will explain further:

The Tremendous Value of Life

The first reason is the immeasurable value of life revealed in each and every soul, as explained in the Torah that having a number of children is a mitzvah and a blessing, as God said to Adam and Chava: “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the land and conquer it…” (Genesis 1:28). The Torah also says: “God blessed Noah and his children. He said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). God also blessed our Forefathers with the blessing of the multiplicity of children, and so did Moshe bless Israel: “May God, lord of your fathers, increase your numbers a thousand fold, and bless you as He promised” (Deuteronomy 1:11).

And Rambam (Maimonides) wrote: “Although a man has fulfilled the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying, he is bound by a rabbinic commandment not to refrain from being fruitful and multiplying as long as he is physically potent. For anyone who adds a soul to the Jewish people is considered as if he built an entire world” (Hilchot Ishut 15:16).

The second reason is that although someone was privileged to have a son and a daughter, he is still not guaranteed to merit being a partner in the general purpose of the mitzvah, specifically, that his family continues through his son and daughter, because, perhaps one of his children will die, or is infertile, or will remain a single all his life. This is what Rabbi Yehoshua said in the Talmud (Yevamot 62b): “If he had children in his youth, he should also have children in his old age; for it is written, ‘In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good” (Ecclesiastes 11:6). There is an opinion that for this reason, it is a mitzvah from the Torah for a man to have two sons and two daughters, so as to be certain he fulfills the mitzvah from the Torah (HaNatziv in ‘HaEmek Shay’ala’ 165, in the opinion of She’iltot).

However, the opinion of all the poskim (arbiters of Jewish law) is that according to the Torah, it is enough to have a son and a daughter, and even if they remain single all their lives, as long as they were alive after their father passed away, and neither of them was infertile, the father has fulfilled the mitzvah of puru u’revuru from the Torah. However, if in the end they did not have children, then the purpose of the mitzvah was not fulfilled. Therefore, our Sages commanded that a man should have additional children, to ensure that his seed will continue through both his son and his daughter.

How Much of an Effort Must One Make?

Nevertheless, we still need to clarify how much of an effort one must make in order to have more children. Or in other words, what is the rabbinic obligation of the mitzvah?

Some poskim instructed that it is forbidden for a man to avoid having more children because he cannot educate them properly, or because of difficulties in making a living, because the rabbinic obligation of the mitzvah is to have as many children as possible, and only a major health problem can exempt a person from a rabbinic mitzvah (Rabbi Yosef Mesas in ‘Otzar HaMichtavim’, Section 3, 941; Yaskil Avdi, E.H. 2:6; Minchat Yitzchak, Section 3, 26:3; Chelkat Yaacov 3, 61). Their opinion is based on Sefer Chassidim (519), who wrote that a needy tzaddik (righteous person) should not avoid having more children claiming he does not know how he will provide for them, because “anyone who thinks in this manner is considered to be mechusar amana (a person who fails to honor his commitments).”

On the other hand, we find that due to various reasons, poskim permitted avoiding having more children, as Rema (Rabbi Moshe Isserles) wrote, that a man whose wife died and left him many children and is afraid that if he remarries and has more children there will be quarrels between them, he is permitted to marry a woman who cannot give birth (E.H. 1:8).

Similarly, other poskim wrote that owing to financial hardships, a person may avoid having additional children (A.H.S. 1:8, see Rambam, Hilchot Ishut 15:16). Some poskim learned from the deeds of Rabbi Chiya’s wife (Yevamot 65b), that through an act of grama (something that was caused by something else, but whose outcome is not guaranteed) by a woman, pregnancy can be prevented even without a strong reason (Iggrot Moshe, E.H., Section 4, 74, 1-2; Tzizt Eliezer, Section 9, 51:2; Risha, Kovetz Teshuvot 3, 174).

There is room to argue that these two differing opinions are not actually a great controversy, because even those poskim who are lenient would agree there is a mitzvah to have as many children as possible, and the stringent poskim would agree that according to halakha couples wishing to avoid pregnancy in a permitted way (pills or intrauterine device) are allowed, however, it is their custom to instruct students to act according to minhagei chassidut (a desire to fulfill the mitzvah according to all the possibilities).

The Practical Halakha

In practice, it appears there are two levels in the rabbinic mitzvoth: the first level, which is mandatory and appropriate for all – a couple should have four or five children; the second level of having additional children – every couple according to their ability – is a mitzvah, but it is not obligatory.

Accordingly, ordinary parents who are not in particularly poor physical or mental health are obligated to fulfill the rabbinic mitzvah, and have four or five children. Afterwards, they should consider whether they have the strength to continue fulfilling the great mitzvah, and have more children.

For example, if they know that can raise more children and educate them in Torah, mitzvoth, and derech eretz (manners), it is a mitzvah for them to have as many additional children as possible. However, if they know that with additional children the burden will be too heavy for them to bear, and their lives will be accompanied by anger and irritability, it would be appropriate for them not to have more children, because although with each additional child they fulfill a mitzvah, conversely, their poor emotional condition will cause them to behave detrimentally, and this is liable to adversely affect the children’s education.

Not only that, but people who wish to invest their energies in other constructive channels, and by doing so will not be able to raise additional children, are also allowed to prevent pregnancy. The same is true for a woman who wishes to express her talents in a job that suits her, and if she has more children, she will be extremely frustrated. Also, poor people who feel it will be too difficult to raise more children without resorting to accepting charity, are allowed to prevent pregnancy after having four or five children.

All these considerations should be made together by both partners, and if there is a disagreement, they should come to a compromise, seeing as they are interdependent partners. It would also be proper for them to consult with a wise Torah scholar.

The Legal Proposal of Dr. Bakshi

After the Shalit deal, it was clear that the terrorists would make great efforts to kidnap more Jews, but in spite of the danger, the government decided to release 1,000 terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit. Following the recent abduction of the three youths, the government and the defense establishment searched for ways to make Hamas pay a heavy price. As later revealed, it was MK Orit Struk who proposed arresting the Hamas leaders and terrorists released in the Shalit deal. But apparently, from a legal standpoint, it was impossible.

Two and a half years ago, when the Ministry of Justice was formulating the list of prisoners to be released, attorney Dr. Aviad Bakshi proposed to the then Director General of the Ministry of Justice, Guy Rotkof, to avoid granting the prisoners full pardons, but instead, to release them under the framework of administrative release, so they could be re-incarcerated in case another Israeli was kidnapped. His proposal was accepted in principle, although in different variation. Indeed, thanks to his proposal, the authorities were able to re-incarcerate some of those released in the Shalit deal last week, and ten were sentenced to life imprisonment.

The ‘Shiluvim’ Program

With great satisfaction, I can tell about our personal connection to the story.

Shortly after the founding of Yeshiva Har Bracha, a talented young student joined us, a graduate of the Beit El Yeshiva, and began teaching young students. In his heart, though, he harbored doubts about whether to devote his life to Torah study, or to combine Torah learning with law studies. We had many discussions, and it was not easy to forgo on such a promising scholar. But after realizing that his heart was more inclined towards law out of a sense of an idealistic mission, I encouraged him to do so.

He was one of the first students in the ‘Shiluvim’ program, in which graduates of Yeshiva Har Bracha combine academic studies with yeshiva learning. Rabbi Dr. Aviad Bakshi was the first graduate to receive a doctorate. Since then, he works diligently for the sake of revealing Torah values in the field of public law. We were pleased to hear that he was the one who gave the Government of Israel the legal tool in the war against Hamas. The halakha which we learned in the yeshiva, that it is forbidden to ransom captives for more than their value – bore its’ first fruit.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

United in Prayer

The Jewish nation is united in prayer for the safety of the hostages, and the success of the security forces * Fortunate are those who merit settling the heart of the country, thereby preventing the establishment of a terrorist state which seeks to destroy Israel * Hitchhiking in Judea and Samaria is unavoidable, but caution and alertness must be heightened * The importance of Evangelical support for Israel * According to Rabbi Kook, the poison contained in Christianity does not exist in Christians who believe the Torah and its commandments are valid, and support Israel’s redemption * The positive attitude of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook and his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah, towards Vladimir Solovyov, a devout Christian philosopher and friend of Israel * Lord Balfour the Evangelist, and his contribution to Israel’s Return to Zion

 

All of our hearts are with the families of the kidnapped boys – may God save them, and return them home safely. May it be His will that as a result of the Jewish people’s wonderful unity in prayer and concern, our soldiers will strike a lethal blow to our enemies, so they won’t dare carry out other attacks and kidnappings.

For years, the settlers in Judea and Samaria, and especially in “Gav Ha’Har” (the area between Ariel and Schem), have lived with the fear of an enemy plotting to murder and been attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails – and yet, continue clinging to the Land, building houses, planting trees, and starting schools that are constantly being filled with more and more students. How fortunate are those who merit settling the heart of the country, and in spite of the dangers, maintain their blessed, daily routines – and with their very bodies, prevent the most serious danger for a massive amount of Jews in Israel – the danger of the establishment of a terrorist state whose sole purpose is the destruction of the State of Israel.

We can learn about our enemies’ methods of behavior by observing what’s going on in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, etc. In just a few years, hundreds of thousands of people have been brutally murdered, and tens of millions live in fear of terror, humiliation, and constant harm. A similar disaster is being prevented by the settlers with their actual bodies, and fierceness of spirit. Be strong, and
let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God.

Hitchhiking

For someone who does not live in the area it may be difficult to understand, but it is impossible to live a normal life in Judea and Samaria without hitchhiking. The communities are still not large enough to maintain reasonable public transportation, and a demand not to hitchhike is delivering a verdict which the majority of people cannot uphold. Of course, I would also prefer that my sons and daughters did not hitchhike, but there is no choice.

Furthermore, a demand not to hitchhike inadvertently plays into the hands of the enemy, because by doing so, they achieve their major goal – to disrupt daily life, and prevent Jewish settlements from existing and thriving.

In the meantime, the only solution is to pay more attention to which car one is getting into, to talk a little with the driver, to ask where he’s going, to look into the car, and see who else is inside. Maybe we can establish an arrangement where every hitchhiker begins a basic verse that every Jew is familiar with, and the driver completes it, and thus, be able to know that he is Jewish.

Undoubtedly, the security forces also need to make greater efforts to plant traps in order to catch these terrorists. And certainly, phone calls informing about a kidnapping should be taken seriously. There is room for concern that the exaggerated talk about the “terror” of ‘tag machir‘ (‘price tag’), diverted attention from the real terror, to the point where a desperate phone call about a hitchhiking was ignored.

Friends from America

Israel does not have many friends in the world who understand the justice of our difficult struggle against the Muslim world, and give us unconditional support. But evangelical Christians stand like a brick wall in our defense, ranging from supporting the vision of the Return to Zion, to the settlement of the Land in all its expanses, and to the strengthening of the State of Israel against the Arab enemy. The most renowned evangelist was Lord Balfour and his main successors are currently located in the United States, and they demand that their government support the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Without them, the American government would treat us with alienation and hostility.

Amazement

Some people find this position surprising, and ask how is it possible to praise the evangelists, who are known to be devout Christians? Seemingly, this transgresses the Torah prohibition “lo tehannem” (“nor be gracious unto them”) [Avoda Zara 20a]. Besides this, Maran HaRav Kook’s scathing criticism of Christianity is well known. How can all this be ignored?

The Great Pain and Sorrow

All the rivers and seas cannot contain the tears that streamed from our eyes over all the anguish and tragedies that the Jewish nation suffered at the hands of the Christians. Men and women, the elderly and children, were killed, burned, and slaughtered because they refused to convert. Hundreds of thousands of families who had their property looted and were expelled from one place to another, because of the hatred Christian’s had for us. And how much our heart aches for all those Jews who could not bear the sufferings, and converted. Their descendants are now scattered throughout the world; their souls are crying out to return to their roots – but they do not know to what, or to where – and we are incomplete without them. They are scattered in Spain and Portugal, Germany and France, Italy and England, Poland and the Ukraine. Many of them migrated to the New World, to the Americas, to escape the persecutions and the Inquisition – and do not even know that their ancestors received the Torah at Sinai. Just recently, the Catholic archbishop of New York, who is considered a friend of the Jews, found out that he was actually a Jew without even knowing it. His grandfather was a rabbi and ritual slaughterer.

The Problem in Christianity

It is a mitzvah (a commandment from the Torah) to emulate God and love every person, despite all the differences in nationality and religion. But the sorrow that the Christians caused us cannot be forgiven.

There are two fundamental problems in Christianity: 1) their position that the Jewish nation, who was chosen by God to be His Chosen People, was replaced by the Christian church, and must now be humiliated. This position was the basis for their hatred of Jews. 2) Their position that anyone belonging to the Christian church no longer had to fulfill the commandments in the Torah, and was no longer responsible to practically correct his wrongdoings.

Both these problems distorted the Torah in such a manner that they cannot be forgiven.

Or as Rabbi Kook wrote: “The primary poison contained in belief systems which deviate from the Torah, such as Christianity and Islam, is not in their concepts of God, even though they differ from what is correct according to the fundamental light of the Torah. Rather, [the poison] is in what results from them –abrogating the practical mitzvot and extinguishing the [Jewish] nation’s hope regarding its complete renaissance” (Shemonah KevatzimKovetz 1, #32. See also, Orot HaTeshuva 12:10).

Nevertheless, when Christians return to believe that Israel are the Chosen People and all the words of the Torah remain firm and binding, and they pray for Israel’s redemption as God said through His prophets, and even assist in the Ingathering of the Exiles and the building of the Land – the serious allegations against these Christians are annulled. They deserve to be praised for their fine deeds and good thoughts about Israel.

Vladimir Solovyov – A Righteous Gentile

This can be seen in practice by the attitude of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook and his son Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah towards Vladimir Solovyov, who Rabbi Kook awarded the title “the righteous Gentile of our times, Solovyov” (Iggrot Ra’ayah 18).

Solovyov (1853-1900) was a devout Christian and one of the greatest modern Christian theologians and philosophers, whose teachings are learned by the most respected leaders of the church.

After a wave of pogroms in Russia, Solovyov publicly criticized the rioters, and said that the problem was not the Jews, but rather that the Christians do not know how to behave towards this great nation – a precious and multi-talented nation, such as the Jews. And as long as they don’t behave respectfully towards the Jews, they will not reach rectification and salvation as Christians.

It is important to point out that in Russia at the time, such praises of the Jews were considered an act of spiritual heroism, in light of anti-Semitic public opinion.

Testimony from Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook

I heard from my good friend, Rabbi Ze’ev Sultanovich, that Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah asked him to bring a book by Solovyov from the National Library, so they could read it together. Rabbi Kook understood Russian, but since many years had passed, he had trouble reading fluently, and when he saw a student who knew Russian, and understood profound issues of emunah (faith) and machshava (thought), he wanted to study Solovyov’s religious articles, and discuss their content.

Upon seeing a picture of Solovyov printed in the book, Rabbi Kook said: ‘You can naturally sense the gentleness posed by the radiance of his face’, and even compared his face to that of Tolstoy, which in his opinion, was less spiritual.

My friend read from the book four or five times. In the meantime, he was able to finish reading the entire book, and amazed, he turned to the Rabbi Kook, and asked: ‘Solovyov is undeniably a truly devout Christian, and what’s more – he even praises a Jew who converted to Christianity’?! Rabbi Kook replied: ‘Nu, he’s Christian, we already know that. The novelty is that he recognizes the exalted importance of the Jewish nation, and thus, all his thoughts are elevated.’

A Russian prince visited Solovyov before his death, and lying on his deathbed, Solovyov said to him: ‘I am very worried about the Russian people because they are drenched in hatred of Jews, and I truly know that any nation that harasses the Jews will suffer trials and tribulations. And since I love my people, I ask you to warn them in my name, not to treat the Jews adversely, God forbid.’

Solovyov on Prayer

This wasn’t a secret – all of Rabbi Kook’s students heard the praise of Solovyov, as is mentioned several times in the book ‘Sichot [Conversations] of Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook’, for example: “He (Solovyov) has lofty thoughts on prayer. He writes that all requests are nothing more than tangible vessels and excuses to come before the Lord of the World, and make contact with Him. Accordingly, requests should be supreme. This is why he advises that world leaders should pray for the safety and welfare of Israel” (On the Festivals, Hanukkah, Series 3, תשל”ד-תשל”ח, section 11).

Lord Balfour

Like Solovyov, Lord Balfour also operated in a Christian environment that was unsympathetic to Jews, to say the least. In terms of official Christianity, among all its factions, it was forbidden for him to help the Jewish people establish a national home in Israel.

But as an evangelist who believed in the Bible, and believed that the people of Israel remained the Chosen People, he saw it as his sacred duty to support the return of the Jewish people to its Land, as commanded by the Torah and prophetic vision. During his long public life, Balfour was privileged to serve in the most important roles, among others, as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, nevertheless, reminiscing in his later years, he said: “On the whole, when I look back, it [the Balfour Declaration] was the most worthy thing I’ve done in my life.”

In Our Times

Today we can clearly sense how, as a result of our return to the Land of Israel and engaging in settling and building the country as stated in the Torah and the Prophets, we are privileged to inform the nations that ‘God is great and His Name is most exalted’, and this has led to a significant change in the views of many people among the nations, who are continuously rising to the level of becoming Righteous Gentiles. There is still a long road ahead of us – we do not agree on all issues. May it be His will that by way of our continued adherence to Torah and mitzvoth, we will merit complete Redemption, speedily in our days.

This article appears in the ‘Basheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed