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


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?


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.


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.


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.

Have Patience, Time is on Our Side

Is it permitted to register for the Ministry of Education summer camps? * Money from the Keren Yedidut (International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) is only a small part of the camp’s budget * The problem with the Fellowship’s style of fundraising * We must not insult the Evangelical donors, friends of Israel, by throwing their donations in their faces * Evangelicals are not missionaries, but rather moral Christians who respect our religion * Fear of Christian influence does not justify spreading false accusations * From time immemorial, Jews who despised the mitzvah to settle the Land also failed to assess reality * Time is on our side – both demographically, and in regards to the declining importance and influence of Arabs in the world

Summer Camps Run by the Ministry of Education

Q: Can we register our children for the summer camps run by the Ministry of Education after learning that Keren Yedidut is a partner in funding them, and people have said that this keren (fund) serves the aims of Christian missionaries, and that in the camps themselves, the children will be taught Christian missionary themes?

A: It is permitted to register for summer camps run by the Ministry of Education. These camps have been significantly upgraded this year in two aspects. First, the principals and teachers are responsible for them, thus allowing them to continue and compliment the educational process of the entire school year. Second, the reduction in cost, thereby opening them to all children – even kids from poor families. And for that, my friend Rabbi Shai Peron, the Minister of Education, deserves recognition.

It is hard to understand where such a libelous claim sprang from – that the Ministry of Education agreed to integrate Christian themes in the summer camps of Jewish children. Any sensible person should have realized for himself that this rumor is baseless.

True, in my opinion the Keren Yedidut acts improperly, collecting money by presenting Israel as being poverty-stricken, and thus, damages Israel’s dignity and slanders the country, seeing as that with God’s help, our financial situation is constantly improving, and there are fewer poor people in Israel proportionally than in the United States (see, S.A., Y.D. 254:1). It would be more appropriate to direct the goodwill of the donors towards worthy assistance that will benefit the building of the country and the entire world, such as funding research in the fields of medicine and environmental science (see, Shabbat 75b), to organizations involved in preventing assimilation and encouraging immigration to Israel, and to disseminate Torah literature on mussar (ethics) and emunah (faith) concerning the lives of the individual, the family, and society – for the benefit of all people, and to fulfill the verse, “For from Zion will go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

We Must Not Insult Friends of Israel

In any case, once the Evangelical’s have donated their money benevolently and with love for the Jewish nation – without placing any conditions or having any involvement where the money goes – it is forbidden to insult them by throwing their contributions back in their faces, while accusing them of trying to proselytize Jews.

Even if the issue of insulting the donators was not problematic, it would be permissible to participate in the camps, since bediavad (ex post facto), using the money is permitted (see, S.A., Y.D. 254:1-2).

Moreover, the amount of money received from the Friendship fund is marginal, upon which the camp project is not dependent, seeing as the fund contributes 36 million shekels compared to 260 million shekels allocated to the Ministry of Education and related offices.

Our Attitude towards Evangelicals

Regarding the claim that this contribution is liable to cause numerous Jews to view the Evangelicals – who are Christian friends of Israel – favorably, there is nothing wrong with this, because they definitely deserve our recognition for supporting us. We must battle missionaries, not moral Christians who respect our religion and support us.

It can seemingly be said that American evangelist’s are the most important and significant group supporting the State of Israel today. We are talking about approximately 70 million citizens of the greatest superpower of the world, who believe that the words of the Bible hold true today, and that the nation of Israel needs to return to its land and follow its Torah and commandments. Their moral stature is higher and more exalted than that of Coresh [Persian king Cyrus], who assisted the Return to Zion.

In his book ‘Miydot HaRaya(‘Ahava’, paragraphs 5 and 10), Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook writes: “The love for people must be alive in the heart and soul, a love for all people and a love for all nations”, “despite all the differences of opinions, religions, and beliefs”. The first and foremost to be honored and loved, of course, are those who support us, see us as the Chosen people, and ascribe to us the fate of repairing the world.

Malicious Slander

People with other opinions, who are greatly concerned about foreign influences that might sprout from this rapprochement, can be understood and respected. But this is on the condition they act honestly, and do not spread vicious lies. Readers of my column ‘Revivim‘ will surely remember that I wrote several times in previous years that even before I started clarifying the relationship towards evangelists, I publically pledged not to accept any donations from them for the Yeshiva, so that the clarification would be l’shem shamayim (for the sake of Heaven) and without any personal interests. There was even a case where our community Har Bracha received a major contribution, and I asked the community leaders to return it, despite the fact that my pledge applied only to accepting donations for the Yeshiva. With God’s help they acknowledged my request, the contribution was returned, and it was agreed that the community, as well, would not accept donations.

And here, despite all this being written in black and white, there are people who dare to spread lies, claiming that Yeshiva Har Bracha recently built five buildings with money from Christians. These people probably spread other lies, which honest individuals lack the strength to seek out, find, and refute. Someone who desires life should not believe any account on this topic, without receiving a complete and accurate, personal testimony.

The Sin of the Spies

Somehow, it always turns out that people who despise the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land of Israel) are also shown to be unable to read the map of reality, and analyze it properly. Such people boast of being rational, but in practice, their predictions are proven false. They fear the Canaanites, but in the end, they die in the desert. They fear the difficulties of making a living in Israel, the swamps, the Arab riots, and chose to remain in the exile under Communist rule, or are murdered in the Holocaust. True, the challenges involved in building the Land are extremely complex and require wisdom, caution and dedication, but this is the realistic path for Israel’s continued existence.

Today as well, our situation is very complicated. We are surrounded by enemies. There is no solution at hand for the security problems and international pressure. But the solution of withdrawal offered by the Left-wing is the worst of all.

Recently, the Minister of Finance, Yair Lapid, said that the establishment of a Palestinian state is in Israel’s interest because “we cannot, and should not, control the four million Palestinians, who in a generation will double in number.” What we need, in his opinion, is “security and separation.”

First, the Facts

According to the assessment of Yoram Ettinger, who has labored diligently on this issue for years, the number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria is approximately 1,400,000. In addition, there are about 300,000 Arabs living in East Jerusalem. Dr. Guy Bechor, a noted Middle East expert, agrees with his assessment.

The number of Arabs holding Israeli citizenship is about 1,220,000 (approximately 15% of the citizens of the State of Israel. I did not include the Druze, who number about 130,000, for most of them live with us in peace and dignity).

In other words, the number of all the Arabs in areas governed by Israel without the Druze is not four million, but less than three million, with forty percent already citizens of Israel, for whom the establishment of a Palestinian state will not have an effect.

Incidentally, at every turn, the Leftists have erred in their demographic forecasts. By their assessments, there should have been an Arab majority between the Mediterranean and Jordan a long time ago. The novelty now is that not only are they mistaken in foreseeing the future, but they also err in the actual, current numbers.

The Demographic Trend

The fertility rate among Muslims throughout the world is declining drastically, and also in the State of Israel. According to figures on the information on website of the C.I.A., in the recent past, a family in Saudi Arabia had six children on the average, and today, the number has decreased to 2.2 per family. This is also the case in other Arab countries. At this rate of birth, there is no increase in the number of people. The same thing is happening to the Arab population in Israel: during approximately ten years, the average dropped from more than five children, to less than three.

In contrast, the Jewish family is experiencing a growth process, with the overall average rising to about three children.

The Situation in Judea and Samaria

The number of Jews living in Judea and Samaria today is approximately 390,000, compared with 1.4 million Arabs. About 14 years ago, at the beginning of the second Intifada, there were 190,000 Jews. In 14 years the number of Jews more than doubled. In contrast, the number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria did not grow, and perhaps even declined, thanks to emigration.

The average number of births among Jewish families in Judea and Samaria is growing much faster than Arab families. According to Dr. Guy Bechor, the average number of births for Jewish families in Judea and Samaria is six, in contrast to three births for an Arab family. According to him “this carries security implications, such as the [lesser] capability of the Arabs to plan new uprisings, when so many Jews live among them, and know the area just as well as they do; and these Jews will never give up.”

The Dangerous Solution – a Palestinian State

We find then that the statement of the Finance Minister is totally unfounded: currently, there are not four million Arabs living in Israel, and they are not about to grow within a generation or two into eight million. However, the precise solution, which unfortunately the Prime Minister also agrees to – the establishment of a Palestinian state – is the most dangerous of all. This is because with the support and funding of Arab countries, such a state is liable to take-in millions of refugees and people fleeing countries surrounding us, and before long, there will be five million Arabs in Judea and Samaria whose main goal will be to embitter the life of the State of Israel.

Time is on Our Side in Four Processes

Left-wing critics argue that time is working against us, however, they ignore four processes that hide within them changes for the better.

First, as previously mentioned, the death of the demographic demon, and the opening of new horizons for the growth of the Jewish people.

2. The Arabs are digging their Own Grave

The Arabs are increasingly digging their own grave in the eyes of the world. Muslim grievance over Western hegemony is being revealed through violence and terror. They could have strived to develop their countries, but instead, chose ignorance and terror. Many Muslims who immigrated to Western countries prefer to enjoy generous social benefits, without bearing the burden of economic and social development. They demonstratively spit in the well from which they drink, while hurling insults. Right-wing movements in Europe are increasingly gaining strength because of their opposition to the Arab and Muslim immigrants, and along with that, they are strengthening their support for us.

3. Alternative Energy Sources

In recent years, huge gas and oil reserves have been discovered throughout the world, including in the United States. Additionally, all Western countries are working on finding alternative energy sources to oil. Once this process materializes, the Arabs will no longer have influence. They squandered their wealth from oil resources on wars, luxuries, and hatred towards Israel, and when the price of oil falls – they will return to live in the desert, devoid of importance or influence.

4. The Transition to the Far East

The global center of gravity is gradually shifting to the Far East – to China, and India. In those countries, there is less of an anti-Jewish tradition, and perhaps with them we can establish healthy and fair relationships. For example, just recently, Narendra Modi – who is known to be a man who understands the dangers of militant Islam, and is regarded as a longstanding friend of Israel – was elected as Prime Minister of India.

The Significance of Eating Meat

There is room for individuals to be vegetarians as an additional measure of piety, without preaching for others to do so as well * Vegetarianism for the masses is liable to damage man’s moral responsibility to his fellow man * According to the Kabbalists, by eating meat, man returns animals to their previous level, prior to the Sin of Adam * Animal growers who treat their livestock cruelly should be boycotted * Many animal rights activists in Israel are left-wing extremists with perverted ethics * What to do when a conflict between cruelty to animals and human needs arises

Following my previous column, in which I dealt with the ethical question of eating meat, I received numerous and diverse replies.

First, a short review of the main points: In the beginning, man was intended to eat vegetation, and was prohibited from eating animals (Sanhedrin 59b). The commentators wrote that even animals survived by eating vegetation, and did not devour one another (Rashi and Ramban, ibid).

As a result of the sins of Adam and the generations before the Flood, the world fell from its’ previously, higher level. People became less moral, animals became more vicious and closed, and began to devour each other; even the earth became corrupted, producing thorns and thistles. Not only that, as a result of the sins nature’s systems collapsed, and man could no longer survive merely on vegetation. In other words, the moral downfall led to the creation of a new ecological situation in which people had to eat meat. And although this is not the ideal situation – at this stage in time, people should not be encouraged to refrain from eating meat. The reason for this is that after the Flood, when it became clear just how low man can descend, the Torah needed to guide man in his major purpose – improving relations between human beings, namely, to perform acts of kindness and justice, to conduct themselves with integrity, grace and mercy, and certainly not to steal and kill, insult and cause sorrow; for man was created in the image of God, and tikkun olam (repairing the world) is dependent on amending relationships with his fellow man. Therefore, only after the basic morality among humans is developed properly, and wars and injustices cease to exist, then the entire world will be elevated, we will return to the situation prior to the Flood, and once again it will be forbidden for man to eat meat.

Accordingly, at the present stage of time, individuals alone can conduct themselves with an additional measure of piety and not eat meat, but they must refrain from preaching vegetarianism, so as not to harm the primary effort of tikkun olam.

Eating Meat at a Festive Meal

Q: How can it be that in the beginning, ideally, it was forbidden to eat meat, but today it is a mitzvah to eat meat at se’udot mitzvah (festive meals)?

A: Since after the Flood there is no ethical problem in eating meat, and people enjoy eating meat, consequently, at meals in which it is a mitzvah to be happy, it is a mitzvah to eat meat (S.A., O.C. 250:2; M.B. 242:1; B.H.L 529:2, s.v., ‘kaytzad’).

The Esoteric Explanation

The Kabbalists expounded on this, explaining that in our present situation, there is significance in eating meat, because as a result of the Sin of Adam, the entire world fell from its previous level. The four levels on which all of life is based – inanimate, vegetative, animate, and human – all fell from their previous level, and were merged with evil. When a Jew eats the flesh of animals in accordance with the laws of kashrut, intending to strengthen his service of God – the evil contained within the animals is separated from the good and the waste is disposed of in the bathroom, and the good within them is elevated and absorbed in the Jew’s body, giving him strength to do good deeds. This is the order of the tikkun: Plants draw their food from the inanimate, thereby elevating the good in it to the level of vegetation. When the animal feeds on the vegetation, it elevates the good within the vegetation to the level of animate. And when humans eat from the animals and behave morally, and adhere to God – the meat of the animals are raised to the level of man. Thus, via this food chain, the entire world is returned to its original level (‘Sha’ar HaMitzvot’ by the Ari HaKadosh, Parshat Ekev).

A tikkun is especially made when eating meat at se’udot Shabbat and Yom Tov, and other se’udot mitzvah, such as weddings and brit milah, because the meat then becomes part of the joy of the mitzvah, and aids in its observance. But the Kabbalists said that in se’udot reshut (meals of a voluntary, non-religious character), a tikkun is not always made, for if afterwards the person does not conduct himself properly, it turns out that the meat he ate did not contribute to any tikkun or spiritual elevation whatsoever. Therefore, there are Chassidim who refrain from eating meat at se’udot reshut, lest they fail to elevate the meat properly.

The Eating of the Wicked

According to this, we can understand the statement of our Sages that ethically, it is forbidden for an evil, Torah-ignorant person to eat meat (Pesachim 49b). Since he lacks Torah and good character traits, and hates Torah scholars and people of virtue, he does not elevate the animals by eating them, so why should he kill them unnecessarily? However, on Shabbat, even Torah-ignorant people who eat meat fulfill a mitzvah, and as a result, elevate and rectify it (Ha’ga’ot and Chiddushim on Sha’ar HaMitzvot, Parshat Ekev; Reb Tzaddok, article ‘Et Ha’ochel’ 7-8).

The Place of Vegetarians

Indeed, there are individuals whose delicate, moral sensitivities touch their hearts deeply and thus refrain from eating meat, and most certainly they avoid offending others who do eat meat. And although it would seem that according to the Kabbala they should eat meat at se’udot mitzvah, nevertheless, there were some Kabbalists who found positive aspects in their deeds, and saw in them the custom of Chassidim (S’dei Chemed, section ‘Achila’, achilat basar). Rabbi Kook refers to them as ‘extreme idealists’.

However, the general instruction for all those desiring to sanctify themselves and serve God is to engage in repairing morality between people, eat meat at se’udot mitzvah, and in this manner, assist in tikkun ha’olam, as the Kabbalists said.

Allegations of Cruelty in the Meat Industry

A number of readers argued that cattle and poultry growers today treat animals with enormous cruelty, and therefore claim that people who eat meat nowadays are sinners because they assist those committing the transgression of cruelty to animals (tzar ba’alei chayim).

Indeed, if it becomes clear that in a certain place, animals are treated with immense cruelty, it is proper to instruct people not to purchase the meat. However, this matter must be clarified by Torah scholars who are knowledgeable and familiar with raising animals and the laws of shechita (ritual slaughtering). But someone who is not familiar with raising animals lacks the criterion required to determine what exactly excessive cruelty is.

And certainly, animal rights activists should not be relied on in this matter, seeing as they are exactly the one’s to whom the argument of morality is addressed, for they have confused and obscured the boundaries of morality, turning an act of divrei chassidut (an additional measure of piety) into an absolute requirement, and in consequence, come to despise the foundations of morality, and offend their friends who do eat meat. And thus, their practice of vegetarianism has no sensitivity to it whatsoever, but rather, arrogance and wickedness.

Here in Israel, quite a lot of vegetarian activists support the terrorist organizations of the P.L.O. and Hamas, while at the same time, claiming that the settlers are the biggest culprits, hindering peace of the world. Incidentally, this type of evil is the most serious and dangerous, because it wraps itself in the guise of righteousness. In the same way that some of the greatest villains in history took pride in their compassion for animals.

The General Rules of Cruelty to Animals

The basic rule is that human needs precede those of animals, and when there is a conflict between the two, man’s degree of urgency must then be weighed against the degree of suffering caused to the animals. For example, eating meat is extremely vital for man, and therefore, even if it is assumed that animals suffer greatly from shechita, one is permitted to raise livestock in order to slaughter and eat their flesh. Similarly, one is permitted to load cargo on his donkey, and plow with his ox. This is the general rule: the greater the animals suffer, the more severe the prohibition is, and only for the most essential need can it be performed.

Starvation of Chickens

An example of this can be learned from the discussion about egg-laying hens. Hens can lay eggs from the age of six to twenty months, and afterwards, poultry breeders sell them for meat. However, there is a method enabling the lengthening of the time of egg-laying. When the hens are fifteen months old, they are starved for ten days, and at that time their feathers fall out; afterwards, their feathers re-grow, their strength returns, and they are able to lay eggs until they are twenty-eight months old. The question is: are the hens allowed to be starved in order to benefit from their longer egg-laying output?

Some poskim (Jewish law arbiters) were stringent in this issue, because in their opinion, it involved immense sorrow and cruelty (Shevet HaLevi 6:7). Others were lenient, because the steps were taken for the benefit of the farm, this being the purpose of raising the hens, and in the long-term, the starvation even adds to their health, for they live longer lives (Rabbi Goldberg, in the book ‘Ha’aretz v’Miztvotey’ha’, pg.437).

In practice, whenever there is an extremely great need to support farmers and reduce food prices, we are lenient. But when no great need exists, we are stringent. Incidentally, concerning the issue of chickens, Rabbi Goldberg can be relied on to a greater extent, because he served as the rabbi of Kfar Pines, and was familiar with the livestock and all the considerations, as opposed to Rabbi Wozner, who was not familiar with the issue up close.

Health Reasons

Some people argue vehemently that nowadays, eating meat is extremely dangerous to one’s health, since animals are raised in unnatural conditions, and are injected with various drugs that endanger health. These claims must be examined very seriously by experts in the field, doctors and scientific researchers. And if we find differences of opinion among the experts, we go according to the majority.

Accordingly, if the conventional opinion among doctors and researchers is that there is no problem eating meat in moderation, but according to alternative doctors it is forbidden to eat meat – the halakha goes according to the majority of physicians and researchers. For in addition to them being the majority, they are also considered greater experts, because their conclusions are based on more serious research. However, one who is personally convinced that the alternative method is right – should go according to it, except in cases where in the opinion of other doctors, it is harmful for him (see, S.A., O.C., section 618; R’ma 618:4; Mateh Efraim 3; M.B. 12; A.H.S. 5-6).

Indeed, some people argue that doctors and researchers are corrupted by various interests. However, we know that this is mere slander, seeing as many of us are personally acquainted with doctors and researchers, and know that they are God-fearing people, who seek the truth in their studies.

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

The Giving of Torah in Heaven and Earth

The World’s Existence Depends on Torah

From the beginning of Creation, the world was immersed in anxiety, for God had stipulated with His works of creation, saying: “If Israel accepts the Torah on the sixth day of the month of Sivan – you will continue to exist; if not – I will return you to chaos.” This is hinted at in the verse: “God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good…the sixth day (‘yom ha‘shishi’), whereas in all the other days of creation, the Hebrew definite article prefix ‘ha‘ (‘the’), is not used (Shabbat 88a).

Furthermore, we find that just prior to the arrival of that fateful day, Israel reached the number of six hundred thousand individuals – the compulsory number for the appearance of the Jewish nation as a whole. And although upon leaving Egypt, Israel was entrenched in forty-nine levels of impurity – exactly forty-nine days remained until that fateful day was to arrive, just enough time to cleanse themselves from the forty-nine levels of impurity, and to receive the Torah.

Thus, Israel arrived at Mount Sinai prior to that fateful day, exclaimed ‘na’aseh v’nishma‘ (‘first we will do, and then we will internalize’), and were ready to accept the Torah on the sixth day of Sivan – in keeping with the condition God had stipulated with the works of His creation.

The Torah was Actually Given the Following Day

However, in reality, the Torah was given to us on the seventh day of Sivan, the fifty-first day of Sefirat Ha’Omer (the Counting of the Omer). For when God commanded Moshe to inform the people of Israel to sanctify themselves for two days prior to the giving of the Torah, which would take place on the sixth day of the week (Friday), Moshe Rabbeinu added another day, ordering Israel to sanctify themselves for three days. God agreed with Moshe, and revealed Himself on Mount Sinai on the Sabbath day (Shabbat 86b, 87a).

From this amazing fact, the importance of the Oral Torah can be learned – without it, the Written Torah cannot be revealed, for the Oral Torah mediates between the uppermost Written Torah, and Israel. Therefore, even the Giving of the Torah was postponed a day in agreement with the Oral Torah – namely, according to Moshe Rabbeinu’s interpretation.

When is Shavu’ot?

Seemingly, though, this is problematic: Why do we say in the prayers of Chag Ha’Shavu’ot that it is ‘z’man Matan Torateinu’ [the time of the giving of our Torah] (S.A. 494:1)?  Chag Ha’Shavu’ot falls out on the fiftieth day of Sefirat Ha’Omer, while in fact, we received the Torah on the fifty-first day! But as it happens, upon completion of Sefirat Ha’Omer, the sacred day in which God granted us the Torah arrived; and so it was in the Heavens – already on the fiftieth day the Torah was given to us. We, however, needed another day to actually receive it. But for future generations, Yom Matan Torah was fixed in keeping with the day God sanctified for it – the day the Torah was given to us potentially (Maharal, Tiferet Yisrael Chap. 27. There are two additional opinions regarding the date of Matan Torah, see P’ninei Halacha: Moadim 13:1).

The Connection between Pesach and Shavu’ot

The calendar day of Chag Shavu’ot is unique, for all the other holidays fall out on a specific date of the month, but the date of Chag Ha’Shavu’ot is not dependent on a specific day, but is determined according toSefirat Ha’Omer. Nowadays, Shavu’ot always falls out on the sixth of Sivan, but that’s only because semikhah (rabbinical ordination) was cancelled, and we sanctify the months according to the calculations of the fixed Hebrew calendar. But in the times when betei din (courts) would sanctify the months according to the sighting of the new moon, Chag Shavu’ot could have also fallen out on the fifth or the seventh of Sivan.

Essentially, this means that the date of Chag Shavu’ot is dependent on Chag Pesach, and Shavu’ot andMatan Torah can only be arrived at, via Pesach.

Nationalism and Torah

On Chag Pesach the Jewish nation was born, and God made an eternal covenant with us that we would be His Am Segulah (Chosen People).On Chag Shavu’ot, God gave us the Torah. Both of these festivals are tied to each other, for Israel cannot exist without the Torah, and there is no Torah without Israel.

And although these two foundations are connected and mutually dependent, nevertheless, each one of them possesses its own importance, and it is forbidden for one to obscure the other. Therefore, we have two separate holidays – one featuring the national aspect of Israel, and the other, the Torah. 

Some people mistakenly think that the national aspect is unimportant, and consequently, they despise Zionism. They fail to notice that the idea of Chag Pesach is to give expression to the nationalistic aspect, which embodies Israel’s natural desire for tikkun olam (perfection of the world). True, without the Torah this ambition is obscure and liable to cause serious mistakes, as happened during our long history when Jews often dedicated their energies to foreign ideals. Nevertheless, the very desire for tikkun olam is our national character, and is the foundation without which it is impossible to receive the Torah, and properly fulfill its commandments.

 In order that Jews not come to belittle the national aspect of Israel, God gave us Chag Pesach. And so they would not demean the Torah, He gave us Chag Shavu’ot.

 And every year anew, we are required to return to these two values and join them together by way of Sefirat Ha’Omer, and in that way, merit the complete Redemption.

An Explanation for All-night Torah Learning on Shavu’ot

Many people are accustomed to learn Torah all-night on Shavu’ot. The basis for this minhag (custom) is explained in the Zohar:

Chassidim HaRishonim (the early pious ones) would not sleep on that night, and engage in Torah…and thus Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said to the chaverim (friends) at night when they gathered by him: Let us prepare the bride’s jewelry so that tomorrow, in the matrimonial service, she will appear before the king appropriately. Fortunate are the chaverim, when the king asks the queen: ‘Who arranged your jewelry, and adorned your crown?’ There is no one in the world who knows how to prepare the bride other than the chaverim. How happy is their portion in this world and the World to Come” (Part 3, 98:1).

It is also related in the Zohar:

“Rabbi Shimon and all the chaverim were joyously studying Torah. Every one of them brought forth a new discovery about the Torah. Rabbi Shimon was rejoicing together with all the friends. Rabbi Shimon said to them: My sons, how happy is your lot, because tomorrow the bride shall not approach the bridal canopy without you. Because all those who prepared the adornments of the bride during this night and rejoice with her, shall all be recorded and written in the Sefer Ha’Zikaron (Book of Remembrance). And the Holy One, blessed be He, blesses them with seventy blessings and crowns from the upper world” (Part 1, 8:1).

In order to understand the words of the Zohar, it must first be explained that the day of Matan Torah is described by our Sages as a wedding day on which God bonded Himself with Knesset Yisrael (the Nation of Israel), similar to a groom and his bride (Taanit 26b). Every year on Chag Shavu’ot, the encounter of Matan Torah continues to be revealed, and Knesset Yisrael connects back with God, like a bride with her groom. The Kabbalists said that studying Torah on Shavu’ot night prepares Knesset Yisrael to receive the Torah in the most beautiful way. And consequently, when the day arrives, Knesset Yisrael merits ascending to God, uniting and connecting with Him on a higher level. As a result of this, Israel merits abundance of Torah, life, and blessing for the entire year. 

Not an Obligation

Nevertheless, this minhag (custom) is not obligatory, and there were leading rabbis who preferred to sleep on Shavu’ot night, reasoning that if they remained awake all night, they would not be able to concentrate properly in the morning prayers, or would not be able to study at night with enough alertness, or would have to make-up lost sleep-time, thereby causing bitul Torah (a waste of Torah-study time), or being tired, they would not be able to rejoice properly on chag.

However, those who do remain awake believe that even if the learning at night is not of such high quality and it is difficult to concentrate in the morning prayers, nevertheless, this sacred custom is an expression of love for God and Torah, and possesses a special virtue of misirut nefesh (self-sacrifice) for the honor of Heaven and Knesset Yisrael. Ultimately, each person should choose his custom l’shem shamayim (for the sake of Heaven).

This article was translated from Hebrew.

Vegetarianism for Moral Reasons

The census in the Book of Numbers is intended to organize the Israeli army en route to the conquest of the Land * The Chafetz Chaim: Serving in the Russian army as a preparation for serving in Israel’s army * The sacred army of the Levites lends substance and meaning to Israel’s military * The transition from vegetarianism to eating meat was also an expression of man and Creation’s moral decline * The moral justification for eating meat after the Flood * In our current situation, vegetarianism for moral reasons may cause a decline in human relations * The vision of vegetarianism in the future, perfected world*

The Census in ‘BaMidbar‘             

The Torah portion of ‘BaMidbar‘ (Book of Numbers) is replete with numerical accountings of the Tribes of Israel. Seemingly, one could ask: Why does the Torah need to ‘waste’ so many verses calculating the exact numbers of each and every tribe, and afterwards, mention the entire amount of people? And as if that was not enough, the Torah once again mentions their numbers according to the order of encampment in the desert, and then counts them once more according to the four separate camps! Instead of telling us at such great length how many Children of Israel there were, the Torah could have clarified a bit further in depth the practical laws of Shabbat and kashrut?!

However, this is exactly what the Torah wanted to teach us: the importance of every individual Jew, and the significance of the entire number of Israel!

“Fit for Service”: To Conquer the Land of Israel

Every census has its purpose. The census in the desert was meant to organize the army of the Jewish nation before entering the Land of Israel. We are commanded to inherit the Land, namely, to conquer and settle it – and therefore, Moshe was commanded to count all the men from the age of twenty years or older, for they would compose Israel’s army. For the army to be organized properly, each tribe was numbered “according to the records of their paternal families”. First, the number of men in each family was counted, and then, all the families connected to that specific division were included and counted together; afterwards, all the divisions within the tribe were counted, in order to know how many soldiers there were in each tribe. Finally, they calculated the sum total of soldiers in Israel’s army: “The entire tally was 603,550″ (Numbers 1:46).

The Torah portion of ‘BaMidbar‘ comes to teach us the importance of serving in the army, and the significance of the mitzvoth to conquer and settle the Land of Israel.

A Story about the Chafetz Chaim

Our teacher and mentor, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah HaKohen Kook said that he heard from Rabbi Yaakov Shorkin, one of the Chafetz Chaim’s top students, that a yeshiva student was once drafted into the Russian army, and asked the Chafetz Chaim how to escape the decree. The Chafetz Chaim replied: “Surely, very soon the Mashiach is coming, and there will be a Jewish state. We will have a Jewish police force, and a Jewish army, and you will need to know how to carry a weapon – will you then go and learn all this?! Behold, now you have an opportunity!” (L’Nitivot Yisrael 2, article 3).

Apparently, this also alludes to the custom of shooting arrows on Lag B’Omer – in order to prepare for the establishment of a Jewish army.

The Significance of the Army Stems from the Yeshiva

Together with the army, whose purpose is to conquer the Land, we find that the Torah separately numbered the Levites – “Those from 30 to 50 years old, all who enter service (la’tzavah) to work in the Tent of Meeting (Numbers 4:3). My revered teacher, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah HaKohen Kook, pointed out that the Torah uses the same word – tzavah (army) – in regards to both the soldiers who conquer the Land, and the Levites whose task is to perform the holy work in the Tabernacle and learn and teach Torah. 

In this way, Rabbi Kook would strengthen the yeshiva students, so they would realize their own importance – that everything starts from the p’nimiyut (inner-side) – from the study of Torah. He said that “out of the Divine army (those engaged in the sacred service, and Torah) which illuminates and emits spiritual light on all our surroundings, it [the light] reaches the soldiers in the army, who are engaged in training exercises to conquer… out of Israel’s sacred, inner, fundamental army…the great enlistment in all of the army receives its value, in its military sense…”. Similarly, we have seen that Yehoshua bin Nun, who began his career as a diligent Torah student, as the Torah testifies: “But his [Moshe's] aid, the young man, Yehoshua bin Nun, did not leave the tent [of Torah study] (Exodus 33:11), as a result, merited conquering the Land of Israel (Sichot HaRitzya, Naso 2; 5-3).

However, someone who wants to belong to the spiritual army in a yeshiva by detaching himself from Israel’s army, his Torah learning is not Torah at all, for he makes a mockery of the Torah, disgracing all the verses dealing with yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land), the census of the soldiers, the entire Book of Joshua, and all the prophecies about the return of Israel to its Land. And as we know, someone who erases even one letter from the Torah, invalidates the entire Torah.

From the Beginning of Creation Man was Vegetarian

In the beginning, man was meant to eat vegetation, as the Torah says: “God said, ‘Behold. I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit. It shall be to you for food” (Genesis 1:29). But man was forbidden to eat animals (Sanhedrin 59b). The commentators wrote that even the animals at that time made do by eating vegetation, and did not devour each other (Rashi and Ramban, ibid).

The Effect of the Sins of Adam HaRishon and Others

However, sins increased, and the entire world declined. It began with the sin of Adam HaRishon, and continued with the murder of Abel by his brother Cain. In the generation of Enosh, the grandson of Adam, people began to commit idolatry, and later, the sins of adultery, murder, and theft increased. Parallel to man’s transgressions, the nature of animals also became more closed and brutal, and they began to devour one another – until extinction was decreed upon all flesh, as it is written: “The world was corrupt before God, and the land was filled with crime. God saw the world, and it was corrupted. All flesh had perverted its way on the earth. God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me. The world is filled with crime. I will therefore destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of cypress wood” (Genesis 9: 1-6).

After the Flood

Only Noah, his son’s, and all that was with him in the ark were saved from the waters of the Flood. When they exited the ark, the task of building the world from scratch was placed upon them along with meticulously keeping the seven basic commandments which are the basis of human morality, for only after basic morality between human beings is developed properly, can man continue to rise in his moral relations towards animals. To this end, it was necessary to establish a clear boundary between man, who was created in the image of God, and animals – to emphasize man’s role and responsibility, for he alone was given the task of repairing and elevating the world.

The clearest expression of this was that after the Flood, humans were allowed to eat the flesh of animals, together with a stern warning not to murder their fellow man, who was created in the image of God, as the Torah says: “Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth. All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror. I have placed them in your power. I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables… And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life… Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:1-6) (according to Rabbi Kook’s “The Vision of Vegetarianism” 6-9).

It must be further explained that following the sins of Adam and the generations before the Flood, nature itself has changed. In other words, the moral decline affected all aspects of life, including the nutrition system. Up until the generation of the Flood, people could receive all their nutritional needs from plants. After the sin and the collapse of all systems of nature – plants were no longer sufficient for a person, and therefore, God allowed Noah and his sons to eat the flesh of cattle, birds, animals and fish. In other words, the moral decline of the world created a completely new eco-environment in which the consumption of meat is necessary. And although this is not ideal, it cannot be condemned. There is also a bit of justice in this – since thanks to Noah the animals were saved from destruction in the Flood, his sons are allowed to consume them in order to survive.

In the present situation, if we stop eating meat, it is not clear that it would benefit those species we normally eat, because if we do not continue raising and growing them for consumption, their numbers among other animals will decrease sharply. At present, they breed under human supervision, but if all the animals and chickens were let loose, within a short time, very few would be left (see, Rabbeinu Bechayeh, Radak, Malbim, Genesis 1:29; and Malbim and Rashar Hirsch ibid, 9:3).

Should Righteous Individuals be Encouraged to be Vegetarians?

Our master Rabbi Kook wrote that indeed, consistent with the grand ideal, it would be proper for man not to eat the flesh of animals; but according to our current moral level, people should not be encouraged to avoid eating meat. The reason for this is that after the Flood, when it became clear just how low man can decline, the Torah needed to direct man towards his main function – to improving relations between human beings. For clearly there is an immense difference between the virtues of man over animals, as man was created in the image of God, his intelligence and emotions are developed, and when wronged, his hurt is far greater than that of animals. Furthermore, when people treat each other decently and caringly, productiveness is created between them, which can bring redemption to the world.    

Therefore, to properly emphasize the moral demand of “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) and, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor” (Shabbat 31a), the Torah instructed us to abandon for now the moral ideal of not harming animals (Rabbi Kook, The Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace, 6-7). Thus, one is permitted to slaughter animals in order to eat them, or as our Sages said, all creatures were created to serve man, and given the world’s current moral level, this is interpreted as being allowed to eat them (Kiddushin 82a). 

The Damage in Educating Towards Vegetarianism

Moreover, if we are overly concerned about educating towards compassion and love for animals, instead of helping them, we would destroy ethical relations between human beings, because people whose sense of morality is not fully developed could think to themselves: “Since in any event, we aren’t warned about killing animals and eating them, we can also kill people who stand in our way, and maybe even eat their flesh.” And there would be other evil individuals who would focus all their good qualities towards animals – because ultimately, every wicked person possesses a spark of conscience and compassion. But after silencing their conscience, they could steal, exploit, and kill people without any ethical dilemma, because in their hearts, they take pride in the great mercifulness they show towards their pets.

Therefore, as long as murder and cruelty remain in the world, people should not be encouraged to refrain from eating meat. One might say that as long as people have a desire to eat meat, it is a sign that we have not yet reached the ethical stage in which it is morally important to refrain from eating meat (Vision of Vegetarianism 4; 6; 11).

In the future, however, the entire world will be spiritually elevated, and as the Kabbalists said, animals will progress and develop to a point where they will be able to speak, and their moral behavior will also change completely. Consequently, no one will want to eat their flesh. As the Prophet said: “On that day I will make a covenant with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky and the animals that scurry along the ground so they will not harm you. I will remove all weapons of war from the land” (Hosea 2:20) (The Vision of Vegetarianism 12:32).  

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

Mistake or Policy?

Responses to criticism for not having chosen a woman with a large family to light a torch on Yom Ha’atzmaut * A mother of ten children: “The rabbi’s words were like cold water to a weary soul” * Leftist Prof. Ephraim Yaar’s arguments against large families * Is there a principled approach behind the Ministry of Culture’s avoiding honoring mother’s with large families? * Prof. Tzuriel’s research on the educational benefits of children from large families * Blessings over unusual sights: On which mountains and hills should the blessing “Who carries out the work of creation” be recited? * How many times should a blessing be recited when seeing a number of impressive sights on one trip?

Regarding the Affront to Mother’s of Large Families

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the significance of puru u’re’vuru (being fruitful and multiplying), and the immense importance it carries for Israel’s survival and consolidation in its land. At the same time, I criticized the members of the public committee who participated in choosing the torch-bearers for the Yom Ha’atzmaut ceremony, that out of all of the fourteen women they chose, not one was a mother with a large family.

There were some women were extremely happy about the honor I bestowed upon those righteous women who dedicate themselves to raising large families. I was told of one woman who pointed out what I had written to her son, a graduate of Yeshiva Har Bracha serving as an officer in the I.D.F., while mentioning how much she enjoys reading the articles.

Another woman wrote me: “Rabbi, thank you so much for what you write about mother’s with large families. Your words are like cold water on a weary soul. As a mother who recently gave birth to her tenth child, ken yirbu, I feel that society often does not appreciate families who are willing to bear upon themselves the enlargement of Am Yisrael, and sometimes, even condemn us. Yasher koach, and thank you” (this reply also answers a young reader who wrote: “With all due respect, Rabbi, why do you constantly badger us with the mitzvoth of puru u’re’vuru and family values?”).

Some readers proposed that as a correction for this, the ‘Basheva‘ newspaper should grant an annual award to a number of mother’s with large families.

Other’s mentioned Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who knew how to be grateful for mother’s blessed with large families, and decided to grant 100 lira (pounds) to each mother giving birth to her tenth child (indeed, it was not an original idea of his, as this was also the practice in the Soviet Union, the homeland of world socialism, who crowned every mother of ten children as a ‘heroic mother’, and gave her privileges and a star of gold).

Those Who Criticized

Some people disapproved, claiming there is no importance whatsoever in having a large family, and on the contrary – by talking about it, men and rabbis adeptly manage to keep women at home, and maintain their rule.

Others argued that the Commission’s entire goal was to encourage equality between men and women, and to show that women can also be as successful as men, and consequently, it was obvious they did not choose a mother blessed with a large family.

Some people objected, claiming that large numbers of children encourages economic and cultural backwardness, and Israeli society does not need to encourage large families, rather, the opposite. There was one person who mentioned the article by the leftist Prof. Ephraim Yaar “Al Mishpachot Beruchot Yeladim” (“On Families Blessed with Many Children”) in which he concludes that it is preferable to call such families ‘mishpachot merubot yeladim’ (families with many children’). In his opinion, “in terms of both benefit and morality, there is no reason the state should encourage families to have large numbers of children and give them assistance through any type of incentives” – since children from such families are more academically, economically, and socially backwards.

The Ideological Basis

Indeed, there is an ideological basis as to why a mother blessed with a large family was not chosen to light a torch: it violates the feminists’ struggle for equality. It emphasizes national and religious values, as opposed to the idea that a person is measured solely by his economic and social accomplishments.

Needless to say, this approach ignores family values and the national importance of having many children, especially after the Holocaust and in view of our coping with a demographic problem. Apparently, leftists like to mention the demographic problem only when it involves encouraging giving parts of the Land of Israel away to the Arabs, and not when it comes to encouraging Jewish births.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture should have clarified the office’s position – was the lack of a mother blessed with a large family among the torch-bearers in the ceremony’s theme ‘A Time for Women’, indeed a fundamental position, or perhaps, a regrettable error? And also, whether the Ministry of Culture intends on finding a way to make amends, by praising the contribution of these precious women, who are privileged to achieve the greatest value of all – dedicating their lives to bringing life into the world, and devoting their days and nights to raising and educating their children, for the glory of the nation and the country.

Breaking the Equation

Unquestionably, we must make an effort to prove that the equation determining that children from large families are more academically and socially backwards is incorrect.

Indeed, Prof. David Tzuriel has shown in his research that there are educational benefits for kids who grew up in a family blessed with many children because they acquire mediated learning, and thus are able to absorb information from different angles, which in turn, enriches their perception. Incidentally, Prof. David Tzuriel from Bar-Ilan University is a religious man who loves his nation and land, while Prof. Ephraim Yaar is a leftist and secular. Perhaps everyone prefers to research what is important to him.

The National Advantage

Most of the studies conducted in the world on the issue of large families are incompatible for the Jewish, religious population, who values learning and contributing to society. Nevertheless, together with having large families, we must strive to accomplish giving them the best possible education, both morally and academically.

In practice, it is clear that families blessed with many children from the religious community contribute greatly to the country. Their children are loyal to the Torah, the nation, and the land; they are full-partners in strengthening Israel’s economy, and the young men strive to serve in combat units. In contrast, Western countries are faced with a severe economic crisis, because together with scientific and economic development they neglected family values, and now they do not have enough young people to continue maintaining their factories and businesses. The situation will only grow worse, and those very people who had fewer children in order to better their economic situation, will have to cope with a significant decline in their standard of living as a result of the crisis in pension funds.

Blessings over Unusual Sights for Travelers

Since many schools conduct annual class trips at this time of year, it is worth mentioning the blessings recited over unusual sights during a trip.

And although lechatchila (ideally), it is appropriate for each traveler to recite a blessing himself, when there is concern that some might forget, one person can recite the blessing and thus fulfill the other traveler’s obligation. Beforehand, they should verify that the person reciting the blessing had not seen the unusual sight thirty days preceding the blessing, because if he had, he cannot bless, for there is no novelty in it for him.

Blessing over Impressive Views

On seeing five impressive landscapes, our Sages decreed the blessing should be recited: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who carries out the work of creation” (‘osheh ma’asey bereshit‘): on seeing mountains, hills, seas, rivers, and deserts (Berachot 54a), because while observing such special landscapes, a person can open up to contemplate on creation, and recite a blessing of praise. And even if someone is not excited about seeing these landscapes – as long as viewing them is considered moving by most people, one is obligated to recite a blessing.

Seas and Rivers

A blessing is recited on four bodies of water in the Land of Israel: the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Galilee, the Red Sea, and the Dead Sea. But on a lake created by a man-made dam, even if it is extremely large, a blessing is not recited, since the blessing was fixed as praise for the creation of God, and not the works of humans.

A blessing is not recited over rivers in Israel because they are not large enough.

Mountains and Hills

The condition for reciting a blessing over mountains is that they be particularly high in relation to their surroundings. Regarding hills, the condition is their shape is particularly striking; for example, they have steep and sharp cliffs, such as the striking cliffs in the Judean Desert. But over the ordinary mountains in Judea, Samaria and Galilee, a blessing is not recited. However, upon seeing Gamla, Arbel, Masada, and Sartaba, a blessing is recited because of their unique appearance. A blessing is also recited over seeing Mount Tabor, for its height is striking, and its appearance is unique.

Mountains and Hills in Israel

To illustrate this halakha, I will point out the well-known mountains in the Land of Israel that travelers tend to visit. In the Golan Heights — Mt. Hermon, and Gamla. In the Galilee – Arbel, Mt. Hazon, Mt. Atzmon, Mt. Meron (especially from the north), and the Rosh Hanikra ridge (mainly the western part). In Samaria and Judea – Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Eval, Mt. Kabir, Mt. Tamon, Sartaba, Baal Hazor, Kochav Hashachar, Masada, and along the entire length of the Judean Desert cliffs, overlooking the Valley of the Dead Sea. In the Jezreel Valley – Mt. Tabor, and the Gilboa (particularly Mt. Saul); in the Carmel region — Mt. Carmel, in areas where it descends steeply into the Jezreel Valley or the ocean. In the Negev and Eilat – the Makhteshim (craters), looking into them, Mt. Ardon (Ramon Crater), Mt. Shlomo and Mt. Tzfachot.


The desert is a barren and desolate place, where little rain falls. A blessing is also recited over the Judean Desert, provided its appearance elicits an extraordinary reaction, such as while hiking in it and all the surrounding areas are deserted, or going to a lookout point to observe the arid expanses. But a person who sees the desert while routinely driving through, does not recite a blessing.

Seeing Several Sights in One Day

Seeing one large mountain does not hinder reciting a blessing upon seeing another one. For example, if one sees Mt. Hermon, and afterwards travels to the Galilee to see Mt. Meron, he should recite the blessing “oseh ma’aseh bereshit” once again. Only when one sees the same mountain within thirty days, is a blessing not recited. 

A person who sees a number of impressive sights requiring a blessing at the same time, recites one blessing over all of them. For example, if a person is in a location where he can clearly see the Kinneret and Mt. Arbel, he recites one blessing over both.

Several Striking Mountains in One Area

A person hiking in an area with a number of unique, similarly shaped hills, seeing as they are all in the same surrounding area and have similar forms, even if he sees them one after the other, he fulfills his obligation for all of them with one blessing.

Concerning impressive landscapes one sees while riding in a vehicle – a person who is impressed by them should recite the blessing ‘oseh ma’asey bereshit‘, and someone who is not moved, should not bless. But if they stop traveling in order to look at them, a blessing must certainly be recited.


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

by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed