The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Agreeing to Disagree

I will try to respond to Cookie's response to my response to her Yom Ha'atzmaut post. In some respects I may not have made myself clear but in others, in particular the status of the State of Israel as a haven for Jews, I couldn't disagree with her more.

I regret if I gave the impression that I think it's ok that the State of Israel is dominated by people who are not Yirei Shamayim and Shomrei Torah U'mitzvos. It breaks my heart to see how far from Torah Yiddishkeit Israeli society has moved. And, if I gave the impression that Rav Teichtal felt that way, chas v'shalom, I am even sorrier.

A few words about Rav Teichtal and Eim Habanim Semeichah. I realize that I do a tremendous disservice to Rav Teichtal and his holy sefer by trying to summarize it in a few paragraphs. It is an astounding sefer, written by the tzaddik literally while on the run from the Nazis. He had almost no access to source material and, with few exceptions, quoted his sources from memory. Despite these circumstances, the sefer is a heartbreaking, beautiful masterpiece.

Rav Teichtal was a Chassid of the Munkatcher Rebbe, Zt'l, who was, as is known, a strident anti-Zionist who did not favor yishuv Eterz Yisrael among his chassidim under the circumstances. Until the war, this was the position held by Rav Teichtal. It was only as a result of what he saw with his own eyes that he began to re-examine this position.

Rav Teichtal's view was not political at all. It was based solely upon his examination of a plethora of sources that he concluded that Yishuv Eretz Yisrael, even an Eretz Yisrael dominated by chilonim, was the key to redemption. In no way did Rav Teichtal suggest that their failure to observe Torah or Mitzvos was, CV, a good thing or forgivable. His point was that even chilonim (so how much more so yirei Shamayim) merit great rewards just by engaging in the act of redeeming the Land. The entire sefer is a plea to Yirei Shamayim to become involved in the redemption of the Land (rather than just the chilonim).

His disagreement with the tzaddikim of his generation is profound but respectful and, again, based on his re-examination of countless sources. He was a tremendous talmid chacham and his views should not be taken lightly. Obviously, there are those who continue to strongly disagree.

It would be imprudent for me to predict whether Rav Teichtal would feel the same way were he alive today. I suggest that people read the sefer and reach their own conclusions.

Let me now address the issue of the State of Israel as a haven for Jews. Cookie writes:

"Some haven.

A Jew under Nazi occupation was afraid to go on a bus, and a Jew in Israel is afraid to go on a bus.

A Jew under Nazi occupation was surrounded by hostile neighbors, and a Jew in Israel is surrounded by hostile neighbors.

The only protection I believe Eretz Yisrael has is the incredible amount and level of Torah learned there. That, in my opinion, is the only reason it has survived."

To compare the situation in Israel today with Nazi Occupation is completely, and demonstrably off base. Suffice it to say that from 1939 until 1945 six million Jews were murdered by our enemies. In the 56 years of statehood, fewer than 30,000 Jews, all precious souls, have been killed by our enemies in Eretz Yisrael.

While it is true that we are still surrounded by our enemies as we were during the Nazi Occupation, now, unlike then, we have an army that fights back.

One may still believe that the only protection we get results from the great amount of Torah and learning in Eretz Yisrael without having to deny the obvious, which is that the State of Israel is indeed a haven.

Finally, sadness. I agree with Cookie that sadness is an emotion that is natural and that should not be supressed. And she is right in correcting me that she never said she was "overcome" with sadness (which is what the Chassidishe Tzaddikim implore us to avoid).

The only sadness I feel is that, because of decisions I made much earlier in my life, I am still stuck in galus. I am not overcome by sadness either because, b'ezras Hashem, I am hopeful that that will soon change.


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