Thursday, August 24, 2006

Eretz Yisrael and Israel

Please note that living in Israel is NOT Zionism. Zionism is the creation of a Jewish State in Eretz Yisroel. The Mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel is fulfilled equally whether Jews or Arabs or Turks or British own the land.

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Eretz Yisroel is not the State of Israel. The State of Israel is a political government and national entity. Eretz Yisroel is a section of land. "Supporting Eretz Yisroel" is not the same as supporting the State of Israel. Eretz Yisroel was there before the State of Israel and will be there after the State of Israel is gone (For the record, the Chazon Ish, quoted in Maaseh Ish, predicted that the State of Israel would last somewhere around 50 years!). I don’t even know what the phrase "support Eretz Yisroel" means - how do you "support" land? Does it need your "support"? Governments need people's support, but that's not Eretz Yisroel you’re talking about.

Eretz Yisroel exists outside the State of Israel - southern Lebanon is Eretz Yisroel too, as holy as any of the streets in the State of Israel. Don't forget to "support" southern Lebanon when you're "supporting" Eretz Yisroel!

And not all of the State of Israel is Eretz Yisroel - Elat is chutz la'aretz. It is no more holy than New York City. A lot less holy, probably, considering the amount of Torah in New York City and that in Elat.

So if you have two Jews, one vacationing in Elat and the other in Lebanon, the one in Lebanon (parts of it anyway) has to take off Terumah and Maaser, while he basks in the holiness of Eretz Yisroel, while the Jews vacationing in Elat is in the State of Israel, but is basking in nothing at all.

It is important to understand this.

Living in Eretz Yisroel has nothing to do with Zionism. Having a Government, a State of Israel does. And while living in Eretz Yisroel is a wonderful thing (for some people; for others it is a bad thing - depends on how you behave. After all, you are in the King's Back Yard), it is equally wonderful whether the land is governed by the Turks or the Arabs or the English or the Lebanese or the Chinese.

In fact, all of the above nations are allowed to govern Eretz Yisroel in Golus. The only ones that aren’t allowed to are Jews. In fact, the Torah says that if Jews govern Eretz Yisroel, or even TRY to govern it, as a punishment, Hashem will allow Jews to "be hunted down like animals in the field."

That happens to be the worst punishment described anywhere in the Torah. Killed and hunted like animals. Those are the words. "ani matir es basarchem k;tzvios uk'ailos hasadeh" - "I will permit your flesh [to the goyim] like game in the fields".

Jews hunted and killed like animals - the punishment described in the Torah for a movement to create a Jewish State of Israel during golus. And certainly for actually creating one.

That's the problem with Zionism. (One of the many problems, actually). It has nothing to do with the holiness of Eretz Yisroel of living in it. On the contrary, it pollutes Eretz Yisroel and strips it of holiness.

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It is not only Reb Elchonon whom I quote against zionism. It is also the Chofetz Chaim, Rav Chaim Brisker, The Brisker Rav, The Rogechover Gaon, the Chazon Ish, Rav SR Hirsch, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbes, Rav Aharon Kotler, the Satmar Rav, and many more - if this were any Halachic question, that veritable who's who of Torah giants in the past 100 years (and a bit more than 100) would be obeyed quickly and without second thought. The opposition was far, far, farrrrrr from "equal."

Rav Aryeh Levin’s work to bring shmiras hamitzvos to all Jews, frum or not frum has nothing to do with Zionism. This is one of the most popular Zionist propaganda tactics - to position their opponents as being against Kiruv, or something to the effect that the opponents of Zionism were against it because they don't like the non-religious Jews who were its founders, or something like that.

Baloney. All of it. Frum, non-frum, bringing Torah to Jews -- all this has nothing to do with Zionism. If someone holds that creating the State of Israel was the worst thing to ever happen to Klall Yisroel in Golus, does that mean they cant also hold that you should bring all Jews closer to Hashem?

The fact that someone "makes aliyah" does not mean he is a Zionist. Remember: The Neturei Karta, for crying out loud, lived in Eretz Yisroel!

The fact that a "Zionism teacher" can only come up with stuff like this in its defense is great material for an anti-Zionist forum like this.

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Israel’s not our homeland in Golus. In golus, the entire world is equally our homeland. It’s our "promised land" - one day it will be our homeland, like it was in the past, when we are worthy of it. Until then, we were evicted by the Owner of the land because we were bad tenants. As we say, "mipnei chataeinu galinu meartzeinu."

It is "our land" in many ways - Jews are always tied to it. It is a holy land, a magnificent spiritual palace, for which, right now we, as a nation, cannot afford the spiritual rent that it takes to live there.

We always have to keep this in perspective.

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Of course so many frum people can be misled. Let's internalize what we have been taught, please: How many frum people followed Korach? How many frum people were misled by Shabse Tzvi? How many frum people worshiped idols? Lots.

Zionism is the Avodah Zorah of our days. Just as in the olden days so many frum people, including Talmide chachamim, fell, so too we should not be surprised if history repeats itself once again.

As far as a year in Israel goes, you are falling for the Zionist propaganda: Zionism has nothing to do with living or learning in Eretz Yisroel. (Sigh. How many times do I have to repeat this?) It’s a typical Zionist ploy to make believe that Zionism means "love of Eretz Yisroel" and anti-Zionism means being against Eretz Yisroel whatever that means).

The issue is the State of Israel, not living, learning, or loving Eretz Yisroel. In fact, one of the main reason for anti-Zionism is the love for Eretz Yisroel, and the consequential outrage against the assault upon its holiness that the Zionists have committed.

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In golus we are not allowed to be in charge of Eretz Yisroel - the goyim are supposed to. The prohibition of lo sichanem, if it applies nowadays, refers to private landlords, and prohibits selling land to akum in EY. It does not c"v mean that we are supposed to have governmental sovereignty in EY. On the contrary, that is prohibited. Individuals may live in EY under the governship of whichever nation happens to own it - be it Romans, Arabs, Ottomans, Turks, British, or Chinese - and according to some shitos it is even a mitzvah, but we are not allowed to be the governing body.

As Rav Shach ZTL writes, "Eretz Yisroel is equally 'ours' regardless of who physically owns it at any given time.

It’s kind of like those "in trust for" bank accounts that we had when we were kids, where our parents put our Bar Mitzvah money in an account "in trust for" us. It’s our money but we were not allowed to access it until we became 18.

So, too, Eretz Yisroel is ours, but as a nation we may not take it until Moshiach comes. Until we're mature enough to handle it properly, we are not allowed to take it.

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Zionism means "love of zion" no more than haskalah means "love of sechel". The term zionism began in the late 1800's to describe the movement of Jewish nationalism.

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Zionism has created a substitute for Judaism in the form of nationalism, and produced the religion-hating Zionist. As Rabbi Avigdor Miller ZTL writes, "The State of Israel presents the greatest peril to Jewish existence in history ... what Haman and Titus could not do, the Israelis are attempting: the first could only attempt to destroy the physical existence of Israel, but the State of Israel is attempting to counterfeit the term Jew and to erase all boundaries between Jew and non-Jew." (Sing You Righteous par. 46-48). And besides the assimilation, Zionism itself is avodah zorah, and as Rav Elchonon Wasserman said, "Zionism is idolatry and so religious Zionism is just idolatry coupled with religion". This nationalistic-Zionistic atmosphere creates a culture which needs to be fought against just as does the Goyish cultures in chutz laaretz.

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If Zionism means different things to different people, then by definition it is meaningless, since a word that can have any meaning depending upon the whim of the user does not convey any meaning on its own.

But it cannot merely mean "love for Eretz Yisroel and love for Am Yisroel" because, as you pointed out, if this refers to love such that is already mandated by the Torah, you don’t need a new label "Zionist". And if it is referring to love outside of the Torah's mandate, then who needs it?

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As far as living in EY, the Satmar Rav did not live in EY (at least not on a permanent basis), although he was the head of the Eidah Hachareidis. However, there are many chasidim of his that live there; the Neturei Karta of Rav Amram Blau ZTL lived there; the EiIdah Hachareidis lives there, etc etc.

Yes, the Satmar Rebbe did say it is a great "responsibility" and "dangerous" to live there, because every action you do is scrutinized there more than in Chutz Laaretz, but that means it depends who you are. As the Rashbam says, EY is the best place in the world for Tzadikim and the worst for Reshayim.

However, he did say not to live in the Old City nowadays.

But in any case, all the warnings have nothing to do with a Medinah per se, but rather with the influences of the Kofrim who are all over the place there, or with the holiness of EY itself. The first thing would apply to anywhere where there are Kofrim running around. It has nothing to do with EY itself.

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The Satmar Rav says that even though it is a big nisayon to live in EY and, nevertheless he cannot say that one should not live there, especially since during Golus Jews have to be all over the world, including Eretz Yisroel.

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We should daven all the time for the safety of our brothers in EY, but all the more so should we daven for all those settlers who LIVE in the territories - it's dangerous there. As I said, I do not know whether this move makes things more or less safe for the Jews in EY in general, but for sure it makes things safer for the settlers themselves.

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There is a disagreement in the Rishonim if there is a Mitzvah for individuals to live in Eretz Yisroel today. Ramban holds yes, Tosfos holds no. Megilas Esther says the Rambam also holds no.

Every Mitzvah you do in Eretz Yisroel is intensified. Every Aveirah is also intensified. There are more opportunities in Eretz Yisroel but also more dangers. The Rama MiPano writes that the Satan tries harder to ruin people in Jerusalem more than anywhere else in the world, since the holiness is so great there.

So today, everyone has to figure out, based on his personality, level, and circumstances, where in the world will he be able to serve Hashem most properly. Maybe it is in Eretz Yisroel, maybe in Chutz LaAretz. Wherever that place is, he should go.

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