Sunday, June 30, 2019

Clearly labeled as avodah zarah by Gedolei Yisroel

Rosh Yeshivas Tifrach,Harav Aviezer Piltz shlit”a recently spoke at an Asifa. He noted that thousands of years of persecution have not broken Am Yisroel, and neither will the current persecution at the hands of the Zionist rulers. He said that the obsession of the Zionists and their followers on the primacy of Yishuv Eretz Yisroel was clearly labeled as avodah zarah by Gedolei Yisroel, and that although many could not understand their harsh opposition to Zionism at the time, today it is clearly understandable to all who have eyes to see.

He cited the Chazon Ish zy”a who stated that unfortunately far from heralding the geulah, the Zionist state will not advance the coming of Moshiach at all and Moshiach will have no association with any of their projects. Similarly, Harav Shach ztz”l, would observe the celebrations of “Yom Yerushalayim” and cry out, “Treif!”

Harav Piltz also addressed the growing interference of Misrad Hachinuch in chareidi education. “They no longer allow us to teach our children about Akeidas Yitzchok, about Beriyas Haolam – baruch Hash-m that there are still people who stand up to them…”

Kol Demama, Shemini

Thursday, June 27, 2019

It's not just about us

"You should pray for the welfare of the whole world and feel other's pain. This is the way of the righteous. David HaMelech said, "And I, when they were ill, dressed in sackcloth, I afflicted myself with fasting." (Tehillim 35:13) Do not pray and beseech God only for your own needs. Pray also that all humanity should live in peace. When there is peace among governments, there is peace in the world."

Rabbeinu Yona of Girona, on Pirkei Avos 3:2. Rabbeinu Yona, d. 1263, who is referenced several times in Tosfos, was the teacher of the Rashba. He is the author of the classic Gates of Repentance.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Thinking for yourself

R' Nosson Kamenestky z'l in an interview talking about the traditional Litvish approach which was actually to use one's own mind in running his life.

Q: Is there a halachic source for blindly following a rabbi in matters that are not related to Jewish law, such as politics or other matters? 
“The Mitnagdim (non-Chassidic Jews) always thought for themselves. If they had a specific question they could not decide, they would come to get advice from a wise and knowledgeable man who had the Torah behind him, but things a person can figure out on his own, it is forbidden to depend on others’ judgment. In his commentary to the Mishna, Rambam describes the great power of the human mind to make decisions, a man must use his own mind, do not denigrate your own intelligence. If you have a doubt about something, go ask someone wiser, after you hear what they say, you do not have to follow their advice like a blind man, you have to digest it and decide if it was good or bad. The Mishna asks, ‘Upon whom should one rely?’ And it answers, ‘On God.’ It does not say ‘On Rav Elyashiv,’ or ‘On Rav Shteinman.’ It is obvious that we talk of individual issues, but in issues concerning the entire community, great Torah scholars are the leaders of the community and guides of all of Israel.”
Q: From what, in your opinion, comes the adoration and complete obedience that currently permeates the relationship to the rabbis in the Lithuanian world, which is reminiscent of the way Hasidim act? 
“You’d be surprised to hear that Hitler, may his name be erased, is responsible for this. Most of the Jews who survived the Holocaust were from Hasidic areas, and this was their approach. If there is a change in the upbringing of the Lithuanian Jews of today, it is this, that we teach them to be Hasidim of the Lithuanian Rabbis - that is my opinion. I, in any case, was not raised this way. I was raised in the best Lithuanian fashion. Healthy skepticism, respect for wisdom, and having some knowledge of true modesty. But that was my problem –I wrote from that perspective.” 

Similarly, I heard Rav Avigdor Miller, who talked often about the importance of seeking the advice of gadolm, say that one must be responsible for his own life. It is dangerous to rely on another too much. 

None of these means that one should rely only on himself. None of it means that a person should not study the words of the wise in order to acquire wisdom. As one Litvish Rav told me a person should strive to stay within the 6 line highway that the gadolim of his generation traverse, but within those 6 lanes you have choices. But with freedom comes responsibility. We are responsible for our choices and pay the price for bad ones.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

They rebelled also against God

“Benny Morris on “A New Look at the 1948 Arab-Israeli War,” Wilson Center, 43:15

“The war was definitely not a jihad or a religious war on the Israeli side. On the Israeli side, the Jewish population in Palestine, the yishuv, was 90% secular at the time. And the leadership of the yishuv was almost totally secular. The military leadership, the political leadership. It was a very secular society. You get an optical illusion when you look back from 2016 when Israel has become much more religious or a larger part, segment of its population is religious. But in 1948 the people who counted and actually the vast majority of the population was of course non-religious. In fact they were children, or actually the people themselves, who had rebelled against religion. This is what Zionism was all about, partly, against rebelling against the old world of their fathers, which was a religious world. They rebelled also against God. So they didn’t approach the war at all as a religious war, not the generals, not the politicians, not Ben-Gurion, not Sharet, not Allon, not Dayan. They were irreligious people. Maybe even they were anti-religious, so the religious people saw them.”

Benny Morris is one of Israel's most respected historians. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Israel does not want peace

The former chief of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, Shabtai Shavit, has said that Israel does not want peace and that, if it had, it would have made peace with the Palestinian Authority (PA) long ago.
Shavit gave his remarks to Israeli daily Maariv, reiterating that if Israel wanted peace it would have discussed it in economic and infrastructure terms that serve the interests of both parties, Arab 48 reported yesterday....“We [Israel] are the strongest in the Middle East”, Shavit continued, adding that:
at this time no Arab coalition is likely to be formed that would endanger [Israel’s] existence like in the 1960s and 1970s.
Regarding the Oslo Accords of the mid-1990s – the last substantial attempt at peace negotiations – Shavit said that the Israeli right-wing has since painted this agreement as a “sin,” arguing that had they continued down this path, there could have been peace.
“This is not fantasy, because those who do not want peace succeeded in making large portions of the country believe that Oslo was the mother of all sins and the desire for peace is also a sin,” Shavit concluded.

Friday, June 21, 2019

although it tarry, wait for it

"The cloud represented the shepherd's crook, as it were, by means of which God, the Shepherd of Israel, made his will known to the people He was leading: where and when they were to pitch camp, and when and in what direction they were to journey forth. And we are told here that the will and purpose of His guidance seemed unpredictable indeed to those who were to be led by it. There were times when they had to stay in one place for a long period; at other times, they were allowed to remain at rest for a few days only.... Such was the training school of our wanderings through the wilderness in which we should have learned for all time to follow God's guidance with devotion and trust, no matter how incomprehensible it may seem so us, whether He command us to leave a place just when we have become attached to it, or to remain in a position we find most untoward.... However, on closer consideration of the narrative in Verses 17-22, describing the exercise with which God sought to train the people whom He seeks to guide for all time, it would see that the primary function of these exercises was not so much to subject the people to the stresses of prolonged wanderings as it was to teach them patience and endurance over long periods of rest.... It is clear then, that particular stress is placed on Israel's endurance and patience. This is all the more understandable if one considers the inhospitability of the wilderness, and particularly the fact that the people were fully aware that the wilderness did not represent the end of their wanderings. They knew that their destination lay not in the wilderness but elsewhere. Therefore every stop they made in the wilderness, particularly the stop preceding the fateful decree that ordained for them forty years of wandering, served only to keep them away from what they knew to be their final destination. Herein lay the exercise in that virtue of quite, serene resignation and trusting patience, which the nation guided by God was to need more than all else in its galuth wanderings through what the prophet calls "the wilderness of the nations," though so many centuries in the future ,and concerning the purpose which the prophet says so significantly "although it tarry, wait for it" (Habbakuk 2:3). 
Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch, Bamidbar 19: 16-23.


In other words, don't force the end of exile. In the midbar Hashem moved us from place to place. Sometimes, we'd set up the mishkan only to be told to move it the day we erected it. The lesson is patience and obedience to Hashem's will. So too will Moshiach come, will redemption come, when Hashem decrees as we sit patiently, working on our mitzvos but not pushing the redemption. Our actions and thoughts should be directed towards improving our deeds. Zionism does the opposite. It neglects our deeds on focuses on politics. Slamming the USA with more political pressure that, according to President Truman, he had ever witnessed in his life, threatening Liberia with economic problems, threatening Indian leaders with assassination all of which was done by Zionists in 1947, as well as committing terrorism on the British rulers of the land is not sitting patiently, waiting for the redemption and working instead on our deeds.  I saw in Tel Aviv recently a plaque that boasted of a bank robbery committed by Zionist militia to get money to fund their activities. I don't have a smart phone so I couldn't take a picture. This plaque glamorized theft. Remember, thou shall not steal? The Zionists did the opposite of keeping the mitzvos and waiting for redemption. They dumped the mitzvos and staged a false redemption. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

IDF Radio: Charedim Not Needed in the Army

"You ask: 'Do we need more Chareidim in the army?' The answer is: No. About three thousand chareidim enlist every year – most of them into combat units; any more would just cause more [administrative] headaches. Every chareidei framework costs tons of money and inhibits our new project of increasing the number of women in combat units… In two years, the number of soldiers in the army is [expected] to grow to a surplus of 17,000. 17,000 soldiers that the army does not know what to do with. A committee has been established to find a solution for all those extra soldiers – how to let them go. In two years, we are looking at a surplus of soldiers… Everyone knows that the army has no need for chareidi soldiers… They cost too much: every chareidei soldier costs double that of a regular one. This whole debate was unnecessary." (Yossi Joshua, Military Correspondent for “Latest News,” on IDF Radio)

So if the country doesn't need the Charedim in the military, if in fact, having Charedim in the military is a waste of tax dollars, then why was formation of the government held up by Lieberman's insistence of having more Charedim entlist? (Already 30% enlist.) Is it because the purpose of Zionism is to destroy the Torah as R' Chaim Brisker said?

Do you want to say Charedim have to share the burden? How about the Chilonim share the burden? Charedim are the ones keeping the mitzvos, and not just for 2.5 years, but for life. Overall, the Charedim make a much bigger contribution to society than Chilonim do.

Oh, so you say that the Chilonim don't believe in the Torah. Well, I for one, don't believe in the military, not the way Israelis do. Why does the 100th biggest country in the world need the 5th most powerful military? 

Surrounded by enemies? Israel has had peace with Jordan and Egypt for 40 years. There's no enmity with the Mediterranean sea. Syria has its own problems. What's left, the border with Lebanon? There has been peace there as well for decades, since Israel ended its occupation of Southern Lebanon. Israel has not been invaded by another country in nearly 50 years and even that war was avoidable by diplomacy. The last invasion was 70 years ago and even that one was caused arguably by Ben-Gurion's declaration of a state following heavy political pressure and terrorism to force UN Resolution 181. Israel has started nearly all of its wars. It's an Israeli thing: aggression, militarism. Why should the Charedim have to shoulder that obsession?

The notion that Israel’s wars were wars of self-defense and that its limited military actions were primarily “retaliatory” in nature rests on shaky foundations. Many Israeli politicians and institutional historians have tried to sell the world and the Israeli public for decades the conception that Israel’s military actions were primarily actions of self-defense. 

….most of Israel’s wars were the result of deliberate aggressive designs or flawed conflict management strategies. At least one war (the Yom Kippur War) could have been avoided by judicious diplomacy. Israel’s war experience is a story of folly, recklessness, and self-made traps. None of the wars – with the possible exception of the 1948 War of Independence – was what Israelis call Milhemet Ein Brerah (“war of necessity”). They were all wars of choice or wars of folly. (Zeev Maoz, Defending the Holy Land, p. 552.)

Maoz, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Correlates of War Project at the University of California, Davis and Distinguished Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel, is the former head of the prestigious Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University and the former academic director of the IDF M.A. (graduate studies) program. He is not somebody “who doesn’t get it,” who has no right to speak because he does not know the State of Israel and its unique situation, a charge that auto-defenders of Israeli government policy like to say about all critics. He is a man who the Israeli military itself made the academic director of its graduate program. 

What's really going on here is a religious war. Zionism vs. Torah. Militarism vs. Torah. It's the final battle of world history. The eruv rav against faithful Jews. Which side will you be on?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Linked post: Nusach Ashkenaz in the Center of Chasidic Davening from TREASURES OF ASHKENAZ


"As is well known, one of the major dividing lines between Chasidim and non-Chasidim, and a source of tension at times, is in the area of נוסח התפילה. While Chasidim (with some exceptions, as we have posted about in the past – see for example this post, as well as this post) overwhelmingly discarded the ancient נוסח אשכנז, adopting in its place a so-called “נוסח ספרד” or “נוסח אר”י”, those faithful to the holy מסורה of אשכנז emphatically rejected such change.

"What is interesting and noteworthy, however, is that even among major Chasidic groups to the present day, there are major elements of nusach Ashkenaz still in use.

            Ashkenaz in the Nusach of Belzer Chasidim

"The Chasidic group of Belz is one of the oldest (going back over two centuries) and largest Chasidic groups in the world, and has been a major force for a very long time." continue

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Lehovin: An Insider’s Look at the Bnei Yeshiva Draft Process

Lehovin, parshas Behar 27, Main, p. 9

Menachem Shtauber is a 29-year-old Israeli criminal law attorney in Yerushalayim, where he lives with his wife and three children. After learning in Yeshiva Kol Torah, he began the study of Israeli law, and after serving as an army lawyer, went into private practice, where he specializes in representing both religious and secular individuals experiencing problems related to the military draft. He is widely regarded as the top attorney in the country in this area of the law.

Is there a real problem today of yeshiva bachurim who are in danger of being drafted by the Israeli army?

There are hundreds of such cases in which a bachur has been stripped of his ma’amad ben yeshiva, his exempt status as a yeshiva bachur. I’m not exaggerating – as an attorney, I’m careful to speak with precision. We’re not discussing the talmidim of Rav Shmuel Auerbach or others who don’t cooperate with the military authorities at all. We’re speaking of regular yeshiva boys who went through the registration process but have been denied their exemptions.

For example: A boy comes from a family that has great financial difficulties and during bein hazemanim, he works a bit in order to help his family out, even just for an hour. When that boy comes to the draft office and they ask him if he’s ever worked, if he acknowledges working for an hour bein hazemanim, they tell him, “So you work. You’re not a yeshiva bachur. You will go into the army.”

All these conditions that are used to remove a bachur’s status, such as the prohibition on working even for one hour or traveling overseas for more than seven days, were they enacted in order to ensure there would be enough yeshiva bachurim to fill the yearly quotas that require the drafting of thousands of charedim? 

I can’t say if it’s to fill quotas, but there’s no question that it has been done with a goal of drafting as many bachurim as possible. There is an office for shiluv Charedim, for the integration of charedim in the army, which was set up for this specific purpose. This isn’t something hidden, the army publicizes it. People can debate whether this is good or bad. That’s a separate question. But these are the facts, and you can’t argue with facts. It’s more comfortable, however, for people to bury their heads in the sand and say that all is in order, when in fact it isn’t.

In the past, these conditions on a bachur’s status weren’t scrutinized and enforced anywhere near as exactingly as now. If a boy wanted to fly overseas he did so and they would leave him alone. Now, if a bachur travels overseas and returns mere hours after the seven-day deadline – it’s all over. This is being done in order to increase the numbers of charedim in the army.

I have quite a number of bachurim I’m representing who had their status removed for having volunteered outside of regular yeshiva hours – such as on erev Shabbos or bein hazemanim -- with organizations like Hatzalah or Yedidim (which is like Chaverim in the U.S.). The State would rather they do nothing than that they volunteer for these groups.

Is it true that there are people paid by the army to circulate among bachurim to influence them to enlist?

Yes, of course. I know such individuals personally. I don’t know if they receive money for each bachur they convince to enlist or they receive a salary, but there certainly are such people—charedim in every way -- circulating in the olam hayeshivos. The State is interested in having charedim integrate into society and they use every means at their disposal. 

What is going on currently with the drafting of girls?

I am more involved with cases of bachurim than of girls. But I can tell you that just days ago there was a Supreme Court ruling in a case in which a young woman named Moriah Sheli sought an exemption despite having been late in submitting her tatzhir dat, declaration of religiosity.

The court rejected her petition, and in the opinion, they stated that the fact that the number of religious girls entering the army continues to rise is proof that there is no intrinsic contradiction between a girl being religious and serving in the army. This is a very ominous development, because it undermines the entire basis for religious exemptions.

Ever since a Supreme Court case about three years ago in which a non-religious girl sought an exemption claiming she was religious, the army has begun giving even unquestionably religious girls – including very Charedi ones – a very difficult time. I represent girls who are regularly summoned to the draft office for a ra’ayon dat, an interview to determine their religiosity –something that never occurred in the past. At these interviews, they are bombarded with questions that even you and I might have a difficult time answering under pressure, seated before intimidating army officers. They are questioned about obscure points of Jewish law, such as which brachot to make on various foods and the order of precedence of brachot, or are told to recite tefillot by heart, starting from the middle of a paragraph. There are many girls who lead religious lives but don’t attend Torah shiurim and aren’t familiar with halacha, yet these girls are forced into the army as a result of such interviews.

Can you describe a bit about the experience of being in the army?

I served in the army and I still do milu’im. The moment one enters the army, one’s hashkafa changes, he begins to feel himself a part of Israeli society. A charedi bachur who enters the army will not remain as he was – there’s no one who denies that. He is exposed to different types of people and different cultures, and sometimes he begins to adopt those as his own.

Some claim that there’s no draft crisis because, after all, “no one is ever taken directly from yeshiva into the army,” and they challenge those who claim there is a crisis to find such instances. What is your response?

Perhaps they’re right that bachurim aren’t generally taken physically from yeshiva straight into the army. But the way the process works, once the army removes a bachur’s exemption and he is forced to fight against being drafted, he will indeed end up in the army unless organizations like Ichud Bnei Torah HaSefardim and others can hire attorneys to secure his release.

So, while a bachur may not be dragged physically from his shtender to the army base, being stripped of his exemption means that, barring special intervention, a process has begun that will lead to his being forced into the army. I have represented a number of bachurim who were imprisoned after losing their exempt status and as a result ended up giving in and going into the army.

I have a question for those who say that bachurei yeshiva are not being caught in the draft: Why is it that Degel HaTorah itself has someone named Rav Godenthal, whose entire job is to work on freeing bachurim who have been caught up in the draft process? He is very busy, so obviously there is a major problem in this area. People in America have a very great advantage in that they’re not caught up in the politics here, so they can see the picture of what’s going on here from a detached perspective, unlike people here who are biased by the fact that whole identity is tied into the politics. I’m not politically involved and I’m not connected to one side or another. Although I may wear a black kippah, I don’t see myself as a standard charedi. We need to face the facts: There are problems and we need to deal with them. If someone wants to say, “There are problems, but we don’t have the ability to deal with them,” that’s also a possible response. But what’s not valid is to say there are no problems.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Your dad is sleeping now

"Your dad is sleeping now." This is what was said to comfort the young daughter of the 36 year old paramedic Mohammed al-Judeli.   Video

An Israeli sniper killed him as he was tending to the wounded at the Gaza separation fence last month. The sniper shot him in the face. The snipers have now killed 4-medics.  

If this little girl's weeping doesn't break your heart, then I feel sorry for you for you have lost your way. Whatever your politics, whether you believe the army is responding appropriately to the protests or not (I believe it is responding inappropriately), you have to feel compassion for this little girl. 

"You should pray for the welfare of the whole world and feel other's pain. This is the way of the righteous. David HaMelech said, "And I, when they were ill, dressed in sackcloth, I afflicted myself with fasting." (Tehillim 35:13) Do not pray and beseech God only for your own needs. Pray also that all humanity should live in peace. When there is peace among governments, there is peace in the world."
(Rabbeinu Yona of Girona, on Pirkei Avos 3:2. Rabbeinu Yona, d. 1263, who is referenced several times in Tosfos, was the teacher of the Rashba. He is the author of the classic Gates of Repentance.)

"The land of the Divine Torah is there for the people who live in it. Its most valuable product, the purpose and goal of the whole of God's Blessing directed to it, is every human life nourished by it, through its means able to dedicate itself to making God's Torah into a realisation. The land is only given on the condition of every human life respected as being unassailably sacred to the Torah. One drop of innocent blood shed and no notice taken of it drops a stitch in the bond which connects the land with the nation and both with God. (see verses 33 and 34). This holding human life to be so sacred is to be made evident immediately on taking possession of the land in the division of it by instituting the arrangement which the Torah had already referred to in the fundamental laws of Torah social life." (Ex. XXI, 13, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on Bamidbar 35:10)

“Compassion is the feeling of sympathy which the pain of one being awakens in another; and the higher and more human the beings are, the more keenly attuned they are to re-echo the note of suffering, which, like a voice from heaven, penetrates the heart, bringing all creatures a proof of their kinship in the universal God. And as for man, whose function it is to show respect and love for God's universe and all its creatures, his heart has been created so tender that it feels with the whole organic world bestowing sympathy even on beings devoid of feeling, mourning even for fading flowers; so that, if nothing else, the very nature of his heart must teach him that he is required above everything to feel himself the brother of all beings, and to recognize the claim of all beings to his love and his beneficence.” (Rabbi Samson R. Hirsch, Horeb,125)

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Rav Hirsch was anti-Zionist

Many of the people who improperly use Rav Hirsch as a license for a highly secular Modern Orthodoxy try to deny that he was a staunch anti-Zionist. We see his anti-Zionism in writings from his first books (19 Letters and Horeb) to his last (the Siddur). I make no apologies for posting anti-Zionist material on a Rav Hirsch blog and have no reason to believe that his view would have changed particularly as the state and its 4.5 million Shabbos violators sin on the land every second of the day to a degree that is unlike any in history. Just as I would post material that concerns applications of Torah Im Derech Eretz in our times or R' Hirsch's educational program, I'll post material concerning anti-Zionism as it applies right now. 

Near the end of his life in 1886, Rav Hirsch wrote to Rabbi Yaakov Lipshitz, personal secretary of Rabbi Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, “I was completely opposed to Rabbi Kalischer on this subject. More than three or four times he wrote to me and sent me his books and pressured me to take a leading role in his movement to settle Eretz Yisroel, until he finally came to me and accused me of delaying the redemption. And I asked him to leave me alone on this matter, for what they consider a great mitzvah is in my eyes no small sin, and therefore it is impossible to reach common ground.” (Shemesh Marpei, p. 216)

Here is what Rav Hirsch wrote to Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Kalischer, founder of Chovevei Tzion: 

"My mind is too small to recognize the good and truth that will result, according to you, from your efforts in colonizing Eretz Yisroel. What you consider a mitzvah and a great obligation, does not seem so in my humble opinion. I have no knowledge of secret matters, and I see nothing better than to continue on the road paved by our fathers and predecessors, who made it their goal only to improve our Torah observance, and to look forward to the redemption, which might come any day, if we only listen to G-d's voice. They never approached redemption through the improvement of the Holy Land, only through the improvement of our hearts and deeds." (Shemesh Marpei, p. 211)
That's a clear statement. If you can't handle it, that's something for you to work on if you are a student of R' Hirsch. 

More from Rav Hirsch:

Israel should be one nation, an entire nation that should have no other foundation for its existence, survival, activity and significance other than this Torah. It is to see the realization and devoted observance of this God-given "fiery Law" as its one contribution in world history for the edifice of human salvation. What the Phoenicians sought to bring about with the keels of their ships, what the ancient Greeks sought to achieve with their chisels and what the ancient Romans sought to attain with their swords, Israel is to accomplish with its Torah. Nay more, Israel is a nation that became a nation only through and for the Torah, a nation that once owned a land and existed as a state only through and for the Torah, and which possessed that land and that statehood only as instruments for translating the Torah into living reality. This is why Israel was a people even before it possessed land and statehood; this, too, is why Israel survived as a people even after its land was destroyed and its statehood lost, and this is why it will survive as a nation as long as it does not lose this only מורשה, this sole foundation for its survival and significance. That is the kind of nation that Israel, that all of us, should be. 

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch "The Character of the Jewish Community," Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 35


It was not the land that Moses had been commanded to proclaim to his people at the outset of his mission as מורשה, as the inheritance they were to preserve (Ex. 6,8). The Law, to be translated into full reality upon that soil, was to be the true מורשה, the one true, everlasting inheritance, the one true center around which the nation and its leaders were to gather as one united community. Herein lay the goal and the destiny, the character and the significance of the people.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch "The Kehillah," Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 62

The Jewish Kehillah was a Kehillah already in the wilderness, and therein lies the unique character and the eternity of the community that is the Jewish people. Israel was a people and a community even before it was given political independence and a land of its own. That is why it was able to remain a people and a community also long after it had lost its land and independence and, in fact, had been completely absorbed into other political and national entities. For it is not a land and the independence derived from possessing a land of its own that makes Israel a people or a community. The element that welds Israel into one national entity is the Law of God, the mission assigned to the people of Israel by the Law they hold in common, a mission they must accomplish by united, concerted efforts. This is what fuses all the sons of Israel into one united whole; land and political independence are only means to help them accomplish this mission better and more completely:

He led His people to freedom with joy, 
And His chosen ones with jubilation. 
And caused them to conquer the territory of the nations, 
So that they might keep His Laws and uphold His 
teachings, Hallelujah! 

Psalms 105,43-45

Israel was not given the Law so that it might win political independence and national prosperity; rather, Israel was given political independence and national prosperity so that it might be able to observe the Law. תורה, the Law, remains the eternal, unchanging goal, the purpose of the national existence of the Jew. This purpose does not vary with the degree of independence or prosperity that the Jewish nation enjoys at any given time. Freedom makes it easier for Israel to observe the Law; prosperity enables the people of Israel to accomplish its mission more fully. Political pressure will make observance of the Law more difficult, and lack of independence will leave the fulfillment of Israel's mission incomplete. But all of Israel's apparent fate signifies only a greater or smaller allotment of means for accomplishing the mission assigned to it by the Law of God. Israel's mission as such remains unchanged, and hence also remains the one unchanging bond that unites the larger Kehillath Ya'akov as a whole, as well as each small Kehillah that exists only as a daughter branch of the great, total Kehillah. 

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch "The Kehillah," Collected Writings, Vol. VI, pp. 64-5


The land of the Divine Torah is there for the people who live in it. Its most valuable product, the purpose and goal of the whole of God's Blessing directed to it, is every human life nourished by it, through its means able to dedicate itself to making God's Torah into a realisation. The land is only given on the condition of every human life respected as being unassailably sacred to the Torah. One drop of innocent blood shed and no notice taken of it drops a stitch in the bond which connects the land with the nation and both with God. (see verses 33 and 34). This holding human life to be so sacred is to be made evident immediately on taking possession of the land in the division of it by instituting the arrangement which the Torah had already referred to in the fundamental laws of Torah social life. (Ex. XXI, 13). 

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on Bamidbar 35:10


When Israel was still united in a common land they did not call themselves Am, one people, for the reason that one common soil bore them all. For, alone among all the peoples of the earth, the possession of the land and the ensuing organization of the State was for Israel not an end but a means to the better fulfilment of their Jewish duties. The Torah did not exist for the State, but the State for the Torah. And only the Torah, the idea of being joint bearers of a spiritual calling, fused the individuals into an association of human beings whose inner cohesiveness is reflected in the term (literally, society) and whose character in the wider sense as a nation is designated by the term גוי that is to say, a corporate body or a people.

And even later on, far away from her land, when Israel sees her visible bonds of nationhood broken, the dispersed Jews call themselves Am, one nation, not in remembrance of a land once jointly possessed, not looking towards the future when God, as His words through the prophets teach us, will once more have united them, but in the consciousness of being, in the present as in the past, bearers of an eternal idea, an eternal mission, and of a God-given destiny which, in Israel, overshadowed, and still overshadows, the existence of the State, and which therefore has survived the State's downfall. We mourn over the sin which brought about that downfall, we take to heart the harshness which we have encountered in our years of wandering as the chastisement of a father imposed on us for our improvement, and we mourn the lack of observance of the Torah which that ruin has brought about. Not in order to shine as a nation among nations do we raise our prayers and hopes for a reunion in our land, but in order to find a soil for the better fulfilment of our spiritual vocation in that reunion and in the land which was promised, and given, and again promised for our observance of the Torah. But this very vocation obliges us, until God shall call us back to the Holy Land, to live and to work as patriots wherever He has placed us, to collect all the physical, material and spiritual forces and all that is noble in Israel to further the weal of the nations which have given us shelter. It obliges us, further, to allow our longing for the far-offland to express itself only in mourning, in wishing and hoping; and only through the honest fulfilment of all Jewish duties to await the realization of this hope. But it forbids us to strive for the reunion or the possession of the land by any but spiritual means.' Our Sages say God imposed three vows when He sent Israel into the wilderness: (I) that the children ofIsrael shall never seek to re-establish their nation by themselves; (2) that they shall never be disloyal to the, nations which have given them shelter; (3) that these nations shall not oppress them excessively (Kethuboth, III, I). The fulfilment of the first two vows is confirmed in the pages of history; about the third, the nations concerned must judge themselves.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Horeb 608


“When, during the reign of Hadrian, the uprising led by Bar Kochba proved a disastrous error, it became essential that the Jewish people be reminded for all times of another important fact; namely, that Israel must never again attempt to restore its national independence by its own power; it was to entrust its future as a nation solely to Divine Providence. Therefore when the nation, crushed by this new blow, had recovered its breath and hailed even the permission to give a decent burial to the hundreds of thousands who had fallen about Betar as the dawn of a better day, the sages who met at Yavneh added yet another blessing to the prayer for the restoration of Jerusalem. This fourth blessing is an acknowledgement that it has always been G-d and G-d alone Who has given us, and still gives us to this very day, that good in which we have had cause to rejoice; and that for future good, too, we may look to none other but G-d, and none besides Him." 

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary to the Prayer Book, p. 703


There was a need to impress upon the mind of the Israelite who possessed freedom and land the value of the Torah. There was a need to proclaim to the State as a whole and to each individual in it: "The land which you own, the fields which bloom for you and the fruits which ripen for you--these are not your gods and your goods, these do not constitute you a nation nor are they the objects of your strivings as people and individuals. All these have been given to you for the sake of the Torah; for the sake of the Torah you possess them, and without the Torah you would lose them. All this land with its abundance of milk and honey, and all the rich and free national life which flourishes on it, are only a means and have only one object, namely, with this freedom and abundance to develop a communal, collective and individual life such as your God and Master has prescribed for you in the Torah." To impress on our minds and hearts this unconditional value of the Torah and the conditional value of all other possessions--this was the purpose of the ספירה of the days and weeks which  ואחד ב"ד וכל אחד , both the heads of the community and every individual in Israel מהחל חרמש בקמה had to count from the first setting of the sickle to the corn up to מתן תורה to the festival of the giving of the Law. 

In course of time Israel forgot this counting. It ceased to count up to its Torah and to see in the Torah the principal element in its national existence. It began to look for freedom and independence to its land and soil, to which it had the same right of possession as any other people to its own land. It imagined that it was entitled to count by its land, that it could dispense with the Torah and retain bread and soil, freedom and independence without the Torah, and "Judah's gods became as numerous as his cities". Then it lost land and soil, freedom and independence, saving nothing but the Torah up to which it counted no more in the land itself, and it wandered in strange lands for two thousand years. The seasons go round, the sun shines and the dew falls, but for the Jew no seeds sprout, no fields bloom, he no more puts the sickle to his own corn. And why? Because he wanted his activities to end with this sickle, and he was not willing to begin from this sickle to count to his Torah. From the time that he deified the sickle he lost the sickle! 

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, "Iyar," Judaism Eternal, Vol. I, p. 80-1.


The Teaching which Moses commanded us" so runs the national creed which is to be the heritage of Israel from generation to generation. It is this Torah which is מורשה, the real inherited estate, not the Land and what it offers, the Teaching is the national Jewish heritage, land, and power are only the conditional consequences of this treasure.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary on Devarim 33:4 

"From twenty years old and upward, each one who goes forth into communal service in Yisrael." Bamidbar 1:3
"The term צבא in Scripture does not necessarily, or even primarily, denote an army, or service in an armed "host." In Numbers 4:3, כל בא לצבא לעשות מלאכה באהל מועד ["each one who comes to communal service to do (sacred) work in the Tent of Appointed Meeting"]; ibid., Verse 23 'לצבא צבא לעבוד וגו ["who comes to perform communal service, to minister..."], and also elsewhere in Scripture, it refers to the service performed by the Levites in the Tabernacle. Verses 24 and 14 in Chapter 8, too, prove that צבא denotes any group of individuals united for communal service under the orders of a higher authority, or the service to be performed by such individuals. In the present verse, too, צבא need not necessarily have the connotation of armed service. Rather, it would denote anyone under obligation to come forth from his private life and perform communal services whenever this is needed; hence, anyone on whom the community can rely upon to attend to its interests...."

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary on Bamidbar 1:3, The Chumash, Judaica Press, Translation by Gertrude Hirschler