Are the Agudah Zionists after all?

In an emotional outburst against Tzipi Livni, MK, Rabbi Yisrael Eichler MK is reported by Arutz Sheva as having stated that

“It is only because of the ultra-Orthodox, here in Israel, that today we are in our beloved homeland of three-thousand years dating back to God’s promise to Abraham that ‘to your seed I shall give the land’,”

What does this mean? Surely the meaning is that as a reward for Limud HaTorah and Shmiras HaMitzvos, Hashem is supporting the continued existence and security of a Jewish State. But what of the three oaths, which are quoted by Satmar, Neturei Karta, Shomrei Emunim and the like? Does it mean that according to United Torah Judaism, these are superseded by the protection of Torah? What then is the view of Satmar et al? Do they contend that irrespective of the amount of Torah in the State of Israel, the “State” entity itself, as opposed to the land, is enough to cause much of the manifest problems we experience? I’ve never understood, then, why they don’t leave the State. It’s one thing to say I don’t take “anything” from the Government of the State, but how does this make any difference. Why are they living there? After all, the Satmar Rebbe chose not to live there. Could they not all go to Williamsburg or Brussels and live the same lives without infuriating Satan by their living and expanding in the State they should not be part of?

So you say it’s forbidden to leave Israel, that’s why they don’t leave. The reality though is that they have left in the past and do leave. Is Torah protecting the State, as per the comment of Rabbi Eichler? Perhaps they contend that their Limud HaTorah only protects their own.

My comments, above, should be seen as largely tongue-in-cheek. The point I am trying to make is what purpose is there in making statements like this, especially in a parliament where some members are anti-religious or ambivalent towards the religious. What is served by such an outburst? Will the Israeli public all of a sudden take their side? I just don’t get it. These type of comments, as well as comments in the past, where Eichler stated

“Reform Jews are worse than our enemies. They are anti-semites who hate Israel”

achieve very little. Okay, I know that Reform is gravely problematic, but anti-semites? I haven’t met a Reform Jew who wants to kill me. They are misguided, certainly.

It is true that there are elements of the Israeli press who actively seek to ridicule Charedim. That phenomenon must be condemned. But it is equally true that the Charedim do themselves no good at all when they exude

  • angry and vitriolic hate
  • physical aggression against those who aren’t up to their standards
  • supremacist invective
  • an “us” versus “them” divide

Perhaps it’s the Chabad upbringing in me and/or the extreme love philosophy of Rav Kook, but I just don’t see how this style of negativity achieves anything, except more ridicule and a lowering of Kavod HaTorah.

I’m probably living in a fool’s paradise. Closeted in Australia, I still see the role of a frum politician as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity not to behave in the same way as those who haven’t benefited from Torah. It is an opportunity to always behave with decorum and speak respectfully. It is an opportunity to reject anti-Torah legislation through powerful speeches laden with an ambience that will trigger the Nefesh Elokis in most parliamentarians (Rav Lau comes to mind).

Do you know why the so-called “slut walk” is planned to take place Rachmono Litzlan in Yerusholayim? It’s not just because the walkers don’t comprehend the Kedusha therein. It’s also because Kedusha has to be radiated. If the proverbial fans of this radiation are seen to be vituperative pariahs on account of spiteful mouths and a lack of support for the physical safety of the country, the Kedusha finds it harder to permeate and is concealed.

There is no point being triumphalist. דברי תורה בנחת נשמעין

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia although my views have nought to do with my employer. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

1 thought on “Are the Agudah Zionists after all?”

  1. An excellent post. And the reform are no more misguided than people who yell and scream
    nasty comments and represent the Torah with anger. A friend of mine once said to me…”if you have to raise your voice to get your point across I want no part of this religion” It is true. The only way anyone will actually listen to you is with kindness and love. Ahavat Chinam!

    Like

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