I Want to Say Thank You, But Cannot Find the Words


rabbi-ron-yitzchok-eisenmanBy Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman

Story Number One

One day a young teacher in a Yeshiva Day School whose staff was Chareidi – although the student body was what we refer to as “Modern Orthodox’ and therefore positively inclined to The State of Israel- walked into the school office.

The young teacher was told by the secretary that tomorrow was Yom Yerushalayim and she should be prepared to teach accordingly.

The young teacher looked at the secretary and innocently asked. “What is Yom Yerushalayim?”

The secretary, a nominal Shomer Shabbos woman who was a holocaust survivor looked incredulously at the young woman.

“How could you not know what Yom Yerushalayim is?”

The young woman did not comprehend the older woman’s shock and older woman could not comprehend the younger woman’s ignorance.

As the younger woman left the office, she asked a more veteran colleague who had witnessed the exchange, “What is Yom Yerushalayim?”

The veteran Chareidi teacher looked at her and said dismissively, “Oh, it’s nothing, just some silly meaningless Zionist holiday.”

A Rebbe who observed the entire episode walked away disillusioned.

Story Number Two

A young Yeshiva man has been informed by his Religious Zionist relatives that the ‘place’ to be on Yom Yerushalayim is Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Yerushalayim.

He arrives in the night and the dancing is in full swing. The fervor and the enthusiasm on the faces of the young men are contagious.

Suddenly a black official looking car pulls up at the yeshiva.

The young men in the dancing circles break up and encircle the immerging visitor from the car.

The young yeshiva man imagines that a great and distinguished rabbi must be arriving to join the festivities.

The yeshiva man stands up to get a glimpse of the immerging dignitary.

As the dignitary emerges he is surrounded by the oldest and most fervent of the dancers.

The young yeshiva man sees how the first group of dancers who are four abreast in formation are singing the traditional, ‘Or zarua latzadik ul’yishrei leiv simchahLight is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.”

This is a song traditionally reserved for true righteous and pious men.

As the young man observed the faces of the dancers, he noticed their faces were drenched in perspiration; their eyes were closed in sincere devotion and their entire faces indicated an ecstatic trance of exuberance.

Who was this larger than life figure who caused them to dance in ecstatic rapture?

Who was this reputable role-model?

Finally his face came into view.

The yeshiva boy’s face paled and he blanched.

The man, who was clean shaven, did not look rabbinic at all.

Indeed, on further investigation he was informed that although the dignitary had descended from a long line of prominent Sephardic Rabbis he himself went around bare-headed (that night he wore a Yarmulke) and from all accounts was not even a Shomer Shabbos!
Indeed, his entire claim to fame was that he was the President of the State of Israel, Yitzchak Navon.

Although it was noteworthy that he had come to ‘pay his respects’ to the yeshiva, however, the outpouring of messianic fervor as displayed by the euphoric and entranced dancers, was too much for the young man to observe and he left the ceremonies disillusioned.

Part Three

I am the Rebbe in Story Number One and I am young man in Story Number Two.

Although as I have mentioned before, many of you will not agree with my conclusions and suggestions; and many will not be happy with my disillusionment with both of the stories; I am who I am and as I have stated in the past, even though I never contend that I speak for you, perhaps I can speak to you.

The Problem

The problem as I see it is that no one and I mean no one, no matter how great your rebbe might be and no matter how many miracles he may have purported to fulfilled, no one knows the ways of Hashem.

The fact is that the establishment of The State of Israel and liberation of the Holy Places are the most vexing spiritual problems which have and continues to engage rabbinic leadership for the last 64 years; and it does not seem to be abating in the near future.

We find -if we are honest with each other- great and I mean great Rabbis on all sides of the debate.

Of course as is standard in religious debate, each side conveniently rejects and worse vilifies the other side’s rabbinic stance and dismisses them as being wrong at best and heretical at worse.

The only purpose this ‘sum-zero’ approach serves is to further facilitate a lack of unity and precludes any attempt at reconciliation and of working together in all the other issues which we ostensibly agree.

Yom Yerushalayim and Yom HaAtzmaut have boiled down to people asking each other:

“Did you say Hallel?” If you answer “Yes” and the inquisitor is from the Hareidi camp you have lost any semblance of authenticity and you are branded a ‘Tziyoni“; which is not far from being a total heretic.

If you answer “No” and the inquisitor is from the Religious Zionist camp you have lost any semblance of authenticity and you are branded a ‘Chareidi- Zealot“; which is not far from being a total heretic.

And although I am of course exaggerating for dramatic effect; the reality is not too distant from the drama.

The Solution

With the exception of perhaps 10% of our people who are die-hard Satanists who believe the State is a satanic plot; and perhaps another 10% die-hard messianists who believe that everything and anything associated with The State is messianic and good; irrespective of it’s anti-religious nature; the remaining 80% majority of religious Jews fall somewhere in the middle.

Meaning, they appreciate and recognize G-d’s benevolence towards His people by creating the State and by allowing and enabling us to go to the Kosel and live and visit all over Yerushalayim; while simultaneously recognizing the shortcomings of The State.

However, they disagree ‘slightly’ on how to express this appreciation.

There are those who say ‘Thank You’ quietly and those that say it publicly with Hallel.

However, as long as the debate revolves around the ‘all or nothing’ approach, meaning: either you are totally with me and fly the flag or either you are with me and do not fly the flag, no cooperation and unity can be achieved.

Therefore, perhaps a new approach should be considered; namely the following.

Let us respect all the opinions.

However, at the same time let the 80% of world religious Jews who accept and ‘want’ to thank Hashem for His benevolence be allowed to do so in the manner they see fit.

Let us cease to judge either other by considering solely our standards and instead respect them for that they do and realize that although I would hope they would express their thanks the way I do, I recognize their feelings and embrace them for being much closer to me than further from me.

Indeed, by recognizing the possibility of the authenticity of someone else’s opinion you stand the chance of having them recognize your opinion much more than if you vilify and totally discount their opinions!

We have to begin to cease stressing that which divides us specifically in this issue.

By ceasing to criticize that which people do and/or do not do we actually have a better chance of bringing unity among us than by constantly arguing and attempting to persuade them of our opinions!

Final Story-

What Does Rabbi Eisenman ‘hold’?

My feelings can be best summed by quoting the story of Rav Shimon Schwab Zt”l when he was a student in the Mirrer Yeshiva in Europe.

At the end of the semester, the Mashgiach, Rav Yeruchem Levovitz Zt”l lent him money for the trip home.

Rav Shimon said, “Thank you.”

Rav Levovitz was incensed. “How can you say ‘thank you’? That is ribis (usury) and by answering “Thank you”, you are paying me ‘back’ more than I gave you. This is halachickally wrong!”

When Rav Schwab returned to the yeshiva after the summer break he returned the money to Rav Levovitz. He gave him the money and said nothing.

The Mashgiach looked at him and screamed, “That’s it? You just give me the money? Where are you manners? You do not say ‘Thank you’?”
Rav Schwab did not know where to turn.

The Mashgiach explained.

The Halacha is that a Jew does not say ‘thank you’ to another Jew for lending him money. Therefore I had to tell you that it was improper for you to say ‘thank you’.

However, when you returned the money and I observed on your face that you were not even struggling with the basic human need to say ‘thank you’ for my lending you the money; I had to tell you that that was also wrong. Meaning, a human being must want to say ‘thank you’ when they are the beneficiaries of goodness. The fact that I failed to see that you ‘wanted’ to say ‘thank you’ but were precluded to do so because of the Halacha against usury- that caused me to rebuke you.”

Friends, whether and if and how one says Hallel today is a halachik dispute involving much greater people than me. I would never dare to wade into the murky and potentially dangerous halachik waters of such a dispute.

However, one thing I can say- (and I have heard from very reliable sources that this is the opinion of Rav Elyashiv Shlitta!)-

To just jump in and decide that ‘you’ want to say Hallel today, that may (or may not) be precluded by the Halacha and you may want to revisit your halachik opinions.

However, if you do not even want to say Hallel today, you may want to revisit your Jewish heart.

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. It’s a nice thought, but there are other opinions.

    According to the Satmar Rebbe Ztza”l and others it’s a day of mourning.

    Imagin what kind of happiness you would have when doctors ‘saved’ your son’s life but in the process replaced his brain with that of an eithiest r”l…

    Nut just the Halacha “isn’t a simple manner”, but the feeling itself, your last line, isn’t simple either.

  2. This is consistent with Ponovitch flying the Israeli flag on Yom Ha’atzmaot.

    Hopefully, this article might spur us to help Moshiach take one step closer…

  3. “The fact is that the establishment of The State of Israel and liberation of the Holy Places are the most vexing spiritual problems which have and continues to engage rabbinic leadership for the last 64 years; and it does not seem to be abating in the near future.”

    Tall statement

    “The Mashgiach looked at him and screamed, “That’s it? ”

    Highly unlikely that Rav Yeruchem raised his voice.

  4. Finally – words of common sense and ahavas Yisroel. It’s become: “Kal Yisrael areivem zeh l’zeh – but only if you hold by my shitah.” I don’t think that was the original meaning of the words.

    Rabbi Eisenman is a breath of sanity in a world which seems to be losing its moorings – and not because of the internet, either.

  5. to #2
    Rabbi Eisenman addressed the minute opinion that The State is an outgrowth of the sitra achara…and the majority chareidi view does not subscribe to it.

  6. Rabbi Eisenman is incorrect about Rav Elyashev’s opinion. Also, Rav Eliashev said that the Kenneset is beis minus and forbidden to enter.

    The best “middle” approach to this issue is the Brisker mehalech.

  7. Does Rabbi Eisenman have a powerful urge to say hallel on purim, on v-day the date of the end of the inquistion? Does he know what the midrash says about those who say hallel on days that were not mesaken by the chachamim? Did he learn the rishonim about why we don’t say hallel on purim and apply it to the state of Israel?

  8. to #6

    the state IS an outgrouth of the sitra achra, the more they have control over the more of their tum’ah they can bring into wherever they have control, so in essence when they captured yerushalayim it just gave them the ability to further spread their tum’ah into the IR HAKODESH

    has anyone ever been on rechov yaffo at night or in talpiyot or many other areas

    its much better to have the goyim do those things there than to have acheinu beis yisroel doing such lowly things in eretz yisroel

  9. Rabbi Eisenman, as a long time “fan” of your writings and droshos, let me state that once again you hit it out of the park!
    Yasher Koach!
    (Your admirer in Lakewood – you know who I am)

  10. Sorry to disagree with you but your assertion that there are great Rabbis on both sides is just plain wrong. Zionism may have had some Rabbinic supporters who were worthy but they were a miyut sh’bimiyut compared to the g’dolay hador from across the litvish/chasidish spectrum who were vehemently against it y’harog v’al yaavor. Secondly your suggestion that we should feel like we want to say Hallel even though we don’t is also misguided because Yom Ha’atzmot is a secular holiday which really has no significance to the frum yid. Its not a day when a special nes occurred & the fact that the religious zionists choose to celebrate it along with the fraay does not make it any more of a day for those in the chareidy camp to reckon with. Please Rabbi let’s follow authentic judaism not feel good judaism.

  11. You gave two examples in the beginning of your post. The first one is an incident that many of us can say ‘been there, seen it, heard it” and is very relevent to bounce off.

    I find that the second example at Yeshiva Mercaz Harav, particularly since I have ‘been there, seen it…’ on two occasssions was misunderstood and perhaps exaggerated. Firstly the Rebbe – Teacher – Day School event you experienced as an ADULT as a Rebbe, was understood and comprehended as an adult. Second, the episode on Yom Yerushalayim you experienced as a young man, an age where we are still developing our impressions, thoughts and experiences. The ruach at the yeshiva on that day is festive, spiritual, full of reus and hakaras hatov to the state. I have seen RESPECT and HONOR relegated to Israeli politicians…never in a similiar path as what is shown towards rebbeim or Roshei Yeshiva. It is accurate to describe their derech as acceptance of a ‘flowering of beginning of the Geulah’ BUT not as you described.

    Thank you for taking the time, effort, sechel and kavod hatorah in discussing a ‘continuous rift in Klal Yisroel’ (which is only growing in size)

  12. #6,
    Just because there was a diagreement about how to fight it – from outside or from within, doesnt mean they disagreed on the plain fact that it was a victory of the enemies of the Torah.

    I respect very much all opinions, but I expect the people of “????? ???? ????” to do the same. Saying in the bottom line that if you arn’t of that opinion you have to check your Jewish heart isn’t consistant with the openness we so desperately need.

    I’m also sure you are not aware what was the CORE PURPOSE of Zionism. It was written black on white on it’s founders writings – plain old assimilation… I understand it’s tempting to come now, today when they’re all ??????? ????? and make believe they were always that way from it’s inseption.

  13. Kibbutz golyaus after milchemes gog umagog of the holocaust is not the beginning of the geulah? These are the most miraculous events of the past 2000 years! Where is the hakoros hatov to G-d?

    We are like the Jews of Egypt who were unable to listen to Moshe because their minds were numbed from all their suffering. Open up your eyes!!!

    Of course we must repent before the redemption is culminated but that does not detract from what has happened till now.

  14. Rabbi Eisenman:

    You wrote the following in today’s “Short Vort”:

    Friends, whether and if and how one says Hallel today is a halachik dispute involving much greater people than me. I would never dare to wade into the murky and potentially dangerous halachik waters of such a dispute.

    However, one thing I can say- (and I have heard from very reliable sources that this is the opinion of Rav Elyashiv Shlitta!)-

    To just jump in and decide that ‘you’ want to say Hallel today, that may (or may not) be precluded by the Halacha and you may want to revisit your halachik opinions.

    Please see the attached news story from Arutz Sheva on December 27, 2011:


    In summary, the article states that the Rav Elyashiv Shlitta is firmly opposed to:

    1. “Hareidim integrating secular college studies with Torah education”, and
    2. “Participation in any form of service in the Israel Defense Forces, including the Nachal Hareidi (Army) and Shachar (Air Force) programs” [designed for Haredi youth].

    Furthermore, Rav Elyashiv Shlitta remarked: “ . . . the secret and foundation to the survival of Torah and of those who fear G-d and live a life of Torah is absolute separation from the world of the secular . . . We must protest and warn against all sorts of trends from the outside that seek to ‘harm the pure oil of the Haredi institutions’ . . . All institutions must be under the control of the Rabbis and must exclude all paths that lead to national service, secular studies, or the army, even if they assure a special framework for Haredi Jews . . . The secular government encourages all sorts of programs, academies, colleges, and the like which promise degrees, licenses, academic credentials, etc. intended to introduce goals and aspirations foreign to our way of life . . . The only true path for Jews is to ‘do the will of our Father in Heaven’ and reject these efforts of foreign aspirations – nationalistic and academic’ “.

    Accordingly, I am wondering the following:

    1. Your own son Tuvia had a brilliant and heroic experience in the Nachal Hareidi of the IDF. Furthermore, several years ago, while Tuvia was serving, you hosted in your home a beautiful fund-raising parlor meeting on behalf of Nachal Haredi, which included very emotional videos of Nachal Hareidi soldiers in action defending Eretz Yisrael and Klal Yisrael. How do you reconcile this to the position of Rav Elyashiv Shlitta?
    2. Do you also advise Charedim to avoid “secular college studies”, as Rav Elyashiv Shlitta poskens?
    3. Rav Elyashiv Shlitta calls for “absolute separation from the world of the secular”. Do you also follow his opinion on this?

    Excuse me for saying so, but something is very wrong with this picture.


    Bruce Bublick

  15. Very PC way to approach the topic. There are a lot of opinions, emotional feelings on both sides of the fence, yadda yadda yadda. Great for a blog.

    But even in the section entitled “What Does Rabbi Eisenman ‘hold’?”, Rabbi Eisenman falls short and never takes a position, instead claiming “whether and if and how one says Hallel today is a halachik dispute involving much greater people than me.”

    He also combines Yom Yerushalayim and Yom HaAtzmaut into the same type of question, when they actually have different halachic implications.

    Missed opportunity to really shine. But looking forward to future postings.

  16. The 13:30 daily mincha minyan at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital meets in the shul with the Chagall windows. It seats, maybe 150.

    Some of the Shabbat minyanim also daven there; other daily and Shabbat minyanim meet in the smaller beit knesset, which seats about 50.

    Unlike many minyanim, both in America and in E”Y, the mitpalleim come from all streams of Orthodoxy – various Hasidishe sects (as evidenced by their b’gadim on Shabbat), chareidi Mitnagdim, Religious Zionists, and probably some who are not yet dati.

    I davened at the 13:30 mincha minyan yesterday. Based on appearances, I can state that, as usual, the crowd was a mixture of Orthodox.

    I wondered whether the ba’al t’fila would say Tachanun, or skip it, or be silent and allow those who wanted to say it the time to do so. And would there be an uproar no matter what he did.

    He appeared to be dati l’umi. And he did not say Tachanun. And there was no uproar.

    It was nice to see am Yisrael davening together and respectfully.

  17. The Satmar Rav was a daas yochid. The Cahzon Ish , Brisker Rov ( a siz geven a shmeichel fuhn der himlen) Rav Ahron, Rav Moshe, Rav Yakov , Rav Ruderman the Telzer R”Y of old , Rav Hutner, the Gerrer Rebbes, the Boyaner Rebbe ZTL & others argued

  18. Although I don’t profess to have even a minute amount of R’ Eisenman’s wisdom, I must say that he has put my feelings into words regarding Zionism.We can’t disregard the anti zionistic views of our very great gedolim, but we can’t just say that the formation of Medinas Yisroel, and all the benefits to Yidden that come with it, is just a blip in history. It must have a special meaning to us, to some degree, at least.

  19. #20,
    Not true.
    The Satmar Rav was a Daas Yachid when it came to “what do we do about it”, but all those you mentioned agreed it was a tragedy. A victory of the enemies of the Torah, who took controll of Am Yisroel. Plain and simple.

    Again, I respect those who are thankful on this day, out of ignorance, and out of loving Eretz Yisroel etc. But I’m sure had they seen the whole pictue they wouldn’t be too happy…

  20. These ongoing discussions are for Americans and out of Israel residents. Those in Israel do as #18 wrote, daven with whomever is the baal tefillah.
    Israelis are not fighting these hashkafas as much as those in America are.
    HELLO BRUCE: As the mishpacha of Harav Hagaon Posuk Hador Rav Elyashuv have said on numerous occasions if you did not hear it from Harav personally….look elsewhere. BTW when someone quotes a posuk of a gadol does not mean that that is his/her Derech, and every child needs/desires/expects a chinuch that fits him/her.

  21. Is this the same rabbi that wrote a artical in another “frum” website against the asifa and about how he joined the protest outside citifield.