Responding to Rabbi Lipman


chareidimDear Editor,

At the risk of belaboring the points made in regard to Rabbi Limpman’s response ( May 3, 2012) I would like to say that I would normally need not  respond and can respect other opinions even if they differ from mine. But I must respond in this case because Rabbi Lipman  not only completely misconstrued what I said but accused me personally of spreading lies about David ben Gurion and thus harboring sinas chinam. Such accusations are beyond the pale of the intellectual discourse I had hoped my letter/response would bring and passing that image of Charedim onto your non-Charedi readership will only lead to more baseless hatred and “us vs. them” which is the very animosity Rabbi Lipman and I are trying to avoid.

Let me preface by saying whole heartedly that the intent of my response was not to pour more oil on the flame of distrust but rather was an effort to clarify the position of the Charedi world so that  both Charedim and Non-Charedim could begin to understand each other better and thus move from entrenched positions to underlying common interests, that of redemption. As Reb Elya Meir Bloch Ztl(Rosh Yeshiva of Telz) echoed in 1954 we Charedim should never lose sight that while we do not accept Zionism as is currently understood by the current State of Israel we should not confuse the Government of Israel with Eretz Yisroel, the Holy Land. We Charedim should still be longing and actively involved in bringing the final redemption rather than completely forsaking such a Mitzva (Yishuv Eretz Yisroel) simply because of an ideology that we hold foreign has taken over the reins.

In the end we are all a part of Klal Yisroel and believe it or not we are all on the same side. When, for example, the Zionists lose we all lose in a sense and vice versa. Allow me to explain. I heard the entire speech given by Yair Lapid at the Charadi graduation in Kirat Ono that Rabbi Lipman referred to and while it was a first step towards possible reconciliation and a very positive heartfelt speech I felt it was anticlimactic in that Yair kept saying that the Charedim won and the Non-Religious lost not realizing that this is not about winning or losing. If Yair could consider the victory of the Charadim a loss for his  family and his irreligious friends what does that say about our responsibility as Charadim to spread love and the word of God/D’var Hashem?   We all have much work to do towards mending the broken fences of the past, no doubt, and so this is not about winning since we are all on the same side rather it is about understanding each other and our differing views so that we can move from entrenched positions to common underlying interests. That of bringing the redemption closer so that we may serve the Almighty without all the background noise of hatred, distrust and , shibud malchious(external involvement of other nations).

I was very careful to be respectful of Rabbi Lipman’s suggestion that we may be at a time where we are at the beginning of the final Redemption period. I whole heartedly agreed that that was a distinct possibility while also suggesting, as others much greater then myself have, that  we may however merely be at the period of the end of the exile. These two positions are not something that can be dealt with in a newspaper article and have been widely debated over the last half century long before Rabbi Lipman and I were even born. Sadly, I was not afforded the same respect. Frankly, it was bit churlish for Rabbi Lipman to have the temerity to suggest that if we Charedim would only just listen to “the entire point of his article” and accept Chazal as he understands it then there would be no question that we are in the beginning of the Redemption period. I wonder where does one get the effrontery to say such a thing? I am not suggesting he is wrong nor am I pulling rank with the common Daas Torah argument since they seem to be on both sides of the issue, I am merely suggesting that the matter is far from conclusive as many a greater Rabbi the he and I did not necessarily come to the same conclusion despite learning the same exact Chazal’s. If Rabbi Lipman is going to be intellectually honest he must ask himself why that is the case, no worse than any Scientist or Doctor that seeks peer review. Furthermore, Rabbi Lipman says without equivication and with such surety that though the modern State of Israel could have gone “bad”, “it did not”. Huh? I wonder under what rock is he living? Do not accuse me of suggesting that I am saying it is all bad. On the contrary, to be sure there are so many good things to be proud of but there are some very bad things still going on and the (religious) Zionists (together with the Charadeim, Secular, Traditionalist, etc.) still have much work to do before declaring victory. As but one of many examples (of that which is “bad” amongst the much good, no doubt) should I assume Rabbi Lipman feels that the annual Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv is a good thing?

Rabbi Lipman wonders how “could one question whether one should say Hallel for a redemption that is not complete.” Actually, I was baffled by that question and truly wondered if  he even read what I said (not questioned)? I never questioned or even said it could not be done and I agree Chanukah is a case in point.  I merely stated a fact and said (not questioned) that Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank ZtL and Rav Chatzkel Sarna ZtL, who Rabbi Lipman so prominently referenced in his article, did not say Hallel and neither did David Ben Gurion for that matter. Did it ever occur to Rabbi Lipman why they did not say Hallel? Certainly they were aware of the Chazal’s he mentioned. They even suggested we were at the beginning of the Redmption so why did they not say it? If we are going to be intellectually honest Rabbi Lipman needs to ask as I have, why did they not say Hallel? And while we are mentioning Ben Gurion let me set the record straight. Rabbi Lipman makes it sound as though I suggested Ben Gurion wanted to create a society of rapist, murderers and thieves as though to turn Modern day Israel into a Biblical Sedom and Gomorrah, society run amok. Rather, I merely stated that Ben Gurion wanted that  Zionist society should run the gamut and contain the “full spectrum” with “rapist, murderers, and thieves included” just as any “normal” European society would. Rabbi Lipman is a Talmudic scholar and well aware that the word “included” infers that they are merely one segment of that full spectrum and not the full spectrum itself. Believe it or not Ben Gurion also wanted Charadim as part of the greater Zionist society he envisioned, though according to Professor Yeshaya Leibowitz he seems to have had nefarious reasons for that (see Y. Leibowitz, I wanted to ask you p.338). Rabbi Lipman claims that my reference to Ben Gurion is a lie and  sinas chinam on my part. While that charge is untrue as I bare no hatred in this regard he is technically correct in that we do not have a record (that I am aware of) for posterity showing that Ben Gurion used the above criminals as an example. Nevertheless, as someone that has known a few Talmudic scholars I and others inferred it from the following statement that he did in fact say. Here is what he said. “Zionism would have attained its aims when the first Hebrew speaking policeman arrested the first Hebrew speaking prostitute”(Martin Van Creveld, In the Land of Blood and Honey pg. 27). Even if Rabbi Lipman wanted to be Dan L’kav Zcus (judge favorably) and say that Ben Gurion only said that jokingly after one too many drinks one does not have to be Shakespeare to know that many a truth said in jest. Besides which, I do not find that particularly funny and rather quite offensive as should Rabbi Lipman.

Rabbi Lipman’s claim that I suggested that “everyone but the Charadim are holding back the Moshiach” is both false and ludicrous. On the contrary, I very clearly stated that instead of complaining about the state of affairs we Charedim should “direct the future” by doing more (akin to what Yair Lapid said) and that with “their high birth rate” they would soon have to be reckoned with since no large minority can be ignored forever without dire consequences upon the governing body that rules them. I also stated that while we continue to long for the Redemption “we could do more in that regard”. So it is false to suggest that I suggested that we Charedim are also not holding back Moshicah since there is much more we can do and only a fool would say otherwise.

I must say that while I am gladdened by Rabbi Lipman’s love for Eretz Yisroel he should realize that the Zionists do not have a monopoly on this love even if we should be thankful that with Gods help they made “the desert bloom”(amongst other positive accomplishments).  As I stated the issue is not Moshiach or the longing for the Redemption which is of the first questions that the Heavenly Court will ask us upon our death, but rather an ideology that many a Zionist have themselves stated openly was in direct opposition to God and Judaism.(See for exampleChaim Chassas, in the newspaper of the Zionist’s, Ha’Arutz, 1943, “Zionism and Judaism is not one thing but two different things. And of course two contradicting one another. Zionism starts at the place where Judaism is destroyed…one thing is certain, Zionism is not a continuation or healing of wounded Judaism, but rather an uprooting.”)

I agree with Rabbi Lipman wholeheartedly that this is not about “us vs them” and it was disheartening and hurtful that he would accuse us Charedim of that malaise. By doing so he only seems to further the very animosity he claims to be trying to dispel. In fact, my original letter ended with a call towards Jewish unity. In addition, I referenced the Talmudic passage ( the editor omitted accidentally) in Berachot 10a where Bruria said to her husband Rabbi Meyer,  “destroy the sin, not the sinner” so that we could unite and not confuse other Jews with an ideology that may be foreign. In the end we are all on the same side and are all in this together wanting the same redemption for all of Klall Yisroel. We are but one nation amongst so many that would otherwise destroy us.  God wants us to remember that we are our brother’s keeper and must stick together. As Benjamin Franklin said immediately after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776, “we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately”

With love of all Klall Yisroel,

Jacob  Hirsch Esq.

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  1. I must disagree that zionism is an issue for a jew to wonder if he is “sinning” in hoping for a place in the holy land for his people and for our own ways of jewish life to endure. Clearly if you are not amassed with disbelief and discoordinated impairment, you must clearly see Hashems hand in the creation and fruition of Israel. G-d is not going to bring millions of Jews to the middle east on a fluke or a harmful array of poor self interest.
    Zionism existed for a reason and Hashem is in control of this planet.
    If you do not believe that Hashem is in control, you have lost entire trust in your G-d.
    Bitachon means we must have faith that G-d will bring us to our next day and our future.
    G-d alone decides who lives and who dies. G-ds mission is never obstructed in the whole way of all humanity.
    But rest assured that G-d is True of course and that G-d is very much interested in Israel. With the Knesset and all the secular to ultra orthodox sincere interests. And of course, G-d will continue to change and mold our society as it goes. There are forces for everything in this universe and Hashem always wins.

  2. As reb Gifter z”tzl would say. Who says. V”sechezenah Ainainu B”shuvcha L”zion Berachamim 3 times a day. Me? Or Ben Gurion

  3. “onto your non-Charedi readership” – Lipman’s readership is diverse and assuming yours is too!!

    “rather than completely forsaking such a Mitzva (Yishuv Eretz Yisroel)” – As a former American Charedei Mechanach, this mitzvah holds NO WATER in American chinuch.

  4. #1 – Let me tell you a little secret:

    Without Zionism, Jews were comming and setteling in the Holy land starting 100 years ago, and with the collapse of Europe don’t you think Jews would have come here regardless of the Zionist ideology replacing the Haskalah movement – Jews simply come to EY when they are able to, especially when the world is turning over, just for a place to live, without the whole nationalistic and eihtiest ideology the Zionists have attached to it.

    But it so happened that they got the controll of government, since they were the only ones seeking to create one… The same way Tzdukim had controll during the second Temple, and so on, which doesn’t make it Hashem’s will, of course…

  5. and to Rabbi Lipman: Imagin you had a good succesessful company, which was successful in promoting an important core ideology, but one day it satrted going under, but you still had hope and resolve to turn it arround. But then, your enemy succeeded in convincing your own employees, your managers and engeneers, to work undercover for him and bring you down from within, and one bright day your enemy is able to take you over with your own guys – would that be a happy day?

    It looks like all the same people, same managers etc. and they all say they’re happy, same logo and all, but the core ideology, the main purpose of the company is gone! and the core is that of the enemy…

    I don’t know about you, but to me it’s a day of sadness with a tinge of happiness, I guess something like Tisha B’av…

    It’s like saving your sons health by implanting in his brain that he isn’t your son, but a son of some indian man. How happy would you be on that day? – –

  6. MDshweks

    Those of us who live in Israel see it entirely different (except extremists at each end of the pole). It was a hard labor, most difficult birth and a beautiful baby. Except as the years passed, the infant became a difficult toddler, an even more horrible and wayward child and a reckless teenager. So now we daven for its success & its return and on its birthday we feel “bittersweet” and daven even harder with praises, knowing that one day the nachas, brochos and simcha will be HUGE.

  7. Another misquote of Reb Eli Meir Zt”L……
    he said the mere existence of the State of Israel happened via revealed miracles.

  8. To #1 & 4/7, As one who lived in Israel after our marriage until circumstances forced us back, and as one who has three children currently living in Eretz Yisroel with great mesirus nefesh, and as one who has been involved in ultra chareidi chinuch for the last 45 years, I would like to disagree with the respondents who posited that chareidim harbor less of a love for the land of Israel that their more “open minded” brothers. I learned early on from my father z”l about delirious love for our land. And in all of the many chareidi schools where I have learned and taught, love and longing for the land of our fathers featured prominently. In fact it has born wonderful results. Chareidim form a vastly disproportionate percentage of new olim. It’s not the infant, nor the toddler, nor even the reckless teenager that we have an issue with. The people of Israel are our brethren and we love them dearly even as our hearts cry for their confused state. It is the original “parents” who kidnapped this child in his infancy and decided that it was in his best interest to rob him of his sacred inheritance. For in their own words, the zionist philosophy was created to solve the Jewish problem (ie. Anti-Semitism) by changing the nation of Israel into a nation like every other one. And they have unfortunately succeeded to some degree in creating a society with a very tenuous connection to the source of our uniqueness. What they didn’t, and still don’t, realize is that it hasn’t and will never solve the “Jewish problem”. Only being true to ourselves, our brethren and our G-D can do that.