A Dangerous Breach: On the Difference Between the Knesset and Zionist Organizations

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yated-israelThe following editorial appeared in the Israeli Yated Ne’eman:

We cannot ignore the official announcement of Shas that it has decided to change its basic party platform by embracing the Zionist covenant and incorporating the essential principles as determined by the Zionist movement. At the same time how painful it is to see the Zionist leaders exult and announce this move as a “historical breakthrough” with the creation of a “chareidi-Zionist” party joining the Zionist movement.

Maran HaRav Reuven Grozovsky zt”l, in an essay (“On the Matter of Members of Agudah participating in the Government in Eretz Yisroel”) published in the collection of his essays entitled Ba’ayot Hazman, explained the critical difference between sitting in the Knesset and joining other Zionist organizations.

When the State was founded, and its parliament – known as the Knesset – was set up to determine all of the aspects of public life, Maranan ztvk”l permitted participation in that Knesset, but only in the Knesset. This body is not ideological but political and legislative. Being subject to it is not a matter of choice. It is an institutional body whose decisions bind us whether we agree or not, and we must join it in order to “stand watch that the rosho will not swallow up the tzaddik. Doing so is not joining them, nor consenting to them, nor aiding them, nor subjugating ourselves to them – but simply standing up for our own rights.”

Therefore, HaRav Grozovsky explained, even after it was permitted to join the Knesset, that did not extend to any other Zionist organization. As he explained, “there is a big difference between cooperation where the cooperation is voluntary,” and taking part in an institution that exists and that in practice has influence on “matters that pertain to our lives and our souls, that we cannot leave to their decisions, and we have no possibility of breaking off and leaving the partnership.” This cannot be compared “to what Rabboseinu zt”l prohibited in joining them and sending representatives to Zionist congresses, as I explained, since that is totally voluntary and here no one can say that we have any ability to break off, and being completely separate in all matters is completely impossible.”

As far as the general issue of joining the Zionists, HaRav Grozovsky explained, “Joining the Zionists is not just joining reshoim, but also becoming part of a movement and ideology whose founders and leaders drew from the spirit of minnus and worked to change the Jewish people so that they would no longer be called Am Hashem and Am HaTorah. Chazal and our rabbonim throughout the generations said that a Yisroel who leaves Torah and mitzvos also thereby leaves Klal Yisroel and that the name “Yisroel” only applies to one who has the kedushoh of Hashem, His Torah and His mitzvos. They have attacked the Torah by declaring that the essence of Yisroel is dependent on some sort of national or racial feeling, as with all other peoples and countries.

“All this does not apply to the Knesset elections. The Knesset has nothing to do with an ideology and even joining the government is not subscribing to ideological principles and ideals.”

HaRav Grozovsky said that in the practical application of this sheila, as with all other sheilos, “one must follow the opinion of the majority of those who are qualified to rule on this in our generation, as evidenced by their greatness in Torah, in yir’oh and wisdom, and Elokim nitzav ba’adas Keil.

Note: Yated Ne’eman in Israel is unaffiliated with the American newspaper by the same name.

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. Unfortunately, the mesorah against Zionism has failed to be passed down from generation to generation. It seems every generation gets closer to accepting the heresy.
    How can any true mesorah be passed down when we only replace our numbers, we arent growing and the rest of the apikorsim are!

  2. There in so longer an English-language Yated Ne’eman in Israel for the past few years. This aritice is either a translation from the Hebrew Yated Ne’eman or it is from the American Yated Ne’eman. My guess is the former, being you took pains to point out that the Israeli newspaper is unaffiliated with the the American one.

  3. Shas when it was founded was a Sephardic/Mizrahi Religious Party but it has continued to fall more and more off the derech. It is now no more then a Cultural Party NOT a Holy Party of GD. Every year they take more and more lenient stances and so I am not surprised by these steps. This was the logical destination for them, especialyl when they have been walking off the derech for so long.

  4. time to grow up – stop acting like babies .. you guys take zionist moneys, get treated by zionist doctors, live in houses built by zionist builders, architects and engineers etx etc etc

    the ideological lines no longer are relevant

    kenest, WZO whats the difference ??

  5. # 6,

    Usually when I hear people make such statements of ignorance I do not respond but since this is the internet and potentially millions of people may believe what you say I am inclined to respond. Tens of thousands of CHaredi Jews in Israel do NOT take money from the zionist apikorsim, while it is true that many do nevertheless a large number do NOT. Furthermore, these groups actually pay taxes and simulate the zionist economy. So economically the net gain is to the zionist state, since they arent paything for their yeshivas and supporting their other institutions etc. And furthermore the lines are more relevant today then ever before! In the words of Eliyahu HaNavi said, “How long are you going to waver between two opinions? If the Ribbono Shel Olam is HKBH, follow him! But if Baal is Gd, then follow him!”

  6. to # 6

    again .. to be intelectually honest and not get involved with the tziyonim .. i dont agree but you are entitled to your views


    when rabbonim visited israel a few years back..

    he landed in Ben Gurion – built with zionist monies (ok he didnt travel ELAL)
    he traveled to jerusalem i=on a highway built with taxes paid to the zionist government
    drank water pumped by the israeli water authority
    ate bread subsidized by the israeli government
    he was protected by the israeli police (YES .. there are public pictures)
    etc etc etc

    intellectual honesty please

    grow up

  7. Shas is and remains anti-Zionist. It participated as a political party in the government primarily to get as alrge a share of the pie as possible (money) for its Mosdos, and secondarily to broker more Torah influence on the Medina. It seems to be a Chutzpa for an organization that is totally at odds with (secular) Zionism to join the ideological entity, WZO. But I imagine that Shas did it for the same reasons, namely to suck money from WZO and at the same time to exert a modicum of influence. If you read Rav Reuven’s Bayos Hazman carefully, you will find that his Heter for Aguga to join the government was as Chanifa necessary for a Shtadlan B’Chotzar Hamelech. If Shas got a terrific deal for joining WZO, which I imagine it did, then it amounts to about the same level (of right or wrong) as joining the government. Remember, in the same breath Rav Reuven warned not to be too hard on(Rav Amram’s) Neturei Karta. We mustn’t spit into a well that some day we may have to drink from!

  8. Why can’t Shas be like Ger. They do not ofishilly sit in the government. Instead Litzman is only a Deputy Helth Ministir. Of course their is an agreement not to appoint a health ministir. So Litzman is Acting Helth Minister. But this way it is not official. Even the Eideh Chareidis solves the problem of school funding by letting Agudah groups list every last one of thier children. Then the Eideh gets the money back minus the commission but they are not officially taking from the goverment.

    Now Shas has created a great chillul hashem by making it look like Shas is willing to take money in return for recognizing the meidna. This is wrong!

  9. Sinas Chinam time again. Now that with the help of Hashem Yisborach it has become eminently clear that the greatest thing to happen to Klal Yisroel since Churban Habayis was the establishment of the State of Israel, there are still those who can’t be modeh al haemes. They cling to outdated pronouncements that were all proven wrong and ended up in the dustbin of history. The State has provided a haven for millions of Jews, and generated the growth of Torah learning in EY on a scale not seen in all of golus. The Medinah does chesed for its own citizens and for others, as in Haiti. There is freedom and an end to the constant pogroms, discrimination and forced poverty that we had in Europe. We have a thriving economy and world class health care, scientific institutions and a top notch military which will defend a Jew anywhere in the world as in Entebbe, where we saw open miracles Bchasdei Hashem according to Reb Moshe.

    We are so fortunate to witness the kibutz golyos occurring right before our own eyes and binyan haaretz lshem ultiferes. We can now go to the Kosel and daven together on Friday night, something our ancestors could only dream of.

    So yes, there are still some sore losers out there who are upset that all their doomsday proclamations against the early Zionists and against the founding of the State did not come true. This irks them, so they continue bashing the beautiful state keneged all sechel and logic. They do this as if they would be better off under Arab rule or under British rule or Polish or German rule, as they suffered for hundreds of years beforehand in Europe.

    It is a mussar haskel how a person will hold onto complete sheker even when his own eyes are privileged to behold the magnificance of Medinas Yisroel right in front of his nose. He will continue to deny reality and have no hakaras hatov to the RBSH for the great chesed he did in giving us the State. Instead he will reissue and recycle the same old anti-zionist garbage from years ago, long since it has been disproven and been shown to be irrelevant. May Hashem Yisborach continue to be mechazek the rulers and soldiers and citizens of the State and help it continue to accomplish even greater things, and may He grant shalom amongst all groups so together they can see the ultimate fruition of the State with the coming of Moshiach tzidkeinu bimheirah byamenu amein.

  10. so y do u want moshiach to come ? just to be mechazek “the rulers and soldiers citiens doctors of the state of isreal ? how many jews did they throw off the derech ? jews ho want to learn can learn without ther help ! ther was torah and yishvoes before they gave some money !

  11. To the contrary what Hitla (YSV) and the Nazis couldnt accomplish, specifically the spiritual destruction of the Jewish people; the zionists and the treyfah medinah are continuing. More Jews have been killed by the treyfa medinah then any terrorist. Remember Chazal teach that one who causes another Jew to sin is worse then a murderer. The false redemption and redefinition of who/what is a Jew is the first of many sins perpetuated by the apikorses zionists. And furthermore, in addition to the spiritual well being of the Jewish people, the actions of the treyfa medinah jeopardize the physical live as well. The policies cause blowback on Jews throughout the world, and stir up the hatred which lied dormant in the Shadow of the Shoah. Furthermore, the treyfa medinah is the only country where the Jewish population faces constant threats of extinction from their neighbors. Except for many yemen which is as stated above partly due to the insightment of the state. ANd furthermore, the hundred plus thousand yemenites which the state “saved” may be the greatest example of the state killing Yiddishe Neshamahs! They are a living testimoney to everything wrong with zionism!

  12. To #14 – Pashuteh Yid. How wrong you are on so many fronts. It’s hard to know how to start. Outdated pronouncements? I guess you mean the Steipler’s, the Chazon Ish? Step up to the plate and say what is on your mind. Jews have survived and have lived in many safe havens over the centuries in Golus. Unfortunately this one is similar to the other. The might state does NOT protect it’s own citizens. Ask your fellow jews from Gush Katif, or those in Sderot. They have shown themselves incapable of defending even their own existence. As you well know (but can’t admin), if it were up to the Zionists we would have “ZERO” growth in Torah. Growth in Torah came from commited jews. Why do you credit that to the Zionist? The Medinah is mostly secular and unfortunately that often comes with selfishness as they don’t have the selflessnesss that comes with the Torah (B’H’ they are jews and they retain a piece of it). Unfortunately allot of their help in the world is to try to befriend the nations in the lost hope that they will be accepted. Not to put down any Chesed that they do. You call this Kibutz Goliyus? Our Golus – even in Eretz Yisroel – is as bitter as ever. Were you just born this morning? The only thing that we have this is beautiful and the only thing tha sustains the Yidden in E.Y. is our holy Torah and our relationship with Hashem. Don’t build a fake dream world around what you were hoping Zionism would become. THAT IS WHAT FAILED!!

  13. As my screen name clearly implies, I am a Gentile with great sympathy for the Jewish people. That is why I am reading http://www.matzav.com in an effort to gain a greater understanding.

    That said, and given that of course I do not wish to cause any offense whatsoever to any person reading this request, can someone kindly explain just what causes the ‘animus’ between American, G-d-fearing, Torah Jews and the State of Israel and its institutions?

    I already know that devoutly orthodox Jewish people (‘chareidim’)would prefer to wait for the coming of the Messiah before taking up residence in the Holy Land, but an explanation of the apparent hatred of Israel would be appreciated.

    Thank you all in advance, and may G-d protect us all in His wisdom and understanding.

  14. I totally and unreservedly endorse the remarks made by Pashuteh Yid in posting #14 above.

    Medinas Yisroel has far too many armchair critics among charedim in the United States. These people are lucky to live in a country that is extremely unlikely to resort to government-sponsored anti-Semitism and harassment of its Yidden.

    The rest of the world’s Jews are thankful to KBH that He has created Medinas Yisroel as a haven and a home. But there may come a day – RL – when another major Jew-hater starts persecuting Yidden here in America or anywhere else in the world.

    It will be then that all the current Yiddishe haters and detractors of Medinas Yisroel will thank haShem for the existence of the Jewish state.

  15. Once again WZO is a global organization which reaches Jews in the far four corners of the world. By FINALLY having a TORAH, FRUM organization (shas) part of the groups belonging to WZO, a voice will be heard thru educational classes, seminars and decisions which will reach so many unaffliated JEWS. The streets of Lakewood, Boro Park, Agudah branches, etc. are not reaching these Jews. Quite similiar to the tzadik, Reb Noah zt”l who started Honest Reporting, Aish.com and other secular media groups to touch, reach and find Jews all over the world.

  16. #17 (anonymously) wrote:

    “the hundred plus thousand yemenites which the state “saved” may be the greatest example of the state killing Yiddishe Neshamahs! They are a living testimoney to everything wrong with zionism!”

    A question, if I may:

    If “the hundred plus thousand” (I suppose you meant to write 100,000) “yemenites which the state killing Yiddishe Neshamehs” were indeed killed, as you posit, just how can they be “a ‘living’ testimony?

    Logic, as well as plain simple truth, appears to elude this blinkered and benighted “tzaddik”. If ever there was a truly blatent and overt example of sinas chinam that was it.

  17. Shabbes Goy/#20:

    can someone kindly explain just what causes the ‘animus’ between American, G-d-fearing, Torah Jews and the State of Israel and its institutions?

    Our Torah says that if Jews govern Eretz Yisroel prior to the arrival of the Messiah, or even TRY to govern it, as a punishment, G-d 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 exile. And certainly for actually creating one. Thats the problem with Zionism. (One of the many problems, actually).

  18. We care what all JEWS do and therefore what shas does is impt for klal yisroel #25. Those of you who are concerned about the spiritual demise, destruction and assimilation of our yiddisha sisters and brothers, the place called the MEDINAH SHEL CHESED has caused more intermarriages and suspension of torah and mitzvos. Stop blaming the Zionists and the Medinat Yisroel the percentage of Jews intermarriage and celebrating christian holidays rises every year in America…..and decreases in ISRAEL.

  19. #14 – your words were said many times over by mizrachiim and they seem to have some validity on the face of it. But then Disenagegement happened. How can you explain your words in light of that pogrom caused by our own on our own??? The Jewish soldiers who would defend any Jew anywhere pulled their brothers and sisters from their homes, put them on busses to nowhere and destroyed their beautiful handmade shuls??? Is this kibbutz galiyos?? Raishit geulateinu?? The embodiment of a safe Jew in his home??

  20. “Rebbe” responded to “Shabbes Goy’s” sensible and very respectful question

    “can someone kindly explain just what causes the ‘animus’ between American, G-d-fearing, Torah Jews and the State of Israel and its institutions?” by telling him that

    “Our Torah says that if Jews govern Eretz Yisroel prior to the arrival of the Messiah, or even TRY to govern it, as a punishment, G-d will allow Jews to “be hunted down like animals in the field.”

    Shabbes Goy (and anyone else who reads that) could therefore think that the KB”H sent Hitler and the Nazis YMS as a direct response to Yiddn leaving der heim in Europe to improve their lives.

    Not the cleverest of answers to give to an enquiring and perfectly respectful Gentile!

  21. Re:#28 Busymom

    “Pogrom caused by our own on our own?”

    Let’s not exaggerate; it wasn’t a pogrom as was unfortunately often the case during our long Golus existence “in the good old days” before the Medina when many innocent people were killed—not to mention Khurban Europe during World War 11. It should be put in perspective, however:

    Gush Katif was tragic—the result of
    poor policy— but not a pogrom.

    “Is this Kibbutz Galiyos”?
    No doubt about it. It certainly has not been
    fulfilled totally. But the fact it is unfolding before our eyes cannot be gainsaid.
    Simple review of the demographics evidences this amazing turn of events. As foretold, it will come to pass little by little. The future redemption will occur gradually. (See Shir HaShirim Rabbah 2:9)

    Expanding on this theme, HARAV YISACHER SHLOMO TEICHTAL Z’TSAL comments:

    “HASHEM must gradually prepare the world for great events. It is impossible to
    elevate the world to lofty heights instantaneously.” This principle surely pertains to the Mitzvah of cultivating and possessing the Land of Israel. Thus, materialistic people will make mistakes and there will therefore be setbacks. That’s why patience is required.
    Indeed ,an indication of the unfolding
    Kibbutz Galiyas manifests itself when the Land
    starts to produce its fruit in abundance. As it is written: “But you, O mountains of Israel, shall give forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are soon to come. (See Yechezkel 36:8)
    Furthermore, the reconstruction
    and cultivation of the Land are supposed to happpen little by little as Rav Teichtal
    comments in his holy sefer EIM HABANIM SEMEICHAH, to wit:

    “This is happening today. Many of our
    Jewish brethren came to the Land and built cities, villages, gardens and orchards. They transformed great expanses of disease-infested swamps into dry lands and fertile, prosperous fields. They sacrificed and risked their lives to build the land and make it fit for living.
    Is there even a shadow of a doubt that this is the wondrous work of HASHEM? …”

    Therefore, once understood as a slow process that will unfold beh-derech hah-Tevah in its initial stages, setbacks are to be expected. Thus, despite the significance of
    Kibbutz Galiyos occurring concurrently with
    an abundance of fruit in the Land, it does not have to be the exact time of Askhalta deh Geulah—or alternatively, it might just be the very beginning of an eschatalogical era that consists of different stages.

    So do not expect instantaneous perfection. By virtue of our efforts, may we be zoikhe to be the beneficiaries of HASHEM’s
    Geulah bim hay-rah beh-yaw-may-noo!

  22. Why does it matter if a person comments anonymously or not? And if they cannot articlute well in the ENGLISH language so what? Neither of those things matter if what they say is true. It is a fact that the medinah brought about 100,000 yemenite Jews to the medinah in the early 1950’s. This community of Jews was by far per capita the most Torah observant on the planet! When they arrived the Torah was stripped from them, the parents were forced to work the land like indentured servants and the children were raised in zionist reeducation camps. And horrible acts were commmitted against them in the name of the NEW ZIONIST JEW. Today the yemenite population in Israel is VERY secular and so to follow “mr/mrs anonymous” they are a living testimony to the zionists killing Jewish Souls! As Chazal teach if you cause another Jew to sin it is worse then murder! So you understand it would have been better if the Yemenites stayed in Yemen, and even if Gd forbid they were forced to convert to Muslims they would actually be better off then under the heretical zionist state!

  23. Anonymous commenter #16 asked:

    “so y do u want moshiach to come ? just to be mechazek “the rulers and soldiers citiens doctors of the state of isreal ? how many jews did they throw off the derech ? jews ho want to learn can learn without ther help ! ther was torah and yishvoes before they gave some money !”

    When Moshiach does come all these arguments will be batelim umevutalim, so why waste time asking them?

    And – as always – the old question of sinas chinam must be raised over the anonymous comment #16.

    Lastly, I can understand perfectly that people do not wish to be publicly identified, but contributors could at least exercise their intellects and choose some sort of screen name.

  24. Regarding Gush Katif, first of all don’t fall into the trap of saying the Zionists are no good because they are not Zionist enough. The anti-zionists want no Jewish state at all. That translates to 0% of the land. the Zionists would like 100% of the land. However, for whatever reason, the heads of the State felt that international pressure was too great to hold onto Gaza, coupled with the fact that mothers’ of soldiers were complaining that 30,000 soldiers were being put at risk to protect 8,000 citizens in Gaza. Sharon made a decision, (bad one) to leave. Nevertheless, having 95% of EY is far better than having 0% as the anti-zionists want.

    As far as the business about the Torah saying we cannot have the land until moshiach, it is untrue for many reasons. You see, we don’t derive Jewish law from the Talmud directly, but rather from the halachic codes. The Talmud consists of stories and allegories, as well as legally binding rulings. The above saying is in an allegorical part of the Talmud. Not a single codifier brings it down (Maimonides, Rash, Ran, Rif, Mordechai, Tur or Shulchan Oruch.) Maharsha brings it in his commentary on the allegorical sections. It is therefore not binding, just as the Talmud says one should not drink even numbers of cans of Diet Coke, which is not binding and not followed by Jews anywhere to the best of my knowledge.

    But furthermore, in a life or death situation, almost all of the Torah is suspended. After and during the Holocaust, the Jews had nowhere to go, and the only place they could settle was Israel. Finally, the Balfour declaration and the declaration of the League of Nations recognizing the Jews’ right to a state in Israel means that they were not seizing it against the will of the nations as the Talmud refers to (Rabbi Meir Simcha).


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