Clarifying the Issue: Chareidim and Zionism

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chareidim1Dear Editor at The Jerusalem Post,

I read Rabbi Dov Lipmann’s front page article (“Why Chareidim should be Zionist” originally published April 23, 2012 in with much interest. While no one can disagree with the fact that we Charedim pray for a return to Zion thrice daily most of the article was beside the point and did not address the fundamental issue. As is common in both camps the proverbial “painting with a broad brush” is used as a device to make points that while seemingly valid are destructive and misleading.

Our Rabbis teach us (Ethics of our Fathers 2, 4) that one of the first questions we will be asked in the heavenly court when we die is “were you looking forward and awaiting anxiously for the final redemption”. Rabbi Lipman’s article is misleading in that the title should have been “Why Chareidim should be M’tzapeh L’Yishuah“(looking forward and awaiting the final redemption). But we all know that such an article would be laughable and would never make it off the printing press because no Torah Observant Charedi denies or does not look forward to that day when Moshiach will come and peace will reign on earth. A day when the “lion and the lamb will dwell together” and all will know the knowledge of God “like the waters in the sea”(Isaiah 11,9).

The issue is not Redemption the issue is another false God, foreign ideology, and another ism. We Jews seem to have a propensity for that which is alien to God starting with the Golden Calf but it has only caused us untold suffering throughout our long History. In the 20th century alone we Jews were at the forefront of all the isms of the day  Communism, Socialism, Marxism, Social Activism, Capitalism, etc. While some of these ideologies may have merit in the right measure and at the right time and place the very fact that they are an entrenched ideology, an ism if you will, makes them foreign to the Torah ideal if they become a part of your essence and  identity. In the Torah ideal there is nothing but God “for he is one and his name is one” (Zechariah 14,9). That is why Judaism with it’s suffix is not quite an accurate word defining who we are and what we Jews believe. It is not merely another ism akin to Buddhism, Darwinism or any other entrenched belief of which there are thousands in the world today, rather it is an affirmative statement that there is One God in the world who is involved in the personal and national lives of all his creations.

That is the crux of the issue. For Charedim, Zionism, even religious Zionism, as with any ism is just that, another potential foreign ideology. Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, Rav Chatzkel Sarna and all those great leaders of the Jewish people that you so proudly mention in your article did not have any question whether to say Hallel (Thanksgiving Prayer) with a blessing or without a blessing on Israel Independence Day (as do some in the Religious Zionist camp), rather they did what David Ben Gurion did, and did not say it as part of the Morning service at all. Do you know why? Because Ben Gurion the father of the Modern State of Israel (1948) openly awaited the day, not for the arrival of the Moshiach with all its ideals, but rather of a day when the State of Israel would be accepted amongst the nations and would be like all other nations with the full spectrum of society rapist, murderers, thieves included, just so we, the “new non ghettoized Jew” could finally be like every “normal” society. That is not something we Charedim want to say Hallel and thank God for.

No doubt we live in exciting and tumultuous times. Maybe this is the beginning of the redemption period or the “end of the exile” as other great sages not mentioned by Rabbi Lipman have poignantly stated but that does not necessarily mean it is a time for premature celebration. While we must recognize the great miracles of the last 60 years The Modern State of Israel is neither fully independent (always worried about America and the rest of the world) nor have we fully returned to Zion (unless you do not consider East Jerusalem part of Zion). No one in his right mind will tell you that the State of Israel as it is now is what we have been praying for thrice daily for the last two thousand years. While it may be true that instead of complaining about the state of affairs we Charadim should direct the Future of the State of Israel and maybe eventually with their high birth rate that will eventually happen and bring the Final redemption, but that is currently a moot point. At best this seems to be merely the end of the exile or beginning of the Redemption with all its birth pangs. I am reminded of what Winston Churchill once said to his fellow countrymen In 1942 at the height of the Second World War. He stated in a now famous address to his fellow countrymen “Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”. Thus, we would do well to be mindful of  the elders in the Time of Ezra who did not readily rejoice upon the rebuilding of the Second Temple (in fact they cried) realizing just how far they were from true redemption (Ezra 3,12-13).   In fact, Ullah and Rabah, two of our venerated Amoraic sages both stated unequivocally (in stark contrast to Rabbi Yosef) that the Moshiach should come but they did not want to be around to witness it because of all the birth pangs and calamities that may befall the Jewish people prior to his arrival if we are not worthy (BT Sanhedrin 98b).

While these secular Governments may be essential to the redemption process it is not a reason to be dancing in the streets(especially during the days of Sefira Mourning). Rabbi Akiva was able to turn tragic situations on their head and look for their positive silver lining (BT Makos 24a). But he certainly did not say “thank God this is what we have been longing for” when he saw the fox running out of the area where the Holy of holies used to stand.

And so while we Chardeim are cautiously optimistic and continue to long for the Final redemption and could do more in that regard we cannot be expected to embrace a foreign ideology in the process. Even the Maharal (Rabbi Yehudah Loewy 1525-1609) that Rabbi Lipman mentions who seems to insist that a secular government must be in place prior to the Redemption would not ask that we embrace the likes of modern day Achav , Omri, or Yerovom(see Sefer Melachim).

Finally, I would like to address a myth that this article further entrenched with the proverbial broad paint brush though I am sure the author being a God fearing Jew did it without malice aforethought. It should not take a Rocket Scientist to differentiate between the Charedi distaste for the Secular Government with their untiring efforts to secularize and eradicate all but the Cultural Jew, and individual fellow Jews, specifically our Jewish brethren (men and women) in the Israel Defense Forces. There is no God fearing Charedi that will deny that these precious souls that are protecting other Jews in Eretz Yisroel deserve to be in our prayers when  we daven. In fact, no less than Rav Chaim Shmulevitz ZTL, the great Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva, stated unequivocally during the Yom Kippur War that the status of the soldiers in the IDF was equivalent to that of the Harugei Lud (martyrs of Lud) of which the Talmud tells us their reward is  of the ultimate kind (Sichas Mussar page 457). Furthermore, when I studied in the Mirrer Yeshiva in New York (a first rate Charedi Yeshiva) during the first Gulf War, my Rosh Yeshiva Rav Shmuel Berenbaum ZTL, instituted extra recitation of Psalms every day in addition to a Yom Kippur Koton and a 24 hour Taanis Dibbur (fast of words) all for the protection of the soldiers and citizens of the State of Israel.

Rabbi Lipman, you do not have to look forward to a day when Charedim will “pray for the welfare of our soldiers” since those that are truly “Charedim El D’var Hashem” (trembling before the word of God) already do so. So while it may be convenient to lump the issues together it is a common tactic used by the popular  media to sow further baseless hatred between the secular and religious.(Frankly, I am very surprised Rabbi Lipman has fallen victim to such false notions). Such hatred only manifests and mushrooms which ultimately only pushes the ultimate Redemption that much further out of reach. Only Jewish Unity (“destroy the sin not the sinner”- BT Berachot 10a) and unadulterated belief in God can reverse that.


Jacob (Chaim Yakov) Hirsch Esq.

Brooklyn, NY

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  1. Well said. I tried to post some similar ideas on a website that reprinted this article, but the moderators never posted them.

  2. Thank you. Brilliantly expressed. No doubt, this letter will receive significant and certainly well deserved praise.

  3. Wow. What a masterpiece!

    It’s amazing that these clowns still dance in the streets. don’t they see that we just live in one big getto???

  4. “no Torah Observant Charedi denies or does not look forward to that day when Moshiach will come and peace will reign on earth”

    No doubt this is one of our 13 ikurrim…have you heard at any speeches over the last 72 hrs, any talk of “Tzipecee L’geulah”. Can you direct me where and by who?

    If something is so important to our daily destiny as Klal Yisrael, wouldn’t we be speaking about it occasionally? ( I have heard talks on shmiras aynim, lashon hara, limud hatorh, tzinus, shalom bayis, kedushas beis haknesses, ahavas yisroel….all essential to our avodas hashem). Mr Hirsch make a honest reassessment, are we awaiting the final redemption and salvation?

    I am proud to be part of the chevra of Rav Eliyashuv shli”ta… who quotes in Hakdamot VeSha’arim (pg. 273-276), some of the greatest Acharonim who viewed the modern-day ingathering of exiles as the beginning of redemption. The Day of Independence, 5th Iyar, was chosen as a day of Hakatoras Hatov because it was the “beginning, budding” for redemption, deliverance and salvation. (check out the signatures of Rav Sarna, Rav SZ Auerbach, Chacham Yosef, Rav Sorotzkin, Rav Herzog and hakaras hatov of Rav Bloch, Rav S. Kahaneman, Bostoner Rebbe, etc.)

    The bottom line is this specific day deserves a kapitel of Tehillim and a huge Toda Rabba, as any birth entails. Let us not fall into the demise of King Chizkiyahu that had no words of praise for Hakodush Baruch whoo.. rather be mispaleel for a showering of brochos, tovos and continued yeshuos till the Mashiach Tzikanu knocks on the door.

    “my Rosh Yeshiva Rav Shmuel Berenbaum ZTL, instituted extra recitation of Psalms every day in addition to a Yom Kippur Koton and a 24 hour Taanis Dibbur (fast of words) all for the protection of the soldiers and citizens of the State of Israel”.- Is this continued today when Klal Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel is under undue attacks,?

  5. Right on! The most glaring part of his essay is that he himself writes how he disagreed with his rabbeim in NER YISROEL
    what chutzpah! When he was learning there we are talking about Reb Yaakov Weinberg and all the other rabbeim.
    How can one not be embarrassed to write that publicly?!

  6. What is needed is PROJECT AWAKENING!!

    Mrs. Ruth Lichtenstein has brought the Holocaust, its lessons, biographies and teaching to the public through PROJECT WITNESS.

    Mr. Hirsch, what we need now is PROJECT bring the ideas, goal, aspiration of “Redemption and days of Mashiach” to the forefront. It got buried under Zionism, Politics and Kannoyim.

    “were you looking forward and awaiting anxiously for the final redemption”. Rabbi Lipman’s article is misleading in that the title should have been “Why Chareidim should be M’tzapeh L’Yishuah“(looking forward and awaiting the final redemption). But we all know that such an article would be laughable and would never make it off the printing press because no Torah Observant Charedi denies or does not look forward to that day when Moshiach will come and peace will reign on earth.”

    if a person wants something from Hashem-a child, livlihood or a shidduch etc…-he needs to do more then JUST daven for it, he needs to YEARN for it-SADLY-in todays generation (the generation of instant technology & gradification….) we are not YEARNING for the Bais Hamikdosh. why should we? we have everything-from planes to iphones & ipads etc…-when we all start to show Hashem that we YEARN for mashiach then Hashem will send mashiach.

    All of us have heard, read & seen tons of true stories of people who had their first child at 42 or had a sick child in critical condition, & then the doctor says i’m very sorry but your daughter has only 3 hours to live & then he comes back 2 hours later & says its really a miracle but your child is beginning to recover etc…. Why is it that they finally had a child & the child recovered? There could be tons of answers, but the most common answer Is a Pasuk we say 3 times a day in Davening. Hashem is close to all who call to him, to all who call out truthfully. (Tehillim 145)Because they cried out from their heart, they really meant what they were saying when they davened to H-shem to have a baby or for his daughter to recover etc…. theres a reason we call Hashem, Avinu She’bashamayim (our father in heaven) Hashem loves us from a father to a son. If we really cried out for the Bais Hamikdosh from our heart with truth & show that we are missing it, then we wouldn’t still be in Golus today.

    I see no reason why Hashem should give us back the ??? ?????. Hashem goes to one person sitting in this corner, he has beautiful children he already bought his house he has a car, he’s so happy hes not grieving over my ??? ????? that’s 1 less person for my ??? ?????. The next person sitting at this corner has beautiful children he loves to learn & has a rich Father-in-law supporting him he’s so happy hes not grieving over my ??? ????? thats 1 less person for my ??? ?????. what is Hashem saying to his Malachim? just look at my children down there look how happy they are i gave them everything cars, planes, computers, Electricity & phones Etc… forget if they are Makir Tov (Grateful) for everything i give them that is not the message, Let me leave my ??? ????? up in heaven with me when my children cry for it i will give it back to them, but right now look how happy they are. A perfect Mashal would be if a Principal in a Cheder took away a ball from a boy, because he was hitting people with it. If the boy went to the Principal & said i’m sorry i just want to have fun i won’t hit anyone with it. of course he will get his ball back. Do you think the Principal needs it? He already has a whole basket sitting in his office. Hashem is waiting for Klal Yisroel to wake up & do Teshuva, the gates of teshuva are never closed, the worst kings of Klal Yisroel did teshuva at the end of their lives, Achav & Menashe look at them, after 30 years of avoda zora Menashe cried out all the way from his heart for teshuva from Hashem & Hashem accepted it WHY? Because he really meant it. Hashem is waiting for Klal Yisroel to do Teshuva. Hashem is waiting for the day to put his presence back in this world & bring us back the Bais Hamikdosh but we just don’t seem to be ready.


  8. #9 For the sake of accuracy and civility Rabbi Lipman in his article never said he openly disagreed with his Rabbeim and never mentioned Ner Yisroel only that a “challenge” was created in his mind when he “studied in a Chardi yeshiva in Jerusalem”. Let us disagree with respect if we must but maintain accuracy and honesty.

  9. i still don`t understand what zionism has got to do with our promiss by Hahsem to bring us back to eretz israel if we are shomer Torah and Mitzwot. zionsim is the total opposite of a jewish state with a beit hamikdash, a sanhedrin …..
    zionism represents the passukim in the gemarrah and the midrash which talk about our longing to be a goyishe nation like all the other goym. we shouldn`t missunderstand zionism for something that it is not. otherwise you will missunderstand tuma with keddusha , trefa with cosher…
    we have to distanciate ourselves from these wannabe jews with their fake jewish state and errect the real jewish state. baruch Hashem is israel like the goyshe countries a democracy. let us vote for shas and kick their goysh-jewsih sense of belonging.

  10. #18, I don’t buy that argument about oh, we’re so happy in galus. Yes, many of us count our blessings, and some of us have more to count than others, but believe me, we’re all waiting for the time when Hashem will choose to redeem us and v’nas yagon v’anacha.

    Anyway, one can check out last motzei Shabbos’s navi shiur of Rabbi Reisman to get some clarity on how we should, and hopefully do, think.


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