THE EMPTY WAGON: A Review of R. Yaakov Shapiro’s [Flawed] Attack on Zionism

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By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Yaakov Shapiro’s “Empty Wagon” is certainly one of the most controversial books to hit the Orthodox world in decades. Its 1373 pages of text deal with the reaction to the Zionist movement within the Orthodox Jewish world, as well as an attempt to negate much of what the Torah community believes about Israel’s modern history.

For example, Rabbi Shapiro claims throughout the book that the Six Day War was not “miraculous” at all and involved no nissim whatsoever. Rabbi Shapiro attempts to back this up through internet searches, citations of a few U.S intelligence reports, and some quotes of the Satmar Rov zt”l. The majority of those with firsthand knowledge of the Six Day War, both observant and non-observant, is that there were numerous nissim.

So here we have a bizarre scenario in which secular non-observant Israelis believe that we obtained the makom haMikdash miraculously, while an Orthodox rabbi does not.

Most people’s preference, however, is to believe the view of Rav Chaim Shmulevitz zt”l, the Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva.

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz writes that in Az Yashir we observe the reaction of the nations in the aftermath of the exodus from Egypt, “Then the chieftains of Edom were startled; as for the powerful men of Moas, trembling seized them..”

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz(Haggaddh of the Roshei Yeshiva of Mir, p. 226), asks that this posuk seems to be revealing some great chiddush or insight.  Yet is this not obvious that when faced with open miracles people are startled and tremble?

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz answers that, in fact, it is not. It is the nature of people not to change themselves even after seeing open miracles.  “This explains,” said Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, “why people around us now are not changing after seeing the open miracles of the Six Day War.”  That’s right – the open miracles of the Six Day War. This shmuess was delivered in June of 1967 in the Mirrer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim.  The Mir too experienced an open miracle when a bomb that crashed through the ceiling did not explode.

So there we have it.  Rav Chaim Shmulevitz says straight out that there were open miracles.  He also explains to us exactly why those like Rabbi Shapiro refuse to recognize the open miracles of the Six Day War.

So who do we go with, Rav Chaim Shmulevitz or the author of this book?

Reb Dan Waldman who had actually fought in 1967 recollects the following:

“We had 200 planes.  They had three entire air forces.  Rabim beyad me’atim – We had 2 and ½ million Jews – they had four entire nations.  There were numerous, numerous miracles.

“There was no feeling like it in the world.  I remember though soldiers saying that they will not liberate Yerushalayim from Shaar haAshpa – they went in through Shaar HaAriot – the Lions’ Gate.  Everyone realized that these were open miracles.  Chareidim in Bnei Brak, and even the most secular people.

“The truth is that Hashem won us this war, not in six days, but in six hours.  There were such nissim.  The Jordanians new that our plains were bombing those of the Egyptians.  They sent a message to Egypt.  Hashem made it that they changed the codes the previous day and did not inform the Jordanians.  This was yad Hashem.  The complete destruction of the Egyptian air force in hours.  This was Yad Hashem.”

On a personal note, I and my entire family were in Yerushalayim at the time, and my parents aleihem hashalom had never stopped talking about what happened in Yerushalayim that week.  My mother and uncle had both been hit by shrapnel on their way to the bunker that we stayed in while being shelled.  There were nissim and niflaos that the entire nation, religious and irreligious experienced and completely recognized by all – from the soldiers that liberated the Kosel to the Jewish families within the bunkers.

Thus, the author’s abnegation of  1] the opinions of gedolei olam, 2] the bomb in the Mir miraculously not exploding, 3] the experiences of soldiers, 4] run of the mill citizens, 5] those of my parents’ personal experience leaves this reviewer with an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Throughout the book, the author attempts to demonstrate a premise which, in this reviewer’s opinion, is fundamentally flawed. His premise is that the strongly anti-Zionistic view of the Satmar Rov was, in fact, the exact same view of the gedolim of the past and of the Torah world.

To say that this premise is grossly inaccurate would be a serious understatement.

There were, historically, five major reactions [which we can label as categories]  in the observant Jewish world to Zionism.  There was the reaction of the Satmar Rov that Zionism was essentially a movement that ran counter to Torah-true Judaism and came from the Sitra Achra.  This category was the position espoused mostly by rabbis in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  It is associated with both the Neturei Karta and Satmar, although many in this movement have tempered this position.

The second category was also an Anti-Zionist position, but not to the extent of category one.  This position rather reflects a “hold our nose and deal with them” attitude.  Primarily, the espousers of this category belonged to many in the Agudas Yisroel camp in its earlier stages.  After the Holocaust and the rise of the state of Israel, many in this group modified their pre-war, pre state stance.

A third category is comprised of people who identify with categories #1 and #2 socially, but look at Zionism and the state of Israel much as Orthodox religious Jews look at a hospital or a volunteer ambulance company.  Many observant Jews in the United States identify with this third category.  They bear no ill will toward the state of Israel and often show a desire to help it.  They also have a sense of appreciation toward it.  Many gedolim and roshei yeshiva hold to this view, but only voice it to their close talmidim.

Category Four is comprised of people who are chareidi in their halachic observance and Torah study, but who identify with something called religious Zionism.  They look at the development of the state of Israel as part of G-d’s Divine plan of redemption.  The year 1948 played a key role in G-d’s Master plan of redemption.

Category Five is comprised of people who are religiously observant but markedly more secular and modern in their observance.  They are more likely to have television sets and partake in cultural activities of secular society.  Their outlook on the State of Israel is also that it is part of a Divine plan of redemption.

What Rabbi Shapiro does in his book is to run roughshod through the subtle and nuanced views of gedolei Torah and misrepresent those views as being in full agreement with that of the Satmar Rov.  They are decidedly not.

Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, the Ponovezher Rav, told Rabbi Berel Wein that he flew the Israeli flag from the roof of the Ponovezh Yeshivah building in Bnei Brak on Yom Ha’atzmaut. When faced with complaints, Rav Kahaneman responded, “I flew the Lithuanian flag on the roof of my yeshiva in Ponovezh on Lithuanian Independence Day. My friends, it is no worse here.”

Rav Binyomin Kamenetsky attested to his talmidim that his father, Rav Yaakov, recited shehecheyanu when the UN adopted resolution 181 on November 29, 1947.  Rav Aharon Kotler, when told of the passing of resolution 181 said, “Boruch Hashem..”

Let us also not forget that Agudas Yisroel signed Israel’s Declaration of Independence.  It is disingenuous and deceptive to lump these divergent views together in one category.  Yet this is what the author does throughout the book.

Let us also recall that both Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, among numerous other gedolim, signed a Kol Koreh that stated, “Nodeh Lashem al shezachinu b’rov rachamav v’chasadav liros es haNitzagim harishonim shel kibutz galuios im hakamasa shel medinas Yisroel… kedai sh’artzeinu umedinasainu tivne vetischonen al taharas hakodesh..” published in El Am Hashem B’tzion 5708.

It is inconceivable that our gedolei Torah would write such things if they shared the Satmar Rov’s position on Zionism.

Rather, it is clear that these gedolim were in the second or third category, or somewhere in between.

The book is filled with fascinating information and vignettes of leading gedolim.  Much of the material is accurately researched.  The material, however, is combined with conjecture as to motivations of people in an entire movement.  Yes, many Zionists were atheists and tried to replace Torah true Judaism with nationalism.  But it is inaccurate and deceptive to claim that all Zionists shared this agenda.

Shockingly, the author deals with great gedolim in a very disrespectful manner.

There are also errors of attribution in the book (p. 539).  The Chofetz Chaim never said the words, “Kook Shmook” – no matter what Rabbi Shapiro says.  His source confused the Chofetz Chaim with someone else (someone else did, in fact, say this and the author’s source had confused the two).

The truth of the matter is that Rav Yitzchok Hutner was a talmid of Rav Kook, and for a former student of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin to deal with Rav Kook in such a disparaging manner also is unnerving.

The author’s attack on Rav Teichtal, the author of Eim HaBanim Smeicha, and his disparagement of him is also most unbecoming.  Rav Teichtal’s sefer has a haskama from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg that states:

I was happy to hear from my dear friend, R. Chayim Menachem Teichtal shlita, that the wonderful book written by his brilliant, righteous, and saintly father, R. Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal ztvk”l… author of Responsa Mishneh Sachir, [was being published in English]. This book, which is completely holy, arouses the hearts of Israel to their Father in Heaven and inspires them to cherish the great mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel.

 For some time now, this book, entitled Eim HaBanim Semeichah, has been renowned throughout the Jewish world. Recently, R. Moshe Lichtman shlita took the initiative to translate this book into English, so that the Jewish masses who do not understand the Holy Tongue (Hebrew) can benefit [from it]. The translator has expertise in this field and, undoubtedly, will produce a proper work for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.

 Written in honor of the Torah and in honor of the brilliant tzaddik zt”l,   Zalman Nechemyah Goldberg

Rav Teichtal was murdered in the Holocaust. He had an extraordinary reputation, even greater than that of the Satmar Rebbe when they were both in Europe.  His responsum are world class Teshuvos.  The Sefer does have haskamos, but two of those that wrote it do not read English and it is almost certain that the third did not read the work in its entirety.  There is no question that there were and still are numerous secular Zionists who can be characterized as anti-Torah, but is it not better to adopt the attitude of those that hope to bring them around to a Torah lifestyle rather than to harp on the negative issues of long ago?

I consider the author a friend (who will probably not reciprocate after he reads this review). It is true that the author felt close to the Satmar Rov and felt the need to bring out his thoughts to the world.  But let’s not forget that the Satmar Rov himself did not want his views on the matter espoused to the gentile world in English.  The author instead should have spent the four years he took to write it to instead spread the brilliance of the Satmar Rov’s other Torah.

There is no question that the Satmar Rov was a tzaddik who built a broken nation after the war. But one’s time and effort should be placed upon building Torah and Klal Yisroel through chessed, more Torah and genuine Ahavas Yisroel rather than sowing further discord in Klal Yisroel.  It is disheartening that this book is being sold in some Yeshivos – even forgetting about the sinas chinan that the book will certainly engender, what about all the bitul Torah that it is causing – above all in the Yeshivos themselves.

The reviewer can be reached at [email protected].



  1. Rabbi Hoffman is at least slightly off when he categorizes the second category. In the early stages they were definitely very Anti-Zionist. This only changed after the State of Israel was established.

  2. You write “So who do we go with, Rav Chaim Shmulevitz or the author of this book?”
    You obviously unaware that this shitta is copy paste from the Satmer Rebbe R’ Yoel ZY’A. He said immediately after the six day war that it was won by the Sitra Achra and the Ztad hatuma. He also didn’t deny that there were Nissim on a personal level. He said that the “nissim” that helped the Israeli army win the war were not nissim.
    So we need to rephrase that to “So who do we go with, Rav Chaim Shmulevitz or the the Satmer rebbe ZY”A?”
    The answer to that is, your opinion is worthless next to these gidolim of yesteryear. When writing about these topics that were debated by gidolim you must use extra caution not to get carried away with your dass atzmi.

    • correction . ex-satmar. the taneh that it will bring sina is a percha mayikara. we can throw away whole torahh because it might bring sina’ how about stop attacking other movements like maskilim, kroim, deformed etc because of sina??

  3. rabbi shapiro’s hatred is sickening
    hes a paid spokesperson of the faction – neturei karta -naturna and all other such kooks
    the fact is that the rebbe ztl was the only one that said it was not a miracle -daas yochid period

    • Apparently you didn’t read this book because you were totally wrong in every way. I would like you to call him and argue before you attack him like that. I personally think that he nailed everything in this book.

  4. It is true that the author of this books comments on the miracles on the six day war flies in the face of reality and is a symptom of a need to minimize any positive things that happen in E’Y simply because the zionists are in power. It is a lack of recognition that despite that there exists an evil goverment, Hashem is still with the jewish people. As far a Rabbi Hoffman’s categorizations I think many, including myself, would take great exception to categories 2 & 3. The prevalent view of “most” Gedolei Yisroel (despite some questionable quotes in the article) is that they agree with the Satmar Rav (category 1) in regard to the evil of the Zionist movement but totally disagree with him on how to handle it. The way they handle it is to deal with it and fight it internally (the halachic rational is explained in depth in the sefer Bayos Hazman by Rabbi Reuvain Grozovsky, which is the underpinning of the philosophy of Gedolei Yisroel). The ridiculous claim that many Rosh Yeshiva “secretly” are in agreement with the authors category 3 is a chutzpah to the Rosh Yeshiva and also implies that the author has “secret knowledge” of many Rosh Yeshivas information but the readership is not privy to it.

    • Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky Rabbi Henkin Rabbi Dessler Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz
      Rabbi Eliezer Silver Rabbi Yoshe Ber Solivatchik

      it’s one thing to oppose creating a Jewish State it’s another to abandon it post creation

    • Rabbi shapiro agrees that “Hashem is still with the jewish people”… Note, Satmar Rav Z”l said so too “in the same Torah” where he explained that when a military of Kofrim without Torah and Amuna win, it’s not nisim from the tzad hakdusha. Of curse in a personal level it’s Hasem that protected the Yidden. (And btw, the Tzad ha’tumah is from Hashem too). You should learn the Torah (Parshes Nusoy) before opposing it. The Rabbi Knew all your points. His view was simple and clear. Learn it.

  5. R’ Yair please do not minimize the utter devastation r’l caused by Zionism. I learnt in Pachad Yitzchok by the Gaon Horav David shlita. In the kollel there was a Tamani yungerman whose brothers were shmad r’l by tzionim. I had the zechus of having Morei V’Rabi Hgaon Reb Aaron Schechter shlita as a guest in Sanhadreia murchevet. Aside from the beautiful Torah the Rosh Yeshiva shlita shared he responded to someone inquiring if it was appropriate that children were calling cops Nazi’s ? He said ” If they understood what tzionim meant they would suffice in calling them tzionim”. Lastly, please realize your book review will only bolster interest in the book! If you were truly concerned about its effects you would have had the conversation privately.
    Avrohom Wrona
    [email protected]

    • Rabbi Aaron M. Schechter, RY of MYRCB, is from a Chasidishe background (Vizhnitz), and attended a Satmar anti-medina gathering about a year ago at Barclay’s center, where he spoke. So it is obvious what his feelings are. Although he is from a Vizhnitzer background, and the shita of Vizhnitz is different (more moderate on this) then Satmar.

      That is not the mainstream Litvishe stance though.

  6. according to these people, everyone who does not belive like them
    is a rasha koifer and worse
    like they said on the belzer klausenberger ger etc
    no need to be terrorized by them or their english speaking lackey
    this is not romania
    bh we have enough gedolim to rely on


    I’ve read the book. Let me tell you, this article woefully misportrays its content, with the hope that no one will ever read the book.

    I’m 100% confident that an open minded person who reads the book, will very quickly realize how disingenuous this article is.

  8. i read the book. this a terrible critique of teh book. this article does not deal with the underlying point of the book how zionism is destroying and ruinng totally amok against judiaism. the actuall state part is a minute part. the main point is zionism is not hudiaism.

  9. i saw the book rabbi hoffman you are giving it publicity no one would even know it exists , ofcourse its cut & paste from 10 books he was paid bt natruna

  10. Rabbi Hoffman, what’s the story with the Indian hair sheitlach? I hear the controversy has started up again.

  11. Did Rabbi Shapiro write two books against Zionism called The Empty Wagon? Because in the one that I read, Rabbi Shapiro does not say or claim almost any of the things you mention. In the Empty Wagon that I read, Rabbi Shapiro claims that Israel’s victory in the 1967 was not a miracle, as Israel’s military was strong enough to win the war unmiraculously. Yet you say that what he writes contradicts the fact that a bomb miraculously did not explode in Mir. Both can – and in fact are – true. The fact that Israel was likely to win the war (which is ALL Rabbi Shapiro discussed) does not preclude any individual (or yeshiva) miraculously prevented from being a casualty of that war.

    Rabbi Shapiro also never claims that all the gedolim held like the Satmar Rav (just the opposite!). He describes in detail the differences of opinions of a wide variety of gedolim and groups. Mizrachi, National Religious, Agudah, Brisk, Chazon Ish, Satmar, and others are covered, with detail and nuance and comparison that I have not seen elsewhere. If you are disturbed at the quotes he cites from Rav Shach or Rav Avigdor Miller, or even from R. Reuven Grozovsky, that indicate the difference between Satmar and others are not nearly as wide as many people think, then respond to those quotes, but he never claims what you say he claims. Nor did he ever claim that he covered the opinion of every single godol in the world.

    The only thing that you cite from the book that it actually does say, is the Chofetz Chaim’s “Kook shmook” quip. You say the “source” confused the Chofetz Chaim for someone else. This is not likely, as you would discover if you would inquire as to who the source is (as I have), the details of the story, how many times the source repeated it, and how well known it is in certain circles (Rav Berel Soloveichik used to quote it also), and how many people heard it first hand from the source.

  12. To see what Y Shapiro is reall about, just search on You Tube for his talks and interviews with the well known Israeli koifer and meshumad,Gilad Atzmn. The man is an open and proud kofer. He is also openly anti zionist, so Shapiro actually kisses up to the koifer, laughs and smiles with him!! It is seriously nasuseating.

  13. It’s amazing how Rabbi Hoffman has an opinion about every single subject from vaccines to zionism to kiniseology to brochos etc….I think he should stick to the brochos on cheesecakes and not comment on issues that he is not equipped to comment on.

  14. My earlier comments were based solely on the description of the book presented by Rabbi Hoffman. If it was a false representation due the presentation I take it back and apologize to the books author.

  15. to just me
    if you would have half of rabbi Hoffman knowledge you can talk
    what are you equipped to talk about
    you mechutzaf!!!

  16. As a flatbush yid I did hear a speech that Rabbi Shapiro gave at the Barclay center a year ago or so. I was impressed. He classified the Israeli army as an indoctrination center where they were cleverly looking to draft Yeshiva boys in order to water down their passion for yiddishkeit. The drafting of girls into the Israeli army as well as their open minded policy of gay acceptance is reason enough for us frum yidden to shout out in protest. Yes it was a miracle the six day war but what did we do to recognize the Almighty and His Torah. Instead the Israeli government declared it was their strength and smartness that won the war. And the vicious tirade against Torah continued. The forced autopsies in which every Jew who died in an Israeli hospital was cut up to shreds against family wishes. Satmar protested in those days and hung pictures all over manhattan of the bloody dead bodies of Jews cut up. Some of your u are too young to even know about it. Yes had the Israeli leadership enrolled all the israeli jewish kids in Yeshiva instead of public school it would of been a different story. Like Rabbi Avigdor Miller ztl stated we would of waited for mosshiach there. As much as I try to help Israel in their protection I am wary of their continued manipulation to attempt to destroy Torah. I as a well to do businessman donate only to yeshivas in Israel and not to secular groups like UJA. I in fact donated a hundred thousand dollars to the Trump campaign as I foresaw his policies to be pro orthodox and pro Israel’s security. Satmar Rebbe reb Yoelish ztl also looked out for their security. It’s not a contradiction. Let’s increase Torah outreach throughout the land and even among our own youth and realize how special we are. We must increase our Torah study. Eating chulent is not going to make inspire anyone to be a stronger yid. Only Torah will beat the yetzer hara. Gutten Erev shabbos.

  17. 1. Without the Zionists there would be no satmar today, as it was they who saved the satmar rov from the Nazis.
    2. Shapiro’s videos are widely spread amongst the most anti Semitic Arab websites due to his ability to speak clear English. So whether he is right or wrong, his efforts have emboldened our enemies.

    • what you state #1 is pure kefirah. because the holy rebbe was destined to survive it wouldve happened anyway. also they dont get credit if you know the story.
      also according to your kind, as your not the first to remak such, if a christian saves a yid should he become christian??

  18. Both of these Rabbis are really smart and good people, we’ve all learnt a lot from both, cant we accept a machlokes without turning it into a nasty fight, these two shabbosim of all weeks? I’ve met R’ Shapiro and he doesnt need my or your haskoma that he knows what he’s talking abut and that he is in no way on the site of the anti-religious. I’ve read R’ Hoffman and he doesnt need my or your hoskama that he knows and cares for what he’s talking about. neither deserves this language, and these comments accomplish nothing for anyone. they convince no one except to get angrier. I’d loe to see a discussion between these two but when has our getting involved ever made a machlokes better?
    Gut chodesh!

  19. Just a few documents on the 6-day war… There are documents from the CIA, readily available online if anyone’s interested. It’s not an outlying opinion that the war wasn’t really miraculous.

  20. How it is that the author totally missed the Brisk shitah?
    Or did it not fit into his superficial categorization of putting Satmar alone into category one?

  21. Unlike Rabbi hoffman, I did read the book, I can say it’s not worth responding to the disingenuous review, as it’s clear Rabbi Hoffman did not do anything more but glance at a few page. This is not an honest review, and matzav should take it down.

  22. “I consider the author a friend (who will probably not reciprocate after he reads this review).”

    If someone will reject you after you speak the truth, such friends you don’t need.

  23. There are also errors of attribution in the book (p. 539). The Chofetz Chaim never said the words, “Kook Shmook” – no matter what Rabbi Shapiro says. His source confused the Chofetz Chaim with someone else

    Putting all other issues aside I don’t believe the CC would have spoken that way about anyone. Had he wanted to reflect negatively on someone he would have used either a Posuk or Mamer Chazel to do so. Not made fun of his name.

  24. There is so much that went on behind closed doors and between face-to-face talks between the different Gedolim that we don’t know about, whether it’s Lubavitch,Satmar,Ger or Brisk that its really impossible to say which Gedolim were on which side.
    Best to keep our noses out of what we dont know.

  25. Rav Teichtal was murdered in the Holocaust. He had an extraordinary reputation, even greater than that of the Satmar Rebbe when they were both in Europe.

    Says who?

  26. His premise is that the strongly anti-Zionistic view of the Satmar Rov was, in fact, the exact same view of the gedolim of the past and of the Torah world.

    Yes 100% correct

    Just to mention some

    Brisk ,Lubavitch, Belz, Bobov, Munkatch, R Elchonon Wasserman , R YCh Zonnenfeld ,R Y Z Dushinsky. All Sanz Dynasty descendents.
    The Chofetz Chaim and R Chaim Ozer were also definitely more to the right than the left.

    The only main Godolim that were not on the same page were Ger and Tchortkov.

    Obviously he is only talking about orthodox and pre-World War II

  27. Brisk ,Lubavitch, Belz, Bobov, Munkatch, R Elchonon Wasserman , R YCh Zonnenfeld ,R Y Z Dushinsky. All Sanz Dynasty descendents.
    The Chofetz Chaim and R Chaim Ozer were also definitely more to the right than the left.

    Is this an all inclusive list of ALL Gedolim?

    Are you so sure they all really felt like Satmar about Zionism?

    The reaction of the CC to the Balfour declaration certainly wouldn’t have been popular in Satmar. (According to his son’s book about him he was extremely happy but worried that the secularist would ruin it)

    Rav Chaim Ozer (as quoted by Rav Yosef Elyah Henkin in Perish Ivrah ) said that if the Zionists will
    ever be successful in creating a state all the halachos of hisgarus b’umos that Satmar is so into will apply to them too . Does Satmar even remotly follow the opinion of Rav Chaim Ozer?

  28. This is pathetic. No matter how you twist and misrepresent R’Shapiro’s arguments you cannot do anything about the fact that he only presents views of major gedolim, across the board. Dont make it into a Satmar only shito because it isn’t. And it is not just some random guy writing his thoughts on the topic. This is R’Chaim Soloveitchik, this is Rav Elchonon, Rav Shach, this is what most chasidshe rebbes held, this is what Rabbi Avigdor Miller wrote about openly and in ENGLISH. You have a problem with that? Whom should we believe when it comes to Zionism, the most prominent gedolim or the author of this review?

    • Yes all gedolim are anti Zionist. Now what is Zionism. It’s a movement to uproot Torah and replace Judaism with a culture. To them democracy is Judaism. That’s why they allow gay parades and missionaries to operate. Anyone with a half a brain knows that. These Zionist destroyed the religious yeminite community. They seek ways to destroy Torah communities with all types in f gimmicks. Their national anthem declares to be a FREE nation in our land. Free of shabbos,Torah,morality,etc. yes we all want a safe Israel. But it won’t happen till the very israeli jewish child is in Yeshiva not public school. There won’t be safety till all streets are closed Shabbos and immoral deviant behavior becomes illegal and no tattoo shops around. Until Tel Aviv emulated frum communities like Beitar and Bnei Brak there won’t be peace.

    • nuuu…
      Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky Rabbi Henkin Rabbi Dessler Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz
      Rabbi Eliezer Silver Rabbi Yoshe Ber Solivatchik

    • Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky Rabbi Henkin Rabbi Dessler Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz
      Rabbi Eliezer Silver Rabbi Yoshe Ber Solivatchik

      it’s one thing to oppose creating a Jewish State it’s another to abandon it post creation

  29. An important distinction has to be made. R’ Shapiro is probably correct that many Gedolim had the Satmar attitude towards Zionism. What is not correct is the idea that there were many Gedolim who agreed with the Satmar behavior towards Zionism.

    Outside of Satmar and it’s close affiliates you will find very little support for the obsessive focus on Zionism and the public protests against it. Not only that many of the Gedolim who agreed with the Satmar attitude towards Zionism were also outspoken in their opposition to Satmar behavior.

    To understand that view better see Rav Henkin’s anti NK essays at the end of Kisvei Hagri’a Henkin.
    He makes it clear that he agrees with their opinion about Zionism. It is their behavior which he finds absolutely unacceptable

  30. This review is horribly flawed. Anyone who actually read the book will see that the author brings a source for everything he says. It’s clear that Rabbi Hoffman didn’t read the book cover to cover. He states clearly that it wasn’t miraculous because of Israel’s superior armed forces ( just as one example). The big chisaron of online (flawed) hashkafa articles is that random authors can share their opinions which a lot of times does not reflect our mesoirah.

    • nuuu…
      Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky Rabbi Henkin Rabbi Dessler Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz
      Rabbi Eliezer Silver Rabbi Yoshe Ber Solivatchik

      it’s one thing to oppose creating a Jewish State it’s another to abandon it post creation.

  31. Ironic note: The only two groups not to see and deny the Yad Hashem in the six day war are (1)The militantly atheistic anti religious Zionist groups and (2)Satmar…

  32. if satmer is so opposed to Israel shouldn’t they also be opposed to living in america and beis yacovs for girls etc.
    I am curious do people want the state of israel to dissolve? do you want arabs with meat cleavers? how many jews are religious nowadays because of Israel? you think the 6 day war didnt cause bal teshuvahs? does Israel not fund Torah? or anything to do with Israel is evil? were herods renovations called ugly by chazal?

  33. Guys, listen up.
    As a general rule, like anything else, you have to know what is considered a FUNDAMENTAL, and what is considered an INSIGHT or a side point. In my humble opinion, the main purpose of R. Shapiro’s book is to clearly illustrate what defines the FUNDAMENTALS of our Religion (and our Torah/sages), and what defines Zionism. He created an awareness which didn’t really exist before, and he has done an excellent job. You see, Zionism’s key to success has been, and always will be, the very fact that it undermines that very essence of the Torah observant Jew. It creates a whole new kind of Jew (aka “Life”) by pretty much allowing you to be a Jew without being a Jew. And it makes things super confusing for an average person who doesn’t really know anything from anything. So here is where Shapiro comes in. His goal is to simply EDUCATE the general public in this area, and by doing so we are thus fully able to define and understand our values and true heritage.
    NOWHERE in his book does Shapiro suggest that we should blow up Ben Gurion airport or boycott Israeli goods. Anyone who starts talking about hatred etc, is clearly missing the boat here.
    As far as this Rabbi Hoffman’s problem with the Six Day War analysis – I’m not quite sure I understand what the Mir Yeshiva and Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz has to do with anything. It is obvious that what specifically happened to the Mir during that time was a miracle (just as they experienced miracles during WWII), but who ever said that the very fact that Israel was not wiped off the map was an utter and complete miracle?? And, just because they had less in terms of QUANTITY against the Arab nations, at the sane time, it was evident that it was indeed QUALITY which they did have whereas the Arabs did not. And this is precisely what it takes to win war, just as Shapiro quotes from US generals ans war experts.
    It is beyond me how anyone can think R. Hoffman’s feedback makes any sense. Maybe someone can enlighten me here? Would be greatly appreciated…

  34. The only thing I learnt from this book review is that rabbi Hoffman either never read the book or gave it a cursory glance at best.

    • “The only thing I learnt from this book review is that rabbi Hoffman either never read the book or gave it a cursory glance at best'”

      Exactly. Here’s the logic. If you criticize Zionism, you must be wrong. and the reason is because when hoffman sees a zionist flag waving his heart goes pitter patter.

  35. I’m happy to see that most comments picked up on the fact that this critique didn’t address the main points and underlying philosophy of the book. After having read the book it becomes clear that the real issues that the book tackles are Jewish identity and the Jewish nation from a religious perspective, and other divergent opinions on those subjects. I think rabbi Hoffman did all the readers of this article and to the author a disservice

  36. This isn’t a review it’s a bunch of opinions

    I have the book. It’s terrific. Well researched and argued, unlike this review.

  37. Reb Dan Waldman is just uttering propaganda. The Arabs send a sliver of their weak armies.

    “The traditional view, at least on the Zionist side, was that the ‘48 war, the Jewish victory in the ‘48 war, was a miracle, God given or whatever. Somehow the few overcame the much better armed many and won the war. That’s the traditional view. When you look at the documentation on the Israeli side which has been opened since the end of the 1970s, beginning of the 1980s you get a much more balanced picture of what the real balance of forces was even though as I say we don’t have the Arab documentation. It’s not opened. But the Israeli intelligence and foreign agencies did sort of understand the numbers and weaponry and so on which were involved in the war. And what that shows is that the stronger side won. That’s what happens incidentally in most wars. The stronger side wins and the stronger side won in this war.” Israeli historian Benny Morris, 1948, p. 183.

  38. it is true that all the Gedolim were opposed to the “new Jew” theology of the Zionists, and all the Aveiros that the secular Zionists were and are engaged in. This does not mean however, that all The Gedolim viewed the State of Israel negatively. one can be vehemently opposed to the agenda of many of The Zionists but still view the emergence of The State of Israel as a positive thing and an expression of Hashem’s love for us (even if the leaders may have been Kofrim who have done terrible things). The book tries to make the argument that all the Gedolim unanimously viewed The State of Israel as Maaseh Satan the way the Satmar Rebbe did. This is not true though. Certainly, many of The Gedolim viewed The State of Israel negatively. Examples include Gedolim as great as The Brisker Rav, The Chazon Ish, The Steipler, The Satmar Rebbe and Rav Avigdor Miller among many others, as the book demonstrates. To say that this is how all authentic Gedolim viewed The State, however, is a distortion of the views of many Great Gedolim. Many Big Gedolim viewed the state positively, or at least with more nuance than the book suggests. Here are some examples:
    Rav Kook, although he lived before the state, was clearly Zionist, and most likely would have viewed The State positively. His son, Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, who was a Big Talmid Chochom as well, certainly viewed it positively. Rav Yosef Dov Soloveichik, as well as his brother Rav Aharon Soleveichik, both tremendous Talmidei Chochomim, viewed The State of Israel as a gift from Hashem. Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog recited Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut. So did Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Zevin, one of the renowned Gedolim of the last generation, and the author of the classic work, Moadim Bihalacha. Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank and Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer are quoted as calling The State of Israel “The Aschalta Digeulah (beggining of Redemtion)” even as they fought against violations of Halacha. The Ponovitzer Rav, Rav Kaheneman famously hung a flag on his Yeshivah on Yom Haatzmaut, saying “The State is certainly no worse than Europe”. He also refrained from saying Tachunun on Yom Haatzmaut. Rav Ovadya Yosef, in a teshuvah (about saying Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut), calls The State “Aschalta Degualah” even as he laments about the sad aspects (such as the Chilul Shabbos etc.) He is also quoted (in a footnote of a teshuvah in Yechaveh Daas) to be of the opinion that one should not say Tachanun on Yom Haatzmaut. Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky is quoted (in a footnote to Emes liyaakov parshas bo”) as often saying, that Hashem gave us The State as a way of strengthining Jewish identity after the terrible despair people felt in the aftermaths of the Holocaust. (He is, however quoted (in The Artscroll biography) as telling The Satmar Rebbe that he agrees with him, after reading “Vayoel Moshe”.) Rav Moshe Feinstien, as well, seems to have had a more nuanced view of The State of Israel. While, in one Teshuvah he expresses his disapproval of hanging Israeli flags in Shul, and calls it “Shtusim” (though making it clear that Chas Veshalom to make a Machlokes about it), he writes in a different Teshuvah that one shouldn’t tear Kriyah when visiting Eretz Yisrael since it’s been rebuilt and it’s not under non-Jewish control, clearly attributing some significance to it being in Jewish control. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, athough not a Zionist, stressed the need to be respectful and thankful to the soldiers protecting us. He also famously said during one of the wars, that any solider who is killed in battle, will have the Olam Haba of The “Herugei Lod”, of whom The Gemara says will have a uniquely lofty place there. Rav Aharon Lopiansky (in an article in Timepieces) addressing the position of Agudah, writes not that The State is certainly negative, rather that there is such a mix of good and bad aspects that we simply can’t know if it “Aschalta Degualah” as the Religious Zionists claim, or “Maaseh Satan” as Satmar claims. Rav Shlomo Zaman’s view is not so clear, however he was close with figures from The Dati Liumi world including, most notably, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein (and never tried to change their views). When asked once about which Kevarim to visit, he famously responded that one should go to Mt. Hertzl to the Kevarim of the murdered soliders. Clearly none of these Gedolim agreed with the evil actions done by the early Zionists, nor with their ideology. Their views on the state and it’s significance, however, seem to be much more positive or a nuanced than the extreme ideology against the state which the book claims.
    As seen before, there were great Gedolim who were very opposed to The State of Israel being formed, and one is entitled to follow that view. Nevertheless, there were also many Gedolim who viewed The State with cautious optimism, or at least with more nuance. People who follow these views are not less authentic Jews; they are following the approach of many renowned Gedolim as well.

    Another important point which has to be made is that whatever ones approach is towards Zionism, one must be respectful towards Gedolim. The author, when writing about Rav Kook, paints him in negative light. He makes fun of many of his arguments and tries to show that even though he was a Talmid Chochom, he did not have the respect of the other Gedolim. To prove his point, he brings various stories from The Satmar Rebbe, Rav Elchanan Wasserman, and others which paint him in a very negative light. He then quotes a Teshuvah which discusses if he was a Kofer or not. Someone reading the book can easily get the impression that Rav Kook was Chas Veshalom, not a Chashuv person, and someone who The Gedolim made fun of. in Reality though, Rav Kook was recognized by most of the other Gedolim to be an extremely Chashuv person, and a Gadol biyisroel. There may have been a few Gedolim who talked negatively about him, (lesheim Shomaim), as brought in the book, but the majority of The Gedolim seem to have held him in high regard. Here are just a few examples:
    Rav Isser Zaman, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank and Rav Aryeh Levine, were very close to him and talked very highly about him. Rav Elayashiv at a young age, developed a Kesher with Rav Kook, and Rav Kook was in fact his Shadchan and Mesader Kiddushin. He seems to have been Machshiv him later on life as well, and he even supported the firing of and editor who took out references to Rav Kook’s Seforim. Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach was Machshiv Rav Kook very much, and even got a Haskamah from him on his Sefer Meorei Haish. Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky is quoted as calling Rav Kook “A Gaon and a Tzadik” (The making of a Gadol p. 1087.) Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, in a letter to Rav Kook, praised Rav Kook very highly. Rav Ovadya Yosef quotes Rav Kook several times in his Teshuvos. Even Rav Avigdor Miller who very strongly disagreed with Rav Kook’s ideology, when asked for his opinion on Rav Kook, makes sure not to directly criticize Rav Kook. At one point in the answer, he even says “I want to be very careful with the kavod of Rav Kook.” Most of The Gedolim didn’t agree with much of his Hashkafah, but that in no way undermined the respect they had for him. it is clear, therefore, that regardless of one’s Hashkafah, he should be Machshiv Rav Kook as an Adam Gadol.


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