Sunday, 31 July 2016

Final Border Status

  There are two ways of negotiating [to determine the borders of the Land of Israel]. The first is to state: I am a Jew. I represent the Jewish People and the Jewish faith. Therefore I ask of you to grant me all that I request.  Since we live in exile, G-d desires that we work through natural means by approaching the minister of that country (who is connected to the heavenly ministering angel of that country) and speak to him diplomatically in his language.  Yet, together with that, the Jew must speak with clarity and determination, stating his demand. This method of negotiating was determined by Abraham our Patriarch who stated: “I am both a non resident and a citizen among you”, meaning, if you will concede and grant the Jew what he is owed, I will accept the status of a non-resident in exile, and to pay 400 silver shekels for the merchandise.  Even given this diminished status, G-d has commanded Jewish entitlement. [As is known the maxim of the Rebbes of Lubavitch, that only the physical bodies of the Jewish People have been put in exile; not the souls.  Therefore a gentile is not empowered to argue that since a Jew is in exile he cannot receive his demand.] However, if the gentile is not in agreement, then the Jew will state his demand as an entitlement, a citizen, and take it without offering payment.

The Northern Border - The Mountains of Hermon
The second form of negotiation with a gentile– in order to determine the borders of Israel– is that the Jew says that our entitlement stems from a certain gentile from London [Balfour] who said that the Jewish People need a homeland.  When the gentile hears this, he comes to the conclusion that this Jew has no basis of entitlement from Jewish sources.  That is why he reverts to claiming his rights from a gentile. His response is:  True, a gentile did state the need of a Jewish homeland, however now, one hundred and forty gentiles disagree. Who is to say that one solitary gentile [Balfour] holds the determining view? [Actually, this argument of the gentile is correct.  He is no master to decide that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People. Rather, this is the Will of G-d who initially granted this land to them (the Canaanites), and consequently took it from them and granted the land to us].  We are in exile (using natural means – praying for the peace of the city.... because through this we will have peace).  Yet our words must be completely truthful with no hint of falsity [which would be contrary to Torah] because falsity will also lead to results contrary to those we anticipated.

Eastern Border - The Jordan River
All the tribulations, which we are living through now, are because Jewish people built their case on that declaration written by a gentile in London! Jewish people regard that gentile as the master who is deciding who should receive “the Land ... upon which the eyes of G-d gaze from the beginning of the year to the end of the year”.  The matter does not end there.  They attempt to find favor in his eyes and subjugate themselves to him, asking another gentile “where are the borders [of Israel]?  Where does the Land belonging to Jewish People end?  What were the loyalties, both apparent and undisclosed, of the those who signed a piece of paper in London? 

This is precisely what the Talmud states: “Our Torah should not be compared to their irrelevant words”. We have an iron wall, the iron words of Rashi [the Torah commentator, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki] at the very beginning of the Torah, when a child begins to learn Chumash with the commentary of Rashi at the age of five. We tell him immediately: “[The Almighty] told His nation of the strength of His Hand when He gave [the Jewish People] an inheritance of nations.”  Rashi does not leave room to teach the child any conjectural interpretations.  Rather, he states with clarity, that there is a country which once belonged to seven nations, [not that they conquered it with the might of their own hands, but rather it was given to them by G-d]; subsequently He took it from them and gave it to us”.

There is absolutely no need to seek advice, come to any compromises, conspiracies, or deals as to where our borders ought to be and which territories belongs to them [the Arabs]!  

G-d Himself delineated and set the borders of the Land of Israel! “This is the Land ....her borders” [Leviticus 34.2].  

They [the government of Israel] have tried all formulas both openly and by secret agreements. Yet, this is the only formula they have not yet attempted with which to go public. This is the only wording which gentiles understand since they study the T'nach [Bible] with the very same verses and same interpretations! 

The Western Border - The Mediterranean Sea
Gentiles already know the interpretation.  Moreover, they know that the Jews also know this correct interpretation.  Yet, the Jew chooses to cut himself off, to ignore his spiritual wealth and power and true demand.  In fact, this is not a demand or request, but a preexisting natural oneness of the Nation of Israel and the Land of Israel, as the Midrash [Tanchuma] explains:  When G-d chose the Nation of Israel from among the nations, and chose the Land of Israel from among all the lands, it is only logical that the land which the Creator chose should be given to the people whom the Creator chose! 

By the use of this simple logic there fall away all questions of borders [of Israel]. Then, not only does the issue no longer cause panic and fear, but even the gentiles will know that the Jews [by demonstrating their rightful demand] are “the most powerful among the nations” [Talmud Beitza], and that the basis upon which they [the Jewish people] take possession [of their rightful lands] is because they [the gentiles] know that “The word of G-d will stand for ever” [Isaiah 40.8].

One is fully entitled to approach the gentile and say to him in straightforward terms [quoting Ethics of the Fathers 5.10]: ‘Possessions belonging to me are mine; possessions belonging to you, are yours’.  You have the entire world; we have a tiny portion of land which cannot accommodate the nations [Talmud Tractate Gittin 57.1]. The Torah commentator Rashi elaborates in his commentary on the Torah portion [B’chukosai 26.32]: ‘That which the verse forewarns ‘The Land of Israel will lie desolate’ [which appears to be a part of the Curses] is actually a blessing.  When the Land is made Judenrein, then gentiles also are unable to take possession of that land!’ [Translator’s note: This ancient prediction mentioned in the Torah, has taken place before our very eyes in Gush Katif which remains utterly desolate of Arab inhabitants and production]. They are only able to move around there temporarily, but can never reside there permanently. This is the very nature of the earth of the Land of Israel. Since all of this [from the Bible] has already been translated into all languages, the nations of the world are well acquainted with this fact. 

The government of Israel sent an emissary, a Jew, to negotiate with a gentile. What does he do? He begins to research non Jewish sources; perhaps there he will find proof for Jewish rights to the Land. When he finally meets with the gentile and begins to prove that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish Nation because Balfour said so, it’s pitiful because the gentile realizes that this is not a legitimate claim. 

The claim must have strong legal justification [recognized also by the gentiles] that the Land of Israel and her borders belong to the Jewish Nation [aside from the greater borders predicted in the Torah portion [Re-ei 12.20], ‘When G-d will broaden your borders’ after the arrival of our righteous Moshiach].  Even if there is need to pay 400 silver shekels, still, the lands are Jewish. The gentile will recognize the truth of this claim, which was not invented in 1948 [with the establishment of the State], but going far back in time to the Revelation at Mount Sinai, and even before that, to the Covenant with Abraham.  Only then will the gentile not be suspicious that if he will grant the Jewish nation one portion, they will not further their demand for another portion, because the Jewish Nation are only asking for that which is rightfully theirs!

The government makes no effort to release itself from slavery to the international community.  They know that their slavery will only end when Jews return to their faith. Then ‘immediately will they be released from their exile’ [see Maimonides].  At this time we are still in a state of Exile, not as is the view of those who are mistaken and mislead others [that 1948 was the time when the exile came to an end, and now we have entered the beginning of the Redemption].   Maimonides states clearly that the exile will be prolonged up until the moment when ‘there will arise a King from the Royal House of King David who will bring all Israel to walk in the footsteps of the Torah, and its breaches will be repaired.

Thereafter Moshiach will fight the wars of G-d and be victorious, [all of this he will achieve whilst the Jewish People are still in exile]’.  Only thereafter will he build the [third] Temple in its rightful place and ‘he will bring about the in gathering of the dispersed ones of Israel.’ 

This is the great test for us to overcome in our times. 

Public address 11 Nissan 1976

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

On giving the Arabs Autonomy

 An additional point of this agreement was that Arabs will receive autonomy, namely, the civil administration in Judea and Samaria will be under Arab control, able to choose their own leaders and conduct themselves as they wish. 

See what took place! Even under Israel army control, Arabs there voted for terrorist organizations! Just imagine what sort of leadership they will vote for when freed of all constraints with their own police force and in possession of deadly arms! 

By granting autonomy we will be binding our hands and unable to take any protective action. Despite the fact that it was agreed that this will come into action only after two to three years; when one agrees in principal to grant this from a perspective of righteousness and honesty, the Arabs would have full right to demand this after just a few years or even after tomorrow. 

The hope is that the same miracle will take place as it did previously after the Six Day War when the Arabs refused to take the lands offered to them. Israel continues to blunder with the very same mistake they have repeated time and time again, like after the Six Day War, after the Yom Kippur War, and when they reached the Suez Canal offering to return conquered lands. By the Grace of G-d there took place a full victory for the Jewish People and great terrains were taken over. 

Regardless, there came along Jews and returned these G-d gifted lands, and now also they repeat those very same mistakes! May it be the Will of G-d that the same miracle repeats itself as before [the mistake and retreat of today is far greater than the previous ones] in spite of the fact that Israel runs after them and begs them to take back those terrains, (nevertheless the Arabs refused the offer!) 

[The reason for their refusal is because they do not want to take these lands because they want everything! Yet, the truthful reason is as our Sages say, “the hearts of Kings is in the Hand of G-d”. This is G-d’s decision.] 

May it be the Will of G-d that in our days also the very same miracle will repeat itself, namely, that the Arabs will once again refuse the offer and all of the Land of Israel with her borders remain in the hands of the Jewish Nation as “the Eternal inheritance to the Eternal Nation”. 

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Israel's Cease-fire

  “Why do the leaders not learn the message,” asked the Rebbe, “from the results of the retreats in 1948 and in 1956? “Why do they not understand that it is forbidden to agree to retreat from the territories?” 

When I mentioned ‘international guarantees’, the Rebbe replied that no intelligent person would agree to rely on gentiles, certainly not on the assurances of Egypt or Russia who are solely concerned for their own interests. Only after two previous acts of bitter deception did the Six-Day War come. Finally when Israel recognized that the kindness of Nations is sinful, G-d came to their assistance. Everyone then recognized the Hand of G-d and His Wonders. Even the leftist groups openly spoke of this. It was only the charedim who refrained from speaking of this explicitly”. 

“Now men of scant faith have arisen, who want to reach peace with the Arabs, regardless of the fact that they continue to announce that their intention is the destruction of Israel. They continue to believe in the assurances and recommendations of the gentiles. If they would only have agreed to peace talks, okay. But the Government of Israel has agreed to a cease-fire in Suez. So many Jewish soldiers fell in order to prevent Egypt from assembling their missile formations!” 

The Rebbe asked passionately; “how can one not understand that the cease-fire was needed by Egypt solely for war preparations, to strengthen her military standing along the Suez Canal, so that thereafter phantom jets will be of no avail. Every day they are advancing their lines of missiles towards the Canal. The heads of government are beginning to say that the Cossack is acting inappropriately, he is deceiving us. Why don’t they say: Okay let’s talk peace, but we will prevent Egypt from strengthening herself along the Suez Canal. After their army formations are improved, why should they make peace? Further war will break out and more sacrifices will fall. Why? What purpose does this serve? Can there be greater folly than this?” 

At this point the Rebbe could no longer continue to speak. I saw tears of emotion and pain choking him. In a passionate voice he recounted the words of the Haftorah in which the Prophet (Isaiah 50:2) says: “Why have I come (to give you warning) and there is no man (listening), I have cried out, and     there is no response”. 

The Rebbe expressed himself with sharp bitterness against the heads of the Government of Israel. “If today the heads of Government are unsure of their ability to withstand the Nations; if they are fearful and weak, it is better that they leave the task of leadership to others. The Torah metes out neither punishment nor lashes to one who is weak-hearted. Rather the Torah states: “Who is the man who is fearful and of weak heart, let him go and return to his house, and not melt the hearts of his brothers”.  
Interview with newspaper reporter Yona Cohen, 1970

Monday, 4 July 2016

Letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to PM David Ben-Gurion on the registration of children of mixed marriages in Eretz Israel

By the Grace of G‑d
8 Adar I 5719
[February 16, 1959]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

His Excellency
Mr. David Ben-Gurion,
Prime Minister of Israel

Greetings and Blessing:

This is in reply to your letter regarding my opinion on the registration of children of mixed marriages, when the father is a Jew and the mother a non-Jew who did not undergo conversion before the birth of the child. The intent of the inquiry is—as the wording of the resolution has it in the above mentioned letter—“to define instructions that should be in harmony with the tradition accepted in all circles of Judaism, both orthodox and non-orthodox of all trends, and with the special conditions of Israel as a sovereign state which guarantees freedom of conscience and religion as a center of ingathering the exiles.”

My opinion is absolutely clear, in conformity with the Torah and the tradition accepted for generations, that in these matters there can be no validity whatsoever to a verbal declaration expressing the desire to register as a Jew. Such a declaration has no power to change the reality.

According to the Torah and the tradition of ages, which still exists today, a Jew is only a person born to a Jewish mother, or a proselyte who had been converted in conformity with the exact procedure laid down in the authoritative codes of Judaism from ancient times down to the Shulchan Aruch.

The above applies not only to children whose parents or guardians declare their desire to register them as Jews, but to whosoever comes forward to declare his wish to change his status in order to enter the Jewish community. Such a declaration has no force whatever unless he actually fulfills, or has fulfilled, the appropriate conversion procedure as laid down in the Jewish codes and in the Shulchan Aruch, as above.

With honor and blessing,

P.S. I do not cite sources, since there are clear and detailed rulings on the matter in the codes of Maimonides, the Tur, Shulchan Aruch, etc.

All that follows now is merely an additional postscript, written with the intention of emphasizing that even if the following is not accepted, either in part or in full, this does not detract at all from the finality of the opinion I have outlined above. The following remarks are merely a reaction to the account of the situation delineated in your letter.

a) The question of registration, or however it may be described, is not a matter confined to Israel alone. It goes without saying—as explained in your letter—that no one may raise a barrier between the Jews of Israel and those of the Diaspora. On the contrary, all our brethren, wherever they may be, have constituted one people from the moment of their emergence, in spite of their dispersion in all the corners of the world. Consequently, the solution of the problem must be one that is acceptable to all members of the Jewish people everywhere, that is capable of forging and strengthening the bonds between and the unity of all Jews, and certainly not one that would be a cause, even the remotest, of disunity and dissension. Accordingly, even if you may argue that the present conditions in Eretz Yisrael call for a special study of the abovementioned question, those conditions do not restrict the problem to Eretz Yisrael, but as noted constitute a matter of common concern to every Jew everywhere.

b) Belonging to the Jewish people was never considered by our people as a formal, external matter. It has always been defined and delineated in terms of the commitment of the whole being of the Jew, something intimately linked with his very essence and innermost experience. Accordingly, any movement which disregards or belittles any of the procedures in this connection degrades the feeling of belonging to the Jewish people, and cannot but be detrimental to the serious and profound attitude toward the Jew’s inner link with his people.

c) To ease the conditions of transition and affiliation to the Jewish people—particularly in the special circumstances of Eretz Yisrael, surrounded by countries and peoples unsympathetic towards it (that is an understatement)—is to endanger considerably the security of Eretz Yisrael.

d) What emerges from the above points is that even if an attempt is made to avoid the proper solution to the problem by a compromise, such as substituting for the word “Jew” a word of completely secular connotations, this will not constitute a way out, since the damage would remain both with respect to strengthening the bonds of unity with Jews everywhere, as well as from the point of view of inner strength and security.

e) Of course, no argument can be adduced from the cases of people who have been converted in the proper manner and have nevertheless caused harm to the Jewish people. On the other hand, there is the possibility that one who merely makes a verbal declaration of his Jewishness may benefit the Jewish people. The demand for a due conversion procedure is likewise not negated by the fact that there are non-Jewish “saints” who, as the description implies, are for all that still non-Jews.

f) In the frame of reference in which the question was put, the matter of discrimination was mentioned. Discrimination can, however, apply only to granting or withholding of rights, or meting out punishments; it can have no relevance to the question of registration, which has to do with existing reality.

Let me conclude with the hope and expectation that Eretz Yisrael in all its aspects, both present and future, should constitute a factor uniting Jews everywhere, both orthodox and non-orthodox of all trends, by attuning itself in all its affairs more and more to the name by which it is known among all the peoples of the world—“the Holy Land.”

Yours truly,

Rabbi M.M. Schneerson

Letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to PM David Ben-Gurion on the thirst of the youth of our eternal people

By the Grace of G‑d

Adar I 5719

[February 17, 1959]

Brooklyn, N.Y.
His Excellency

Mr. David Ben-Gurion,

Prime Minister of Israel


Yesterday I sent you my official reply to the question of Registration, and I have to apologize for the delay in my reply till now for a number of reasons. What is written further is not official, and not even semi-official.
It was once fashionable in certain circles to suggest that the Jewish religion and religious observances were necessary for those living in the Diaspora—as a shield against assimilation. But for those who can find another “antidote”—in the place of religion, particularly for those living in Eretz Yisrael, within their own society, where the atmosphere, language, etc., (apparently) serve as ample assurances of national preservation, the Jewish religion was superfluous—what need had they to burden themselves with all its minutiae in their daily life? But the trend of developments in Eretz Yisrael in the last seven or eight years has increasingly emphasized the opposite view: That however vital the need for religion amongst Diaspora Jewry, it is needed even more for the Jews in Eretz Yisrael. One of the basic reasons for this is that it is precisely in Eretz Yisrael that there exists the danger that a new generation will grow up, a new type bearing the name of Israel but completely divorced from the past of our people and its eternal and essential values, and moreover, hostile to it in its world outlook, its culture, and the content of its daily life; hostile—in spite of the fact that it will speak Hebrew, dwell in the land of the Patriarchs, and wax enthusiastic over the Bible.
I do not wish to dwell on this painful subject at all for obvious reasons (especially since I see no need for further elaboration). One of the reasons is that I fervently hope that this calamity will not come to pass. Eventually, members of that generation itself will vehemently rise up against that danger, and will take measures to ward off the evil. Indeed, it is just recently that an intense ferment has been felt in Eretz Yisrael and abroad demanding a spiritual content to life; if a deeper probe is made, it becomes evident that the yearning is for something transcending the reason of man.
The thirst of the youth of our eternal people will certainly not be quenched by rationalizations and theories that are the product of contemporary mortals, which will share the fate of those ideologies which made their debut only yesterday and which are no more today. Here is the place for the Law of Moses and Israel, the Oral and Written Law, our independent values dating from the day the Jewish people stood before G‑d, our G‑d, at Horeb, and the great voice was heard which did not stop: “I am G‑d your G‑d . . . You shall have no other gods . . .”
Needless to say, I do not speak here of a theoretical religiosity which serves only as a purely philosophical world outlook, or as the subject of lectures at weekends and holidays. I speak of a pervading and practical way of life, which includes the weekdays too, and all such matters which are usually termed “secular.” Our faith is, after all, essentially one of practical deeds.
Now is the ideal opportunity to transform the whole canvas of life in Eretz Yisrael and direct it into the above mentioned channels. This opportunity is knocking at your door, for you have been granted the ability and privilege to use it to the best advantage, a privilege and opportunity which are not given to every man, and the likes of which have not presented themselves for many decades.
It is more than likely that the aforementioned lines will astonish you. Do I really imagine that by means of this letter I can change or influence an outlook many decades old, and in particular, the outlook of a man who has seen the fruit of his labors? But, since in my opinion the situation in Eretz Yisrael is as described above—the situation in itself, the essential truth of the idea, the unique and most wonderful opportunity granted you—it is they which speak, appeal and demand. I am sure that even without my letter you have often reflected on this. But I could not allow myself to pass over this in silence—at a time when I am engaged in writing on the subject of Registration, which is part and parcel of the general background outlined above. I felt it my duty to refer to this, at least in a private letter to you.
At this opportunity, and begging apology for the delay, I thank you for sending me your booklet. Let me base my next few words on what you wrote in the booklet when referring to Eretz Yisrael: I mean the expression “the Holy Land.” Now, the epithet “holy,” like that of “Jew,” has had its content defined and consecrated by generations of our people, from the time of the Giving of the Law—when the title “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” was bestowed on us, and when the Jewish people were granted the Holy Land according to its borders, “the land of the Canaanite and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates”—till the present day and including it.
Yours truly,

Rabbi M. M. Schneerson