September 02, 2005

The Withdrawal and Divine Intervention

In response to feedback I have received to the previous post (Withdrawal from Gaza), I wish to clarify my remarks about the dangers of declaring that it was the will of God not to withdraw from the settlements:

My position is based on the Gemara in Sanhedrin 87b. Rabbi Shmuel ben Nahmani said in the name of Rabbi Yehonatan, "May the bones rot of those who calculate the end of days (the Coming of the Messiah), for the result is that people will say that since the predicted time has arrived, and yet He has not come, He will never come. But [even so], I say, we should simply wait for Him."

The issue is not one of Divine Intervention, that is a given. It is whether people can or should declare that something, whether the holocaust or the establishment of Israel, can be said to contain a definite message from God and declare exactly what that message is and insist it carries with it halachic ramifications.

Of course we are punished and rewarded for our actions, but as the Gemara in Brachot (or Rav Yannai in Avot) makes amply clear, we do NOT know how it works in practice and why Tzadik VeRa Lo, etc.

Of course rabbonim, even great rabbonim, have declared that this or that is a Divine Message. But does this mean they were necessarily right? Yes, we do believe this of the Churban Bayit 1 and 2, and the Galut, but after the end of nevuah I think not! Even if the relatively new idea of daat torah is trying to resurrect it! We accept the halacha as the revealed will of God it is true, but on matters where there is not universal agreement such statements are just divisive and counterproductive.

I indeed believe as a matter of personal emunah that God intervenes and did in the establishment and survival of Israel, but this carries with it no halachic imperative! So I think the "Tzur Yisrael" of the Declaration of Independence refers to God. Ben Gurion said it meant TZAHAL!

How do you deal with some rabbonim who say Israel is the work of God and others who say it is the work of the Devil? That is precisely the danger. So if one Rav declares "land for peace" is forbidden by God and another says it is permitted by God, all that happens is that that non-believers or doubters end up dismissing Torah.

I love faith so much that I am upset when people lay it open to ridicule!!

(Indeed, I love and venerate the memory of the Lubavitcher Rebbe ztl so much that it hurts to see it diminished by misuse of religious terminology and ideology, which is why I made that comparison.)

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