Urgently Needed: A Rabbinical Council

By Prof. Paul Eidelberg


As president of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy, I hereby propose the establishment of an ad hoc Rabbinical Council to denounce the Geneva Accord (hereafter the “Accord”) concocted by Yossi Beilin, Amram Mitzna, and Avraham Burg with various members of the Palestinian Authority.


Briefly stated, under the Accord (1) the Temple Mount and most of the Old City of Jerusalem will come under Arab control, (2) the cities of Ariel and Efrat and most other Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza will be dismantled, and (3) some 100,000 Jews will thus be evacuated from their homes. (See for the full text of the Accord.)


The Accord violates not only sections 97 and 100 of Israel’s Criminal Law governing treason, but also Jewish law, and it is only the latter which I urge the proposed Rabbinical Council to pronounce upon. The Council should publish a clear and concise text showing how the Accord and those Jews who have sponsored it are in violation of Jewish law and of the Jewish heritage. Here I recommend for the Council’s consideration a discourse of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, (z”l) published in 1978, extracts of which appear below.


1. What right do we have to the Holy Land?


Consider Rashi’s commentary on the first verse of Genesis, “In the beginning G-d Created Heaven and Earth …” Rashi writes: “It was not necessary to begin the Torah (whose main objective is to teach commandments) with this verse.... What, therefore, is the reason that it begins with Genesis? Because if the nations of the world will say to Israel: ‘You are robbers because you have conquered with force the lands of the seven nations (of Canaan) they (Israel) can answer: ‘He created it (as described in Genesis) and gave it to whomever was proper in His eyes. Of His own will He gave it to them (the non-Jews) and of his own will He took it from them and gave it to us!’


2. What should be the overall attitude for the Jewish statesman or diplomat in representing Israel’s case before the members of any other nation?


a. The Right Way: The Jew chosen to represent his people must …not adopt a servile attitude before others.


b. The Wrong Way: Instead of declaring firmly that the Holy Land is ours by Divine fiat, some approach other nations in an entirely different manner. They say that there was a certain non-Jew, Lord Balfour by name … who issued a “paper” in 1917, declaring that the Jews should have the Holy Land as a “national home”. One who presents such a claim based on non-Jewish sources automatically implies that he has no proof from Jewish sources!


Why follow such a weak path? We have an ironclad claim [in the Torah]. Why rely on diplomatic negotiations? Why make territorial compromises? The Al-mighty in His Torah has clearly indicated the borders of the Land of Israel. This is the one single approach which has until now not even been tried. All other versions of diplomacy and statesmanship have been tried and have failed.… and today we see to what state of affairs this has led. The only approach which the non-Jews deep down really understand is one based upon our Holy Torah which they also regard with reverence as “the Bible.” When a Jewish representative abandons this approach, he abandons his own wealth; he abandons the source of his strength, he abandons his true claim.


3. What is it that instills fear into the hearts of our nation’s compromisers?


We are told by the Torah that there might come a time in our bitter exile when some of our people will be possessed by an illogical fear, a “faintness of heart”. They will flee— imagining that they are under pursuit by an enemy—when in reality they are fleeing from the sound of a leaf driven by the wind. Today we see the unfortunate fulfillment of this prophecy. There are some of us who allow themselves to be frightened by threats issued by other nations: they stand in fear and trembling. But who is it that they fear—a torn leaf driven by the wind!


4. From a Torah perspective, what is the central issue today in regards to the defense of the Holy Land?


The issue is Pikuach Nefesh, the endangering of the lives of all the inhabitants of the Holy Land posed by the proposed return of certain areas of land. The following is the definitive verdict of our Divine Torah law, as expressed in the Shulchan Aruch:


If a band of idolators have surrounded a Jewish city … [and]the city in question is close to the coast, then even where their intention is only to rob “straw and stubble”, we desecrate the Shabbos to defend the city against them, for if we will not do so, they might capture this (strategic) city—and from there it might be easy for them to conquer the land.”


The ruling is clear, and the current circumstances in the Middle East are far more severe than those portrayed in the above passage, for the following reasons: First, every point on the map of the Holy Land, every settlement, can be considered as “a city close to the coast (or border)” due to the extremely vulnerable nature of Israel’s geography. An enemy could obviously conquer the hinterland far more easily once it has captured any strong point near the border. Second, there is no question of the invading enemies having their eyes only on despoiling “straw and stubble”; they announce their murderous goals very openly!


5. How much of the territory of the Holy Land can we give back? Not one inch!


Everyone knows that to return areas on the west bank of the Jordan River to the Arabs is a danger to life. We do not need to hear this from the greatest expert. All we have to do is look at the map and see how close the west bank of the Jordan is to the sea, and to note [the character of our neighbors]. … When the lives of millions of Jews are in danger [the meaning any UN Resolution such as 242 is irrelevant.] The simplest person understands that if his wife and family are in circumstances where their very lives are endangered, such a situation overrules ALL other considerations.


Some claim that a “promise” was made to return some areas. This claim is totally without meaning—for no-one can promise to give away something which does not belong to him! The Holy Land—all of it—belongs to the Al-mighty. The Al-mighty has given it to every individual Jew and to all of us together as a nation, but He has given it to us “in trust”, in a manner that it must remain OUR eternal inheritance. How could anyone have “promised”

to give any of it away? It was not his to give.


6. What should be done now to protect Israel?


Our very first duty is to prevent enemy infiltration of our borders. There is no other effective way to do this than to build Jewish settlements along the entire eastern border!


7. With whom could Israel sign a valid peace treaty now? With no one!


There are some who are foolish enough to declare that if we will return areas of Judea and Samaria we will attain peace. We must reply: “No one can offer a valid peace treaty. It is simply not within their power. It is not within the power of Washington, it is not within the power of Egypt—it is not even within the power of Arafat yemach sh’mo (may his name be erased), for even he has severe problems from those to the right and to the left within his organization.


It is worth emphasizing that point again and again: Currently no one is able to offer a real peace. All they can offer is the willingness to sign a piece of paper; they say quite openly what the significance of this piece of paper is … nothing!


This concludes my abbreviated version of the Rebbe’s 1978 discourse. But now another word about our proposed Rabbinical Council. It should consist of at least 15 prominent rabbis representing the spectrum of orthodox Judaism, (It would be desirable if the Council included a non-orthodox rabbi if such can be found that would agree with the Rebbe’s discourse.) No member of the Council should be associated with any political party. It should make it crystal clear that its denunciation of the Geneva Accord is not be construed as an endorsement of the Sharon Government. Indeed, the Rebbe’s discourse constitutes a clear denunciation of that Government policy toward the land of the Jewish people.

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