Monday, July 01, 2013

Barry Jacobson vs Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg - Rabbi Shalom Gold Responds

Gust Post by Rabbi Shalom Gold

Rabbi Shalom Gold
I have been following the Barry Jacobson - Rabbi Ginzberg exchange. Since I lived in West Hempstead when Barry was growing up I was particularly moved by the sensitive and intelligent piece he has written. I have some comments to make about Rabbi Ginzberg's first reply.
His dressing down of Barry on the Herzl "prophecy" statement was unbecoming. It is clear to any fair-minded person that Barry was stating the obvious. Herzl's vision, dream, hope of a Jewish state, his creating the organization to carry it out, his bearing as a statesman who was welcomed in the highest level of European aristocracy and his precise prediction that in fifty years there will be a state, is nothing short of awesome.

He saw what no one else was capable of seeing. The only one who came close was Rav Kook who, in 1907, wrote a masterful near-prophetic (I am being very careful with the "p" word) call to Eretz Yisroel where he predicted with uncanny accuracy what would happen to European Jewry, and pleaded with them to come to Eretz Yisroel.

 Rav Moshe Feinstein finds no fault with salvation that comes through the non-observant, non-religious, etc. Don't tell Hashem who He should choose to do His bidding.

 Rabbi Ginsburg, your question to Barry whether he or his friends "feel the same giyul nefesh when they  hear chareidim called parasites, et." Is completely irrelevant. We are deeply hurt when those we feel closest to spew forth an ongoing torrent of hatred – didn't you get that? We expect Torah Jews to be examples of ahavat Yisroel – not the purveyors for 65 years now with certainly no let up in sight of gross and crass ugly criticism. They have always found fault with the State.

 Rabbi Ginzberg, your swipe at Barry about Satmar raises a question that has troubled me for the longest time. Even a brief perusal of the Rebbe's seforim makes it quite clear that he believes that anyone who participates in the Israel government, voting, etc., transgresses many sins of the most serious order yehoreg v'alyaavor. He repeats it time and time again.

 Time out for a relevant story.

 I arrived in Eretz Yisroel for the first time toward the end of June 1955 on board an Italian liner called The Messapia. I was part of a group of Torah Vodaas bochrim (I personally was then already in Ner Yisroel) that included Nosson Scherman, Joey Weinstien, Yankel Goldberg, Chaim Liebel, Arum Landesman – did I get it right? The memory ain't what it used to be.

On the boat was the Satmar Rebbe and an entourage on the way to campaign against voting in elections to be held that summer. Reb Aharon also came to Eretz Yisroel and barnstormed the country, exhorting all to go vote. I can see him now from a balcony in Mea She'arim, crying out "men darf vuten gummel-daled," time and time again. The letters represented Agudah and Po'alei Agudah that ran as one party.

The Rebbe makes it clear that voting or urging people to vote or in any way be involved with the government is a certified apikoras, kofer beikar, min and the like. The Rebbe thus accuses all the Gedolei Yisroel of the last 65 years of being the lowest of the low. Now Barry didn't say anything like that. I would have expected Lakewood to dump the Rebbe's seforim in the closest body of water, ban the Rebbe's seforim, and stand up for the honor of all Gedolei Yisroel. The Rebbe's sefer could be entitled, "The Unmaking of all Gedolei Torah."

It mystifies me why didn't the whole chareidi, Torahdik, yeshiva community stand up and roar in defiance against Satmar blasphemy. Yet you write so respectfully about "'the shita'" that is based on a comprehensive and deep understanding of Torah." Your words. I am certain that the Ribboneh Shel Olom has "paskened" not like Satmar. His shita was grossly mistaken. Rabbi Ginzberg, don't fly off the handle. I can prove it. But that's not for now.

I have only one further observation to make at this point.  The Chareidi community:
    1.   despises the national anthem (the drunk author);

    2.   has no use for the flag. "A shmmateh on a shteken" (translation, a rag on a stick);

    3.   doesn't pray for the State;

    4.   nor for the soldiers who defend them;

    5.   does not celebrate Yom Haatzmaut;

    6.   does not celebrate Yom Yerushalayim;

    7.   does not go to the army;

    8.   spews forth hatred (a grandson came home from yeshiva ketaneh relating that his rebbe told the class, "The worst thing that happened since Creation is the establishment of the State of Israel (you have to let that be absorbed in your kishkut).

    9.   considers Yom HaShoah and the siren anathema;

   10. pays no attention to the two minutes of silence on Yom Hazikaron.

Now look again at this composite picture of chareidi conduct. Rabbi Ginzberg will certainly explain, justify, find solid sources for every one of those positions. But one question about the total picture. Who else agrees and embraces all the above? The answer is obvious and should shake chareidi society to the core.

The Israeli Arabs and the post-Zionist Left. Not such pretty bedfellows. That should set off warning bells that you think you're right. You can explain everything, yet you remain dead wrong. It is now fifty years since I experienced Barry's "guyel nefesh" absolute disgust with the constant fault-finding and bashing the State that I consciously dropped out of chareidi hashkofoh and never looked back.   

 Jews have always been loyal citizens in all the lands of their dispersion except in their own country. If you would have pulled this shtik in Czarist Russia, in Cossack Ukraine, in the Germanic states, Poland, they would have expelled you, shot you, burned you at the stake. But in your own country you are big heroes because you know these wicked Zionists won't do those things, and their soldiers will protect you. You spit at the state but you demand that the State support your lifestyle – what chutzpah!

I will rest my case until round two.

Sholom Gold
Har Nof, Yerushalayim

P.S. In 1955 Rav Shach took me into Ponevez Yeshiva and had me sit near him for a whole zeman. That tidbit is just to establish a little credibility. I was also Barry's Rabbi in West Hempstead before I went on Aliyah. Please don't hold that against him.