Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

16 Tammuz 5760 - July 19, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
The State of Our Future

There is plenty of cause for concern. The super-confident Israeli prime minister is locked up together with the Palestinian fox and the American lame duck at the American Presidential retreat at Camp David in which the prime minister and the lame duck are desperate for some results but the fox already has all the cards -- or at least pretends that he does. Arafat has the threat of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state (to which Israel has no effective answer in the short term) as one stick and the threat of widespread violence as the other stick. He has little to lose that Israel can take away, but plenty to fear from extremist groups on the Palestinian side who are waiting for him to show a weakness they can exploit.

The Israeli prime minister refused to discuss what he plans to offer, even at the expense of alienating his second- largest coalition partner (Shas) which withdrew from the government, leaving Barak to travel to America to negotiate the future of the State of Israel without the backing of a majority in the Knesset.

The people will apparently have the final word, whether in elections or in a referendum on the agreement. The campaigns for public opinion have already begun.

At the eye of the storm stand the shomrei Torah, not unaware of the turbulence that swirls around us, but not as gnawingly anxious as some of the sides.

HaRav Elchonon Wassermann, zt"l, addressed comparable concerns more than 80 years ago around the time that the Treaty of Versailles was signed between the "Big Four" powers (Britain, France, the U.S. and Italy) and Germany, the defeated power that had asked for an armistice. The treaty was signed on June 28, 1919, and it defined the borders and states in Europe for the foreseeable future, and in fact for about 20 years until Hitler's rise to power.

R' Elchonon recalled the well-known Chazal on the first word in the Torah: Bereishis -- because of Yisroel who are called "reishis." Everything that happens in the world, R' Elchonon declared, has Yisroel as its ultimate purpose; even if it is not always evident, we know that the consequences for Yisroel are the underlying cause of what happens, and Chazal said that no evil comes to the world unless it is because of Yisroel. "As an example, [we consider] the boundaries of the nations and the states that were fixed in the past few years, after the war. We must remember that before they were written at Versailles, they were written and sealed in the Heavenly court. There their main outlook is because of Yisroel, whether for their good or bad; or to chastise them, as it is written, "Lo, Assur, the staff of my wrath" (Yeshaya 10,5). And this is what is meant by, "He established the boundaries of peoples" always and in every generation "according to the number of Bnei Yisroel." And the reason is, "Because the portion of Hashem is His people" (Devorim 32,8-9) that is, only Yisroel is Hashem's portion . . . and this Providence as attuned to the needs of the Jewish people. And even if we are not able to understand the relationship between the needs of Yisroel and the boundaries of some distant isle at the end of the world, but He Who knows the generations ahead of time knows that it has some necessary consequence for Yisroel either now or later. . . "

If this could be confidently written by the great Rav Elchonon Wassermann as applied to the borders drawn for distant lands, how much easier is it to apply to discussions that so directly affect large portions of Am Yisroel and the Holy Land itself. It is not the political agreements that determine the future of the State, but the spiritual state that determines our political future.

We have no basis for exaggerated confidence about our spiritual state, but at least we know where to concentrate our efforts.

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