For a generation, HaGaon HaRav Chaim Shaul zt'l stood
on spiritual vigil. With clarity, he transmitted the
tradition of our masters in every subject that came to the
fore. In the fulcrum of his battle stood the basis of the
chareidi public's collective adherence to the word of our
Gedolei Torah. To this end, he organized something he
called "The Bloc for Compliance and Actualization" (Hagush
Letzi'us Vehagshamah). As a sort of extension, he founded
and stood at the helm of the Shearis Yisroel Beis Din, until
the end of his days. For the third yahrtzeit, on 20
Tammuz, three years of a palpable vacuum, we are publishing
some sparks of light from his teachings and philosophy, whose
vibrant relevance has not waned.
The Chief Rabbinate -- a Fundamental Problem
If we scrutinize the matter, we will see that at the very
basis of this rabbinate lies the core of what Chazal
commented on the words in Tehillim, "Fortunate is the
man who did not follow the counsel of the wicked, and in the
path of sinners did not stand, and in the company of scoffers
did not sit."
Chazal said: If the man in question did not walk in their
counsel, how did he come to stand in their path or sit in
their company? This is to teach us that if one walked in the
way of the wicked, he is bound to stand in their midst and
eventually to sit in their company and to scoff and mock
along with them. This entire process depicted by Chazal is
precisely what we see before us.
The beginning of the breach lay in the very fact that the
rabbinate, which is traditionally designed to rule and teach
Torah and which is appointed to stand vigil over the Torah,
to safeguard it -- was deposited in the hands and authority
of those whose very purpose is to destroy the Torah and to
uproot it from Jewry. They are the ones in control, and it
promotes their purposes and interests and it thus becomes a
support and tool for achieving their goal which, we have
already said, is to deny Torah.
They sought to usurp Torah and to inherit its place. In every
situation and at all times, they utilize religion as a
camouflage for their subversiveness, to anesthetize and
silence any opposition to their deeds. Any following of their
wicked counsel already incorporates the next step of the
posuk of standing in their midst, and leads to the end
result of making a mockery chas vesholom of all of
Torah. All this because its very foundation is to serve their
purposes, which are the opposite of what the rabbinate is
really meant to do.
Our Attitude Towards the Knesset
Much is spoken about the Knesset, about the number of
religious and chareidi representatives, about the bills it
passes against religion, of the need to pass laws protecting
us from the rulings of the High Court and so on. There is one
basic thing, however, which we must bear in mind: the Knesset
is, by its very nature, against Torah.
The very fact that people set themselves up as lawmakers is
counter to Torah as our Divine Code. It makes no difference
if there is a majority for the Left or the Right, or what
laws are being passed there. Even if the Knesset were to vote
for the Torah, for the observance of the commandments, it
would be against the Torah. The Torah was transmitted from
Heaven to Klal Yisroel and to its sages to explain and
clarify. Any laws that man can come up with, or pass with a
majority vote, are inherently counter to Torah.
My father ztvk'l used to define our own Knesset
representatives as "lobbyists" (shtadlonim) people
with an agenda and interests, positive opportunists, such as
we encountered through all the years of our exile. Jewry
always had shtadlonim, interceders who toiled to curry
favor among the nobility to prevent harsh decrees against our
That is what the chareidi Knesset members are. They are our
interceders to ward off harm or damage to everything we hold
sacred and to protect the Torah-true community. This does not
mean in any way that we recognize the existence of the
Knesset as a legislative body, for we continue to regard it
as anti-Torah, against everything we hold dear and sacred.
We have sharp criticism against the judicial system, because
of the rulings it passes that are against the Torah and its
adherents. But one must remember that our criticism of the
court system in general and the High Court in particular is
not because of those decisions but in its very existence as a
The Problem with the Courts is Not Only with its
The pitched battle is against non-Torah civil courts, per
se. Whoever resorts to them is, "Lifting a hand against
Toras Moshe," as the Rambam so succinctly stated it. The very
fact that Jewish judges rule according to secular law evolved
by the Turks or the British, and not established by our
Torah, behooves us to condemn it with all our might. Even if
the civil courts pass decisions in favor of the religious
public, we will continue to oppose them, since all of their
rulings stem from an impure source: not from our G-d-given
Torah but from a legal code evolved by the nations.
While the Rambam writes in Hilchos Dei'os that a
person should follow the median and not veer to any extreme,
this is with regard to personal character traits and conduct
that apply between man and himself, and with his fellow man.
It does not hold with regard to Torah observance or with
principles of hashkofoh.
People are accustomed to label anyone who is punctilious in
his observance to the letter of the law, and does not give in
an inch to his evil inclination, as a fanatic.
In truth, to such a man do the words of Dovid Hamelech apply:
"The proud have had me greatly in derision." The wicked mock
me and call me an extremist. They say I make too harsh
demands upon myself, when in truth, all I am doing is not
deviating from Your Torah. Dovid Hamelech reveals to us in
addition that only in the battle against the avowed enemies
of Hashem must we strive for ultimate perfection. "The
ultimate of hatred did I hate them."
The Purpose of Agudath Israel is not Only Its
Agudath Israel was only established by the leaders of the
previous generation so that chareidi Judaism be represented
in public as a single independent bloc, bearing the banner of
Torah proudly aloft. It is a body that regards its Torah
leadership as its only spokesmen and representatives and
which educates at every opportunity to stay separate from the
secular streams that seek to speak for Jewry. It is a body
that exists to serve as a protest against those who propose
any alternative for Jewry other than to be the Chosen People
Agudath Israel was founded to fight Zionism and the
Enlightenment. That is its net purpose. It need not
accomplish anything else for it was not established in order
to chalk up achievements. It has one goal: That the Torah-
true public which believes in Hashem and in His Torah rally
together and declare: We want Torah!
Poalei Agudath Israel -- the Fourteenth Principle
Maran HaGaon R' Shach ztvk'l illuminated our eyes with
a concise definition regarding why we regard Poalei Aguda
(PAI) as the enemy within, which stirs up muck in an
otherwise clear barrel. When he expressed his opposition to a
joint partnership with them for the elections, he uttered a
very meaningful statement in the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. He
said that PAI has a "Fourteenth Principle" of the Torah:
belief in the State. That is their Original Sin, an evil root
bearing bitter fruit in every direction and which taints
everything they do.
There is another thing we should know about the problem with
a Fourteenth Principle. It is not an addition to the Rambam's
Thirteen Principles, that is prohibited by bal tosif.
Rather it is a problem of bal tigra since it reduces
the existing Principle of Faith in the coming of Moshiach.
Belief in the State and belief in the coming of Moshiach are
mutually exclusive and a person must choose between the one
or the other.
By the Light of the Gedolei Hador
Our Torah leaders in Bnei Brak immerse themselves day and
night in Torah, studying and disseminating it to hundreds and
thousands of students and their students, in turn. Their
written teachings are being studied in yeshivos throughout
the country and the Torah world. These leaders, in spite of
their involvement in Torah study, stand up when the need
arises and when there is no one else to take the initiative,
in the face of any breach, any aberration in the bastion of
religion, to preserve the integrity of Torah and
emunah to be transmitted on to the succeeding
We shall continue to march by the light of these beacons whom
Hashem has provided us with in this orphaned generation. We
shall obey their directives and toil for the sake of
reestablishing religion in its proper place, whether through
battle and confrontation or by lobbying and intercession, all
according to what the situation requires, until Moshiach
comes and the land is filled with wisdom, like the ocean is
filled with water.
The story is told of the heads of a certain community who
once came to the Brisker Rov to ask about appointing someone
as their rabbi. He told them that he felt a certain person
was suited to serve as rabbi in their congregation. They
replied that while that was true, they feared that this
person might allow something specific which they did not want
to be permitted. "But in that case [that he allows it]," said
R' Yosef Zeev, "it will be permissible."
About Misguided Zeal (Kanoim)
They are not really zealots but just another political party.
Their platform, however, is not to vote. If they were true
zealots, they would have to relate to us much more
respectfully. For just as they do not go to vote because they
are subservient and obedient to their leaders, so are we
obedient to ours and do go to participate in national
elections. In fact, our leaders specifically tell us that we
are obligated to vote. The proper principle in both cases is
that of obeying one's leaders. However by them, this does not
seem to be their guiding line in doing what they do.