Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Tammuz 5764 - July 14, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Hashkofo Highlights from HaRav Chaim Shaul Karelitz, zt'l

compiled by L. Leiner

Part II

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 people.

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 judicial body.

The Problem with the Courts is Not Only with its Rulings

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.

Concerning Extremism

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 Activities

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 of Hashem.

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 generations.

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.

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