HaRav Shteinman said He is Not Afraid of Iran
By Yosef Tikotzinsky
There was a recent gathering in memory of Maran HaRav AYL Shteinman. Many rabbonim spoke. There were also some remarks from the Degel Members of Knesset, who spoke often with HaRav Shteinman about public policy.
Regarding yeshiva students, MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher related that when he went to visit along with Deputy Chairman of the US Conference of Presidents, Malcolm Hoenlein, in the home of HaRav Shteinman and discussed with him, among other things, the danger facing us from Iran, Hoenlein said that Iran is a threat to the survival of the entire world, to which the Rosh Hayeshiva immediately replied: "I am not afraid of Iran, because the number of Torah students is higher than ever before. I am afraid of this body of talmidim being hindered from pursuing their study. That frightens me more."
Rabbi Gafni explained that "the stand of chareidi Jewry regarding government policy has never changed. Our outlook is uniform, stemming back to the days of HaRav Shach, HaRav Eliashiv and the Rosh Hayeshiva, and up to this very day. They taught us that living in Eretz Yisroel behooves us to be concerned for the welfare of its Jews but not under any circumstances to be swept up in patriotism or provocation of the nations of the world. Self-preservation of Jews precedes the preservation of land.
"Thus, for example, after the evacuation of Gush Katif, the Rosh Hayeshiva directed us to fight for the rights of the evacuees and the transfer of rightful funds due them. On the other hand, he had told them explicitly that to begin with, it was dangerous to live there. Who, indeed, had sanctioned them to do so in the first place?"
Other Knesset members told about the former British ambassador, Matthew Gold, whom Maran agreed to receive only because he was Jew. When he entered, the visitor asked Maran to whom Eretz Yisroel belonged. Maran replied, "Undoubtedly, the Creator gave it to us. Why, what do you think that I pray three times a day for `our eyes behold Your return to Zion' for naught?" After a reply like this, the visitor lost his desire to pursue his questioning any further! Notwithstanding, Maran stressed that when it came to a pragmatic question, one must consider whether it relates to genuine pikuach nefesh, which is the supreme concern, above all, but in the fundamental aspect, Eretz Yisroel surely belongs to the Jewish people.