Though a true hesped for Maran HaRav Shach,
zt"l, this is a work of hashkofoh in its own
The first part of this work discussed the necessity of the
chareidi community living and acting alone, without the
possibility of being influenced by other communities whose
lifestyle is based on principles that are hostile to Torah
life. "Once, during the Holocaust, the Rabbinate [in Israel]
organized a prayer meeting together with chareidi groups and,
despite the severity of the situation, the Chazon Ish held
that the chareidim should not join but should pray only on
their own, since the foundation of our existence is absolute
The Imrei Emes zt"l already wrote that rabbonim who
have nationalistic ideas constitute a danger to Judaism. It
is well known how much the Brisker Rov zt"l and the
Steipler zt"l fought against any cooperation with a
certain party that called itself chareidi, but which at the
same time adopted ideas of the compromising religious
These gedolim formulated political methods of
leadership and tactics for the chareidi public based on
isolation and the lack of any relationship to other groups
within the State, not to mention any social frameworks of any
Then a group appeared on the horizon with all the outward
signs of being chareidi, but it preached the opposite of all
this. It treated rish'ei Yisroel in a friendly manner,
condemned policies of isolation, told its followers not to
vote for the Religious Bloc (in Knesset elections),
preferring to cast votes for secular parties because of their
strong right-wing militaristic platform. When the Chinuch
Atzmai was set up it opposed it, and kept its schools within
the Mamlachti Dati stream. It advocated a strong line
against the Arabs, calling for the conquest of Damascus and
The chareidi public dissociates itself from militant military
activities, but if you (like that group) are spearheading a
campaign for aggressive militarism, how can you continue
supporting draft deferment for your Torah scholars? It is
impossible to accept someone who calls for others to go fight
and perhaps give up their lives in wars, while he himself
does not participate in them.
It must be that in their hearts they are in favor of drafting
yeshiva bochurim, and of the complete assimilation of
the chareidi public with the secular and quasi-religious,
which would mean the total destruction of the remnants of
Judaism. They came up with the motto, "Am echad, giyur
echad" ("One nation, one conversion process"), and the
secularists immediately responded with "Am echad, giyus
echad" ("One nation, one draft"). We are forced to admit
that this motto has the ability to convince the masses, since
if we are "one nation" how is it possible not to share the
The phenomenon of "fifth columnists" is well known all over
the world, but they usually work underground. The
Lubavitchers, on the other hand, work openly and
energetically in full public view, and there is no one to
thwart their attempts to "conquer from within." What is the
point of isolating ourselves from secular and quasi-
religious bodies if, within our own camp, there is a group
with foreign ideas, originating (according to HaRav Shach) in
the universities of Western Europe, wrapped up in an insane
wrapping of mystical and Messianic ideas?
The Rosh Yeshiva considered this to be a terrible danger for
the preservation of genuine Judaism and called for them not
to be recognized as a part of the chareidi community.
However, his was a lone voice in the wilderness. Others did
not see any danger. Consequently, the Rosh Yeshiva was afraid
of the infiltration of foreign beliefs, which would lead to
the destruction of Judaism.
At that difficult hour he demonstrated his mighty hand and
broke the luchos. The bnei Torah community
became an independent community, which related to that sect
as a body outside of the original, historical Judaism.
We should point out that despite everything, that sect still
has some influence and we see some of its ideas infiltrating
our camp. We often hear avreichim make statements such
as, "The year we went into Lebanon." I ask them who this "we"
is referring to, since I did not go in! They don't understand
my question, since they think that there is one nation, part
of which learns in yeshivas and part of which fights battles,
so that all of us went in "together." It has to be admitted
that this attitude is an educational failure!
The Rosh Yeshiva zt"l often claimed that the collapse
of religious Jewry in Europe stemmed from the fact that
secular or half-secular Jews were treated as full-fledged
"Jews" (didn't they come to shul on Yom Kippur?) for
all intents and purposes. Chareidi Jews chose to refrain from
machlokes and disputes and let the secular Jews lead
communities. It was these people who were responsible for the
In this context I will mention something that impressed me
very much in my youth. It was the beginning of 5717 (1956) on
the eve of the outbreak of the Israeli-Egyptian war (the
"Suez campaign"). The atmosphere was very tense; everybody
was talking about the fact that Abdul Nasser was going to
launch a major attack against Israel. At the time of the
establishment of the State, the armies of the Arab states
were unprepared and disorganized and the Israelis were, to
some extent, only up against "bands of fighters." However,
since 5708 (1948) the Arab countries -- especially Egypt --
had prepared themselves intensively for war. People were
terribly afraid, and there was a fear of general destruction
One evening the news spread that the war had started.
Feelings of a total sense of identification with the Israeli
army and the expectation that it would be a source of
salvation reached new peaks. Rumors about a military pact
with Britain and France ("A blood pact never to be broken" --
from the press) did little to diminish the tension. In fact,
they only increased the lack of security felt by the
population, because it was becoming clear that the State was
not able to cope on its own and was in need of the aerial
protection of foreign armies. On the other hand, these news
reports had the effect of boosting the Israeli ego, for "our"
State was now considered a world power.
That same evening HaRav Shach was scheduled to give a
shiur kloli. I don't remember whether it took place or
not, but one of the regular participants at this shiur
was HaRav Meir Shapira zt"l, a big talmid
chochom who would come every week from Tel Aviv to hear
the Rosh Yeshiva's shiur. The two of them came down
from the Yeshiva and walked together along a narrow path. I
took the liberty of walking behind them and listening to
HaRav Shapira was describing the difficult and complicated
situation, without realizing that there was a note of
identification in his voice, as was indeed felt by the rest
of the public. Then I heard Rav Shach responding angrily,
"S'is gornisht, es is nisht al pi Torah," in other
words, all this was irrelevant, literally "nothing."
HaRav Shapira continued and Rav Shach, for his part, replied:
"Did they ask daas Torah about whether to start the
war? All this is nothing." With HaRav Shach there was nothing
except for Torah and the authority of Torah. He was not swept
along by the emotional mood of the rest of the public.
When the Jews took part in the feast of Achashverosh, they
were not held responsible for the actual act of participation
because they were legally obliged to do so and they had to
obey the law. They were only held responsible for having
enjoyed the event. Chazal derived the fact that they enjoyed
it from the posuk stating that the meal was meant for
"the whole nation" in Shushan, not for "all its inhabitants."
In other words, the Jews were part of one nation. "One nation
-- one king -- one meal."
The sin was the feeling of satisfaction at being part of the
one nation in Shushan. Jews have to cut off any links with
their environment. In our case, the chareidim, who are the
continuation of Judaism [the Jewish nation] must do so. When
HaRav Shach saw that this detachment from our environment was
being threatened he decided that there should be a split.
HaRav Shach was very troubled by the indifference displayed
by the chareidi camp. There was someone who put out the
"Babylonian Talmud" with his own commentary, according to
which the Tannoim and Amoroim were influenced
in their decisions by economic and political considerations.
This approach converts the peak of kedushoh into the
peak of secular literature, with severe ramifications.
HaRav Shach naturally fought against this project, but was
very surprised to discover that on this topic too he was the
dynamic party arousing people into action, where others
failed to take the initiative. He was especially disappointed
when apparently consistently zealous groups who do not even
grant de facto recognition to the State, also remained
indifferent to the subject. The "770" group's silence on this
issue was also in stark contrast to its militaristic
nationalism. They should have been the first to protest. Was
this not proof of a fundamentally flawed ideology?
"Look on my right hand, and see, for there is no man that
knows me." This was also one of the grounds for HaRav Shach's
concluding that in the long term the Torah world could only
be relied upon if it was organized independently.
Chareidi educational matters were close to his heart. He
regularly participated in Chinuch Atzmai meetings, and
occasionally, together with other gedolim, he
published angry pronouncements against the temptations of
chareidi colleges for girls or yeshivas which incorporated
secular studies. His guiding principle was that it was
preferable to have one boy or girl in a complete chareidi
educational system than to have many educated in institutions
influenced by other factors, even if these were chareidi
establishments, which also taught professions etc.
For example, one activist was signing people up to join
traditional yeshivas in Ohr Yehuda. Subsequently,
representatives from a yeshiva with a "professional stream"
with a chareidi administration held a parents' evening at
which they signed up boys for their yeshiva. A meeting was
then arranged at which some influential personalities were
going to speak on behalf of this yeshiva.
The activist who had previously signed up boys for yeshivas
teaching only Torah, was afraid that the new registration
might affect his, and that two or three boys might move over
to the "professional stream." Local activists asked the Rosh
Yeshiva zt"l about this.
There were weighty considerations either way. Two boys might
abandon the pure yeshivas, but on the other hand there was a
possibility that many more might join the "professional
yeshiva." Which was preferable?
The Rosh Yeshiva ruled unequivocally that the planned meeting
should be cancelled. It was preferable to have one boy in an
unadulterated yeshiva than many in "lukewarm"
In sefer Bereishis we read about the bnei
Keturoh and others who were educated according to the
principles of emunoh, but who was left in the end?
"For in Yitzchok shall seed be called for you." The future
and continuity only lies with the complete individual; the
many who are incomplete will lose their way eventually.
Moreover, the same group, which was educated with a pure
yeshiva education and identifies with the principles of the
chareidi public, namely "a nation that shall dwell alone" and
a complete negation of ideals not derived from the Torah,
makes up the core of religious Jewry as a whole. Although not
all members of the religious population belong to the Torah
chareidi camp, the consistent chareidi minority is its
nucleus. In other words, without the yeshiva community, which
identifies with chareidi principles, a religious person would
not exist at all.
When Rivko Imeinu said, "Why should I become bereaved of both
of you in one day?" she was saying, "As long as Yaakov is
alive there is still a chance that Eisov might become
somewhat affected by ruchniyus, but if I lose Yaakov,
there will be nothing left."
It is important to point out that the principle of isolation
adopted by the gedolim does not call for an attitude
of indifference towards everything that happens on "the other
side of the fence."
On the contrary, we have to do everything possible to
influence all parts of the Jewish nation, but this must not
be on the basis of so-called common social, cultural, or
ideological values, but only on the basis of our family
relationship. Outreach activities are only to be encouraged
on condition that absolute isolation is maintained and that
the spiritual level of the activist does not become
This approach also applies to relations with governmental
institutions. It is important to prevent injustices against
the chareidi population and to look after the interests of
Judaism in every sphere, but it is not possible to serve as
ministers in a government, since this would, in a sense,
constitute recognition of the moral justification of the
secular form of government. In order to preserve the
principles of nonrecognition and dissociation, it is
worthwhile giving up some achievements and making do with
administrative positions, despite the "losses" involved.
When the "Shas" movement [still] followed the rulings of
HaRav Shach zt"l, he made an exception to this
principle and ruled that its members could take up senior
positions as ministers within the government. This ruling
surprised many people. Why was something "forbidden" to
Ashkenazim "permitted" to Sephardim? We shall attempt to
explain this matter according to our limited understanding.
As we know, the "Shas" episode went through many ups and
downs. The Rosh Yeshiva had great hopes and expectations on
the one hand, and experienced severe disappointments on the
other hand. With your permission, I am forced to explain the
background to this and the developments that took place at
End of Part II
HaRav Friedman is a member of the Vaada Ruchanit of
Yated Ne'eman and of the BaDaTz of Shearis