Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Adar II 5763 - March 19, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
The Compromises of the NRP

by Rabbi Nosson Zeev Grossman

The "dialogue" between the NRP and Shinui has ushered in some suggestions for change in accepted norms, while at the same time compromising on sensitive issues in both matters of religion and the state (just as the "Ne'eman Commission" did in its time concerning matters of "conversions" performed by other heretical movements).

Chazal teach us that "the good that the reshoim do is considered bad for the tzaddikim" (Yevomos 103). Any suggestions by the irreligious concerning religion must be met by a wall of unwavering suspicion and automatic opposition. The starting point must be that it is not our good that they are seeking and we must therefore exercise the utmost caution.


The "smiling face" that the NRP MKs "merited" in their recent meetings with their friends in Shinui is to us a most threatening and foreboding sign. Just as the shop owner feels when a professional pickpocket walks into his store--from the moment he sets foot in the store, the shop owner knows that this well-mannered "gentleman" is anything but that. This "customer" is only waiting for some distraction to divert the storeowner's attention so that he can rob him--lock, stock and barrel.

With this outlook in mind, the Chazon Ish ruled that any compromise on religious issues must be rejected, even if the compromise seems to be within the realm of the halachically acceptable. Our enemies are poised, waiting for us to make that first little opening through which they can break through and uproot everything. Concerning the drafting of women, he wrote in a letter that "making arrangements for them to work in a religious kibbutz offers no solution to the question, since we are dealing with those who rejoice over things that for us are utter ruin, and they lie in wait for even a needle-size opening, as is known" (Letters of the Chazon Ish, 112).


The new government came as no surprise to us. Those faithful to the Torah, under the leadership of the gedolei Yisroel, continue to stride forward by the light shed by our leaders of past generations who warned against the path of compromise in general and that of the Mizrachi movement in particular. The Chazon Ish opposed the suggestion in his day to join forces and create a "religious front" with those who called for "religion and life" and were ready to compromise on any matter, arguing that "one shouldn't add to quarreling and godol hasholom." The result was that in an attempt to come to terms with reality they created a system of compromises that allowed for, as they described it, "religion and life."

The Chofetz Chaim had already spoken of "those who agree to compromises in matters of religion on the pretext that compromises will prevent breaks in the Torah itself." The truth is, however, that one compromise leads to another and, besides this, they should have asked if the Torah itself approved of these compromises done supposedly for its sake. Instead, the Torah cries out loudly that It does not approve of these compromises. "If Hashem is G-d, go after Him, and if it is the Ba'al, go after him" (Melochim I 18:21).

The Chofetz Chaim compared this to someone who takes merchandise from a store and throws it into a river, and those looking on think he has gone crazy, choliloh. ". . . but I'm still not sure if he's gone crazy or not. But one thing I do know, and that is that the person throwing is not the storeowner and the merchandise he's throwing is not his own."

So too in our case, said the Chofetz Chaim, whoever makes compromises reveals thereby his own estrangement and indifference to the existence of the Torah, as if it isn't his store.


An article from Hatsofe was once quoted here that illustrated some of the uncertainties within the National Religious movement. The focus at the time was the crisis in their youth due to severe shortcomings in their educational system. They attempted to address the issue of why study of Talmud is scorned by their youth, and sometimes even basic Jewish values are rejected as well.

From within their ranks various solutions were suggested, which drew the attention of Rav Shlomo Aviner, one of the spiritual leaders of the Mizrachi community. Rav Aviner who, needless to say, is far hashkafically from the Torah tradition we have inherited from our Sages, saw in these suggestions a further expression of the "hacking away at the Torah" that exists in his camp. He put his finger right on the problem--the trend of compromise of the national religious--yet he refused to draw conclusions, focusing instead only on the specific problem at hand.

He cried out, "Until when will hacking away at the Torah continue to serve as the way to make it fit with the lowly reality of today?" He deplored the "forcing of Torah into a shredder," but could not bring himself to admit that this process is not at all recent.

Ever since the founding of the National Religious movement, circulating within it has been the dangerous idea that one can tamper with the form of religious life and the way Torah is handed down "due to the needs of the generation and with an eye towards reality." The founders of this idea began with small, almost imperceptible changes. But our gedolim discerned the danger and issued warnings, because that slight crack through which ideas of compromise seeped out was liable to turn into a flood that no one would be able to hold back.

Maran the rosh hayeshiva zt"l gave over to us what he received from the previous gedolim, that the path of compromise will ultimately lead to an out-and-out breakdown. In a sicha said in Ponevezh on the 20th of Kislev, 5754 (brought in Michtovim Uma'amorim, part 5), Maran laid out the difference between our path--one of complete adherence to our tradition, motivated by the faith that our Torah will never be exchanged--and that of the national religious.

This is what he said at the time: "We have to strengthen our observing of the Torah in matters with which Klal Yisroel endured all of the decrees and the slaughters. Our living here now is only through the power of the Torah, which is our inheritance since Matan Torah and was in our possession even before, from the days of Odom Horishon. Klal Yisroel did not begin 150 years ago, rather our roots go back to Odom Horishon. We have to join forces in keeping the Torah and mitzvos, and not to be affected by others."

He mentioned that coming closer to the ideas of those who seek to uproot the Torah is a fearful error. "You begin with one compromise and in the end you give in on everything, because this is the way of compromise: from giving in on one thing one arrives at the next compromise, one gives in a bit, and then more and then more until finally, one is left with absolutely nothing!"

The course and path of the chareidi community is founded on strict and unswerving adherence to the gedolim of the generation shlita. When this foundation is lacking, a downward spiral sets in very quickly, leading to endless compromises and holding of opinions that go against da'as Torah. Therefore, we must continue in our path, loyal adherents to Maranan Verabonon, shlita.

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