A Public Statement from Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

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ב”ה, ניסן תשע”ד

Nisan 5774

As a result of the many questions that have arisen regarding how to relate to the upsetting events that have recently come to the fore―first and foremost being the clash between the army and settlers in Yitzhar, and the seizure of the Od Yosef Chai yeshivah by the military forces―I hereby express my opinion in public, in addition to a direct address that has been made to those to whom it concerns:

  1. Firstly, I am distressed by any clash of Jews with Jews – between soldiers and settlers – “We are all sons of one man.” But, it must be stated clearly that the guilty party for this situation is the establishment, which has been behaving with aggression and brute force towards Jews, yet with magnanimousness and lenience towards enemies of the Jewish People. On the one hand, they prevent Jews from building their home in the Land of Israel (and in this context, apply a policy of selective law enforcement against those who express their objections to the establishment), while on the other hand, they turn a blind eye to the much larger scale [illegal] building affected by our enemies. On the one hand, they do not deal harshly with the hundreds of terror activities that take place each week (stone-throwing, Molotov cocktails, and even shooting attacks), and even release convicted terrorists with no exchange, while on the other hand, they define as “terror” and “hate crimes” trivial acts of protest (even arresting minors for spraying graffiti on walls, etc.) Under these circumstances, an accusing finger must first be pointed at those who are truly responsible for this deterioration and a demand made that they improve their behavior regarding these issues. We should not ignore the positive actions that the military forces do in defending the inhabitants of the Land of Israel, which are certainly praiseworthy, however neither can we gloss over our harsh criticism for the injustices they are responsible for (and I sent a letter in this vein this week to the Minister of Defense, Mr. Moshe Ya’alon).
  2. When the government behaves in a corrupt, distorted manner, the task of rabbis and community leaders is to state this clearly and unequivocally. The fact that the government has the power to use brute force does not make it proper and just to do so. All the Jewish prophets admonished the establishment – both the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah – when they deviated from the Torah’s guidance, even though they paid a high personal price for doing so. Similarly, the rabbis and community leaders should fill their role as a moral and Torah-oriented “compass,” acting as a comptroller for the government, and even demand that every soldier, policeman or state worker take personal responsibility to refuse to carry out orders and instructions that contradict the Torah’s morals. The more that Jewish rabbis fulfill their task by erecting a moral backbone that elevates society (by making a demand regarding individuals, not just empty statements of objection), so too they will take responsibility over a proper, mature dispute regarding the character of society and state, thus preventing unaudited actions by the youngsters (and I sent a letter in this vein this week to dozens of rabbis and community leaders).
  3. There are sincere, concerned youths who protest against the injustices and fight forcefully and resolutely, reaching acts that no-one was originally interested in. I approach these youths in an attempt to explain that we are currently fighting an all-inclusive battle―primarily one that demands a shift in consciousness―regarding the nature and character of the Jewish state as we would like to see it. In this dispute, the deciding factor is lucid, rectified spokesmanship that speaks to the hearts of our Jewish brethren – with great love and intense criticism, but mainly by establishing a clear joyful vision of the Jewish state of the future. This dispute rests in particular on the shoulders of the younger generation, which is liberated from mental subjugation to the establishment in its current form, is capable of constructive critical analysis, and understands that we must conduct our public life in Israel according to the Torah. I believe and teach that the preferred course of action is to rise above the forceful combat that the government is driving at and to focus our efforts and our revolutionary spirit in active efforts of spokesmanship, uniting to achieve a genuine change in public life in the Land of Israel. I have been teaching my students words to this effect for years, including recently (and I am distressed by the fact that there have been some who have distorted them and rendered them to reach a contrary conclusion.)

“Father and son, teacher and student, when they study Torah together they reach a gate at which they appear to be enemies, but they do not desist until they become allies” and with God’s help, all the dilemmas that currently affect the public in the Land of Israel will be the beginning of “childbirth,” and God will give us the energy for a healthy birth of a new, joyful reality in which we will live in our land, the entire Jewish People as one happy family, while keeping our covenant with our God, according the mitzvot of our Torah.

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