After reading about the shocking loss of 18 IDF soldiers after the weekend, I could not help wondering whether it only seemed that Hashem was 100 percent with Israel during the bombing campaign or whether it was actually so, and what may have changed that. I realized a large part, if not the entire answer, to that question has to do with the actions of the State of Israel in determining its own fate.
Most people are aware of the differences that exist between the Satmar movement and the rest of the chareidi world (with some exceptions) regarding the three oaths that Hashem makes Israel and the rest of the world swear to as outlined in Song of Songs and the Babylonian Talmud (Kesubos 111a). Whereas Satmar regards these oaths as still binding and believes that Israel still has no right to sovereignty as a state, most of the rest of chareidi world regards Israel in the context of halachah as an “irreversible fact on the ground,” which is now obligated to move only forward toward the protection of established Jewish life.
Moving forward, however, as a Jewish state, means within the context of halachah—not according to the “visionary” ideas of whimsical prime ministers and Arab state departments. It means all the laws of war must be followed regarding a sovereign Jewish state just as if the Israeli Knesset had the status of malchus beis Dovid. Regarding the current enemy Israel is fighting (Hamas), the Rambam clearly states that if a warring nation shall come to a city bordering Eretz Yisrael on the Sabbath merely for the purpose of obtaining straw, the Jewish nation must go to war if that is what is deemed necessary to protect its inhabitants.
The ceding of land to this implacable enemy that presents itself as a “monster with many heads” constitutes a mockery of this halachah. And the further toleration of its amassment of arms within that ceded territory may be more than enough to divest the State of Israel of complete protection from Hashem, chas v’shalom. All the miracles of the Six Day War, it should be observed, occurred before there was the ceding of any land back to the Arab entity.
It is indeed interesting that, in the Gemara Kesubos cited above, there are two statements from R’ Eleazar that stand side-by-side. The first one warns Israel that if it should fail to abide by the adjuration not to take back Eretz Yisrael by a walled show of force that Hashem will permit its flesh to “be like prey” like “the hinds and gazelles of the field.” This is indeed how it seems when IDF soldiers are lost in a fight with an Amalekite entity whose prime interest is to kill Jews.
The second statement right after this one simply states, “Whoever is domiciled in the Land of Israel lives without sin,” meaning that whoever dwells in the Land of Israel shall be “forgiven for their iniquity.” This verse could well have explained why in the first two weeks of rocket attacks by Hamas, Israel suffered only one casualty, similar to 1991 when Saddam Hussein’s 69 Scuds managed to kill only one Israeli. If Israel, however, desires to use the all-out force of its army, that complete protection may begin to wane—unless it is careful to follow all the halachos pertaining to statehood.
The Party Is Over
A famous American once said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the party left me.”
We ignore politics at our own peril.
Dr. Mansdorf (“Silver Speaks Out for Kaminsky,” July 18) listed all the carrots Sheldon Silver has dangled in front of us. Will we allow the back-end carrots to blind us to the losses on the front end? We are paying for everything.
On a national level, what the Democrats present is the opposite of what is. They accuse others of that which they are guilty of. The country has been transformed to a “take whatever I can get” society. People lie straight to your face without compunction. This comes from the top—“trickle-down corruption.”
The Democratic Party has left us. The Democratic Party has left Speaker Silver and Dr. Mansdorf.
In his ode to State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in last week’s edition, Dr. Asher Mansdorf depicts Silver as a politician who evidently can do no wrong. And indeed, Silver deserves considerable credit for his contributions to issues that concern the Jewish community. I join in offering that praise.
Yet one must examine the flip side as well: for Orthodox Jews and for other faith communities as well, the signal issue of our generation is same-sex marriage. And it is precisely here that Silver failed to stand up for tradition. It was Silver who pushed the envelope on same-sex marriage in the Assembly. Year after year, he ensured that a bill passed that chamber, simultaneously working to reduce opposition in the State Senate. Then, in 2011, Silver colluded with his Senate counterpart, Dean Skelos, to ensure that same-sex marriage would become law.
The two managed to create the charade that the bill’s Senate passage was in doubt until the last minute, yet it was obvious that they had, in advance, carefully counted the votes and knew that the Senate would approve the bill. Late on that infamous Friday night, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law. Silver reportedly expressed regret that he could not attend, because the signing occurred on Shabbat! How hypocritical of Silver. Is not the same Torah that makes Shabbat holy also the Torah that terms homosexual conduct an “abomination”? Is not the same Talmud that specifies writing as a prohibited Shabbat activity also the Talmud that ascribes the destruction of mankind in Noah’s era to the legalization of same-sex marriages?
I suspect that our community is oblivious to the ramifications of the same-sex marriage law. There is no doubt that those who are normalizing homosexual conduct will not stop until that normalization is fully actualized. Permit me to suggest some scenarios. Television shows featuring families headed by same-sex partners have been around for several years. True, one can avoid watching these, but now we have broadcast advertisements featuring same-sex couples. These ads have appeared in programming such as the Olympics, programming that is aimed at the universal public, including children. At the moment, the images of the offending couples pass by quickly; these are being used to prime the public for more pronounced and prolonged imagery.
New York State now includes same-sex couples in its online promotional advertising. Pretty soon, we will see billboards plastered on our streets with these unnatural couplings prominently displayed, for us and our children to see. And why not? If gay marriage is normal, shouldn’t images of same-sex couples be readily available?
The onslaught will not stop with advertising. For example, an Orthodox Jew owns a wedding photography business. If a gay couple asks him to work their wedding and he refuses on religious grounds, he will be sued and he will lose. Contrary to popular belief, while there is a religious exemption in the New York State law, that exemption extends only to religious groups; it does not extend to for-profit businesses.
We continue to be worn down by the assault from the gay-rights movement. Two weeks ago, a major Orthodox newspaper included an advertisement for an Orthodox group that promotes homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle. Who could have predicted that a newspaper that claims to stand for Torah principles would permit an ad of this nature? The answer is that we are beginning to doubt our own stand on homosexual conduct. But the Torah position is clear, and that position has been held not only by Jews but by religious Christians and Muslims as well. This issue reaches to the core of our societal moral bedrock, and we must not back down.