Friday, July 15, 2005

Religious Zionism Debate X

The Three Oaths, Part II

(see here for Part I)

R. J. David Bleich, Contemporary Halakhic Problems, vol. 1 pp. 14-15:

The prime argument cited in objection to the War of Independence, and indeed to the very establishment of the state itself, is based upon a literal understanding of the Talmud, Ketubot 111a. In an aggadic statement, the Talmud declares that prior to the exile and the dispersal of the remnant of Israel, God caused the Jews to swear two solemn oaths: (1) not to endeavor to retake the Land of Israel by force, and (2) not to rebel against the nations of the world. Rabbi Zevin [Torah She-be'al Peh 5731] maintains that these talmudic oaths are not binding under circumstances such as the ones which surrounded the rebirth of the Jewish state. In support of this view he marshals evidence from a variety of sources. Avnei Nezer, Yoreh De'ah, II, 454:56, notes that there is no report in any of the classic writings regarding an actual assemblage for the purpose of accepting these oaths, as is to be found, for example, in the narrative concerning the oaths by which Moses bound the community of Israel prior to the crossing of the Jordan. The oaths administered before the exile are understood by Avnei Nezer as having been sworn by yet unborn souls prior to their descent into the terrestrial world. Such oaths, he argues, have no binding force in Halakhah. Similarly, the Maharal of Prague in his Commentary on the Aggada, Ketubot 111a, and in chapter 25 of his Nezah Yisra'el, interprets these oaths as being in the nature of a decree or punishment rather than as injunctions incumbent upon Jews in the Diaspora. There is obviously no transgression involved in attempting to mitigate the effects of an evil decree. A third authority, R. Meir Simchah of Dvinck, author of the Or Sameah, accepts the premise that these oaths do apply in a literal sense. However, he expresses the opinion that following the promulgation of the Balfour Declaration, establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine no longer constitutes a violation of the oath concerning rebellion against the nations of the world. The text of Or Sameah's statement on this improtant issue is reprinted by Z. A. Rabiner, Toledot R. Meir Simhah (Tel Aviv, 5727), p. 164. Rabbi Zevin adds that this argument assumes even greater cogency subsequent to the United Nations resolution sanctioning the establishment of a Jewish state.

There is yet another line of reasoning on the basis of which Rabbi Zevin denies the binding nature of these oaths at the present juncture of Jewish history. He advances a forceful argument which, particularly in the present post-Holocaust era, must find a sympathetic echo in the heart of Jews who have witnessed an unprecedented erosion of all feelings of humanity among the nations of the world which permitted the horrendous oppression and torture of the Jewish people. The Talmud, loc. cit., records that the two oaths sworn by the people of Israel were accompanied by a third oath which devolved upon the nations of the world; namely, that they shall not oppress Jews inordinately. According to Rabbi Zevin and others who have advanced the same argument, these three oaths, taken together, form the equivalent of a contractual relationship. Jews are bound by their oaths only as long as the gentile nations abide by theirs. Persecution of the Jews by the nations of the world in violation of this third oath releases the Jewish people from all further obligation to fulfill the terms of their agreement.[4]

[4] See also R. Aaron Soloveichik and R. Meir Blumenfeld, Shanah be-Shanah, 5734. For additional sources regarding the applicability of these oaths, see R. Menachem Kasher, Milhemet Yom ha-Kippurim (Jerusalem, 5734), pp. 63-83; and R. Shmuel ha-Kohen Weingarten, Hishbati Etkhem (Jerusalem, 5736). R. Chaim Vital, Ez Hayyim (Jerusalem, 5723), p. 3, quotes Beraita de-Rabbi Yishma'el, Pirkei Heikhalot, which declares that the oath remained in effect only for a period of one thousand years; see also Zohar, Parshat Va-Yeira, p. 117a.
Note that this contradicts what Frumteens says about R. J. David Bleich:
Refutation # 3 - There is no shita in the world that says if some nations get togethr and vote that Jews should get EY they can. The shita says that if they can take EY peacefully without resistance then it would not violate the Oath. But that did nto happen here. There was a war - the war of '48, where 6,0000 Jews were killed. The Arabs, who were living in and around the land, did not give the Jews any permission to take it. Other countries did, and there is no such halachic status that the UN is like some kind of Sanhedrin Hagadol that can bind other nations to its decisions (any Zionist can tell you that). In any case, there is no comparison to a Coresh or any other "peaceful ascent", since - hello!! - in order to create the State of Israel they had to fight a bloody war with the Arabs!!!. So why in the world is that called a "peaceful ascent"?

If the Zionists were weaker they never would have been able to create a State - it all depended on their Yad Hachazakah.

No shitah ever found or imagined ever permitted such a thing. Not the Avnei Nezer, not R. Meir Simchah, nobody.

In fact, rabbi J. David Bleich - of YU, NOT Satmar, had long ago pointed out this absurd usage of Rav Meir Simchas letter. Quote:

"This observation (of Ohr Someach) is entirely inappropriate in the context of this discussion. This observation, uttered upon promulgation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine in a peaceable manner with full permission of the mandate authority would not contravene the Three Oaths. The statement is both unexceptional and entirely inapplicable under other circumstances. Moreover, it explicitly recognizes the binding nature of the oaths." (Journal of Halachah and Contemporary Society XVIII p.108). His point is that the circumstances that the Ohr Someach's statement was referring to were not the circumstances that came about.
That is not what R. Bleich wrote in that journal. His brief comment was in response to a critique of a previous article of his on giving back territory to Arab countries. R. Bleich wrote that the Three Oaths can be seen as permitting giving back the land. Someone responded that according to the Or Same'ah the oaths no longer apply. R. Bleich answered that, according to the Or Same'ah, the oaths do still apply but never prohibited the establishment of the state of Israel.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Favorites More