Friday, August 12, 2005

Pinky on Gaza

Moree v'Raboysai

Many of my talmidim have asked me about the current situation in Eretz Yisroel. And my typical response has been, "stop annoying me already, I am trying to figure out whether or not one is allowed to eat M&Ms on Shabbos koidesh. If they melt in your mouth but not in your hands, does that constitute an issur of Noilad?" Or "I'm busy at the moment, was it the left shoe I put on, which is the Aimishteh's right, or the other way around?" Or some other critical halachic shayla.

Well, after much deliberation, I have decided to speak out. I can no longer sit back as our Jewish Brethren are asked to take actions that may stand in direct contrast to the will of the Reboinoisheloilum. So here, now, I must break my silence.

I will share with you a Maiseh Shehoya: Last night, as I was davening Tikkun Chatzois, I heard a loud voice speaking to me. At first I thought that the commercial was over and Letterman was back on. But as I put my siddur down, I heard a voice speaking DIRECTLY to me through my new HDTV….err…AM radio. "Reb Pinky, Reb Pinky" the voice said.

"Here I am," I responded.

I stepped closer to the screen. "Wait!" the voice said. And the voice continued: "Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."

"Can you please say that again?" I asked, "I have no idea what you just said."

"You worthless Minuval," the voice continued. "I am the Hakadoshboruchhu of thy father, of Avraham, of Yitzchak, and of Yankif." It was the Aimishteh Himself! I could not believe my unique privilege. He went on, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in the Promised Land, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows."

"Right!" I answered. "What do you expect me to do about it? It'salmost 12:30 at night."

"Go forth and tell the soldiers of the Israeli army that they should refuse all orders" the Reboinoisheloilum said. "If they are asked to evacuate citizens of Israel, they must put down their weapons."

"I will tell people that right away!" I declared. "I will join the chorus of some of my Rabbinic colleagues!"

"Shut Up!" He yelled. "I am not through yet! Also tell the soldiers that they must put down their weapons, wherever they are. They must not oppress the Arab resident of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, for the Palestinians are my children too. They must step back from the border with Syria, and withdraw all tanks and fighter jets, because they are intimidating Israel's neighbors and creating their own enemies. They must abandon their patrols along the Lebanese and Jordanian borders, because their time would be better spent studying Toirah. And they must close the facility in Dimona, and convert it into an amusement park."

"Err… Aimishteh, if the army stops following orders, how will we defend our State?" I asked in my most respectful voice.

"How can you defend the State without a well functioning army?" the Reboinoisheloilum asked rhetorically. "Hmmm, I hadn't thought of
that one. Let me get back to you."

First off – the message from the Aimishteh was less than clear. On the one hand, if the Reboinoisheloilum wanted us to leave Gaza, He wouldn't have put us there in the first place. The land was captured legitimately in war. And Hakadoshboruchhu knows, we cannot rely upon the Palestinians to have peaceful intentions. On the other hand, maybe it is our sacrifice that makes us whole: perhaps Gaza is our Orla, and it is the act of territorial sacrifice, of circumcision, that ensures our identity and our cultural completeness.


Regardless, I return to the notion of the redeployment from Gaza. If I were to apply the teachings of the RAMBAM, he holds that the notion of Milchemes Mitzvah was only relevant to the conquest of Eretz Yisroel in the time of Yehoishua. Consequently, we are not compelled to live in a constant state of war in order to redeem the land. Rather, we must use wisdom and political judgment. The RAMBAN, however, believes that Milchemes Mitzvah applies in every generation, whenever we have the opportunity to establish and extend a Jewish Presence in Eretz Hakoidesh.

Well, who do we hold like? To be honest – I hold like neither RAMBAM nor RAMBAN. Let's face it – they were both Rice Eaters, if you know what I mean, so I am not sure if they were even Jewish. I mean: they lost the tradition that was preserved by the great Ashkenazic sages, who studied Toirah from morning until night. They lived amongst the Moslems, and studied their literature and science. While MY ancestors were busy with lumdishe inyunim, the RAMBAN and RAMBAN were busy making house calls, and undoubtedly eating traifus and worshiping Yushka.

So, using my best judgment of the situation, I declare that soldiers may refuse to follow orders. I base this less on Halachic sources – which are inconclusive -- than on my reading of the security situation, based upon my deep strategic experience and insights. After all, I once read a book about military strategy…well, it was actually an introduction to coaching peewee football. But I also used to play Risk every Shabbos afternoon, and that has to count for something.

Frpm the pen of
Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshiva Chipas Emmess