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ZIONISM / ANTI-----the steipler

amolam Posted - 19 September 2005 10:53

In the sefer KARYANA DEIGRATA letter # 205.

the title of the letter states: "The issue of whether the 3 Oaths forbid PARTICIPATING IN ELECTIONS" i.e. The Steipler ZT"L is only addressing whether the oaths make it assur to participate in voting & gov't now that the medinah has already been established (ex post facto). the Steipler says in this letter & I quote (parentheses are mine):

"The claim of the Satmar Rov ZT"L (that it is assur to vote etc.. due to the oaths) is not understood.....because ALTHOUGH M'TICHILA HUYUH SH'LOH K'DIN (i.e. although the original creation of the medinah was unjustified - against torah) now that the medinah exists & is the only "Shiltohn" (ruling power) there is no issur to participate in elections, gov't etc..(in order to accomplish damage control by not allowing the irreligious to set policy)

Furthermore in letter # 203 he says that although there is no halachik issur in participating in the gov't, he admires the Neturei Karta for their position not to participate, because although it’s not assur, it exhibits a certain zealotry for what is right. (hardly a ringing endorsement for the permissibility of the creation of the state)

Furthermore in letter 203, he says the idea that the medinah is "Aschalta D'Geula" (beginning of geula) is a mistake; rather it is "the transformation of ONE GALUS TO A MORE BITTER GALUS.

MODERATOR Posted - 19 September 2005 11:02

On top of all that, you left out one key word in the Steipler's letter: when he disagrees with the Satmar Rav, he uses the word "lechorah", which means he is not expressing a conclusive opinion, but rather a tentative one.

onthefence Posted - 28 February 2006 9:55

regarding the Steipler's Lichorah - that doesn't seem to be a fair comment. He actively and conclusively held that it was a Chiyuv Gomur to participate in elections, obviously holding Halachah LeMaaseh that the Oaths don't play a role in the ex post facto reaction to the establishment of the Medinah.

MODERATOR Posted - 28 February 2006 9:56

No, he didn’t.

The Steipler did encourage voting, as per his Rebbe, the Chazon Ish, and he held ”L’chorah” this was the answer to the Satmar Rav’s claim against it.

The Chazon Ish (which, as a general rule, the Steipler followed) – and this was also the opinion of Rav Ahron Kotler - held that voting in the Israeli elections does not mean you approve of the existence of the State of Israel.

Rather, it means that ex post facto that we have to unfortunately live with it, we are obliged to do damage control and work to at least make sure that those who wield political power over the policies of the government make it as frum as possible – and not c”v vice versa. The Satmar Rebbe held that voting is tacit approval of the Avodah Zorah that is the State of Israel. The Chazon Ish said in response to this, “if robbers come and attack me, should I not negotiate with them to make sure they at least do not kill me? If I do, does that mean I approve of them robbing me?” This does not mean that the Chazon Ish held the State of Israel is not an Avodah Zorah – it means that voting and involvement in the government does not constitute approval thereof.

So someone apparently wrote the Steipler a letter saying that voting in the Israeli elections is a Halachic violation since it makes you or the person you’re voting for partners in the violation of the Oaths (or at least shows your approval). The Steipler said that lechorah the answer is that whereas being involved in the creation of the State of Israel may be a violation of the Oaths, ex post facto involvement in the government is not. He was not sure this was the answer, which is what “lechorah” means. The fact that he did in fact encourage voting means he was comfortable there is an answer to defend the Chazon Ish, whether this is it or not.

This does not mean that other acts, which would show approval of the creation of the State of Israel are permitted. The Chazon Ish, who encouraged voting in the Israeli elections – “lechorah” for the reason the Steipler stated - also said that anyone who celebrates Yom Haatzmaut is an Apikores, even though doing so is merely “ex post facto” of the violation of the Oaths.

MODERATOR Posted - 28 February 2006 10:30

For the record, the Satmar Rav does not say that voting in the elections violates the Oaths. He says that it constitutes Modeh B'Avodah Zorah, and Lifnei Iver, since sitting in the Knesset is assur, and votes are what facilitates that.

mo Posted - 01 March 2006 15:58

**The Chazon Ish (which, as a general rule, the Steipler followed) – and this was also the opinion of Rav Ahron Kotler - held that voting in the Israeli elections does not mean you approve of the existence of the State of Israel. Rather, it means that ex post facto that we have to unfortunately live with it,***

1) Where is opinion (and explanation) of Chazon Ish ZTZ"L recorded? I heard from people (and maybe read somewhere) that Chazon Ish in fact never permitted it (and didn’t vote himself - he didn’t even have identification documents!)and letter from Chazon Ish about vote in Sefer Pe'er ha-Dor is tampered with and it was written about other vote (not to Kneset).

2) It's amazing that Steipler didn’t quote Chazon Ish anywhere in all these letters (which would be most natural according to your explanation!). His correspondent (who was rabbi Shmuel Dovid Munk ZTZ"L of Neturei Karta - the Steipeler's letters and his answers were first published by him in his sefer "be-Ein Chazon") also don't mention anywhere, that Chazon Ish permitted people to vote.

3) Where opinion (with halachic explanation) of r. Aharon Kotler ZT"L written?

4) Did any of these rabbonim answered on all halachic problems VM mention?

mo Posted - 01 March 2006 15:58

**For the record, the Satmar Rav does not say that voting in the elections violates the Oaths. He says that it constitutes Modeh B'Avodah Zorah, and Lifnei Iver, since sitting in the Knesset is assur, and votes are what facilitates that.**

Of course he says that - it's in Maamar I, sim. 87! Only AFTER that he says there ALSO are minus and kefira.

mo Posted - 01 March 2006 15:58

Two days ago one respectable yid a talmid chochom said me that ALL Gedolim hold that oaths don’t have effect, because they were for 1000 years, as says r. Chaim Vital in Hakdomo to Etz Chaiim...(sigh). For my question - how do you know - says : all supported vote!

MODERATOR Posted - 01 March 2006 17:21

1) The opinion of the Steipler is recorded in Maaseh Ish Vol. 1. it is true that he did not vote, but he did tell others to. He was asked why he himself does not vote being that he told others to do so, and he basically said he doesn’t want to discuss it.

2) I don’t think it’s surprising that the chazon ish isn’t quoted by him. His letter was simply responding to the claim that the Oaths prevent voting. The Chazon Ish never addressed this directly as far as I know.

3) I don’t know that the opinion of Rav Ahron is written anywhere - Rav Ahron wrote very little outside of his shiurim. But his opinion was the extreme of the pro-voting side. The Satmar Rebbe was the extreme of the anti-voting side. The Brisker Rav once said, "Voting is not such a big Mitzvah like Rav Ahron says, and not such a big Aveirah like the Satmar Rebbe says." The Brisker Rav was, by the way, against voting. To this day, the Briskers don’t vote.

4) Not on record. I know that Gedolim disagreed with him, but I do not know how many were aware of how much of the assertions in the sefer, nor do I know much more about what their Reponses are than what they publicized, which is not a lot.

I spoke to Rav Ruderman ZTL once about a certain topic in Vayoel Moshe, and he was absolutely unfamiliar - and very surprised - with what it said. Same for Rav Schneur Kotler ZTL (so he did not know what Rav Ahron's response might have been). When Rav Yaakov Kanminetzky ZTL once came to visit the Satmar Rebbe, and he (the Satmar Rebbe) asked him if he saw Vayoel Moshe and what he thinks of it. Rav Yaakov said, "You wrote in the introduction that even if only one person in the world is influenced by this sefer to understand the issues better it is worth writing. Well, I am one such person."

Even though Rav Yaakov's positions on these issues was the most far removed from that of the Satmar Rebbe's of all the Gedolim, he never told the Satmar Rebbe more than that. I know here and there what certain Gedolim have said (such as the Steipler's letter being discussed, as well as others, including Rav Yaakov), but no Godol HaDor has written a comprehensive treatment of the topic except the Satmar Rebbe, so it is hard to say what they would respond to all the claims.

5) re: Voting - In Vayoel Moshe 1:87 it doesn’t say that if you vote in the Israeli elections you violate the Oaths. it says you’re a partner in crime, but a shutef in an aveirah does not necessarily get the same avierah as his partner. So for instance if I give someone a radio on Shabbos and ask him to put it on, I am definitely considered a shutef in his crime, and I violate lifnei iver, and Meisis, but I am not a mechalel shabbos. So his saying that those who participate in the elections are shutfim in the crime of the existence of the State does not yet explain what you violate for being a partner. Elsewhere he says that your violation is lifnei iver and modeh b'avodah zorah.

6) As far as your respectable talmid chacham, it is difficult to imagine being more wrong. The issue of the Oaths "expiring" is not only shown by the Satmar Rebbe to be a total misunderstanding of what the Arizal says, but it is so clear and definitive that even Rav Ovadiah Yosef, in an old Techumim article, dismisses the claim that the Oaths have "expired" by referring the reader to read what it says in Vayoel Moshe.

Besides, the Rishonim and Achronim bring the Oaths L'maaseh all over the place after the alleged expiration date - apparently none of them were aware that "all Gedolim" hold they have expired!

The problem is that the Oaths were so rarely relevant until the Zionists came along, that there was never anything close to a detailed halachic analysis of them - there was no need. It was an absolutely stunning display of Torah genius that the Satmar Rebbe exhibited when he took this sporadically mentioned, semi-kabalistic, semi-Agadic, semi-halachic, never-before analyzed and not- even-quoted-in-shulchan-aruch issue and produced a comprehensive and detailed halachic and Hashkafic treatment, going through the relevant Gemora, Medrash, Rishonim, Achronim, Kabalah and Halachah.

It really boggles the mind when you think of what he accomplished. Kind of like the what the Chofetz Chaim did when he put together Hilchos Loshon Horah, which was never done before - but the Oaths were much more elusive than even hilchos shmiras halashon. To this day, it is still the only comprehensive treatment of the topic available. So it is not surprising that a "respected talmid chacham" is not familiar with the issues. To you it is easy - open the Vayoel Moshe. But someone who does not, unless he is a world-class Talmid Chacham, it would not be easy for him to access the information necessary to understand his mistake.

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