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ZIONISM / OATHS-----r meir simcha and balfour

hadtosaythis Posted - 08 May 2002 17:08

Re: The opposition of the Gedolim to Zionism. Very often, I find that people tend to confuse the Satmar Rav with the initial opposition to Zionism by various Gedolim.

The opposition to Zionism was merely that: opposition to the ideology of Zionism, namely , the emphasis on the nationalist component which was to the exclusion of, and was to eventually replace, religion.

However, the Satmar Rav's opposition was not at all synonymous with the opposition of, say, Rav Chaim Soloveitchik.

Secondly, you have failed to mention several other factors in considering "religious Zionism." The Ohr Sameach, Rav Meir Simchah of D'vinsk, was ecstatic when the Balfour Declaration was released; he considered it to be the Aschalta D'Geulah.

Also, after the War of 1948, an ad in the papers declared that, in the opinion of those who signed, that this event was the Aschalta D'Geulah. Those who signed included Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurebach ztl and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlita.

Additionally, the impression I get from these boards, as well as the general impression I have, is that many feel that Mizrachi was a fringe movement, with minimal involvement of frum people. This is simply not true. The fact is that close to, or according to some accounts, more than fifty percent of the Rabbonim in pre-war Europe were Mizrachi( for example, the chief dayan of Vilna was Mizrachi, to name one).

I just want to make these purely factual emendations so that a more balanced view based on facts and not rhetoric can be developed.

hadtosaythis Posted - 20 May 2002 20:06

"You are misinformed. the Ohr Someach was neither "ecstatic" when he heard of the Balfour declaration nor did he ever c"v declare it to means 'Aschalta D’Geulah."

What happened was, when he heard of the Balfour Declaration, he said "The trepidation of the Oaths has passed." meaning, that if the Jews would establish a Yishuv in EY with the permission and blessing of the nations - which was hopefully going to happen - then there would be no problem with the Oaths."

I don't understand- nothing in the shalosh shavuos prevented the Jews from settling Eretz Yisrael with permission; the issue was "shelo ya'alu b'chomah." Jews were settling Eretz Yisrael for centuries. As recently as the late 1800's Jewish settlements had been established.

Surely, the Ohr Sameach was not stating that Balfour could remove the trepidation of the shalosh shavuos. Only a release from Golus could cause the trepidation to have passed, because only a release from Golus would cause the shalosh shavuos not to be binding.

Allow me to clarify my point regarding the difference between the Satmar Rebbe and everyone else. The whole point of political Zionism was that the Jews should get their own national homeland; except for the Satmar Rebbe, no one brought up the Shalosh shavuos.

(Remember, Herzl was inspired by the Dreyfus Affair; this convinced him of the necessity for the Jews to have their own homeland)

The objections were to their intentional exclusion of anything religious. The fact that Rav Chaim and the Ohr Sameach died before 1948 is not relevant. The shalosh shevuos would hardly have been irrelevant; it would have been the most natural argument to make.

The reason why the massive amount of rabbonim's " endorsement of Mizrachi was unaccompanied by any reasonable Torah justification" was because it was not a halachic issue: it was a judgment callas to whether or not to be involved with a movement that had secular origins.

MODERATOR Posted - 20 May 2002 20:25

The Oaths were the core of the opposition to creating a Jewish State by all the Gedolim, not only Satmar. Rav SR Hirsch speaks about them extensively regarding his opposition to Zionism in Chorev, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rashab) mentions says so, too, in his famous letter in Daas HaRabanim. Reb Elchonon Wasserman brings them in his Ikvesa D'Meshichah, and even Rav Shach and the Steipler make mention of this as well in their letters. Rav Meir Simcha's statement also shows that his problem with Zionism was, among other things, violation of the Oaths.

But it is unclear what Rav Meir Simcha understood the Balfour declaration to mean. The Zionists said that it entitled them to take EY as a Jewish State, and they keep teaching this to their children to this day, without mentioning that they were told it is not so. The Zionists actually submitted drafts for Lord Balfour that did state so, but their drafts were rejected. Winston Churchill explained that the declaration did not mean "the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as whole, but further development of the existing Jewish community." In other words, a safe home for Jews to live within Palestine, but not a Jewish State. you will find a letter from Freda Kirchwey to Chaim Weitzman. The following is an excerpt there from:

"The Jews based their claim to the right to go to Palestine on the Balfour Declaration....

"The question of a "national home" can be subject to many interpretations. it is hard to believe that the British government, using the words "national home" in 1917 had any idea that there should be created a Jewish State in Palestine without regard to the rights of the large Arab majority living there".

Also, the following memo by Frank P. Corrigan, titled "Summary of the Palestine Problem" at

"The legal claims stem first out of the Balfour Declaration. This was a political paper that promised the Jews a 'home' where they might feel safe from persecutions from which they had for centuries been the victims. Closely examined, this does not constitute much grounds for the legal establishment of a sovereign Jewish State in Palestine. The Jews have read into it much more than it contains."

In fact, the Balfour Declaration was originally drafted by the Zionists. They (July 1917) wanted it to say, "His Majesty's government accepts the principle that Palestine should be reconstituted as the national home of the Jewish people.."

But Lord Balfour did not agree to that. What it said instead (October 1917) was "His Majesty's government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people...".

A big difference. A 'national home' is not necessarily a sovereign state, and "in" Palestine does not mean, as they wanted it to say, [all of] "Palestine".

But there are two Oaths that pertain to Zionism - the first one is "shelo yaalu kachoomah" which means not to take Eretz Yisroel as a Jewish State during Golus, and the second is not to do "hisgarus b'umos" meaning not to defy the nations of the world. We are not allowed to say "no" to the Nations during Golus. We are subservient to them. We certainly cannot confront them with our demands or threats. Zionism, which involved the taking of land against the will of its occupants, fighting wars, and defying international demands, certainly constituted that, and still does.

Rav Meir Simcha merely heard that England was willing to allow expansion of the Jewish settlement in Palestine, allowing immigration and safety. Without permission of the UK this would have constituted a violation of the Oaths.

But what happened in 1948 was a totally different story, and has nothing to do with Rav Meir Simcha's comment in 1917. In fact, there is a letter from Rav Meir Simcha printed in several places to that effect.

PS - Please shift all further comments on this topic to the "Zionism" forum, in "Jews Arabs etc."

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