Wednesday, July 20

R. Lichtenstein on Decisive Times

This is now in English--in Haaretz. Click here (with background here).

[There is an] impression that the army has surrendered the public relations war for the hearts and minds of the soldiers, and that having abandoned the field of reasoned argument, it is compelled to resort to force of authority. If that is the case, we can only be deeply saddened, as we want to believe that the strength and vigor of the IDF is largely a factor of its moral and spiritual level.
A fair share of unneeded, regrettable and disappointing statements have been made. I do not think, Heaven forbid, that there is any aspiration here to crush or to oppress the national-religious public, but in the effort to achieve a position of superiority, a mistake in judgment was undoubtedly made. Yet this is not the main issue that should now be engaging the rabbis of religious Zionism, and we must not be blinded by any aspects of it. At a time, hours or weeks, which could be critical to the future of the state and its residents, it is the responsibility of those who reject insubordination, to rise above obstacles and hurdles, correctly state our position, and prevent any erosion of our ranks - even in the absence of a consensus on the disengagement initiative itself.
There is also an internal price, which the national-religious public is paying. National unity is not only a need of the army or the state; it is a social and spiritual need of the Torah- and mitzvah-observant public itself. The values of unity of the Jewish people and the obligation of mutual responsibility were not brought to the beit midrash (house of Torah study) from foreign fields. They were spawned under the canopy of the Torah. This is the case for the entirety of the Jewish people in its carries even more weight in the Land of Israel, where the organic existential connection is conspicuous.
I hope that it is clear that my stand does not stem from any lack of feeling when it comes to the problem of the disengagement and its difficulties. We face a painful phenomenon, to which there are three sources of pain. The Holy Land is apt to lose one of its bodily organs; the people are being torn to shreds; and several thousand citizens, who are faithful to their heritage and devoted to their homeland, are liable to suffer a heavy blow to their spiritual world and lose their homes and communities alike. Clearly, all of these considerations have to be weighed by the decision-makers, and I hope that was the case. But once the die is cast and the order is given, unless the government changes its mind, a soldier who has the privilege of serving in the Israel Defense Forces must do his duty, contribute his part and pray that the Holy One blessed be He will not abandon His people and not leave His land and will arrange events for the best.


At 4:56 PM, Blogger Oysvurf said...

Rabbi Lichtenstein refuses to acknowledge that the government can be solely motivated out of personal agendas and can lie to the people. It's just simply not in his nature to believe this (due to his background as an American and as a liberal) and thus he can't be faulted. However, this leads to some of his flawed reasoning. Rav Aron has brough the logic of the supremem court in the consitutional process used in the Gush Katif petitions - i.e. that the intentions of the government are fopr a worthy enough cause - and applied it to halacha. While this method and reasoning was valid fo rthe court (i of course agree with Edmund Levy's minority opinion - unabashadly) it has no place in the halachic system. The halacha doesn't allow me to violate halacha (and by halacha I mean all the violations listed here based upon a corrupt decision. When the halacha demands that we follow the opinions of the experts in order to violate mitzvot and property rights of others it is my opinion that the halacha assumes that the subjective motivations of the decision makers are pure not corrupt, and that the outcome projected is likely to happeb - not just that the objective motivations are OK and the potential outcome is not even a point of debate which was the court's standard.

On the issue of Pikuach Nefesh 2 points:

1) It's not a question of whether it might not fail or not. To believe that there is even a remote possibility that the process will result in peace or that people somehow won't get killed is to indicate a deep disconnect from reality. The real question is whether less people will die after the disengagement than under the current situation. However, this is no longer a theoretical question halachically - it has already been empriicaly tested. Land for peace and withdrawals have turned Israel into the valley of the shadow of death. There is no way a sane rational person can believe that less people will die after the engagement than before. So to suggest an halachic analysis based on this theory is wrong.

2) Further on pikuch nefesh I will note that the Finance Minister noted a few weeks ago that the 10 billion that is being spent on the hitnatkut could be better spent on social causes. If just a fraction of this money was given to the health ministry for updated equipment in hospitals, more ambulances, more drugs currently not covered in the basic health basket, more doctors, more services for less insurance money - how many lives would be save? How many kidney transplant that are not done due to lack of funds could then be done? Are the lives then saved more than what's saved under the disengagement? None of these social and economic argumentts are to be found in what is ultimately a flawed analysis by Rav Aron of the pikuach nefesh scenario presented by the disengagement

At 4:57 PM, Blogger Oysvurf said...

The Haartez article claims to to be a translation of the Hebrew text. In the Hebrew document sent out by the Yeshiva, in the pargraph reading "It is hard to find any halakhic..." there is an additional sentence between the following two sentences"...initiative over which a black flag is flying. Clearly, no one can speak of guaranteed...". I will translate it:

"The accompanying assumptions - that the plan derives from a conspiracy of the wicked or the sudden loss of "wisdom on the part of the wise"; that Sharon and some of his government minsiters fell on their heads, and betrayed their tradition and their followers, and decided to separate from their birthright for a personal or national "pot of lentils", is simply insulting".

I have no idea why the translation left out this sentence - but I can surmise. I don't understand why believeing this is insulting - NOT believing it flies in the face of years of proven facts. I actually find it insulting to my minimal degree of intelligence (my test scores throughout my life would indicate that I have some of it at least..) that a foremost rosh yeshiva and one of the most brilliant Talmudic minds alive today can simply ignore or disbelieve the fact that the government can be motivated out of greed and/or corruption. It flies in the face of years of hard evidence - both within Israel and in other even more democratic regimes. It is simply a fact. The government is corrupt and lies to its people. see ID=147576 and in.html and that.html and A...#BusinessEthics (he is the one who basically developed the whole plan) and id=4133

Shortly before Nixion resigned he always wore american flag lapel pins, and had that beaten forlon look. Look at Sharon - every pictur of him lately has the same haggard look - and the flag lapel pin on the suit (e-mail me for the photo spread). "Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels"; Samuel Johnson

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Oysvurf said...

A well written response to RAL's article.

I slightly disagree with Feiglin - RAL does say he has "red lines" and this his argument isn't ad infinitum until the state is destroyed as Feiglin suggests. The problem is that RAL doesn't clearly delineate his red lines.

Also, Feiglin completely misses out on the economic calculations involved in Pikuach Nefesh, which of course RAL doesn't do. But as RAL's position is clearly a cost/benefit analysis, these calculations need to be made. For a sample of how these calculations can be analyzed when dealing with Pikuach Nefesh issues versus scarce resources see 044_print.html

To re-phrase the last statement in the above article. "But if we choose disengagement and obeying orders, we must know what we are giving up. The tradeoffs are there whether we want to face them or not. What economics can do is tell us--in numbers, in black and white--what we give up and what we gain." Again, all this assumes there is some gain or potential for gain - in and of tself a doutful question whether RAL wants to recongnize that or not.

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