Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Prayers for the Pullout

It is becoming difficult not to say anything about the Gaza pullout, even though I have little to add. I am not attached to the "greater Israel" idea, and I support efforts to create a democratic Palestinian state, but it is still unclear whether this move will bring us any closer to peace, or even Palestinian statehood. It has already resulted in tremendous suffering and a few depraved acts. One can only hope and pray that the ultimate outcome is positive.

I pray for the evacuees. May those who remain to be evacuated prevail over their evil inclinations, and may they all succeed at building new homes and resuming their lives with minimal trauma.

I pray for the soldiers. May they remain unified, strong, and safe.

I pray for the Palestinian residents of Gaza. May they eschew violence and succeed at building homes and constructive institutions from the rubble of the Jewish settlements.

May the One who creates peace in the heavens create peace for us, and for all Israel, and all the inhabitants of the world.

40 comments:

Rachel said...

Yes, to everything you just said.

elf's DH said...

amen.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. Well put, as always.

Daniel

Anonymous said...

I pray for Sharon to meet his maker soon..

elf said...

How can you pray for a man, a Jew, to die?

I went to a religious Zionist day school, and we were always told that Judaism was a religion of life, that we were to support and promote life at all costs. Now it seems that for some religious Zionists, the opposite is true.

Anonymous said...

Moron, how do you know that I am 1)Jewish 2) religious and 3)Zionist?

elf said...

All based on past experience. It would seem that my readership has diversified somewhat.

Poor Sharon. Everybody hates him.

fleurdelis28 said...

Hey, "to meet one's maker" does conventionally means to die, but there are other possibilities. Maybe it's a plea for God to speak to Sharon directly and tell him what His will is on Gaza. There have been stranger choices of prophets.

You know, if that did happen, I wonder who would be more astonished - the religious anti-disengagement-ers, or Sharon himself.

Dovid said...

Look throughout tanach and you find many, many cases of Jews rightfully killing other Jews. Starting with Pinchas killing Zimri. And why did he kill him? Because he was making a chilul Hashem. Today, not only is Sharon making a chilul Hashem, but is also endangering the lives of 5 million Jews by showing the Arabs that-in their own words-terror does work. So he now has the din of a rodef too. Generalizing and saying that Judaism is a liberal religion is mistaking judaism for christianity. Judaism is the ultimate religion: It loves peace and life etc, but it also stresses justice, and believe it or not, it even understands revenge.

fleurdelis28 said...

And David fought with the Philistines. Individual circumstances are complicated and warrant individual analyses, and we've had no word from God on the Gaza evacuation, or on any subject for the past two thousand years. Judaism may sanction violence in some circumstances, but no human currently alive has the information to make that call. If God believes a man has incurred death for desecrating His name, I'm sure He can take care of the matter Himself.

fleurdelis28 said...

Besides, in what way is withdrawal from Gaza a chilul haShem? It could be a strategic mistake of any breadth of proportions, and I still don't see how it would be making God or His people look bad. Naive, maybe, but that's not generally the material of a chilul haShem.

Dovid said...

It is a Chilul Hashem of massive proportions! It is a message to the world that the people of Israle have abandoned the G-d of Israel! It's a message to the world that we don't consider ourselves the chosen nation! It's a message to G-d to keep his mracles! I can go on and on how this is a chilul Hashem.

Dovid said...

Either way, revelation or not, saying Judaism is a religion that never ever sanctioned killing is just a lie.

fleurdelis28 said...

Either way, revelation or not, saying Judaism is a religion that never ever sanctioned killing is just a lie.

Well, who said that here? To teach, in Diaspora, that Jews are to support and promote life at all costs, doesn't preclude God having directed otherwise in specific circumstances in the past, or God's directing otherwise in the future. All it says is that in the absence of revelation, we stick to preserving life. In the absence of of more information regarding God's will, it certainly seems like the better side to err on.

fleurdelis28 said...

It is a Chilul Hashem of massive proportions! It is a message to the world that the people of Israle have abandoned the G-d of Israel! It's a message to the world that we don't consider ourselves the chosen nation!

Only if you, and the world, associate the current political state of Israel with the future Israel of the Biblical prophesies. Many people -- Jews and non-Jews alike -- do, but many also don't. It's not a chilul haShem to have differing opinions on whether the current State has theological relevance.

Besides, everyone is now getting to see, on live television, how passionate Jews can be about the land that they believe to be theirs. Who are world audiences going to think (rightly or wrongly) are more representative of spirit the Jewish people, the settlers or Sharon?

elf said...

It is a Chilul Hashem of massive proportions!

I disagree completely. It is, if anything, the opposite.

It is a message to the world that the people of Israle have abandoned the G-d of Israel!

Why are you so sure that the God of Israel wants the people of Israel to remian in Gaza? What has the God of Israel suggested that the state of Israel do about the demographic problem? The people of Israel have to work toward ensuring their own survival. Ein somchim al ha-nes -- we don't rely on miracles.

It's a message to the world that we don't consider ourselves the chosen nation!

Maybe, if being the "chosen nation" means we get to ignore reality and treat Arabs like dirt. But if being a "chosen nation" means trying to set an example of moral behavior in the face of crisis, I think we're not doing badly.

It's a message to G-d to keep his mracles!

When was the last time you saw a nes galui, a revealed miracle? What, exactly, might lead you to expect one now? Ein somchim al ha-nes -- to rely on miracles is suicide.

saying Judaism is a religion that never ever sanctioned killing is just a lie.

I never said that. But when we do sanction killing, it never fails to lead to tragedy for Am Yisrael. I prefer the religion of life that I learned about in day school to the murderous vigelantism that you seem to be advocating. (Fleurdelis28 provides a sound theological justification for the former approach.)

Dovid said...

I'm not advocating murderous vigalentism at all. And to the contrary, when we faught wars we were great! Don't forget that all the problems we had from Amelek were rooted in Shaul's mercy! Sometimes the "MORAL" approach it to KILL those who have killed our families and children. That's moral! Do you think I'm concerned about the morality of our occupation of a people whos proclaimed goal is to kill us? I think not killing them is immoral!
I can't understand how you don't see what type of atrocious chilul Hashem it is when Jews go and take Jews out of their own homes and destroy their lives. And for what? For what you call "morality". We destroy 10,000 Jewish and heroic lives in order to give a peice of land to the people who try to murder us daily! And not only that, but the settlements weren't even built on Arab land. It was all desolate before they came there, so even if it was wrong to "occupy" arab land, that isn't the case here at all. What I see as the biggest chilul Hashem is the apologies we keep on offering the world. We are so sorry for having Israel. We are so sorry for having a strong army. we are so sorry we are Jews. THAT IS A CHILUL HASHEM! A kiddush Hashem is when we show the nations of the world that we have what's called "gaon yaakov"- Jewish pride! To tell the world that Hashem gave us this land, and we plan on keeping it! If the Palestinians have a problem, why not let the people who created the problem-the other Arab nations who attacked Israel in 1967-absorb the Palestinians! Why is it our "moral obligation"?
You want miracles, and you don't see any miracles or why keeping Gaza is Hashem's plan. Well, I think that Israel's very existence is miraculous. A nation not even a day old defeated a union of Arab armies and established a country which should have naturaly been destroyed a million times by now! That's nothing short of miraculous! The 6 day war was miraculous! The Yom Kippur war on the other hand, was a result of our very disgrace we are showing now! The army was demanding was and forecasting an attack, but politicians who trembled before the other nations of the world-who hate us-held off and waited till we were attacked and we suffered serious casualties!!! But when we show strength, like in '67, we always win! Open miracles.... Open miracles is the fact that we had Gaza in the first place. If the 6 day war was miraculous, any reversal of that victory is obviously a rejection of the miracle! And, believe it or not, there are many, many miracle stories which happen daily, and I do believe with all my heart and soul that Hashem is available to those who seek Him. Our job is to have faith in Hashem.

fleurdelis28 said...

Again, the commandment to wipe out Amalek was direct from God, multiple times. I'm sure there are many people out there to whom it's obvious that the Palestinians are Amalek, but I'd really like to see more proof for those sorts of contentions than the fact that the people in question are current enemies of the Jews. I recall hearing once that genetic tests have indicated that the Palestinians are the Jews' closest relatives in the Middle East -- if true, wouldn't that make a better default analogy something like Edom, to whom we're required to show certain mercies even if they don't repay them?

Dovid said...

See shu"a Orach Chayim, siman 329, sif 9, which commands jews, even in a time of galus, that if hostile goyim come on shabbbos and they want only straw, it is a mitzvah to go out and break shabbos and wage war on them, because otherwise a presedent is set, and it's pikuach nefesh mammosh! Is shulchan aruch "jewish" enough in its values?

See: http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6626/805/1600/Psak_English1.jpg

elf said...

Don't forget that all the problems we had from Amelek were rooted in Shaul's mercy!

People always say that, but it's a somewhat inaccurate reading of the story. God commands the Israelites to kill men, women, and children, and they have no problem with that -- it's the king and the livestock that they have "mercy" on. No comment from me on God's commandment, but the people's actions certainly leave something to be desired. They aren't guilty of showing mercy, they are guilty of pride and of wanting meat.

Do you think I'm concerned about the morality of our occupation of a people whos proclaimed goal is to kill us? I think not killing them is immoral!

The Palestinians, like the Jews, are not a monolithic group. The fact that Baruch Goldstein killed innocent Palestinians does not make me a murderer, and the fact that Palestinian terrorists have killed many Jews does not make every Palestinian a murderer. We have a moral obligation to distinguish between murderers and people who happen to be of the same ethnicity.

It was all desolate before they came there, so even if it was wrong to "occupy" arab land, that isn't the case here at all.

I never said that it was immoral to settle Gaza in the first place. Some people would make that argument, but I don't really think it matters, one way or the other. What matters more is whether it is moral to be there now, under the present circumstances. So long as ruling over Gaza means treating the majority of its population as second-class citizens, I think that it is morally problematic.

If the Palestinians have a problem, why not let the people who created the problem-the other Arab nations who attacked Israel in 1967-absorb the Palestinians!

Diverting responsibilty onto someone else is not a way to solve a problem. The other Arab nations are not going to absorb the Palestinian population. Maybe they should, but they won't. It is Israel's problem to deal with.

Open miracles is the fact that we had Gaza in the first place. If the 6 day war was miraculous, any reversal of that victory is obviously a rejection of the miracle!

Maybe the 6-day war was miraculous, but if so, it was a miracle achieved by virtue of the earthy efforts of people who took their fate into their own hands. It was a miracle achieved in spite of the opposition of most of Orthodox Jewry, which maintained that the Jews should wait for God to redeem them when the time was right. Today, it is those who oppose the disengagement for religious reasons who are "relying on a miracle" -- waiting for God to solve their problems instead of taking matters into their own hands.

fleurdelis28: Interesting points, as usual.

elf said...

Dovid: Earlier, you stated that the Palestinians have "din Amalek," meaning that we have an obligation to kill them all, men, women, and children. When fleurdelis28 asked you what basis there was for such a claim, you brought what is essentially an example of fighting back in self-defense. There is a world of difference between the two.

Dovid said...

Elf, I mentioned Amelek as an example of torah-sanctioned killing. And your reading on Amalek contradicts all the classic commentaries. No one is sitting around waiting for a miracle. The Israeli govt. has to act. my observation is that when we act in strength, (regardless of what the chareidi community says) we are shown miracles. But when we acto out of weakness (67, yom kippur war, oslo, etc) we head straight for disaster.

elf said...

And your reading on Amalek contradicts all the classic commentaries.

Oh no! Reading the Bible without the classic commentaries! I am going straight to Hell!

my observation is that when we act in strength, (regardless of what the chareidi community says) we are shown miracles. But when we acto out of weakness (67, yom kippur war, oslo, etc) we head straight for disaster.

We obviously define strength and weakness differently. Killing people is not the only way to display strength. Eizehu gibbor? Ha-kovesh et yitsro -- Who is strong? He who conquers his evil inclination.

Dovid said...

You can read the bible however you'd like to. I just feel comfortable knowing that I have generations of tzaddikim and yisharim who hold my position. I believe in messorah. And no, killing doesn't show strength per say. Defending your people means strength. following your beliefs requires strength. I quoted the passage from shu"a. Can you please respond to that?

elf said...

I quoted the passage from shu"a. Can you please respond to that?

I don't think that the passage you cited relates to a situation like this at all. The concern there is that gentiles might explot Jews' observance of Shabbat to steal from them or even kill them. Jews are instructed to violate Shabbat to prevent that from happening.

From this, you derive sanction to murder an entire population based on a threat from some of its members? What is the connection?

Dovid said...

That isn't the point in Shu"a. The point is that when it comes to issues of self-defence, giving in-even if it's only because you are observing shabbos-never ever works. The Lubavitcher Rebbe always quotes this passage as the issur of caving to the pressure of terrorism. And it seems obvious enough too.

elf said...

I think I disagree with the late rebbe on the point of the sugya. The context is occasions on which it is permissible to violate Shabbat, and this is one of a number of examples of pikuach nefesh ("saving a life").

Anyway, the specific example involving straw is not in the Sh"A. It is probably from a commentary on the Sh"A.

Dovid said...

Kal v'chomer! The only reason according to you for it bringing this halacha is to say that you're allowed to break shabbos, and otherwise, it would be so obvious that the Shu"a wouldn't have even mentioned it! The whole point is that you can't give in to our haters, EVEN IF IT MEANS DESECRATING SHABBOS!

elf said...

I still don't see why this is any more relevant than any other case of rodef. We know that one is allowed to defend oneself against an attack that threatens one's life. But is it, by extension, acceptable to kill off an entire population because some of its members threaten the well-being of one's state? What if there are other, less violent, options? I don't see how the Sh"A helps address these questions.

Dovid said...

Did I suggest killing a whole race. all I said is that this din clearly illustrates that being weak in the face of danger is pikuach nefesh mammosh, and it is therefore a din that you have to be michalel shabbos to go and attack those who come to antagonize!

fleurdelis28 said...

While we can have plenty of debates among ourselves about when mercy is appropriate and how Judaism feels about the importance of assertively reacting to threats, the person originally under discussion wasn't us, it was Ariel Sharon. I find it difficult to believe that he personally would be evacuating Gaza for any reason other than a belief that the strategic merits would trump anything we could accomplish by violence. Now, it remains to be seen if he's right - but right or wrong, he's probably not doing it because he succumbed to his inner wimpy liberal who misreads the Torah.

Dovid said...

He succumbed to the inner apologist and he lost his balls in face of the rest of the world. It's what we call pressure. On the topic of pressure in this situation:

"I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means-except by getting off his back."
-Leo Tolstoy, What Then Must We Do

elf said...

Did I suggest killing a whole race.

Earlier, you said that they had din Amalek. This suggested to me that you thought it appropriate to kill the entire population.

In any case, I think my point is being missed, and maybe yours is too. We both agree that individuals have a right to act in self-defense. States also have a right to act in self-defense, but the issue can be particularly complicated when you are dealing with large bodies of people. Often, innocents will be hurt either way, and you have to weigh the benefits of a particular action against the costs.

Additionally, I think it is important to realize that an action may be justified and still be unwise. Chayyei Sarah put it best:

"If you have the right of way and start crossing the street in front of a speeding car, the car will hit you. You'll be right, but you'll be dead."

Ultimately, I am not arguing in favor of disengagement. Whether or not this course of action is wise is a matter for strategists to debate. What I am arguing against are the knee-jerk notions that Israel must make no sacrifices, and that the needs of Palestinians should never be taken into account.

Also, I take issue with your characterization of Sharon. You may disagree with him, but to call him a rodef (a persuer who must be killed in self-defense) ignores the complexity of the situation. (R. Aharon Lichtenstein makes a similar point here.)

elf said...

He succumbed to the inner apologist and he lost his balls in face of the rest of the world.

Maybe. Sharon has refused to explain his motivations, so we may never know for certain why he made this move.

In any case, stubbornness in and of itself is not a virtue. This may turn out to be the best thing he could have done. IMO, the jury is still out.

Dovid said...

you said that they had din Amalek

Why do you keep saying that, when I never ever said that! I mentioned Amalek as an example of torah sanctioned killing to refute your "torah is about peace only" stuff. but i never said they have a din of Amalek!

What I am arguing against are the knee-jerk notions that Israel must make no sacrifices, and that the needs of Palestinians should never be taken into account.

Do you think that my opinion is set in stone and a kneee-jerk reaction?! I think this pattern is more hamful for the Palestinians than for the Israelis. The intifada has killed so many of them! They have to learn that only through negotiations will they acheive peace and statehood! By caving under terror but retaliation every time, you have a very strange imbalance! Israel should make sacrifices; to A PEACE PARTNER! Not to a terrorist entity which says itself that this was unilateral and the terror will continue UNTIL ALL OF ISRAEL IS IN PALESTINIAN HANDS. It is obvious that they dont want settlements or concessions; they want it all. So giving them a little bit only wets their appitites and ultimately we lose either everything, if they get their way, or our lands we conceded, before we wake up from this dream and realize there is no partner at the other end! If we showed Palestinians that THEY GET NOTHING THROUGH TERROR, maybe they would stop already. if we never ever gave in but retaliated heavily every time, they would tire, and realize, het these guys mean business. Let's see what they want. and then the ball is in our court again and my brother will never have his roof blown off again by those low-lives, YM"SH!!!!!

elf said...

Why do you keep saying that, when I never ever said that! I mentioned Amalek as an example of torah sanctioned killing to refute your "torah is about peace only" stuff. but i never said they have a din of Amalek!

I apologize. You absolutely did not say that. I've heard the argument before, and fleurdelis28 mentioned it, so I got it into my head that it had come from you. But I was wrong.

Now, I think I should clarify my position vis-a-vis your actual argument. I do not believe that Torah or Judaism is all about peace. Anyone who says that has not read the Torah and isn't very well versed in Judaism. The tradition is variegated, and there are many ways to approach it. I did say a few things that you might have misinterpreted that way, though. So let me restate them: (1) The religious Zionist tradition in which I was educated would never sanction killing a Jew, except in a very clear instance of self-defense. Nor would it sanction praying for the death of a Jew (although I now realize that the person who suggested that was not Jewish or Zionist, so the point is moot). I think that this perspective is well supported by rabbinic tradition, although you can admittedly twist Jewish texts to say just about anything you want. (2) You seem to think that Judaism provides very clear guidelines on the current situation in Israel. I disagree. By emphasizing different texts, or interpreting them differently, people can come to very different conclusions.

If we showed Palestinians that THEY GET NOTHING THROUGH TERROR, maybe they would stop already.

That is a legitimate argument. Right now, Hamas is saying that it brought about the withdrawal through violence, and Abbas is saying that he brought it about through peaceful dealings with the Israeli government. Obviously, Sharon is hoping that the Palestinians will believe Abbas, though that seems increasingly unlikely.

The truth is that Gaza was going to go either way, because of the demographic problem. Most Israelis would rather have given it up in exchange for genuine peace, but the terrorists would not allow that to happen. My impression is that Sharon is trying to make this concession as ungraciously as possible, so that it won't look like a reward for terror. It probably won't work, but I guess it's worth a try.

if we never ever gave in but retaliated heavily every time, they would tire, and realize, het these guys mean business.

Israel retaliates pretty heavily most of the time. But counter-terrorism carries a high cost. Israeli soldiers endanger themselves, Palestinans who aren't necessarily connected to terror often lose their homes and livelihood, and it looks really bad on TV. (I know you think that shouldn't matter, but face it, it does.) Israelis are tired of waging this war in largely Palestinian that most of them don't want to hold onto, anyway. So they decided to give away Gaza. It was a tough decision, and as I've said before, I think the jury is still out on whether it was wise.

Dovid said...

Very well posted. I think the retaliations are part of the problem; we go in there, blow up houses which kills civilians and terrorists, and we right away pull out. Instead of retaliating "heavily" we should realiate wisely. Which means going in and clearing out the infastructure completely. Random bombings and raids get us nowhere besides for in deeper trouple. That was the problem in the Yom Kippur war too. Instead of going into damascus, we let the infastructure remain while we just occupied their land as a "security measure". Result? Unharmed terrrorists and occupied Arabs. Gets us nowhere. Israel Shouldn't always retreat. We should have gone into Damascus and cleared out the terrorists and LEFT! Instead we had a bloody war for 20+ years. Same here. We should stat in The refugee camps or wherever until every last terrorist is dead. it will save us many civilian casualties if we acted so!

elf said...

Now we are getting into matters of counter-terrorist strategy that are over my head. Anyone else who would like to continue this debate is welcome to do so.

Dovid said...

:(

doer said...
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