Is it permissible to surrender portions of the Land of Israel to an enemy as part of a peace agreement?
More than four thousand years ago, long before George Bush got to the White House, G-d gave a roadmap to the Jewish People. The borders of the Holy Land were established and sealed by the Covenant between G-d and the Children of Israel – an irrevocable constant which can never be changed. The idea of dividing the Land of Israel is not new. In the wake of the Intifada of 1936, the Royal British Committee drew up a map dividing Eretz Yisrael, called the “Partition Plan.” The Plan called for two states, Israeli and Arab, who would dwell side-by-side in peace. In response, leading rabbis at that time voiced their opinions. Chief Rabbi Herzog called for a general assembly of all the leading rabbis, but it was canceled because of the reign of Arab terror that made travel to Jerusalem perilous at that time. Nonetheless, the majority of the rabbis unequivocally established that dividing the Land of Israel was prohibited by the Torah. Rabbi Yaacov Moshe Charlap, Rosh Yeshiva at the time of Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem, stated: "Behold, the matter is simple and clear – Heaven forbid that the Jewish People relinquish any tiny concession of any iota of land that is sanctified with the holiness of Eretz Yisrael…. There is no doubt that if the matter reaches the point where we will need sign an international agreement that includes any form of surrender of our rights to Eretz Yisrael, it is preferable for those signing to chop off their thumbs, rather than to chop up the garden of Zion." Rabbi Charlap continues: "Just like a person who states that the entire Torah is from Heaven, except for one letter, he is considered a heretic, so too one who states that all of Israel belongs to the Jewish People except for one footstep, behold he is totally cut off from the holiness of the Land and he violates the soul of Israel….for Israel is undividable. A division of Eretz Yisrael will inevitably lead to war…not to mention the wrath of G-d which will be cast upon us Heaven forbid….Eretz Yisrael is for the Jewish People the Land of Life, its soul and the source of all of its vitality. Even an iota that is missing fatally weakens its life, just as when the heart is pierced." Rabbi Reuven Margoliot, author of “Margoliot HaYam,” wrote: “I agree with the opinion of absolute opposition to accepting the Partition Plan. There is a need to amass a determined opposition with all force against the Plan’s acceptance to explain to the community and to the Jews the world over that a tiny canton of Israel cannot survive.” Rabbi Pesach Frank, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, stated: "If the Jewish People have the power to acquire all of Israel as bequeathed to us from our forefathers, the matter is simple – we do not have permission to relinquish even one footstep of Land to foreigners, as it says, 'Do not sell them the land.' Where do we learn this? 'Rabbi Yose bar Chanina says, Do not give them possession in the Land.' ' Behold it is explicit that there is a Torah prohibition forbidding the sale of even a single tree to the gentiles." Rabbi Yechiel Michal Tekuchinsky, author of "Luach Eretz Yisrael," stated: "Definitely, without a doubt, we and all of us have absolutely no permission (to sign) a peace agreement to remove any portion of the Land to others. Not only are we not allowed or permitted to relinquish, there is absolutely no value to any concession, just like it is impossible to change the borders between day and night, so it is equally impossible to change the borders of the Land as designated in the Torah, for both these matters were sealed by He who gave the Torah, the Master and Creator of the world." Rabbi Kaniel of Haifa said: "I believe that no one at all has any permission whatsoever, whether an individual or a group, to concede the right of the Jewish People to Eretz Yisrael in all of its boundaries. For the elected representatives of the nation are only caretakers in their responsibility to the Jews of all generations, and they do not have the right to tamper with the inheritance of the Jewish People from our forefathers." Quoting the Gemara he states: "We learn that King Omri merited kingship because he added one city in the Land of Israel. If we truly want a state and we aspire to the crown of sovereignty and kingship, we mustn’t relinquish our existing settlements, that it should be said regarding us ‘They despised the cherished Land and did not believe His promise,’ (Psalms, 106.) Rather, we must increase the settlement of the Land." If this is what the rabbis said when we did not have a Jewish State in Israel, how much more should we today champion our G-d given right to Eretz Yisrael and work to strengthen its settlement in all of its Biblical borders. In the immortal words of Kohelet, “A generation comes, and a generation goes, but the Land remains forever.” 1. Genesis, 13:7; 12:16: 13:17; 16:18: 17:8. See the proclamation “L’maan Daat,” by HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, printed in the book “Torat Eretz Yisrael,” pg. 374. 2. For a history of the period, see the book, “Pulmus HaHaluka B’tekufat HaMandate,” by Shmuel Dotan. 3. “Zikof HaKooma, Daniel Sirkus, His Life and Deeds,” by Pincus Sirkus. Pg. 112. Also, Tachumin, Vol. 9, Pg. 270. 4. Ibid. 5. Avodah Zora, 19B. Deut. 7. 6. Sanhedrin 120B.