Beit Midrash

  • Yesh Shoalim
To dedicate this lesson

We Can Withstand Pressures


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

Will standing up to the world lead us to a repetition of the disaster we suffered at the hands of the Roman superpower 2000 years ago? Or is something totally different happening today?
Regarding your discussion of Monday, the 26th of Iyar (which appears in the book Yesh Shoalim, page 28): Certainly, if we approach the issue of Land of Israel from the perspective of the Torah, you are probably right, but that is not the question. The question is: if we don't forfeit any part of the Land of Israel and don't withdraw, not only will the entire Arab world be against us, but the whole world will be, including the United States. If we do as you suggest, and stubbornly refuse to retreat from any a single bit of land, America won't help us: they won't send us weapons, planes, grain or money! Will we be able to hold out against Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, etc. without planes? G-d forbid! Isn't this a repetition of what happened at the time of the destruction of the second Temple? When our Sages wanted to make peace, and there were a few who wanted to fight and they brought the destruction upon us!
In the end, it's obvious that the Sages were right. They didn't want to fight or oppose the Romans, and they were even ready to surrender. That is because going against the whole world means relying in a miracle, and it is forbidden to rely on miracles! What I have said so far is on principle. From a practical viewpoint, let's be realistic. Let us assume there will be new elections. Will the Likud win? Isn't that party itself divided into different factions? So what will happen? The Labor party will have a majority even without Shas, so what good would come out of elections? And even if the Likud wins, headed by Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu, won't they also give back parts of the land of Israel? So what have we gained?
Your equation of our point in history with the period of the destruction of the Temple, G-d forbid, is out of context. There is absolutely no comparison. We are, thank G-d, in a period of the redemption process and of building, and not, G-d forbid, in a time of threat of destruction. Since the exile from our land, there have never been better times for the nation of Israel than now. We have attained independence in the land of Israel and the exiles are being ingathered and are returning home. The Jewish State is getting stronger and more established from year to year. G-d has given us the military power to defeat our enemies and they cannot endanger our existence, thank G-d. Our enemies know this as well, and this is the only thing that prevents them attacking us. There is absolutely no other reason.
The Arab states are weaker than us. Certainly, other nations as well pressure us to make concessions, but this didn't start today. This has been since the establishment of the State of Israel, and since we liberated Yehuda, the Shomron, the Gaza strip, the Golan, the Old City of Jerusalem, the holy city and the site of the Temple. We have survived twenty six years, and with G-d's help, we can continue withstanding pressures many more years, and in the meantime we will continue to settle the land and to gather in the exiles. In this fashion we will strengthen our foundations, until the nations will realize that there is no point in continuing to try to pressure us.
The situation you depict as the outcome if we don't capitulate is far-fetched and has no basis in reality. If we don't give in, heavy pressures will probably be put upon us, but we can deal with them. We won't die of starvation, thirst or deprivation, G-d forbid. Maybe we will receive fewer grants and loans. And who knows, maybe this is even for the best. The price we will have to pay in order to retain all the parts of the land of Israel that are in our possession is far less than the value of our beloved land. Our land is worth infinitely more.
Those who are willing to make concessions regarding the land of Israel are those who fail to see any special importance in this land. They claim that it doesn't belong exclusively to the Jews and therefore it doesn't bother them to make inordinate concessions to the Arabs for in exchange for relief from political pressure, and for a more comfortable political climate, temporary as they may be. But for one who values the land of Israel above any earthly treasure, being deprived of part of the land is like having a limb amputated from his body. He doesn't stop praying that this operation will in the end be unnecessary, and he is willing to pay a very high price in his effort not to lose parts of our land. He fasts and prays that the ordeal be postponed again and again. Even if he thinks that there is no escape from the argument with the Arabs and other countries over the solution to the Jewish-Arab conflict, he will make every effort to forestall the matter and to delay the verdict. This is out of hope that maybe, somehow we can avoid sacrificing that which is dear to us, that is, not to undergo the amputation that will leave us mutilated, G-d forbid.
Time is in our favor. The State of Israel is getting stronger all the time, and, thank G-d, we have the power to resist the pressures, and there is hope that in time we will find other ways to resolve the conflict without giving away our beloved land, the land of G-d; without handing over the Holy Land to foreigners who will defile it and cause the Name of G-d be desecrated, G-d forbid.
Today's debate, over giving away or keeping all our land, bears no resemblance to the dispute with the biryonim (bullies) at the time of the destruction of the Temple, who burned the supplies of food (in order to leave the besieged Jews of Jerusalem with no other choice than to fight) and fermented groundless hatred between Jews. The current controversy resembles the days of the Hashmonaim (the Maccabees) who rebelled against the Greeks, and notwithstanding their being few against many, they defeated them, and Israel regained its independence. Today the chief proponents of concessions are those who are also willing to forfeit the Torah, and the main supporters of keeping the land whole are holy people who say, "Whoever is for G-d, come with me!"
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