Beit Midrash

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  • Parashat Hashavua
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What Does a Jewish State Entail?

Our Parasha refers to the different reactions of three groups. Yehoshua and Kalev returned from their mission to Eretz Yisrael with reinforced belief in Hashem. The ten spies returned confused and lacking in belief. The Ma’apilim tried to reach Eretz Yisrael after Hashem had commanded them not to.

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Rabbi Yossef Carmel

Sivan 20 5781
Our parasha refers to the different reactions of three groups. Yehoshua and Kalev returned from their mission to Eretz Yisrael with reinforced belief in Hashem that He who had taken them out of Egypt would help them establish an independent Jewish state. The ten spies returned confused and lacking in belief. They created skepticism about the chance of success. The ma’apilim tried to reach Eretz Yisrael after Hashem had commanded them not to. We try to follow Yehoshua and Kalev. We believe the goal is attainable because Hashem promised it to our forefathers.

This week we commemorate the 26th yahrtzeit of our mentor, Rav Shaul Yisraeli z.t.l., Eretz Hemdah’s founding president. He was a trailblazer in the field of how a Jewish state functions halachically, including writing and editing many articles and publications. One of the main questions that occupied talmidei chachamim was: What is the place of a Jewish and democratic State of Israel, which was established by a general public that primarily did not consist of those who observe all mitzvot? How does one view a government, with executive and legislative branches, most of whose members are not dedicated to keeping the Shulchan Aruch, and a legislative branch that is sometimes is hostile to it?

Here too there are three approaches: 1. People of belief in the divine promise to return Am Yisrael to Eretz Yisrael and reestablish a Jewish state, as a symbol of a refined state in which Yeshayahu’s visions can be realized. It would be a state to which gentile pilgrims would come to study in its capital, Jerusalem, and a state that bases itself on charity and justice. 2. Those who do not believe in the Written and/or Oral Law, or do not believe the state can be a vessel for the fulfillment of the Prophets’ prophecies. 3. Those who lost their patience and are willing to hasten the redemption even in manners that are against the Torah.

Rav Yisraeli was one of the first group’s leading teachers and guides, with an ability to navigate complex matters. We will take a quick look at one of the dilemmas he dealt with – an apparent contradiction between a national or spiritual obligation and the rights of the individual.

Rav S.Y. Zevin wrote an article about the "trial of Shylock." He opines that a person has no ownership over his body. Both body and soul belong to Hashem. Rav Yisraeli disagreed and said that man has ownership over his own body, just that Halacha limits the scope of the ownership and forbids one to commit suicide, put his life in danger, or damage his body.

A related practical issue is organ sale by a poor person to improve his financial situation. Rav Yisraeli posited that fundamentally it is permitted, but that the state is required to legislate a prohibition on such "organ commerce" to prevent the rich from taking advantage of the poor. Rav Yisraeli viewed organ donation as a great voluntary mitzva if done altruistically, with the donor a hero from a Torah perspective. In the merit of Rav Yisraeli’s ruling and the incredible life work of Rav Yeshaya Heber z.t.l., the State of Israel has become a beacon of light for the world, of healing people with true mercy. This is an uplifting application of the idea of "Torah and State," following the footsteps of Yehoshua and Kalev and other believers in a noble Jewish state. May we be successful in continuing to spread the teachings of Rav Yisraeli robustly and pleasantly.
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר yeshiva.org.il