In the aftermath of the evacuation of Gush Katif and the struggle at Amona, people are raising the question: What is the best way to win the struggle? On what do we need to focus?
It is clear that the root of the problem is the spiritual state of the nation, or, more correctly, of a part of it – the part that is today in power. The fundamental, long term solution is education, to raise the spirit of the nation and to draw the public back to its sources. On this there is no controversy. This is agreed to by all parts of our public. The argument is over how to relate to attempts on the part of government to continue in the forsaken deed of uprooting more settlements in Judea and in Samaria. On this there is a controversy between the rabbis and within our public.
Our opinion is that we need to express the pain in the staunchest way possible, to express our difficulty in accepting a decree which goes against the Torah and undermines the commandment to settlement the land of Israel, which is considered equal to the entire Torah. In addition, all of the commandments are contingent upon the land of Israel, because the purpose of all of the commandments is that they be fulfilled by the nation of Israel in the land of Israel.
Therefore, we must express our pain and our resistance to such a course in the strongest way that we can, that is, to hold our ground, to oppose passively, not to allow ourselves to be uprooted from these settlements. This behavior is first and foremost directed toward Heaven. Besides this, though, it has an educational message.
We have no intention of creating a war or defeating the army. The army is clearly stronger than us, and we do not have the resources that the army has. We express ourselves on a spiritual and educational level, and we have to do this. This behavior is a natural reaction, and it is necessary in light of all of the devotion and self-sacrifice displayed by residents during all the years of their settlement.
The obligation of self-sacrifice is defined in Jewish law. Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook taught us many times that the commandment of self-sacrifice is not only fulfilled when non-Jews come to force us to transgress the commandments, but even when Jews do this. He expressed things to this effect several times in various declarations and we published these leaflets in "Eretz HaTzvi."
It was first Rabbi A.I. Kook who wrote such things in his letters concerning "Shmittah" (the Sabbatical Year). He declared that where such matters take the form of coercion, even by Jews, there is a precept of self-sacrifice. That is, one must sacrifice himself and refrain from violating the Torah. Expressing self-sacrifice means clinging to the settlements with thousands and tens of thousands of people who express the pain, the difficulty, and the unwillingness to accept this decree which goes against the Torah.
It is possible that vehement and strong expression like this will also lead to second thoughts on the part of government leaders. They might began to ask themselves if it is right to create such a rift in the nation. They might come to understand just how severe this act is from our viewpoint. They might began to reconsider the gains in light of the losses which come with such a rift.
The struggle in itself does not create the rift. This rift exists – it is an ideological spiritual rift. We have different world views. One part of the nation is faithful to the Torah and to the commandments and to the holiness of the land of Israel, and another part of the public has become estranged and does not understand these values, opting for a different path. This struggle is an expression of the severity of the existing rift. Our means of expression do not create the rift but merely reveal and shed light upon it, and, generally speaking, the uncovering of a disease is the beginning of its cure.
To what degree can our expressing this pain truly and actually change the opinion of the government, or, if at all, the position of most of the nation?
Firstly, there is a chance that it will. We have no intention of vigorous confrontation. We do not wish to show the government that we are strong. We want the government to see how close this matter is to our hearts. This is the purpose of our adamancy and our opposition to the decision of the government, a decision which negates the Torah.
We do not intend to defeat them with greater physical power, but rather to express our spiritual attachment to the land of Israel. Through this spiritual force we want to influence the government. We do not intend to strike soldiers or special force police and to thus educate them. That is no way to educate. Our intention is to express our attachment to the land of Israel and the terrible pain we feel at the thought of uprooting Jews from settlements in the land of Israel. Force is not a goal for us. This will not help and it is not correct. Those who accuse us of this are merely misleading. This is not our intention.
There is a chance that our struggle will also effect the scale of the expulsion, and perhaps even stop the process entirely. But even if this is not the case, in our actions there is a profound educational message which we must express according to the Torah. These are the laws of self-sacrifice. "Every commandment for which Israel sacrificed itself continued to be held by them."
The Children of Israel, before entering the land of Israel, became guilty through the sin of the spies, and this led to the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Presently, we are obligated to rectify this sin. The rectification is carried out through expressing our connection and attachment to the land, our resolution and willingness to receive blows and to pay the price for this land. This devotion will add strength to our hold on the land. Therefore, one way or the another, this is what we must do, even if we will not succeed in actually preventing the decrees of the government at this time.
Does it not work to our disadvantage that the settlers appear immoral?
We have no desire or intention to strike policemen or soldiers. We only wish to cling to the areas we have settled, in our homeland. Clinging to one's own home in one's own homeland and refusing to abandon it cannot be interpreted as immoral behavior. Though it is represented in this way by the media, this is no reason not to give expression to these feelings.
When all is said and done, this matter will permeate the hearts and influence others more than if we simply go about our business and evacuate willingly and without a struggle. If we go without a struggle, it will appear as if the land is not dear to us.
There is additional severe damage: All over the world, people can see the great rift in the nation of Israel on television. Is not this a desecration of God's name?
The government is guilty of this desecration. Our resistance rectifies this, for we are sanctifying God, and the entire world sees that the land of Israel is dear to us, even if, for now, only part of the nation is faithful to these ideals and this belief. Any time there is a sanctification of God's name there is a desecration of God's name beside it. Those who come in force desecrate the name of God, and those that sacrifice themselves sanctify God's name.
We could say the same thing about when Rabbi Akiva was imprisoned, that this could have caused a tremendous spiritual crisis in the nation of Israel. If Rabbi Akiva is executed, everybody will ask, "Where was the Almighty? Why did He not protect him?" But, in truth, this is a superficial way of viewing things. After a deeper understanding is reached, in the long run, what remains is the sanctification of God's name by Rabbi Akiva who sacrificed himself for the Torah. This act implanted in Israel an attachment to the Torah on a new and more profound level than existed previously.
The same is true of our actions. "The sanctification of God's name is greater than the desecration of God's name." Sanctification of God's name, devotion and self-sacrifice for a commandment, is greater than the desecration of God's name that is created as a result of the actions of the government. This is what saves us from the terrible desecration of God's name which would exist if the matter took place without any resistance.
The big question – What can we possibly do?
I have already said that we are always advancing and becoming stronger, increasing and ascending. The yeshivas are growing in number and in quality and the public is becoming stronger. We need to continue on this path, to rise up and spread Torah to the masses. We must continue in our way.
I hear criticism to the effect that we have sacrificed ourselves more for the settlement of the land than for education, but such talk has no basis. We never abandoned education. All of the settlements established educational institutions which have had an enormous impact on the public. It is true that we have not succeed in influencing the entire public, but this is because we are still small.
In any event, the movement is becoming stronger and stronger. To the contrary, the fact that there is today such great resistance to us and attempts to undermine us teaches that we have become stronger and mightier. We "frighten," the secular public who fear that we might become strong enough to become a majority. They therefore try to obstruct. We, of course, will not stop, in spite of all the trials, and, with God's help, we shall advance and increase and succeed to attract the entire nation.
Some people want to attach a black ribbon to the flag of Israel this Independence Day, as R' Yisraeli did after the Oslo Accords.
I do not like to be sad; I like to be happy. I see all difficulty as a challenge to greater progress. I understand these feelings, and it is true that a great rabbi did this in the time of the Oslo accords. I, however, have no such leaning to express sorrow on this day. I prefer the opposite, to emphasize the happiness and to express thanks for all the good that the Almighty has bestowed upon us.
We have enough sorrow, maybe too much. We need to see the good, the positive, the advantages, to consider all difficulty a challenge that will eventually bring only good. No doubt even the crisis of the expulsion from Gush Katif will increase our strength and tighten our grip upon the land of Israel. We do not see this at the moment, but there is no doubt that good will come from this. I like the approach of Rabbi Akiva who saw the destruction carried out by the Romans and laughed. Even when it came to the destruction of Jerusalem, he knew that the redemption would result from this.
How is it that there are such big differences between the opinions of the students of the Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook?
Firstly, this question is inaccurate. There are no such big gaps. There is a great deal in common. The goals are agreed upon. All of us see this period as a redemptive period. All of us see the establishment of the state as a very central phase in the course of the redemption, a Divine course in which the Almighty has given us this land and freed us from the burden of exile.
The establishment of the state of Israel constitutes a basis for all of the progress that has followed: the ingathering of exiles, the restoration of the land, and the return of the Torah to the land of Israel. Regarding this viewpoint, all of us agree. All of us also agree about aspirations. We strive for the entirety of the Torah, the integrity of the land, and the wholeness of the nation. We see our role as partners with the Almighty in the course of the redemption, in the building of the land, in the ingathering of exiles, and in bringing the nation of Israel closer to the Almighty.
Differences of opinions are actually part of the way in which we arrive at our goal. All of us agree that the main task is the task of education. Not through force will we bring Israel closer to the Almighty. It is impossible to do this forcibly, and this is also wrong. We need to reach a level at which everybody will love and want to do the desire of God. Therefore, the only way to achieve this is through education and meaningful explanation, by raising up great Torah scholars who will illuminate all of Israel with the Torah.
All the same, after the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif and under the threat of continued expulsion (Heaven forbid) in Judea and Samaria, there are different opinions between us as to how to direct the struggle in this matter. Some say that the struggle needs to focus more on conversation and persuasion, not on outright action and clinging to every settlement.
Yet, we believe that we are obligated to struggle in practice as well. Such was the guidance of our mentor, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook, who said several times that a person must sacrifice himself for the land of Israel. We understand that his intention was that we need to express with all possible force our opposition to relinquishing portions of the land of Israel. Not by hurting policemen and soldiers or by waging an actual war (though Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah used the expression "war"), but by holding our ground, being insistent, and gathering in great numbers.
We must demonstrate wholeheartedly, through real actions, our attachment to all parts of the land of Israel and our resistance to the expulsion of Jews. We must believe that these actions of ours will permeate the hearts of the leaders causing them to understand how severe and terrible of these deeds, deeds which harm a part of the public so faithful to the state and to the land. We do not mean to educate through blows and curses. This is neither our style nor our way. As I have said, our resistance contains an educational message of bond and love toward the land of Israel.
There is an additional point of disagreement: The question of refusing to carry out orders. There are some who hold that this will lead to the disbandment of the army. We, however, consider this a ridiculous assertion, because refusing orders will in fact strengthen the army. It will cause soldiers to serve with a recognition of the value of the army and not as mere followers of orders who have no opinion of their own. Army service involves identifying with the army's goals, not blind discipline. There are also differences of opinion over the proper way to educate, about how active the education of commandments should be.
At any rate, we have much in common, and it would be best not to stress all the time those things which divide us. The common should be stressed. It is best that we all work us as a team, and, to some degree, this is the case. At "Bnei Tzvi" (Yeshiva High School) there are students whose parents are in disagreement with us on the way to struggle for the land of Israel. We are partners regarding educational work, bringing the estranged near, immigration to Israel, the oneness of the nation of Israel, and in recognizing the uniqueness of the people of Israel. In all this we have to work together. In the things which separate us each group can work on its own, and "Through both of us the All-High is praised" (Sotah 40a).