A Thousand Words


They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is a picture of the Yishuv in Mandatory Palestine as it existed on 18 Kislev 5708. On 17 Kislev, the UN had voted to end the British Mandate. At this time, the population of the Yishuv numbered some 650,000, a mere 30% of the total population. Next time someone you know claims that Medinat Yehudah is a pipe dream, show them this picture.

The Yishuv at the Beginning of the War of Independence

The Yishuv at the Beginning of the War of Independence

The Moslems were strong and we were weak. The Moslems were many and we were few. The Moslems sought to exterminate us all. But the Holy One Blessed Be He delivered them into our hands. Who is such an apostate as to claim that He cannot do it again?

If the will exists, Medinat Yehudah can be born de facto within a decade. If the will exists, Medinat Yehudah can be independent de jure within three decades. So, dear reader, ask yourself, do you WANT Medinat Yehudah?

12 Sivan 5769


8 Responses to “A Thousand Words”

  1. Greg Cheslow Says:

    I hope you don’t mind another theological query.

    I read the following in the comments section of “What Zionism Wrought”:

    “And this brings me to Torah as sole motivator. By ditching both humanism and Zionism in favor of simple Judaism, all the problems are avoided. There is no argument possible. There are no holes. There is no doubt. There is no question of self-definition.”

    If only there were a “simple Judaism.” The vigorous, lengthy, and multifaceted debates of the Talmud attest to the fact that Judaism is anything but simple.

    In the case of asserting Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land today, the issue is exceptionally contentious. As you are well aware, there is a fair number of perfectly pious Jews who consider Medinat Yisrael an abomination not just because it is a secular state founded by heretics (your chief grievance), but also because it was established pre-moshiach (a condition that holds in your projected establishment of Medinat Yehudah, and therefore one that we can expect to inspire antagonism from Satmar, etc).

    You obviously see no issue in asserting Jewish sovereignty today, but I would like to know how you approach the issue.

    Have you read Vayoel Moshe?

    Also, on a slightly more tactical level, I was wondering if you could reply to this comment I made a while back while discussing my plan with another reader:

    “The conversion process must be allowed to fluctuate according to circumstances. The sages note that when times are tough for the Jews, conversion should be easier. When times are easy, conversion should be harder. The rationale, of course, is that he who converts during troubling times obviously has no ulterior motive.

    My hope is that when the struggle for Judea begins, the conversion process for anyone interested will consist of a few quick lessons, a declaration, and then grabbing a rifle and getting in formation.”

    First of all, do you agree with me?

    Second of all, how do you think this will affect the already severely fragmented international “Jewish community”? As it is, the orthodox don’t recognize conservative conversions, etc. So, what do you think the situation will be after the struggle for Medinat Yehudah if you have a bunch of citizens of the nascent state who are not recognized as Jews by what we can assume to be a hefty number of Jewish courts? Satmar would certainly not recognize a “quickie conversion” like the one I describe in my comment, and certainly not in the framework of establishing a state that they consider to be an abomination.

  2. not FOOLISH! Says:

    Seems that Greg Cheslow confuses ANTI-Torah GALUTH hashkafa with real Jewish hashkafa. Anyone who studies with an open mind can see quite clearly that those “so so so pious” Jews who make these ridiculous claims about Jewish sovereignty being an “evil” thing (chas veshalom) really aren’t so pious and fail to understand the Torah, the entire thrust of Tanach and all Jewish law as codified in Talmud and early midrash halacha, as summarized by major rishonim. (yes, despite arguments and complicated discussions of all issues, major points are AGREED TO even by all sages in many foundational principles, and most major ideas are laid out in the halachic sources prior to any galut mania took over and people tried to rewrite Jewish history and rewrite Jewish law).

    If you agree with ridiculous magical assumptions and galut-invented conceptions of Judaism, you might agree with Vayoel Moshe. But no one is forced to do so. No one must accept his assumptions as foundational or even correct. And most rational people do not. Otherwise haredim would all become Satmar chassidim. The fact that a tzaddik said something does not make it true.

    All those who claim that there should be no Jewish state and no Temple until AFTER moschiach comes – all of these galut-obsessed and galut-blinded individuals have the audacity to blatantly contradict EXPLICIT statements in the Talmud Yerushalmi, where it says that the redemption will occur in stages, and that the Temple will be built by humans in Jerusalem before moschiach. Those men of reason like the great Rambam ZT”L and others in the past, as well as other holy men who live today and use their powers of intellect as granted to them by the Creator, will reject the galut approach and embrace true Jewish hashkafa.

  3. Greg Cheslow Says:

    Point of information:

    My highlighting an adversarial opinion does not mean that I subscribe to that opinion.

  4. Vienna Mike Says:

    Greg, my chief grievance with the State of Israel is not that it is a secular state founded by secular people but that it has become an obstacle to asserting Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael. The assertion of sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael is a mizvah binding upon the Jewish People as a whole in every generation. Moreover, every generation that does not strive to rebuild the Temple is as if it has itself destroyed the Temple. Both of these are rulings by the Rambam. I did not make them up.

    And this brings me to your misconception regarding simple Judaism. Simple Judaism exists. We have 13 simple principles. We have a clear code of conduct in war and in peace. We have the Rambam. We have Kahane. We have plain common sense. The fact that there are also ivory tower academics debating the numbers of angels dancing on heads of pins in the rarefied atmosphere of the study hall is irrelevant, as are the ivory tower types themselves. Nothing the Satmar, the Chazon Ish, the Chofetz Chaim, the Lubavicher or any other ivory tower type, however saintly, have to say on the subject of Eretz Yisrael or on any other subject is in any way binding. Every one of these people sat and talked in the study hall instead of supporting himself and his family with the labor of his hands. Some of them even sinfully sent their wives out to labor to support them so they could, chas ve sholom, “study” the Torah “full time”! A greater chillul Hashem could hardly be imagined! Thus everything they say is automatically irrelevant, for we know that Torah study unaccompanied by labor leads to sin (Pirkei Avot). In the case of Vayoel Moshe, this is especially obvious. The Satmar’s horror at the crimes of the Zionists coupled with his utter inability to comprehend or function in the real world lead him into the sin of rejecting the clear mizvah of conquering and redeeming the Land. The statements and “rulings” of these ivory tower types are of academic interest as they are often quite learned, but since they are full of sin, we should treat them with extreme caution. In general the policy of Vienna Mike is to reject the authority of any person who did not support himself with full time labor and who did not receive a thorough secular education in addition to a Torah education.

    This is also true of all polemics, decisions and “rulings” made by products of sinful yeshivot. We know, again from Pirke Avot, that all true institutions of Torah study must devote at least as much time to secular science and history as to Torah study, for only then is Torah study “accompanied” by labor and we know that the labor of youth is the study of a practical occupation. Since it is forbidden to derive a livelihood from Torah, Torah study by definition is not “labor”. Thus only a yeshivah that spends 50% of its time on secular studies or on military service or on physical work is a valid vehicle for Torah education. The so-called “full time” yeshivah is a vehicle that leads the students to sin. Its products are imbued with sin and are not to be trusted. More Torah is to be found in a whorehouse. In fact, the students would be better off visiting a whorehouse than the study hall of such a yeshiva, for when they leave the whorehouse they will not put on the airs of holy Torah scholars to which they are completely unentitled. So also with a kollel that does not require its students to spend at least 50% of their time on earning a livelihood via a real-world occupation.

    Now that you understand this, you can understand why Vienna Mike emphasizes the Rambam. The Rambam as a youth spent at least as much time studying secular subjects as Torah. As an adult, he earned a living working full time as a doctor and later combined this occupation also with the tasks of running the Jewish community of Egypt. Unlike the Satmar and his ilk, the Rambam was firmly grounded in the real world. The same applies to the sages of the Gemarrah, every one of whom had a full time real world job.

    The foremost task facing a Jewish State would be to cleanse modern Judaism of accumulations of ivory tower irrelevancies by restoring the proper balance between Torah study and labor to Jewish education.

    As for your idea that we should somehow “simplify” conversion, chas ve sholom! Service in a Jewish army does not automatically make a man a Jew. Gentile volunteers can and should serve as gentiles. There is nothing wrong with a gentile who follows the seven mizvot of Bnei Noach, nor is such a person in any way inferior to a Jew. True there are halachot that make it difficult for them to advance in a military career, but these are readily satisfied by placing the gentiles into auxilia on the Roman model. Following service, these persons can be rewarded with the top category of permanent residency, granting them fully equal rights and access to all social services and privileges of full citizenship save government employment and the franchise. If they wish to study for conversion before, during and after their service, kol ha kavod to them. It is absolutely forbidden to mistreat them or attack them for it, though they should be honestly told of the difficulties involved before they start and be given ample opportunity to quit if they find the prospect of becoming a Jew to be too daunting. After a proper conversion, Vienna Mike would be the first to welcome them as fellow Jews.

    Conversion to Judaism is an arduous process requiring proper study and commitment. It should stay this way. The last thing we need are insincere converts who later decide to “back out” or refuse to follow the mizvot. Then other Jews would see their example and also be led to sin. Such persons effectively forfeit the World To Come, while had they remained righteous gentiles they would have been saved. Thus your “quickie” conversion would actually damn large numbers of souls who would otherwise have been saved, saddling the person performing such conversions with ultimate responsibility and, Heaven forfend, forfeiting the World to Come for them as well!

    This having been said, there is certainly a need for a clear, uniform standard regarding study for conversion and the conversion procedure involved. Halacha leaves much room to be lenient or stringent, but in a proper Jewish State such decisions should not be left to the whims of individual rabbis. It is the view of Vienna Mike that it should be the policy of the State to take the most lenient possible halachic view in virtually all halachic cases, and most especially in the case of conversion.

  5. Greg Cheslow Says:

    Your simple Judaism appears to be Rambam Judaism (a fine choice, indeed, but not the sole interlocutor in the multi-panel conversation of Judaism). Judaism is a matrix, a landscape with peaks, of which the Rambam is one grand height.

    It seems to me that the analogy we have here is Rambam:Yehudah::John Locke:United States. But it’s not as if Yehudah is the natural and obvious expression of a “simple Judaism.”

    Maybe Vienna Mike:Yehudah::Thomas Jefferson:United States?

    What about other prominent sages who voiced opinions contrary to the Rambam’s? Is there really so much consensus as to make Judaism simple (beyond the issues of whether or not it is permissible to eat swine)?

    By the way, I know the Ramban encouraged living in the land of Israel, but I didn’t know the Rambam advocated conquering the land, as well. Didn’t Maimonides urge the persecuted Yemenite Jews in his famous Epistle to not ascend to the land of Israel? Didn’t he cite the Three Oaths?

    I agree wholeheartedly with your stance on cleansing modern Judaism and look forward to the day.

  6. Vienna Mike Says:

    I am afraid I don’t have the reference right at my fingertips, but I believe that the mizvah to possess the Land is to be found in the Sefer HaMitzvot. The caveat, as I remember it, is that we are to possess the Land IF WE ARE ABLE. Obviously in the time of the Rambam, we were not able.

    But at any rate, you misunderstand what I am saying. The details can be argued about ad nauseaum, but the basic principles of our faith are agreed upon. There is no “Rambam Judaism”, there is only Judaism. We can make it complicated if we wish, but we can also make it simple. Chassidism was one of the movements that aimed to make things simple. Today we have the modernizing efforts of the likes of Machsom Shilo. When we sat in yeshivot and argued abstractions, complexity was good. Today, when we need to rule a real country and fight real battles, complexity is bad.

    P.S. Not everything the Rambam says is holy writ. After all, he wrote almost a thousand years ago. We have progressed tremendously since in all areas of human knowledge, not least being political science. Thus, for example, the Rambam could imagine no form of government other than Monarchy or Oriental Despotism. Today we know of the principles of representative republic and we can examine Torah government in light of these principles, coming up with very valuable insights, especially when we contemplate the government of the Jewish People in the time of the Shoftim.

  7. Vienna Mike Says:

    Oh and Greg, please do not compare me with Jefferson. I am not even worthy to be compared to Thomas Paine, let alone Jefferson. I stand upon the shoulders of giants and try, in my small way, to help lift the burden that crushed them. I do so solely due to the injunction of Pirke Avot: “Where there are no men…”. Yet I can do more, but, to my great shame, I am not strong enough to do all that I can. Vienna Mike deserves no adulation.

  8. Greg Cheslow Says:

    The burden that crushed them?

    As for you not doing all that you can, not to worry. I’m aware of at least one person who will soon commence the process of committing these writings to hard copy and distributing them anonymously as pamphlets.

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