|Updated September 10, 2001|
In view of the recent developments with regard to the future of Eretz Yisrael, we felt it appropriate to publish an adaptation of two of the public statements which the Lubavitcher Rebbe made on the subject in 5752 (1992) before suffering the stroke from which he is presently recovering.
The objections of the Rebbe to territorial concessions are widely known. These objections are based on considerations of security, since they entail the risk of mortal danger, and on the fact that succumbing to pressure invites further pressure. Moreover, the Creator gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people as an eternal heritage. No man thus has the moral right to decide to give away any portion of it.
One of the these statements was made at a meeting (actual text of meeting) with the then Minister of Transport, Mr. Moshe Katzav.* At that time, the Rebbe outlined his stance on the autonomy issue and clearly spelled out the danger implicit in the course the Israeli government was taking.
The same concepts apply, and even more emphatically so, with regard to the most recent developments in Eretz Yisrael. We have, for this reason, left the personal references the Rebbe made to the then Prime Minister, Mr. Shamir, for they are in part revelant to the present Prime Minister Mr. Rabin.
As a new year dawns, "the year of striking miracles," we wish everyone a chasimah ugmar chasimah tovah, that they and all the Jewish people be granted a good and sweet year, a year of lasting peace.
The Reality behind the Language of Diplomacy
When Abraham first entered the Land of Canaan, G-d promised him, "I will give this land to your descendants." At that time the Land of Israel became the eternal heritage of the Jewish people, their land for all time. Even during the years of our peoples exile, Eretz Yisrael remains our land, as reflected in the prayer we recite three times each day: "Gather us together from the four corners of the earth to our land."
In this light, I find both strange and threatening the report that the present government of Israel is prepared to surrender portions of the land to other nations. Although they call this autonomy, the diplomatic terminology used is of no consequence. In practice, they are laying the foundation for the establishment of a Palestinian state within Eretz Yisrael, forcing the withdrawal of a Jewish presence from large portions of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and eventually ceding even the holy cities of Hebron and Jerusalem to the Arabs. This is a matter of urgent concern: lives are at stake.
The individuals responsible for these decisions will surely offer explanations and excuses that what is involved is "limited self-determination," merely control over education, agriculture, and matters of that like; that this is "only an experiment" and "the final decision will not be made until five years have past"; and so on.
Unfortunately, their explanations are of little significance. The nations of the world understand this plan as allowing for the creation of a Palestinian state. Ask any Arab. He will tell you that self-determination means that the Palestinians will be given authority over these portions of Eretz Yisrael so that they can create an independent state.
Many argue that it is necessary to continue negotiating on the issue of autonomy in order to receive loan guarantees from the United States. This is a dangerous and mistaken approach. The Jews in Israel must be the ones who make the decisions that determine their own security. They cannot rely on anyone other than with G-ds help themselves. Succumbing to pressure from other nations will establish a pattern which will gain momentum. For each time one succumbs to pressure, one invites further pressure in the future. Experience has proved that appeasement breeds terrorism. In fact, even the suggestion of such talks has consistently encouraged acts of terrorism against Jewish men, women and children throughout the entire land.
Concessions Jeopardize Security
The willingness to discuss giving away portions of Eretz Yisrael reflects a lack of faith in G-d. Even in previous generations, in times of persecution and oppression, when outwardly our peoples fate appeared to depend on the decisions of gentile powers, the Jews knew that G-d was the source of their deliverance.
This approach does not imply that we should rely on faith alone. On the contrary, the Torah obligates us to employ all the natural means at our disposal and not to rely on miracles . Nevertheless, the natural means which we employ cannot alone promise success, for success depends on G-d. Needless to say, an approach which reflects a lack of faith in G-d will not have positive consequences.
The Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law , rules that if enemies approach a city of strategic importance and demand items that are seemingly insignificant, and it appears that their intention is to attack or plunder, one is obligated to take up arms and resist their demands, even when doing so entails a violation of the Sabbath laws. The rationale: Concession will expose the entire land to danger and threaten the safety of its inhabitants.
There is no question that the surrender of the lands in question to the Arabs involves a threat to Jewish lives. This would unquestionably jeopardize the life and limb of all the inhabitants of the Holy Land. For this reason, the opposition to the above-mentioned plan is not restricted to the religiously observant. The safety of Jewish life and the holiness of the Land of Israel lie at the core of every Jews sou . When a person and how much more so, a Jewish government acts irresponsibly regarding these matters, this leads to a critically dangerous situation.
Shamir: A Test of Faith and Fortitude
Prime Minister Shamir has faith in G-d and understands the attachment of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel. His unflinching conduct in the past has earned him great merit. It is hard to conceive that he truly desires to surrender portions of Israel.
I helped establish the government headed by Prime Minister Shamir. If, however, Mr. Shamir continues the negotiations concerning autonomy, I will work to bring down his government.
Our Sages associate the name shamir with the strength to cut through stone . Until recently, Prime Minister Shamir has demonstrated such strength. Similarly, he must now show the fortitude to withstand the pressures that confront him and withdraw the offer of autonomy. And if he lacks this strength, he should admit this publicly and relinquish his position.
Three Sanctities: the People, the Land, and the Torah
When the holiness of the Jewish people and the holiness of Eretz Yisrael are associated with the holiness of our Torah, they establish a firm connection with G-d, as it is written, "the threefold cord will not easily be severed ." This in turn will endow the Jewish people with the strength to stand firm in the face of all challenges. When Prime Minister Shamir brings holiness into the Land of Israel, he will be granted the strength to withstand all the pressure confronting him.
He will have the power to communicate to the nations of the world that G-d has given us Eretz Yisrael and that He alone determines the security and well-being of our people. And when this message is communicated to the nations straightforwardly, without apology, they will listen.
"A Year of Wonders in All Things"
The above is particularly relevant in the present Jewish year, 5752 (1992), for the letters of its Hebrew equivalent serve as an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning, "This will be a year of wonders in all things." The previous year (5751  ) was described as "a year when I will show you wonders, " and indeed, we saw wonders manifest throughout the world . This year we are promised and have already begun to witness that the wonders will be greater and more encompassing, bringing success and prosperity for Jews in all places and particularly in Eretz Yisrael.
May these wonders also include the ultimate wonder the coming of the Redemption, and may this take place in the immediate future.
* Since this was a one-to-one meeting, our adaptation of the Rebbes statement has been kept in the first person.
1. Genesis 12:7.
2. Daily liturgy.
3. Pesachim 64b.
4. Orach Chayim 329:6.
5. The primacy of Eretz Yisrael in the destiny of the Jewish people is reflected in the fact that Rashi [Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 C.E.), the foremost commentator on the Torah] begins his commentary as follows:
Why did the Torah open by telling us that "In the beginning [G-d created the heaven and the earth]?" So that... if the nations of the world tell the Jews, "You are robbers, for you have taken forceful possession of the lands of the... nations," the [Jews] will reply: "The entire world belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He. He created it, and He apportioned it to whomever He saw fit. According to His will, He gave [the land] to them, and according to His will, He took it from them and gave it to us."
This implies that the first concept a person must learn when he approaches the study of the Torah is that Eretz Yisrael belongs to the Jewish people; their claim to the land does not depend on the shifting socio-economic forces in the world at large, but rather on G-ds promise.
6. See Sotah 48b, which explains that King Solomon was confronted with a difficulty when building the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It was forbidden to hew the stones used for its construction with iron (see I Kings 6:7), and yet they had to be cut precisely. He resolved this difficulty by making use of a small creature called the shamir, which had the miraculous power to cut through stone.
7. Ecclesiastes 4:12.
8. See the booklet entitled "I Will Show You Wonders" (Sichos In English, N.Y., 1991), which draws attention to the wonders which G-d wrought throughout the past year, and in particular, to those which transpired during the Gulf War. Significantly, the present time of year commemorates the anniversary of those wonders.
9. See the essay entitled "The Message of the Year 5752" (Sichos in English, N.Y., 1991).
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