Monday, April 07, 2014

Rabbi Landes and Ghosts Past

Just as an aside, I was present at Rabbi Daniel Landes' talk on the Temple Mount at Limmud UK in late December.  He didn't mention this following aspect of which he now writes in Haaretz today although he made then two errors I caught.

Now, to the op-ed.  Here are a few excerpts from his current article which demands of us that

We must not allow the messianisms of the religious right cloud the call from our greatest religious authorities to return the territories, for the sake of saving life.

and I will make a few comments afterwards on that but, to continue with a few more excerpts:-

...the hardest act is to shake off the messianisms that envelop[s the religious right] society - ranging from overt and imminent “end-time” scenarios, to the hazy metaphor of the “beginning of the dawn of our salvation” the actual psyche of the religious Zionist, the persistently suppressed horror of that past repeating itself propels us further - into a delusional messianism that needs to be coupled to a secular rightwing ideology promising salvation by standing ‘strong’ and ‘proud’, that is confirmed by our increasing isolation.

This messianisms [sic] must be confronted...

The greatest Talmudic theologian of modernity was my master, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik...Already back in 1967...was clear that while sanctity of place such as the Temple Mount have great meaning in Jewish law, they are nothing compared to the safety of the Jewish people...

...Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s public position must therefore return the territories out of concern for the danger of war...[out of] concern for pikuach nefesh...

...Ariel Sharon...discovered that despite his high evaluation and ready use of Jewish power, Israel cannot survive controlling the Palestinians...Israel needed to separate from the Palestinians and consequently much of the land they occupy, for what we halakhically call pikuach nefesh.

These old guys, call out to us from their graves – “Wait for the true Messiah, but in the meantime - get out while you can, or you will inevitably join us here.”

Landes is Director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, where he teaches the Senior Kollel Talmud class and Theology but his views are his own.  I wonder what are the views of his students after they learn from him things like this.

This outlook, of a fear of messianism, has been very central to the less-than-nationalist Religious Zionism camp since R' Binyamin, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Ernst A. Simon and Judah Leib Magnes. It has been visionary but completely out of touch with the reality of Arab hostility.

But I will not enter into an ideological, ethical or/and philosophical debate.  I'll keep to the facts.

As far as I personally know, Rabbi Soloveitchik first announced his views on the future of land and peace in 1968 in response to the Betar position that we would demonstrate against Lord Caradon's appearance at YU (he was the UK Ambassador to the UN and tried to get Israel to  retreat, with a past as a Mandate District Officer in the 1930s).  

By the way, if one is to base himself on Rav Soloveitchik, earlier on, the Rav considered Arabs to be Amalek as I have previously noted:
The Mossad HaRav Kook editon of Ish HaEmunah includes Kol Dodi Dofek and on page 101, RJB writes [my translation YM]: “the evil machinations of the Arabs are not directed only towards the political independence [of the state of Israel] but to the very existential essence of the Jewish community in toto. They aspire to destroy, *chalilah*, the *Yishuv*, from man to woman, from child to infant, from bull to sheep. At one of the assemblies of the Mizrachi, I said in the name of my father, my teacher z”l, that the portion in the Torah “Hashem wages war against Amalek from generation to generation” is not limited in its community application as a *milchemet mitzva* to a certain race, but is inclusive regarding the obligation of rising up against any nation or group that is infused with irrational [crazed?] hatred, and directs its hate against *Knesset Yisrael* …In the 1930s and 1940s, this role was filled by the Nazis and Hitler at their head. They were Amaleks, representatives of the pathological animosity of the last period. Today, the masses of Nasser and the Mufti are substituting for them.”

I wonder what Rabbi Landes would make of that.

As for Rav Yosef, he refused to go along with Ariel Sharon's disengagement. Shaul Mofaz, another CIC of the IDF, couldn't convince him either.  In other words, not every withdrawal can be approved of in a blanket "pikuach nefesh" definition (and someone has no informed me that he would not agree to handing over territory to a terror group).

And, sadly, as for Ariel Sharon, he was very wrong and even one of his sons tried to alter the decision but bowed to his father's authority as a parent.  The rockets and missiles, the two major military operations, his weakness in yielding to Condi Rice over the Philadelphi Corridor and more all indicate a major collapse on Sharon's part, and the failure of the policy.

Landes is misrepresenting the facts and reality of history and the results of the polciy he would have us follow and thus, misleads us all.

I leave him to talk to the ghosts from the graves as he seems to be caught up with a peculiar version of messianism.



Anonymous said...

his is pretty sad stuff.

what about the far more likely scenario that ceding territory to a sovereign palestinian entity will cause more deaths?

and as for messianic movements, they’re front and center of palestinian/arab/muslim culture these days. once again, four dimensional israelis, two dimensional palestinians…

Anonymous said...

explains why Pardes grads are often the sources of problems on campuses in the US

Anonymous said...

I like the bit where he quotes approvingly Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik’s opinion (correct in my view) that “we rabbis should not be involved in decisions regarding the safety and security of the population” before giving his readers his own blitheringly stupid opinion on what security decisions he thinks Israel should take in order to safeguard the population.

Does he not think of himself as a rabbi?

Or does he think that his wisdom is so great that he is above the limitations imposed on the rest of the rabbinical riffraff?

Or is he just utterly incapable of self-reflection and logical thought?

My money is on the last.