Wednesday, April 26, 2023

R' Soloveitchik on Yom HaAtzmaut, 1968

Here is audio of  Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, one of the most prominent rabbinical figures of the twentieth century, discussing the theological significance of Israel, in a 1968 lecture.  Text is below.


I always enjoy  when I read in the general press - I don't know why I enjoy it, perhaps its vanity on my part,  but I believe it is more than vanity - when I read in the general press  that no statements were issued by the Israeli government in Yerushalayim  because it is the Sabbath today and all offices are closed. 

I enjoyed very much when I read in the (Boston) Globe yesterday  that actually the proclamation of the State of Israel was on the 14th of May  but since the State of Israel observes the Hebrew calendar, it was the fifth of Iyar,  and since the fifth of Iyar coincided this year with Friday  they were afraid that the Shabbos not be desecrated by the celebrations, [so] they advanced it to Thursday.  Particularly when the Christian Science Monitor [wrote it]. 

This means kiddush Hashem.  

Alright, I am not completely in agreement at all times with the government of Israel,  there are many policies which are wrong and fallacious.  However, we have to have a look. Those are small details, peripheral matters.  The main idea is correct  and there is no doubt that hashgacha (Providence) is planning something  it is far from geulah (redemption) yet, but hashgacha is planning something  something in hashgacha holds something in store for us  I don't know. We are still groping in the dark  I don't know what will...  to me the chapter has not been closed yet  It is as if we are in the middle of the writing of a chapter  The hashgacha is in the middle of writing a chapter...  What the continuation will follow, what the continuation will be I don't know;  no one knows.  I have faith in God that it will lead to geulah sheleimah (the complete redemption).

 Whatever happens and transpires is magnificent, and has tremendous significance  to the Jewish community as such and to individuals as well.  Not only the community as such, but every Jewish individual.  After all, Jewish nevuah (prophecy) has been realized - certain prophecies have been realized, I wouldn't say in full [but]  certain prophecies have found their fulfillment and realization.Not every generation in the last 2000 years  could take pride in the fact that ...this time a prophecy by Isaiah was realized.  Our generation has been fortunate that somehow the hashgacha found it necessary  to implement certain prophecies,  and we have been waiting for it thousands of years.

You will ask why our generation?  Why not the generation of the Vilna Gaon?  This question has been raised. This question has been raised by the Satmarer.  If, actually, the establishment of the State of Israel is so important,  you say it is actually a result of the will of God,  not, as they call it, the will of the Satan, (we have Satanists somehow in the house, Satan as an autonomous power which rules the world.)  He actuality has a duality, the man has a certain duality of darkness and light. It’s a very strange, strange distorted philosophy he advocates  Never mind his argument with Zionism, I'm not interested in that  The question should be answered - the question should never be thrown into a waste basket.  If you don't know how to answer a question, say that you don't know. 

Don't try to ignore a question; this is one of our shortcomings, particularly of Orthodoxy  We ignore questions. The question which is unpleasant, we ignore. We don't care.  We don't hear the question.  A question addressed should either be answered or one should admit that it is insolvable  There are many equations in mathematics which are insolvable  but still mathematics retains its dignity  If mathematics should try to ignore an equation which is insolvable (....) 

The same thing with Orthodoxy; ask a question of a Rosh Yeshiva, the question has got to be answered.  "No, ah..." this is no answer.  Either answer the question, resolve the problem or admit your inability, that you are not competent to answer certain problems 

The problem is a big problem: This great miracle not happen in the 12th century when Maimonides was alive  Is it because our generation is worthier?  More worthy than the generation of Maimonides,  or the generation of the Vilna Gaon, or the generation of the Baal Shem Tov?  Why did this happen now? 

Because Maimonides could get along without Eretz Yisrael  and as a matter of fact we did get along without Eretz Yisrael!  We got along very well without Eretz Yisrael.  Chazal says מדברך נאוה (Shir Hashirim.)   We interpret מדברך נאוה [to mean] "Your speech is pleasant"  Chazal say מדברך נאוה means "your desert is pleasant".  Chazal say that in the exile the Jews have excelled themselves  have exhibited excellence,  displayed so much tenacity and so much consecration, and so much loyalty 

The Jews in the first commonwealth  could not stand up and claim as much credit as the Jew in exile in Germany during the Crusades  or in 1648 during the Khmelnitsky pogroms  The Jew in exile was a proud Jew, a Jew who was ready to sacrifice 

But however, after the Holocaust of Hitler,  six million people disappeared, actually one third [of the world's Jews] perished don't know what was going on in European countries  In America it was not so noticeable because we live in ...Jewish ghettoes  But the Jews living in France, in England, in Italy, there was actually a swarm of missionaries who descended upon them  "Don't you see that the words of the Gospel has been fulfilled? That God is angry at you?"  "Do you still believe that your attitude vis a vis Christ was the right one?"  "Now, if you will just accept baptism all problems will be resolved" 

I'll tell you if not for the State of Israel, I don't what would have happened to the small communities throughout Diaspora  Shmad (spiritual destruction), assimilation.....  disintegration, because of black despair.  Because of simply not being able to understand what happened.  Do we understand what happened?  Can you explain, can any theologian explain it? Can any philosopher interpret?  Just accept the will of God.  But for the real believer, for the man who has indomitable faith in God, alright, it's possible,  but for the people who are just on the borderline,  we don't understand what happened, we cannot explain it.  It was a time of hester panim, complete hiding of the Face, God actually turned His back on our people.  If not for Eretz's impossible to imagine what would have happened to the Jewish diaspora, with the dispersion.  That's why our generation has something which previous generations didn't, because our generation was in despair and was in need of it.  

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

Or order from your favorite bookseller, using ISBN 9798985708424. 

Read all about it here!