Rabbi Avraham Yeshayau Karelitz

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Reb Avraham Yeshaye Karelitz (Chazon Ish)

Reb Avraham Yeshaye Karelitz (Chazon Ish)In 1946 a disciple of the Chazon Ish, very distressed, mentioned that a day does not go by without a Jew being killed by an Arab; the Chazon Ish, admonished him and said, "Why aren't you at all worried that tens of thousands of Jewish children receive an education on non-belief, which is as burning the soul and the body. Is not this mass murder worse than the killings of the Arabs? our sages have clearly expressed that he who makes someone sin is worse than he who kills him."

Thus said the Holy "Chozon Ish" of blessed memory, regarding the Atheistic State, the Atheistic Parliament and the religious parties participating in it.

Regarding the Atheistic State

The Chozon Ish said: Who keeps mitzvohs in our time and is still considered a non believer? Anyone who claims that it is the fault of the rabbis that 6 million Jews were murdered in Europe, and anyone who celebrates Independence Day (Reb Aharon Roter)

The Zionist Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Rabbi Unterman, showed the Chozon Ish a proposal to allow marriages on the 5th of lyar (Zionist Independence Day) and because he was afraid to explain the true reason, he claimed that on that day the soldiers are on vacation and can get married. The Chozon Ish said to him: "If this is so, then I am inclined to allow marriages from Rosh Chodesh lyar until Lag B'Omer." The Rabbi of Tel Aviv argued that this is very lenient. The Chozon Ish then asked: "How is it that I am lenient and you are strict?" Rabbi Unterman was finally forced to admit that he wished to bypass the laws of mourning of Sefira on Independence Day. The Chozon Ish replied forcefully: "Perhaps it is more fitting to declare it a fast day!" (Reb Moshe Shonfeld)

In 5701, the Chozon Ish commanded to announce on the 5th of lyar in his Bais Medrah that Tachanun would not be said because he was being honored with being Sandek (so no one would think he was celebrating Independence Day). However, in the last year of his life on the 5th of lyar, even though the Chozon Ish as honored with being Sandek three times, he still commanded that Tachanun be said in his Bais Medrash, explaining that he is doing this so no one will be able to testify in the future that Tachanun was not said in his Bais Medrash on the 5th of lyar and hide the reason of the Bris Milah. (Reb Chaim Shaul Karelitz)

When war broke out between the Zionists and the Arabs, the "Haganah" began extension target practice next to the house of the Chozon Ish. One of the officers came to him and said: "The Rov should not be afraid of the shots; they are coming from our boys." To this the Chozon Ish replied immediately, "I am more afraid of your shooting on Shabbos than the explosions of the Arabs all week long." (Reb. Moshe Shonfeld)

The Rosh Yeshiva of Chadera once spoke to the Chozon Ish about a certain problem which he thought would cause him persecution and asked, "What can we do, now they have kings and officers (the upper hand)?" The Chozon Ish answered him: "Don't even use this expression again. The only difference is that before this, the secularists fought us with pens and now they do so with rifles." (Reb Yachov Galinsky)

The only actual difference with the formation of the Zionists State is, that before this they were hoodlums without arms, and now the hoodlums have arm. (Reb A. Y. Weintraub)

He would say: "Moshieach will not take over from them, something will happen in the interim." (ibid)

So, he once said: "One clear day they will open the windows and they will see 'no more State'."(ibid)

In 1950 or 1951, I visited him to clarify certain matters regarding life in the State of Israel. I spoke of the spiritual situation very worriedly. He stopped me and coldly analyzed all the problems and concluded that one should not talk in an exaggerated fashion. He also told me that he doesn’t refrain from giving political advice to people that seek it since he usually answers each person in accordance with his manner, yet for him there exists only one means against any troubles and that is: prayer. I as nervous and frustrated and my questions were asked with obvious tension. I reviewed several problems of the state which I felt.

The Chozon Ish said: "If there would be peace and security in the boundaries of the state, its leaders would now be occupied with persecuting observant Jews, and of this is said 'there is no peace - says Hashem - for the wicked.'" (Reb Shmuel Wosner)

He didn't make a State Identification Card. And when the regime made a census, he refused to register, saying "I am from the people of Yerusholoyim" (meaning the observant people of Yerusholoyim who refused to be counted). (Reb Y. A. Weintraub)

At the beginning of the State, the municipality of Bnei Brak wanted to hang a Zionist flag on his house and he refused and when he was told he would have to pay a fine because of his refusal, he answered, "It's worth it, it's worth it." (Ibid)

On the Knesset of Atheists

Even though the Zionist State has no judge who will judge according to Torah law, and they must appoint someone who is learned in human morality; they are not permitted to accept statutes of the gentiles or to make their own laws. For one who judges a case according to his own logic, is at least compromising, and it is not so obvious that he has left the true source of the Torah law to adopt false ones. But if laws are agreed upon, the Torah is being desecrated. And of this it is written, 'which you shall put before them and not ordinary courts" as will be learned in para. 26. There is no difference between going to non-Jews or a Jew who is judging according to man-made laws. It is even worse, for they have exchanged the laws of the Torah for laws that are worthless. If the people of the city agree to this - there is nothing binding in the agreement; and if they will enforce this, their law is thievery and they are rebelling against the Torah of Moshe (Chozon Ish, Sanhedrin, note 15)

The laws passed in the Zionist Knesset are like those of any group of thieves and robbers who organize themselves and make their own rules. (Reb Y. A. Weintraub)

When Mr. M. D. Lewinstein, a member of the Zionist Parliament of the Agudah complained about a few proposed laws to be passed by the government, the Chozon Ish explained that a few days before a chief Rabbi of one of the cities visited him and complained that the laws of the Government don't allow Rabbis to judge according to Torah law in matters such as a daughter's inheritance. The Chozon Ish answered him: "Did you really expect that this secular government would agree to and support judges and also allow them to rule according to the Torah's truths? I'm surprised!" (Reb Moshe Shonfeld)

He once asked one of the representatives of Agudas' Yisroel in the Zionist Parliament when the recess would begin for the members of the Parliament. To this person's question of what difference it is to him when they recess, our Rov (z'tl) answered him: "When the Parliament recesses I, too, have a little peace knowing that at this time there is no danger of new decrees."

On the Political Parties

When I once complained that one of the people coming to the Chozon Ish's house was not too particular in his fulfillment of mitzvohs, he told that one should not estrange even those who are on the 'in between' level. I found the opportunity to argue: "Why then the strong opposition to Misrachi? Aren't they also 'in between' and why all this great anger? He explained to me that the difference is that the term of 'in between' cannot include a specific ideology in itself, and even one who is 'in between' realized and knows that it is better to be completely righteous and that every must aspire to complete righteousness, but that he (the individual) does not have the ability to withstand temptation and trial. But on the other hand, Mizrachi comprises an ideology of 'inbetweeness' that preaches that all Jews be 'in between' and nothing more. They have also based their educational theories on this, and they relate to a completely righteous person negatively, without seeing him as a complete (perfect) person, and in this is hidden a great danger. (Reb Shlomo Cohen)

It is difficult to decide on these matters from isolated saying from Chazal, and the judge in these matters is the inner feeling which flows from the love and fear of the Almighty to which each one is worthy according to his level. It seems to me that regarding this feeling, there are no differences of opinion, and all who are really religious intuitively feel what to accept and what to keep away from, as if a spirit from above is anointing them. In our time, all are alike in their views of Zionism and Mizrachi and all that happens through them. I know of almost no divergent opinions between religious people on these matters, to the point where anyone who wishes to embrace what we feel should be alienated is judged by this religious intuitive feeling as one who is suspect. (Letters of the Chozon Ish, second part, letter 75, and there several words have been omitted and the letter in its entirety is in the Yalkeit Daas Torah - Reb Moshe Shonfeld)

He once reacted with anger regarding those religious members of the Zionist Parliament who sit there and take part in its proceedings, "Why do they sit there? If they would ask me, I would tell them to stay at home." (Reb. Y. Weintraub)

At the beginning of the State, one of the Agudah's Members of Knesset passed away, and an announcement of the funeral was hung in the study hall of the Chozon Ish. He signed and mourned the fact that he was entitled "Member of Knesset", even after his death and expressed himself: "When he will come above and present himself as a member of Knesset, they will call the Malach Gavriel and ask if he know what this is, and he will say, 'we don't know'. Then they will render the verdict and say - 'If it is Torah and mitzvohs - good, and if not, etc.' (Reb. Y. Meisels)

Just as simplicity and truth are separate entities, so are extremism and greatness separate entities: Extremism is the perfection of the topic. One who waves the banner of moderation and hates extremism, is in the same camp as liars or imbeciles. If there is no extremism there is no perfection and without perfection there is no beginning. For the beginning is with constant questioning and doubts, and perfection is the sharp reply which puts each statement in the right and truthful place.

We are used to hearing certain circles declare that they are not extremists, and yet still consider themselves faithful Jews with enough faith in Torah and Torah opinion. From an arbitrary point of view, we say that just as there are among the lovers of wisdom none who love just a little wisdom and hate a lot of wisdom, so among the lovers of Torah and its commandments there is no love of mediocrity and hatred for extremism (from a letter to a Rosh Yeshiva, Yalkeit Daas Torah).