Rabbi Elya Svei

Rabbi Elya Svei of Rosh Yeshiva of Philadelphia

Translated Speech of Rabbi Elya Svei:

It is evident today that it is not enough to have been born in Eretz Yisroel. Being born in Eretz Yisroel -- and even in Jerusalem -- does not automatically endow one with holiness. One doesn't have the compulsion 'not to bow and not to kneel'. There are so many who do bend and kneelā€¦

Something happened about which we cannot be silent. The students in the Talmud Torahs of Jerusalem, these holy children, were exposed to the major of Jerusalem, who name, I feel, may not even be mentioned in front of the Holy Ark. This is whom was put close to the holy children in Jerusalem, so that he might speak to them. This means bowing down, and that means that they have knelt.

There has been no ruling regarding participating in the Jerusalem Municipal Government. No rabbinical organization has commented on it. It was left to individual consideration, and so we are permitted to discuss it and debate it. It is my opinion that participation in any way in the Jerusalem Municipality is questionable.

With what are we dealing here?

We are dealing with the honor of the Holy Sabbath. The Sabbath is the partner of Klal Yisroel. The Sabbath had petitioned G-d to provide her with a partner. So ))HaShem(( said, He would give her a partner, and this was Klal Yisroel. What does 'partner' mean? It means that if you work together, the partnership will bear fruit. What are the fruits that have to come out? The fruits are the witness that ))HaShem(( created the world, and that for the honor of the Sabbath, one has to refuse to participate in certain things.

What kind of tragedy would it have been if the Agudah had not become involved in the Jerusalem Municipal Government? The whole world would say that the Agudah is religious and that she has some principles which she is not ready to forfeit -- even for holy profits. Heaven's honor is at stake.

With what are we dealing here concerning the Sabbath? I was in Eretz Yisroel and I was fated to spend some time in Kiryas Sanz. In Kiryas Sanz there live very fine young men, our best young men, our bnei Torah, and they want to bring up their children in purity and holiness. Children should see a Sabbath. Why isn't it the right of these fine young men that in Jerusalem, to be able to bring up their children without their seeing desecration of the Sabbath? The authorities have built a highway which passes through their area, so that the children should see that one could desecrate the Shabbos. This tears the heart.

I have to tell you that there are in Eretz Yisroel, those who are not bowing down and not kneeling. There is a whole army of individuals in Eretz Yisroel who are not bowing down. There are bnei Torah -- and when you start to speak about bnei Torah, you start to say that they are boys (children), who run around. But we are speaking about bnei Torah -- not children who run around, but only bnei Torah who are the best young men. One is from the finest young men in Kollel Chazan Ish. Another young man is the Rosh Yeshiva in Be'er Yaakob.

The fate of the children of Teheran has become a modern tragedy. We are speaking only to our own people, so we can speak frankly. The story of the children of Teheran is a complicated one. I spoke to the Ponevitzer Rosh Yeshiva, who told me that they had made a beginning. They had hired a man of integrity, but he told me that that was only a beginning. We still have to keep vigilant.

530 children arrive in Eretz Yisroel from Iran. Of these children, only 190 are in religious institutions at this time. "Religious institutions" means, Mizrachi institutions, with the remaining 340 children in secular, free thinking institutions. Of the 340 children, 100 once learned in "Ozar HaTorah", but are now in secular institutions. The 190 children who are now in Mizrachi institutions are in a coeducational atmosphere (because boys and girls are learning together. In Iran, modesty was very important, but here boys and girls are mixed together, and that leads to complete licentiousness. Therefore, you have to know that there are in Eretz Yisroel, a group of young men to typify the finest ideals of Yiddishkeit. They do not bow before atheists. So we, the bnei Torah here in America, have to help the bnei Torah in Eretz Yisroel remain vigilant.

It says in Targum Yonosen Ben Uziel that one should not be a murderer, neither should one be friends or partners with murderers, and there should not be seen in Klal Yisroel murder. Why? Because your children should not be murderers. What does murder mean? The Even Ezra says that there is murder by one's hand there is murder by speech -- one can kill a person with a word. It is possible to be a fine Jew and still be a murderer. The Targum Yonoson says it is not enough that one alone, is not a murderer; he is also not allowed to be a friend of a murderer. Each Jew has a responsibility to Klal Yisroel in that he must insure that no Jew is a murderer. Why?

If you are only an ideological murderer, and if you won't be able to keep away from this kind of murder, your children will be real murderers.

It says, "you are not permitted to be lewd". You should not be licentious. How does lewdness come to Klal Yisroel? There are a few kinds of lewdness. There is lewdness by word or mouth and there is lewdness with the eyes. Fine Jewish homes, often contain lewd reading material. And there are fine homes wherein is put a box (television) from which enters all lewdness into the house. And this is put in a place of honor in the home! What will happen to these children? What will become of them? No Jewish home may have a television!!

It says further, in Targum Yonoson, that one should not be a false witness. I want to stop here. In public life here in Brooklyn, there is false testimony. We have merited, through blood and sweat and with the Almighty's help, to establish large Yeshivos for the boys and Bais Yaakova for the girls. And these schools produced students of whom all can be proud. But then someone comes and says that they are still incomplete. When the boys go out of the Yeshiva, they are still not finished -- they still need more studies: they still have to go to "Touro College" to be well-rounded. That is the biggest false testimony against the Torah. The boys do not need such "completeness".

One is not allowed to be friends with them! One is not allowed to be partners with them! What will be with our children? From where will our great Torah leaders come? From Touro College they will not come! And mothers of Gedolei Torah will also not come from Touro College, because the Gemorrah says that to merit children who will become Gedolei Yisroel, one has to have modesty. And modesty cannot be acquired in Touro College!