Land for Peace (Part 1)

This series is sponsored anonymously in the merit of an aliyat neshama for Matisyahu ben Yisrael, Aharon ben Menachem Lev, and Eliana bat Yaakov.

  • The controversial and often painful question of whether it is permitted or advisable to give away parts of Eretz Yisrael to achieve a desired peace in the Land has been an ‘agenda’ item at different times in Jewish and modern Israeli history.
  • Beginning with the Peel Commission Partition Plan of 1937, the Roshei Yeshiva of Merkaz HaRav - R. Yaakov Moshe Charlop, R. Tzvi Yehuda Kook, R. Avraham Shapira and others - have vociferously opposed any proposal to divide the Land as clearly in breach of the Torah. The Lubavitcher Rebbe also firmly pronounced his opposition to any exchange of Israeli land for peace. Nevertheless, at the time of the Peel Partition Plan, R. Chaim Ozer Grodinsky and R. Zvi Pesach Frank ruled that it was permitted to accept the Peel Plan. In later decades, R. Ovadia Yosef and R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik argued that halacha does permit in principle a deal of Land for peace.
  • It is important to separate the different types of consideration: - halachic, hashkafic, political and security/military.
  • This shiur will not focus on the political or security considerations, although these are immensely important. In every peace treaty entered into between enemies, the central question is always whether the enemy can be trusted. But of particular concern in the modern debate is the question who can be trusted in our own camp to make wise and sensible political and security decisions? Can the security establishment truly make assessments and recommendations which are devoid of political agendas? Israel is a country where many military leaders go on to political careers. How do their political views sway their security priorities?
  • The focus below will be on the halachic and hashkafic issues, although these are complex and, as with many such issues, the Torah presents a multivalent approach. Again, the line between hashkafa and politics can also be blurred and this may not always be a bad thing. If we wish Torah values to be applied on a macro level to the challenges of the State of Israel, it is hardly surprising that lines can be unclear. Some rabbinical figures also have official (and unofficial) political positions in Israel. How do their political perspectives impact on their halachic and especially hashkafic approaches.