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Protesting Against The Draft

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#1 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 10:48 AM

There will be a second demonstration in Europe on Monday iy"h, in Brussels in front of the EU Parliament. I will be among the speakers. Just about every Kehilla in Europe will be there. It will be a tremendous Kiddush Hashem.


Because there has been much confusion surrounding these protests, I am presenting a clarification:


The protest in New York last month was initiated by Rav Eli Ber Wachtfogel, and attended by many Gedolei Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshiva. Rav Chaim Kanievsky did say it should be done and it would be a Mitzvah to come. The subsequent letter written by his sons about not going was in response to a (false) report told to him that the protest would be directed against Rav Shteinman and that it was designed specifically to undermine Rav Shteinman's honor and authority. This was of course totally untrue, and was told to Rav Chaim on purpose by people who are involved in the disgusting politics there, and who wanted to specifically make sure the protest would not happen.


If you notice, that letter of Rav Chaim's sons did not say who asked the question to Rav Chaim nor did it describe what the one who asked said the protest was about.


Plus, we all know that Rav Chaim's father, the Steipler, wrote a letter which is printed in his Karyana DIgarta, saying of course you should make protests against the offenses of the Zionists, especially in Chutz Laaretz. The shitah that only Torah and Tefilah can nullify Gezeiros applied then too, and the Steipler clearly did not hold like that (neither did the Chazon Ish and Brisker Rav when it came to the protests against Giyus Banos), and it makes no sense that Rav Chaim would disagree.


Of course, the makers of the protest do not disagree with the fact that only Torah and Tefilah will nullify a Gezeirah, but protesting is Hishtadlus, gives Chizuk to our Bochurim and communicates a message to Israel that we are willing to stand up to their decrees. In fact, Rav Chaim Kanievsky had previously written a letter saying that he agrees with Rav Shteinman that only Torah and Tefilah can fix this problem, and yet, after that, he told Rav Eli ber Wachtfogel that they should make the protest. That is not a contradiction. And it is not very likely that Rav Chaim would disagree with his father.


This was confirmed afterwards to me and to others, first hand, that Rav Chaim held to go to the protest but he had to write that other letter to defend the honor of Rav Shteinman, and the letters were written in such a way that made that obvious. I have thoroughly researched this, because I was asked to both speak on behalf of the New York protest and speak at the European protest, and I refused to do anything against the position of the Gedolei Hador. After thoroughly researching what happened, it was clear to me that despite purposeful efforts by people to spread falsehoods both about the intent of the protest and about statements of Gedolim, the fact of the matter is that besides the vast majority of Roshei Yeshiva in America and in Eretz Yisroel held it was the right thing to do -one Rosh Yeshiva in America, and Rav Shteinman, said not to make a  protest because it will not help (note that nobody said there was anything intrinsically wrong with it - nobody said anything like "chilul Hashem," or the like. Their objection as simply that it would not accomplish its goal) but Rav Chaim Kanievsky as well as Rov Binyan and Minyan of the Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbonim in America said to do it - besides that,  the Halachah and Hashkafa that we have had for generations says that it is the proper thing to do - please see this thread for further explanation - and therefore I have told those who have asked me that they should definitely participate and as far as the minority of people who hold not to, L'Maaseh, you should follow Rav Chaim Kanievsky and the majority in this case.


What you definitely should not do, is get your information from random websites that are known to carry misinformation and distortions, not to mention are not written by Rabbonim nor do they even have any haskomos therefrom. As usual, the blogs carry so much misinformation and confusion that it is impossible to be anything but totally confused after reading them. Important rule: Do not accept information except from a source you know to be reliable.


As an example of purposeful sabotage, there was a forged letter by Rav Chaim Kanievsky that was cleverly contructed, saying to go to the protest. This letter "came out" about an hour before the protest began. However, this letter was never given out or presented by any of the organizers of the protest. No party involved in the protest - Litvaks or Chasidism - had any idea that this letter even existed, even during the protest. I know because I asked them. Someone texted me during the protest that the last letter of Rav Chaim was found to be a forgery and neither I nor any of the organizers of the protest, including those who were in touch with Rav Chaim, ever heard of this letter.


Again - I was the appointed spokesman for this event and every correspondence with every major Rav was reported to me. Neither I nor any of the people involved with the protest that I spoke to (which is pretty much all of them) ever heard of that letter. At the protest, the random yeshiva bochurim that were speaking to me at the time, who have a Yeshiva-bochurishe tendency to follow these kind of things, also never heard of it. 


Yes, it was forged, but not by the protesters. It was forged by others who wanted to make the protesters look like liars. Thats why it came out only 1 hour before the protest. Because if it would have come out earlier, people may have actually listened to it and gone to the protest because of it. This way, the forgers can have their cake and eat it too - put out a letter, almost immediately "discover" it to be a forgery (whoever was able to do that so quickly, to compare so many words in the letter to other similar words in other letters of Rav Chaim must be an amazing expert in Rav Chaim's Kisvei yad) , and put it up all over the internet to "show" how dishonest the organizers of the protest are.


Aside from all this, because this issue involves Zionism, there was tremendous pressure and threats from baalei batim for Roshei yeshiva and Rabbonim not to go. There were Yeshivos that I know wanted to go, Roshei Yeshiva who I know held you should go - but could not because of the damage they would have to have sustained had they gone. Representatives of many of these Yeshivos - Rebbeim, Hanhalah, etc - were prominently sitting on the dais, sent by the Roshei yeshiva to represent them, but the Roshei yeshiva themselves were not there. One Rosh Yeshiva, who wanted to go but could not, said last week, "I cannot talk about the protest, but one thing I will say - it is disgusting how Baalei batim control Gedolim."


This was another reason I told people to go to the protest. To protest the pressures put on Rabbonim by Baalei batim and Askanim. These people should not be foisting their ignorant opinions about such important matters on Roshei Yeshiva or Rabbonim.


But in fact, this reason is not "another" reason to go. It is one and the same as the main reason. The reason for the protest is that we want the Gedolei Torah to control the yeshivos - and nobody else. 


Not the Israel government, and not wealthy Askanim and Baalei Batim. It's one reason.


Another Rosh Yeshiva told me that "Had I known there were so many yeshivos going we would have gone also. But everyone was saying no yeshivos are going."


That was another internet sheker.


There were many more, too many to describe. Nor are they relevant. The wonderful thing about this protest was, there were no askanishe organizations involved, no baalei batim pushing for it - on the contrary - the organizations, who depend on baalei batim askanim and politics for their survival and power, were not involved at all. The Roshei Yeshiva themselves, starting with Rav Eli Ber, said we need to do this, and they told their talmidim, and so it was done. 


There is a vort from the Yismach Moshe - לאומתם משבחים ואומרים - If you want to know if something someone is doing is good, here's a good gauge: If someone does something against his personal interests, he deserves praise. If someone is doing something that he gains from politically or financially or kovod-wise, maybe what he's doing is good, maybe not. But if someone sacrifices, loses in this world for what he does, gains nothing, goes against his interests - לאומתם - such a person is praiseworthy - משבחים ואומרים.


One thing is for certain - every single Rosh Yeshiva or rav that went to that protest was Moser nefesh. It was a very unpopular thing to do with the Baalei Batim and in the eyes of the Hamon Am. They gained nothing and many of them lost a lot. I know this as a fact. Yet they did it. When people such as Rav Eli Ber Wachtfogel, Rav Ahron Schechter, the chief rabbi of the Syrian community Rabbi Katzin, and others are involved in such an undertaking - when someone like Rav Moshe Shimon Shapiro who never leaves the Bais Medrash for any event, who never closes his Gemora, ever, for any reason, made an exception and came to this protest and was sitting up there on the dais of the protest - an undertaking unpopular with the Hamon Am, with no support from Askanish organizations or politicians (I know they had pressure from their politicians in New York NOT to do this) - just Rabbonim saying we need to do this no matter what the cost -- that is a big, very big, kiddush Hashem.


יהי חלקי עמהם

#2 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 06:43 PM

#3 Morgenstern



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Posted 27 December 2013 - 05:06 PM

That video was beautiful. I wish it lasted forever.