Illustration: President Trump unveils details of the Middle East Peace Plan by Shealah Craighead (Official White House Photo) [Public Domain] via Flickr
During the lifetime of HaRav Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi in the Holy Land and the towering beacon of modern Religious Zionism, the Jewish People had not yet established sovereignty over the Land of Israel. Therefore, the main question raised by the “Deal of the Century” — the Peace to Prosperity Plan — was not discussed in his time: whether it is halachically permissible for a Jewish government in Israel to relinquish parts of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) to foreign rule?
But we can look to his son for illumination and guidance. During the Begin-Sadat discussions surrounding our withdrawal from Sinai and from the settlement of Yamit, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook was the spiritual leader of the Religious Zionist Movement in Israel.
Few people know that the Gush Emunim settlement movement in Israel had its origins in a small, two room apartment in the Geulah neighborhood of Jerusalem, in the home of Rabbi Kook’s only son, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda. His life spanned the pioneering years of the Second Aliyah, the founding of the State of Israel, the Six Day War, the settlement of Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights, and Israel’s miraculous development in all fields of endeavor, until his death in 1982.
As head of the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda taught a new generation of Israeli youth to see the Divine Hand in the establishment of medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel). The events of our time, he stated, were clear signs of the beginning of Israel’s long-awaited Redemption, manifested by the revival of the Jewish Nation from the ashes of the Holocaust, the ingathering of Jews to Israel from all over the world, the country’s miraculous agricultural and economic rejuvenation, the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the cities of the Bible, the establishment of Torah institutions all over the Holy Land, and the valor-filled victories in war. He himself led the first minyan at the Kotel on the day the Old City returned to Israeli sovereignty in the Six Day War.
He filled his students with a love for Torah, Am Yisrael, and Eretz Yisrael, and he sent them out from the yeshiva to spread the light of Religious Zionism and to establish the settlements of Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights, and Gush Katif — Hevron, Kiryat Arba, Ofra, Bet El, Shilo, Har Bracha, Yitzhar, Itamar, Kedumin, Elon Moreh, and many more, including the renewed Jewish settlement in the Moslem Quarter of the Old City, the City of David, and East Jerusalem.
An integral element of the “Deal of the Century” peace plan is the eventual establishment of a Palestinian State over large tracts of land in Judea and Samaria, and over portions of Jerusalem. From a variety of HaRav Tzvi Yehuda’s statements regarding giving up the Sinai to Egypt, and the Israeli settlement of Yamit, we can tell how he would have reacted to this most recent panacea of peace. Here is a small selection:
“The Torah giant, the Ramban, clearly establishes that the Land of Israel, which Hashem promised to our Forefathers, must be kept under our control, and not under the control of any other nation, in every age (Supplement to the Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam, Positive Command Number 4). This is clearly meant in a national sense, for everyone understands that ruling a land means the establishment of a State in that land. Thus the establishment of Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel is a fundamental precept of the Torah.”
“We are indivisibly attached to Judea and Samaria, and to all the expanses of our Land, through the eternal bond between the Holy Nation and the Holy Land. We must stand in defense of this to the uppermost limits of dedication and self-sacrifice, without any surrender at all. There is absolutely no room to entertain thoughts of relinquishing even a single square meter of Hashem’s inheritance to us. There is not to be any blemish in our borders, G-d forbid, just as there is to be no blemish in a Sefer Torah. We are to battle for this end with all of our strength.”
“There isn’t any man who is permitted to make territorial concessions over this Land, not the Prime Minister and not the Knesset. Are these kilometers ours? Is someone the owner of them? These kilometers belong to the millions of Jews in Russia, Europe, and America, and throughout the world, no less than they belong to us. How can a person not feel ashamed by the thought of making do with a truncated State? No one has the right to relinquish lands which belong to the millions of Jews of all generations. This is a disgrace, a sorrowful shame, and a violation of the Torah.”
“It is imperative to know that we are not obliged to give the Arabs any sovereignty over our Land. As individuals, Arabs can remain here as a minority. If they do not cause us trouble, do not rebel against our rule, and accept our sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael, then we won’t trouble them. It is important to further friendly relations and to eliminate all discrimination, but first, it must be made clear that this is our Land, from the beginning of time to the end. On this point, there is nothing to discuss!”
“The truth is that we didn’t take any territory away from the Arabs, or any aspect of sovereignty, nor did we expel them from here. The Land was in the hands of the Turks, who renounced it to the British, who were in Palestine to help the Jewish People establish a National State in our National Homeland. The Arabs ran away on their own.”
“We must strengthen our re-conquest of Eretz Yisrael and our settlement throughout all of its borders. Everything which the nations of the world do to interfere is null and void. We must stand against their opposition with dedication and sacrifice, with wisdom and with valor, without any fear at all. We are not beholden to anyone!”
Visit Tzvi Fishman’s website to read more about his work.