Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Torah or the Land?: R' Elchanan Wasserman vs. R' Ahron Soloveitchik

R' Elchanan Wasserman, "Ikvesa d’Meshicha", #40
Another analogy: a person’s survival depends on air to breathe and food to eat. What if a person’s lacks both – which do we provide first, food or air? Obviously, without air, there is no one to give the food to! The Jewish people need the Land of Israel, but have not yet merited it. The Jewish people also need Torah, and we are all witnesses to the diminution of Torah, as most of the younger generation is removed from it. Let us ask then, the same question – to what shall we attend first: the need for Torah, or the need for the Land? The Land is necessary, but without Torah, we will not have a Jewish people. First we must assure that there is a Jewish people, and only afterwards, that they have a land.
R’ Ahron Soloveitchik, "Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind", p. 184:
Now the question arises, why did Y’ravan ben Yoash, certainly no greater tzadik than Ben Gurion, merit such a great privilege? In answering this question, we will also be able to answer the question of how relief, any form of geulah, can take place for the Jewish people when the Jews have not prepared themselves for it through universal repentance?...
The answer is, “And G-d had not said that he would erase the name of Israel from under the Heavens, so he saved them by the hand of Y’ravan ben Yoash” (Kings II: 14:27). During the reign of Y’ravan ben Yoash, had this deliverance not been realized by G-d then the name of Israel could have been wiped out. Similarly, 800 years ago, in the time of the Rambam, and 500 years ago in the time of the Shulchan Aruch, a Jewish state was not indispensable for the survival of the Jewish people. The Jews survived very well; they suffered, but they survived. And they blossomed intellectually and spiritually without a state. But after the Nazi Holocaust, the Jewish people cannot survive any longer without a state.

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