Reprinted with permission from Haaretz ©
Exerpts from a Ha'aretz article:
The opinions of Harav Shaar Yashuv Cohen, Harav Shlomo Aviner, and Hanan Porat,
11th March 2005
The disengagement plan for Gaza and Northern Samaria has elicited a variety of responses from Religious Zionist leaders. Perhaps the most controversial response was the call by Harav Avraham Schapira for religious soldiers to refuse military orders to evacuate settlements. This ruling set off an active debate about the relative value of the State of Israel and the Landof Israelin Religious Zionist thought.
The following citations of three Religious Zionist religious and political leaders are excerpted from an article in Haaretz from March 11, 2005:
Harav Shaar Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa :
(from comments made recently at an assembly of rabbis at the Ariel Institute, and in an interview with Haaretz):
The religious precept to settle the Land of Israel is one that stands by itself, even in the absence of the State of Israel and Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. We upheld the precept to settle the land even when the Turks and the British ruled the land. Why can we not continue to live there even when the State of Israel withdraws its sovereignty from the soil? […]
I hear the voices. I dwell among the people. People are finding it difficult to swallow the new reality. When the government of Israelraises its hand to uproot Jewish settlements from the Landof Israel, it loses by its own actions the whole purpose and point of the state's existence. It is impossible to ignore this. The state is an instrument of holiness, not holiness itself, an instrument of a precept, not a precept. Even Rabbi [Joseph B.] Soloveitchik wrote that he would not lend a hand to unreserved subjugation to the state. That is idolatry. When the state behaves like a state of all of its residents, and not as a Jewish state, the attitude changes. I respect it as I do any other government, but it is no longer the "beginning of our redemption". The practical significance is that we might no longer be able to continue to recite the prayers and blessings of Independence Day.
Hanan Porat, former Member of Knesset (National Religious Party and National Union)*:
There is no doubt that in terms of mood, he (Harav Shaar Yashuv Cohen) is expressing a very grave feeling of frustration and crisis. I can imagine large parts of our public being pulled in the Charedi direction, a development that will be manifested in forgoing army service or even in refusal to pay taxes. There is also great bewilderment in the religious pre-army academies. It is not just a question of whether to refuse or not refuse. Some of the boys there are liable to remain spiritual cripples.
Above all, I am fearful of the feeling of people who say that now this is no longer our enterprise - that it is not the "beginning of our redemption". I hear people speaking this way in various settlements and in a number of congregations. I do not accept that. The break is not between the Landof Israeland the State of Israel, it is between the Landof Israeland the state leadership. The state is the great enterprise of the return to Zionin terms of its national and state meaning, and it continues to exist and be valuable as the "foundation of G-d's throne on earth", even when the leadership spoils matters and betrays its mission. We pray for the well-being of the State of Israel, which is not Sharonor Peres personally. If I am in opposition to the government, it is because I am in a coalition with the state, with the enterprise, with the idea. The state is more than a public company that reflects the shares of the public as a whole. It is not only an instrument of a precept, but an instrument in its own right. The fact that its leadership has betrayed its mission does not prevent me from extolling it, loving it, and thanking the L-rd daily for its existence. There was a period when the priests were corrupt. Did the institution of the priesthood cease to be valuable because of that?
*Hanan Porat was expelled as a child with his family from Kibbutz Ein Tzurim in Gush Etzion when it was overrun by the Jordanians in the War of Independence. He grew up on the relocated Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, and after the Six-Day War, along with other children of the kibbutz, re-established Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim in Gush Etzion.
Harav Shlomo Aviner, Rosh Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim
(Harav Aviner issued a halachic ruling against refusal of military orders, contrary to the ruling of his mentor, Harav Schapira):
In the Torah, it does not say "national religious". It speaks of worship of G-d, it speaks of the people of Israel- in other words, the whole of the people of Israel. I am not bothered by what is good for the national religious public, but by what is good for the whole people of Israel, what will help the people of Israel.
Redemption comes "little by little" - not all at once. Light and darkness are mixed together, and slowly the light conquers in its way. Sometimes, temporarily, the darkness also triumphs…. In the midst of the progress of the light, there are crises and setbacks…. We are not working alone, but through the people of Israeland the State of Israel…. Patience is needed. Patience is not a concession. We are not conceding anything. Do not say: "The state is finished, I have finished with the state." We have not finished with anything - not with the people, not with the state, and not with the army. We have only just begun. We are now in a great test…. I hereby declare: "I love Gush Katif and I love northern Samaria, but I love my people above all."