THE FOLLOWING ESSAY WAS PUBLISHED IN 1978 (every word is
                         pertinent today!)

                      DEFENSE OF THE HOLYLAND

  Based on discourses of the Lubavithcer Rebbe, Rabbi Menacherm M.

 What right do we have to the Holy Land?
 In the beginning G-d Created Heaven and Earth (1)....Rashi's
 commentary on this very first statement of the Torah follows:
 "..It was not necessary to begin the Torah (whose main objective
 is to teach commandments) with this verse.... And what is,
 therefore, the reason that it begins with Genesis? Because if the
 nations of the world will say to Israel: 'You are robbers because
 you have conquered with force the lands of the seven nations (of
 Canaan) they (Israel) can answer: 'He created it (as described in
 Genesis) and gave it to whomever was proper in His eyes. Of His
 own will He gave it to them (the non-Jews) and of his own will He
 took it from them and gave it to us!'
 Actually it is not necessary to use this quotation from Torah to
 establish the tenure rights of the people Israel for the land of
 Israel. This point is made strongly and continually elsewhere in
 the Torah - even to the extent of identifying the people and the
 land as one. The accomplishment of Rashi's explanation, quoted
 above, is to publicize the fact to all people - and to emphasize
 that the giving of the land is nothing less than an expression of
 the Divine will.
 No one denies that the land of Israel was once in gentile hands.
 Indeed, this fact is conceded in Psalms: "The power of His work
 He has declared to His people in giving them the heritage of the
 nations." (2) By the will of the Al-mighty, the land was once the
 heritage of the nations, and by the will of the Al-mighty it was
 given to His people.

 What should be the overall outlook and attitude for the Jewish
 statesman or diplomat in representing Israel's case before the
 members of any other nation?
 The Right Way: The Jew chosen to represent his people must be
 aware that although we are still in exile, before the advent of
 the Messianic era, nonetheless we must not adopt a servile
 attitude before others. On the contrary, our representative's
 attitude must imply: "Listen, I am a Jew. I am a representative
 of the Jewish people. I am a representative of Yiddishkeit, and
 the following are my rightful demands.
 " True, we are in exile amongst the nations of the world. We do
 not rule over them and consequently we cannot dictate to them.
 The Al-mighty has seen to it that in our present Galus (exile) we
 do have to approach other nations for our needs. It is therefore
 necessary to speak their language and to address them
 diplomatically. But the Jewish representative does not have to
 ask for the Holy Land; he must declare clearly that the Land
 belongs to us by Divine Right.
 This uniquely Jewish combination of openness, firmness, and
 diplomacy is an ancient heritage of Israel from our forefather
 Avraham (Abraham). Avraham asked the Hittites politely to give
 him a burying-place for his wife in Hebron. Avraham declared, "I
 am a stranger and a sojourner with you." (3) The Midrash
 interprets: "If you agree to my request, you can regard me as a
 stranger (who is entirely dependent upon your good will). But if
 not, I am a sojourner (settler and citizen) and can take what I
 desire by right - since G-d has promised this land to me and my
 children." (4) Avraham's diplomacy was to be polite and to imply
 to the Hittites that the conditions could be discussed. If money
 was an issue, he was ready to pay 400 full shekels of silver. But
 the actual granting of the land could not be argued - for his
 right to the Holy Land was a Divine Mandate.
 The Wrong Way: Instead of declaring firmly that the Holy Land is
 ours by Divine fiat, some approach the representatives of other
 nations in an entirely different manner. They say that there was
 a certain non-Jew, Lord Balfour by name, who lived in London and
 who issued a "paper" in 1917, declaring that the Jews should have
 the Holy Land as a "national home". One who presents such a claim
 based on non-Jewish sources automatically implies that he has no
 proof from Jewish sources! The statesmen from the other nation
 can retort, "Very well, one non-Jew indeed issued such a paper,
 but 140 non-Jews now say the reverse. That person (Lord Balfour)
 had no right to make such a declaration over the Holy Land." The
 statesman does not know how right he is. "That person," indeed
 had no rights over the Holy Land! For it was the Al-mighty's
 desire to give the Holy Land originally as "a heritage to the
 nations" and it was His Divine will to take it away from them and
 give it to his people Israel.
 When we ask other nations for arms it is indeed necessary that we
 "pray for the welfare of the city," (5) and that our request be
 channeled through their government - for we are still in Galus.
 However, the content of our request dare not be couched in false
 terms, or based upon claims that have no spiritual validity, for
 two reasons - first and foremost, for this is the opposite of
 Torah, and secondly, because the results of such a request will
 be counter-productive. The above wrong approach (which,
 tragically, has been used in presenting our case for the Holy
 Land during all these years) has led to the current situation, in
 which the whole basis for our claim to the Holy Land vacillates.
 This is not all surprising, for it was built on a shaky
 foundation, built on a "paper" issued by a non- Jew who dwelt in
 What kind of an overlord was he over the Jews? What kind of
 authority did he have over "the land upon which the eyes of G-d
 your G-d, gaze from the beginning of the year till year's end"?
 (6) Our representatives pursuing this false approach inquire of
 other non-Jews: "Where are the borders of our Holy Land? Up to
 which geographical boundary does the inheritance of the Jews
 extend? What are the inner allusions of the "paper" issued by the
 non-Jew in London?" Why follow such a weak path? We have an
 ironclad claim: "The power of His work he has declared to His
 people in giving them the heritage of the nations." (2) Why rely
 on diplomatic counseling? Why make compromises, plots,
 conspiracies? Why "Wheel and Deal" and make business transactions
 as regards what belongs to other nations and what belongs to
 Israel? The Al- mighty in His Torah has clearly indicated the
 borders of the Land of Israel,......This is the land its
 borders (7) This is the one single approach which has until now
 not even been tried. All other versions of diplomacy and
 statesmanship have been tried and have failed. We have tried
 behind the scenes diplomacy and financial transactions; we have
 sought the confidence of influential leaders etc. etc., and today
 we see to what state of affairs this has led. The only approach
 which the non-Jews deep down really understand is one based upon
 our Holy Torah which they also regard with reverence as "the
 Bible." When a Jewish representative abandons this approach, he
 abandons his own wealth; he abandons the source of his strength,
 he abandons his true claim.

 What would a sincere, strong stand accomplish?
 One example of what a strong stand could accomplish can be seen
 from the events of the recent past, when the Premier of Egypt,
 Mr. Sadat , suddenly suggested a proposal of peace and came on a
 mission of peace to visit Israel. What was it that motivated him
 to suggest a peaceful approach? It was his observation that the
 Jews were beginning to speak with strength, and were not
 displaying any fear of the nations. He observed that the name of
 G-d was being invoked with ever-increasing frequency and
 intensity in statements issuing from the Holy Land. There were
 those in Israel who were beginning to adopt the ancient cry, "We
 encamp in the name of our G-d."(8) This had a profound effect
 upon Sadat. (Though his physical intelligence might not have
 perceived the importance of this renewal of attachment to G-dly
 values, his soul perceived it.) Sadat was aware, furthermore,
 that Jewish soldiers stood on the borders and had the capacity to
 destroy his armies. He saw that they had chariots and horses and
 all the implements of war. He was instilled with fear; an honest
 analysis of the situation told him that it would not pay for him
 to start a war with these Jews. This is the reason he came with a
 peace proposal.
 From this episode - and many others - it is evident that only
 when we take a strong, fearless, and uncompromising stand that we
 can have any beneficial effect upon our relations with other

 What is it that instills fear into the hearts of our nation's
 We are told by the Torah that there might come a time in our
 bitter exile when some of our people will be possessed by an
 illogical fear, a "faintness of heart". They will flee -
 imagining that they are under pursuit by an enemy - when in
 reality they are fleeing from the sound of a leaf driven by the
 wind.(9) Today we see the unfortunate fulfillment of this
 prophecy. There are some of us who allow themselves to be
 frightened by threats issued by other nations: they stand in fear
 and trembling. But who is it that they fear - a torn leaf driven
 by the wind! For when a member of another nation attempts to rob
 a Jew of something connected with Torah and Mitzvos, something
 which is his rightful property, the person is violatining one of
 the basic seven Noahide laws for all humanity.(10) By this
 violation he severs the inner G-dly source of his own vitality.
 He is no longer a leaf connected to a tree, but a leaf torn from
 a tree, driven here and there by the wind. Yet these
 faint-hearted individuals are so terrified of the "torn leaf"
 that they attempt to instill their brother Jews with a similar

 Who qualifies as an "expert" to decide policies for defense of
 the Holy Land?
 The answer to this question is crystal clear. According to the
 law of the Torah if a person is sick and must take advice
 regarding his therapy (for example whether or not he should
 undergo an operation) he can take into account neither the
 opinion of "good friends", nor of neighbors, relatives, plumbers,
 electricians, nor even of learned professors of philosophy,
 history, mathematics, etc. etc. The one and only individual
 qualified to give an opinion on this matter is an expert in the
 field - a doctor. In exactly the same way, the only person whose
 opinion is to be considered as regards retaining or returning
 parts of the Holy Land is a military expert, a general in the
 field. The opinion of all the politicians, diplomats and
 statesmen in the world carries no weight whatsoever in this
 question according to the Torah . At stake in the doctor's
 decision is the life of one individual; at stake in the expert's
 decision are the lives of hundreds and thousands of our people!
 In the three wars that have been fought in the Middle East we
 have seen time and again that the military experts, the generals
 in the field, declared unequivocally that if such-and-such an
 area were given back to the enemy it would bring about loss of
 life. Along came the politicians and said that "because of
 political considerations we dare not anger other nations; we must
 listen to them and return this territory." Later, this dastardly
 action cost tens and hundreds of Jewish fatalities. This
 distorted attitude reached a nadir of debasement in the Yom
 Kippur war, when our representatives, knowing of the impending
 invasion by their enemies, informed Washington (knowing that this
 information would immediately become known all over the world)
 that they would not start a war! Even more, they gave assurances
 that they would not even make an effective mobilization before
 being attacked. They did not deceive Washington either; they
 indeed kept their word. They did not make the necessary military
 preparations - an act which cost our nation hundredsof

 From a Torah perspective, what is the central issue today in
 regards to the defense of the Holy Land?
 The Issue: The issue is Pikuach Nefesh, danger to life. Make no
 mistake about it. From a Torah perspective nothing else is the
 real issue here: the interpretation, significance or wording of
 UN Resolution No. 242 is not the issue. The central issue is
 Pikuach Nefesh, the endangering of the lives of all the
 inhabitants of the Holy Land posed by the proposed return of
 certain areas of land.
 Torah Law Speaks: The following is the definitive verdict of our
 Divine Torah law, as expressed in the Shulchan Aruch.(11) If a
 band of idolators have surrounded a Jewish City (on the Shabbos),
 if their intention is only to rob, we may not desecrate the
 shabbos to defend our property. If their intention is to kill -
 or even if their intention is unknown, but there is reason to
 suspect that it might be to kill - then, even if they have not
 yet arrived, but are only preparing their attack, we are to go
 forth against them with weapons and we may desecrate the Shabbos
 for this purpose. However, if the city in question is close to
 the coast, then even where their intention is only to rob 'straw
 and stubble', we desecrate the Shabbos to defend the city against
 them, for if we will not do so, they might capture this
 (strategic) city - and from there it might be easy for them to
 conquer the land.
 The ruling is clear, and the current circumstances in the Middle
 East are far more severe than those portrayed in the above
 passage, for the following reasons: First, every point on the map
 of the Holy Land, every settlement, can be considered as "a city
 close to the coast (or border)" due to the extremely vulnerable
 nature of Israel's geography. An enemy could obviously conquer
 the hinterland far more easily once it has captured any strong
 point near the border. Second, there is no question of the
 invading enemies having their eyes only on despoiling "straw and
 stubble"; they announce their murderous goals very openly! A
 question could be posed about this Torah ruling. The desire is to
 rescue the Jews from the hands of their enemies. Since we are the
 "smallest of all the nations", we need the Al-mighty's help in
 our battle. If so, why should we take weapons and desecrate the
 Shabbos? Should we not better recite Tehillim (Psalms) for our
 deliverance, or engage in Torah Study etc.? The unequivocal
 ruling of the Shulchan Aruch is resoundingly clear. The Al-mighty
 desires that, in this case, we should go forth against them well
 armed, and, if necessary, we are to desecrate the Shabbos for
 this purpose. The course of action mandated by the Torah is one
 manner of serving G-d. Just as one must study Torah and fulfill
 the Mitzvos so must he perform his bounden duty with regard to
 the prevention of danger to life.

 How much of the territory of the Holy Land can we give back?
 Not one step!
 The situation currently in the Holy Land is strange; it is
 exceedingly worrying; it is completely incomprehensible. Everyone
 knows that to return areas on the West bank of the Jordan River
 to the Arabs is a danger to life. We do not need to hear this
 from the greatest expert. All we have to do is look at the map
 and see how close the west bank of the Jordan is to the sea, and
 to note who is present on the eastern side of the Jordan and who
 is to be found on ships in the Mediterranean ... It then becomes
 immediately obvious that this is a situation of real imminent
 danger to life. (When Jewish representatives unrolled a map in
 the Oval Office of the president of the United States and pointed
 out to him the distance of the territories in question to the
 sea, and the ease with which an enemy could cut through those
 areas, the President agreed that return of those areas to the
 enemy constituted PIKUACH NEFESH. endangering the lives of the
 inhabitants of the Holy Land.) Yet, in spite of the clarity and
 obviousness of the danger, on which issues do we hear discussion
 today? The discussion centers around such irrelevant issues as
 the U.N. Resolution 242 (which was unfortunately signed by those
 of our people who were "fearful and faint-hearted"). What
 difference does the interpretation of this piece of paper make?
 The issue here is DANGER TO LIFE. The issue is PIKUACH NEFESH.
 There is not a single expert who disagrees with the analysis that
 return of the territories under discussion involves danger to
 life. In such a circumstance, when the lives of three million
 Jews are in danger, what possible difference does the "meaning"
 or "interpretation" of the resolution make? The simplest person
 understands that if his wife and family are in circumstances
 where their very lives are endangered, such a situation overrules
 and overrides ALL other considerations.
 Some claim that a "promise" was secretly made to return some
 areas. This claim is totally without meaning - for no-one can
 promise to give away something which does not belong to him! The
 Holy Land - all of it - belongs to the Al-mighty. The Al-mighty
 has given it to every individual Jew and to all of us together as
 a nation, but He has given it to us "in trust", in a manner that
 it must remain OUR eternal inheritance. How could anyone have
 "promised" to give any of it away? It was not his to give.

 What should be done now to protect Israel?
 To establish defensive Jewish settlements along the entire
 eastern border!
 First Duty: Our very first duty is to prevent enemy infiltration
 of our borders, and there is no other effective way to do this
 than to close and protect those borders. The situation has
 deteriorated so badly, that for lack of a proper response to this
 demand of Torah, the authorities have come up with the following
 ridiculous explanation: Since the ultimate intention is to
 eventually build cities in the west bank area (the area of Judea
 (Yehuda) and Samaria (Shomron)) such construction and planning
 will take a long time; we cannot rush into it; it must be done
 slowly and deliberately, and eventually, at some unspecified
 time, these cities will be built.
 This is a total evasion of the issue; "cities" or "villages" are
 not the issue. In fact, the nature of any building per se is not
 under discussion. What is at issue here is the DEFENSE of all the
 people who dwell in the Holy Land for which purpose we do not
 need cities, we need lines of defense! We must post a sentry, arm
 him , and give him all the encouragement and support necessary to
 show him that he is doing the greatest Mitzva - that of
 protecting our sons and our daughters. CLOUDING THE ISSUE: Let
 not anyone confuse and cloud the issue with talk of what "was
 promised" or what was "not promised" All this is irrelevant
 discussion. The Land of Israel is an eternal inheritance given to
 the eternal people by the Eternal G-d Who is the supreme King of
 Kings of all countries of the world (subconsciously, members of
 all the other nations realize this too). Let us immediately
 settle the entire land of Israel to its borders without a storm
 of publicity or news. Quietly and resolutely let it be done, and
 then we will be on the road to true peace, for through this
 action we will frustrate and annul all the pressure being brought
 to bear upon us. The nations of the world will see that an action
 has been taken, a concrete action, and "the actions of a Bais Din
 (Court of Torah law ) are final; nothing can be done to change
 them post facto." (12)

 With whom could Israel sign a valid peace treaty now?
 With no one!
 There are some who are foolish enough to declare that if we will
 return areas of Judea and samaria (on the west bank of the Jordan
 river) we will attain peace. Those who cry for "peace" and "peace
 now" center the discussion whether it is worthwhile to take
 such-and-such a step "for peace" or not. Is it worthwhile to
 "trade territory for peace" etc. and other such meaningless
 discussions - meaningless because the supposed "peace
 discussions" are to take place with one, upon whom (everyone
 knows) peace does NOT depend on at all. Is he then supposed to
 persuade Saudi Arabia to make peace? He has no say WHATSOEVER in
 their opinions. Is he supposed to conclude a peace agreement on
 behalf of Iraq or Jordan or the P.L.O.? What nonsense! They
 despise him! Yet in order to attain this illusory and
 non-existent possibility of "peace", some are ready to bow and
 prostrate themselves before Egypt's Premier in order to "find
 favor in his eyes." They are ready to persuade him that he should
 take back everything which can be returned to him in the Sinai,
 in Judea and Samaria etc. They are ready to make CONCESSIONS
 They say, "Why are you not ready to give back territory for
 peace?" We must reply that NO ONE CAN OFFER A VALID PEACE TREATY.
 It is worth emphasizing that point again and again: Currently no
 one is able to offer a real peace. All they can offer is the
 willingness to sign a piece of paper; they say quite openly that
 the significance of the signature on this piece of paper is that
 if and when .... If everyone concerned will be in the proper
 mood... if.... if... then we will begin to speak about peace, and
 we will begin to ask all the various enemies of the Jews what
 their conditions are. And we all know very well what their
 conditions are - may heaven protect us against them!

 REFERENCES: Based on excerpts form unedited transcripts of
 discourses delivered on 11 Nissan 5736 (1976), 24 Teves
 5738(1978), Mevorchinm Adar I 5738 (1978), Mevorchim Nissan 5738
 (1978), and others. (1) Genessis 1:1; (2) Psalms 111:6; (3)
 Genesis 23:4; (4) Viz. Rashi ibid.; (5) Jeremiah 29:7; (6)
 Deuteronomy 11:12; (7) Numbers 34:2; (8) Psalms 20:6; (9)
 Leviticus 26:36; (10) Viz. Maimonides Hilchos Melachim Chap. 9:9;
 (11) Shulchan Aruch Admur, Orach Chayim 239:6; (12)Viz. Baba
 Metzia 17a
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