By Rabbi Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute
"...If you are incited by your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter... Do not agree with him or listen to him, do not show pity in your eye for him, do not show him mercy or keep silent for him" [Devarim 13:7,9].
Beating on a Collective Chest
During the last two weeks the word "reckoning" has been bandied about in every corner, bursting forth from every conceivable media outlet. And it is always aimed at the religious sector as a whole, and particularly the sector of the settlers. The demand is that we take responsibility for the crimes of murdering the father and his baby daughter in the village of Duma and for the arson in the "Bread and Fish" church. And it is all wrapped up in one package together with other hate crimes that were committed in the dead of the night by fanatic nationalistic criminals. Everybody knows very well how to fix the blame on us and to demand our reckoning and our restitution, as a combined and well-defined sector. As in response as an echo, " They beat me in the house of my lovers" (see: Zecharia 13:6), referring to rabbis and prominent people from the religious Zionist sector who fire from the Bayit Yehudi (the party, the "Jewish Home") straight into our own "armored car." "Ashamnu, bagadnu..." We are guilty, we have sinned, we are wicked.
We are quite good at such a task, taking on responsibility and guilt for things we did not do. We learned our lesson as far back as the days of the murder of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, who was shot in the city square by a hate criminal, a fanatic nationalist – who also wore a kippa. I would suggest that to this very day there are among us Torah-true individuals, public figures, and educators who are still sure of our collective guilt, and that they are comparing today's events to that time. I do not go along with these people and with their premise, and do not count me in with their gatherings. I do not accept any responsibility for the Rabin assassination, or for the events in Sabra and Shatila, or for the actions of the "hilltop youth" (who are suspected of having perpetrated the recent hate crimes), or for the "Shlissels" who are filled with hate (such as the man who murdered a girl in a parade). And we were not responsible either for the crucifixion of the "Messiah"...
Whether we are the collective of "kippa wearers" or the collective of the "politically right," we have no greater responsibility than the collective of irreligious people who bred other horrible criminals, like Daniel Maoz, who killed his parents in order to inherit their money, or Marie Pizam and Olga Borisov, who drowned their own children in the Yarkon River and in the sea, or other horrifying events which are too gory to be listed in detail here. And if you retort, "What kind of a comparison is that? These people were insane!" take the testimony of the courts, which found all of them to be sane enough to stand trial and did not release them to undergo treatment. Let's go even further. Does the collective of the "Ethiopian Sector" bear the responsibility for the murders of members of their own community in order to take a cigarette or because of drug-related anger? And what about the "Russian speaking" collective? Or "children of the kibbutzim" – among other possible groups?
I am sure that I have upset some of my readers, who by now are quite angry. "What kind of comparison are you making? Religious Zionism is known for growing rotten fruit and foolish weeds!" I am not frightened by their cries, even if they are joined by a chorus of "bleeding hearts" from the victimized community. I do not bear responsibility, I do not perform a collective reckoning which is ambiguous and not directed to a specific address. I do not call out for a reckoning to be performed by our entire sector. We have been given bitter pills to swallow in the past – and unjustly so – in the wake of an internal crisis after the murder of Yitzchak Rabin. At the time I kept my hands folded and did not take on any responsibility.
The "sector" which is not clearly defined, at which the barbs of criticism are directed, is called the "hilltop youth" in the media, and the "givonim" – hill-toppers – within our own ranks. (The original Givonim were a nation which fooled Yehoshua into guaranteeing their safety, and they were a distinct "low class" within the Jewish people for many generations. The name was later used by other fanatic groups.) It is not known who are their leaders and rabbis, or which "guru" they pray to, and in fact there is no way to tell if such figures even exist. We must admit this is evidently not a case of individual independent terrorists but rather an ISIS-style group, burning with murderous terroristic ideology, but it has nothing at all to do with religious Zionist or religious Torah-Zionist education which these people received in any of the institutions of religious Zionism. And now is the time to emphasize the following point: Heaven forbid that we should begin to suspect the best of our youth, who have chosen to live in the hills of the Shomron, Yehuda, and Binyamin, sacrificing their own comfort in order to advance the mission of nationalistic settlements in these geographic areas. Here is a clear sign that the hate criminals are not part of the religious Zionist camp. One of the "main tenets of faith" of religious Zionism is the "sanctity" of the country and its institutions, including the IDF and the security forces. The criminals deny the authority of the state, and this removes from them any basis for their alleged "Zionism."
If it will be found in the future that some sort of fanatic organization has been formed, with real leaders and an underground plan of action, they must be treated as terrorists, and they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, just like Moslem terrorists! If their leaders are caught – and if there are leaders they will be caught – and their responsibility and group influence will be proven, they must be treated as arodef – pursuers of Yisrael as a whole – and they deserve even worse punishment. Such leaders should be consideredinciters, as appears in this week's Torah portion (quoted above). We have been taught " No defense is put up for an inciter... as is written, 'do not show him mercy or keep silent' ... And the same is true of the primordial serpent, as Rabbi Simlai said: The serpent had many defenses that it could claim, but they were never raised. (For example: If the master gives a command and so does a student, should you listen to the student or to the master?) But why didn't the Holy One, Blessed be He, raise these claims? It is because no defense is raised for an inciter." [Sanhedrin 29a].