A Momentary Concealment
interview with Rabbi Zalman Melamed, one of the leading rabbanim
week [now two weeks ago — Ed.] there was a gathering of rabbanim
for shleimus ha’aretz. What did you discuss?
of the talk about giving away parts of Eretz Yisroel, whether in
Yesh’a or the Golan, hundreds of rabbanim convened to
discuss this threat to our security. Led by Rabbi Mordechai
Eliyahu and Rabbi Avrohom Shapiro, former chief rabbis of Eretz
Yisroel, it was unanimously agreed that it is absolutely forbidden
to give away even one inch of land, as it puts lives in danger. We
hope that Hashem will hear our prayers and have mercy.
this meeting I noted that we at Channel 7 [Arutz Sheva] are
not allowed to broadcast directly to Eretz Yisroel. Instead, we
are forced to broadcast to a satellite, which beams our broadcasts
back to Eretz Yisroel. This restriction parallels the
government’s disinterest in dealing with us directly. All we can
do is “broadcast” to Hashem, and He will, in turn, convey the
directives to save Eretz Yisroel.
public sentiment seems to be that Israel is selling out, as the
government is trying to keep the process moving at all costs.
the difficult situation, we feel that Hashem in His kindness is
preventing the government from doing what it wants. Even if it
seems that everything is negative, we must continue to hope for a
change for the better.
are we to be optimistic when the government is planning
significant withdrawals from Eretz Yisroel?
my speech at the meeting, I explained that this government is
under investigation to see whether it was voted in honestly or
not. A government under such scrutiny is in no position to discuss
issues having to do with withdrawals and issues that endanger the
security of millions of Jews living here.
see an amazing thing happening. The more they try to give land
away to the goyim, the more the goyim themselves
refuse to take it. We hope that it will all end well.
goyim are pressuring them for land in and around
Yerushalayim, and it looks as though the government will give into
are talking about abandoning Yerushalayim to goyim, when
even the Har HaBayis (Temple Mount) is being
desecrated in broad daylight with the sanction of the Israeli
government! Since the government doesn’t call an immediate halt
to these activities, this demonstrates incredible weakness. The
Arabs are breaking the foundations of the Har Ha’Bayis,
and they are tossing the earth and whatever they find into the
garbage. We must take a stand against this disastrous state of
affairs. It is intolerable that Yerushalayim the Holy City is
being desecrated while the Jewish government looks on! We have
never had such a thing happen before in our history.
60 years ago, when there was talk about dividing Eretz Yisroel,
Rabbi Amiel, zt’l, said that if representatives of the
Jewish nation would sign away parts of Eretz Yisroel, it would be
the greatest chilul Hashem ever. The holiness of the
Torah cannot be compromised. We cannot look away when it comes to
dividing Eretz Yisroel.
must add that in 5697 (1937) the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah
publicized its position, which was opposed to dividing Eretz
Yisroel. The great Rabbi Menachem Ziemba, may Hashem avenge his
blood, compared the Torah, whose holiness is diminished when it is
missing a letter, to Eretz Yisroel in the same situation. If a
small part of Eretz Yisroel is undermined, it undermines the
entire status of Eretz Yisroel.
all remember when the Rebbe said to Mr. Moshe Katzav on Yud Shvat
5752, that when Jews give away portions of Eretz Yisroel there is
no greater chilul Hashem, r’l.
any special resolutions passed at the gathering of rabbanim?
resolved to stand strong for shleimus ha’aretz. The rabbanim
were asked to use their influence in their own communities to
avert a tragedy. Naturally, we also called upon the Israeli
government to immediately stop the runaway train.
is the sense that everything is slipping through our fingers, and
that we are backing ourselves into a more difficult situation than
any we have experienced as a nation. What are we to do about it?
of all, we must not despair. We must protest and stand strong, so
that nothing is given to our enemies, but we must not despair. If
you are talking about perspectives, it is specifically now that we
see clearly that we are in the process of getting stronger. Yes,
there are still obstacles, but we shall overcome them. We must
remain strong in our emuna and bitachon and instill
this within those around us. There is no question that if we do
our all, and each one of us exerts his personal influence, we will
succeed in preventing further withdrawals.
present government has announced that its goal is to continue
withdrawing, so how is it possible to stop this process?
are not politicians. We operate spiritually as rabbanim,
and we believe that we can make a difference. We have to do what
we have to do, and, by Divine providence, things will resolve
themselves. I am sure that influence from afar also has an effect.
exactly will the changes come about? We don’t know and it is no
concern of ours. When a large group of people observes the Torah,
and davens and cries out about the situation, the Ribono
Shel Olam has His ways of stopping these perilous proceedings.
are in the midst of a heated public debate as to whether to leave
Lebanon or not. What is your opinion?
first glance, it seems out of the question to leave Lebanon,
especially in a position of weakness and capitulation. However,
things are so complicated that I think that ultimately there is
nothing that we can do to repair the situation; only help from
Above will correct matters.
do you envisage this “help from Above” to materialize?
we see a spirit of dejection among a large part of the population.
I think it is an indication of an inner process that keeps
progressing in a definite direction. Externally, things are going
downhill on all fronts, and from day to day more outrageous things
are said and done than we could ever have imagined. However, I
think it is only a foil for an increase in spiritual activity.
at the other side of the coin. We see a constant aliya to
Eretz Yisroel. We see a strengthening of Torah study, with yeshivos
and mosdos Torah constantly growing. Even the
settlements in Yesh’a, despite the government’s attempts to
prevent expansion, have grown. Nearly every settlement throughout
Yesh’a has seen considerable growth in the last year. In our yishuv
at Beit-El, about 100 new families came to join us this past year.
And the same is true all over.
despite the reckless and dangerous steps taken by the government,
there is constant building. New neighborhoods arise and there is
amazing growth in the settlements. How does this fit with what the
government is trying to do? It seems to me that this is nothing
but a smokescreen that obscures what’s really happening. The
time will come that we will see that everything that happened was
only a momentary concealment.
so, why must we cry out about returning parts of Eretz Yisroel?
the growth, we cannot stand on the sidelines during these
difficult times. We must muster our strength and not allow this
dangerous process to continue. We all know where such talks can
is it that people don’t understand the danger in giving away
land in Yesh’a, although the message seemed to get across when
it came to the Golan?
know that as we speak, people are working on getting the public to
come to Yesh’a. I’m talking about bringing a million Jews on
tours and visits throughout Yesh’a, and, baruch Hashem, this
campaign is seeing success. Thousands of people come and connect.
Evidently, the media misrepresents public opinion.
fact, we also see this shocking phenomenon in the approach of
those people who sit in radio studios and in the editorial offices
of newspapers, people who stick knives in the backs of I.D.F.
soldiers. They wage war against soldiers on the frontlines and
weaken their position.
do you explain such irrational behavior?
really isn’t understandable, but looking into it more deeply, I
think that this is another of Heaven’s ways of torpedoing the
government’s activities, since the Left is weakening the
government. Who knows, perhaps this is what will help ensure that
the government will not continue but will cease caving into the goyim
in such a shameful fashion.
is possible that just such a situation, when the government is
weak, will lead to circumstances in which it will be unable to act
hastily. It seems that it may be better to have such a weak
government, for then it will fall and a better one will take its
do you explain the fact that this government coalition is
partially comprised of observant Jews?
my opinion, it is impossible for Jews loyal to Torah to be
partners in conceding parts of Eretz Yisroel. In the near future
they plan on giving Arafat an additional six percent, each percent
being the size of Tel Aviv. How could an observant Jew be part of
a government that rips Eretz Yisroel to shreds? The budget and
financial support the government gives them does not justify
supporting the abandonment of Eretz Yisroel. How can a Jew who
says Shma Yisroel every day and puts on tefillin
and davens three times a day continue to support a
government that tears Eretz Yisroel apart and gives it away to the
all see the terrible anti-Semitism in the Arab world. This is an
enemy who wants to destroy us, r’l. The incitement in
their media is terrible. Do we want to give away parts of Eretz
Yisroel to people like that?
the government realize how absurd it is?
situation arose from a worldview that lacks emuna. As I
said earlier, this process may be taking place so that the correct
perspective will ultimately prevail. As we speak, the entire moral
basis for the government is being destroyed. Investigations of
heads of government are only part of what I am talking about.
It’s like discarding an old paper and preparing a fresh blank
slate from which will shine the light of Torah. It is impossible
to explain the blindness of our leaders, who turn light into
darkness and darkness into light.
were one of the people who founded Channel 7. A few weeks ago they
tried to close you down when hundreds of policemen besieged the
studio in Beit-El. Could you comment on that?
the government’s attempt to shut us up. Instead of approving of
this channel and enabling everybody’s voice to be heard, they
censor us. I know that they are always seeking ways of harming us,
and that flies in the face of their talk of free speech and
democracy. If law were important to them, they would enact a law
that would allow the religious and nationalists to speak up. Just
as anyone can start his own newspaper, anyone can open a radio
station. There are plenty of available channels on the airwaves,
according to industry experts.
claim that you are interfering with the airplanes at the airport
and are endangering the lives of thousands of passengers...
was never the case, and they know it. It is an outright lie! The
frequencies of the airwaves we use are entirely unlike those used
by pilots. It has nothing to do with them.
are expected to accept a resolution for a new law that would
undermine the licensing of Channel 7.
really hope this law will not be passed. All efforts to squelch
Channel 7 testify to the channel’s great influence. Since we
established it 12 years ago, it has strengthened the public in
matters concerning Eretz Yisroel and Yiddishkeit. Channel 7
has educated many people about Eretz Yisroel, the religious sector
as well as the general public.
the case against the directors of Channel 7 still exist?
sure does, and I am one of the “guilty” parties. Though, I
actually see it as a z’chus. Fortunate are we who are
caught for divrei Torah. I am happy for this privilege of
breaking the law to get Torah and love for the land out to the
Jewish people. I have no regrets. On the contrary…
would you like to conclude this talk?
have to be full of emuna and bitachon that Hashem
will not abandon His people. Any weakness we see is merely
superficial and transient. The truth is that we are actually
taking giant steps toward the true and complete Redemption.