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Old 04-23-2012, 02:02 PM
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Battle For the Truth

A Documentary of the Struggle of the Minchas Elazar and Other Rabbanim Against Agudath Israel and the Zionist Movement

Index by Name
(All the rabbis listed below signed letters and proclamations against Agudah and against Zionism)

Rabbi Abraham Joseph Greenwald of Uzhgorod, Ukraine Rabbi Aryeh Leibush Halberstam of Sanz, Poland
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Freund of Interdam, Hungary
Rabbi Aryeh Leib Alter of Gur, Poland, author of Sfas Emes Rabbi Asher Lemel Spitzer of Kirchdorf, Slovakia
Rabbi Asher Zelig Greenzweig of Dalha, Hungary
Rabbi Abraham of Sochatchev, Ukraine, author of Avnei Nezer
Rabbi Abraham M. S. Frankel, president of the Orthodox Office in Pest, Hungary Rabbi Elazar Shapiro of Lanszut, Poland
Rabbi Elazar Halevi Rosenfeld of Ospicen, Poland
Rabbi Asher Meyer Halberstam of Bochnia, Poland
Rabbi Aaron Abraham Zlotky of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Abraham Aminoff of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Elijah Moses Maaravi of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum of Volova, Romania
Rabbi Elazar Shapiro of Kiviashad, Hungary
Rabbi Elazar Reinman of Bitchkoff, Romania
Rabbi Aaron Zevi Kestenbaum of Aulik, Hungary
Rabbi Ben Zion Sneiders of Rab, Hungary
Rabbi Baruch Wiesner of Batya, Hungary
Rabbi David Schlussel of Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia
Rabbi David Dov Meisels of Satoraljaujhely, Hungary
Rabbi David Elimelech Weiss of Szkernizsa, Poland
Rabbi David Frankel of Neflecovitz, Slovakia
Rabbi David Schreiber, president of the Galician Kollel in Arislav, Germany
Rabbi David Zevi Krelenstein of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi David Isaac Rosenwasser of Upper Apsza, Hungary
Rabbi David Weinberger of Julnicza, Poland
Rabbi Hillel Lichtenstein of Kolomaya , Poland
Rabbi Hillel Weinberger of Dunaserdehaly, Hungary
Vaad Machzikei Chinuch Hayashan, Jerusalem, Palestine
Vaad Harabbanim of Hungary
Rabbi Zev Sheftel Edelhauch of Iszka, Hungary
Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapiro of Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia
Rabbi Chuna Halberstam of Kalischitz, Poland
Rabbi Chaim Zucker of Berkesz, Hungary
Rabbi Chaim Elazar Teitelbaum of Tashnad, Hungary
Rabbi Chaim Leib Teitelbaum of Koba, Hungary
Rabbi Chaim Judah Goldberger of Syualiva, Poland
Rabbi Chaim Elazar Hartstein, vice president of the Orthodox office in Pest, Hungary Rabbi Chaim Hager of Antonia, Romania
Rabbi Chaim Saul Dowek of Jerusalem, Palestine Rabbi Chaim Sofer of Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia Rabbi Chaim Meyer Hager of Vilchovitz, Romania Rabbi Hanoch Meyer of Keretzky, Hungary
Rabbi Chaim Isaac Halberstam of Szalatfina, Romania Rabbi Chaim Zevi Teitelbaum of Sighet, Romania
Rabbi Jonathan Steiff of Uzhgorod, later of Pest, Hungary Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum of Orshiva, later of Satmar, Romania Rabbi Isaac Zevi Lebowitz of Chop, Ukraine
Rabbi Isaac Adler of Serednia, Romania
Rabbi Joshua Heshel Rosner of Terzsel, Hungary
Rabbi Joel Wolf Glattstein of Helmetz, Hungary
Rabbi Joseph Weiss of Zbarow, Hungary
Rabbi Jacob Moses Saffrin of Komarno, Poland
Rabbi Isaac Teitelbaum of Huskov
Rabbi Jekuthiel Judah Rosenberg of Diresz, Hungary
Rabbi Israel Chaim Shapiro of Pshevorsk, Germany
Rabbi Jechiel Michel Fried of Ivarash, Hungary
Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn of Lubavitch, Russia
Rabbi Issachar Dov Rokeach of Belz, Ukraine
Rabbi Joseph Rosen of Dvinsk, Latvia
Rabbi Isaiah Silverstein of Veiczen, Hungary
Rabbi Judah Greenwald of Satmar, Romania
Rabbi Ezekiel Shraga Halberstam of Sieniawa, Germany
Rabbi Israel Hager of Vizhnitsa, Romania
Rabbi Jacob Weiss of Kurima, Romania
Rabbi Jacob Meyer of Kapish, Hungary
Rabbi Joseph Elimelech Cahana of Uzhgorod, Ukraine
Rabbi Issachar Solomon Teichthal of Fishtian, Slovakia
Rabbi Isaac Meir of Gur, Poland, author of Chiddushei Harim
Rabbi Jerachmiel Israel Isaac of Alexander, Poland
Rabbi Isaac Isaiah Halberstam of Cracow, Poland
Rabbi Joseph Chaim Sonnenfeld of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Isaiah Asher Zelig Margulies of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Joseph Hoffman of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Isaac Frankel of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Joseph Yedid Halevy, rabbi of the Syrian community of Jerusalem, Palestine Rabbi Jacob Chaim Sofer of Jerusalem, Palestine, author of Kaf Hachaim
Rabbi Israel Shapiro of Prachnik, Poland
Rabbi Joshua Shapiro of Reisha, Germany
Rabbi Israel Zevi Rothenberg of Kassan, Hungary
Rabbi Joshua Greenwald of Chust, Hungary
Rabbi Jacob Hakohein Friedman of Chust, Hungary
Rabbi Isaac Frish of Rokovitz, Slovakia
Rabbi Joshua Sofer of Greater Brezna, Ukraine
Rabbi Joseph Halevy of Kiralhoz, Hungary
Rabbi Isaac Gross of Tarin, Hungary
Rabbi Joel Welitchker of Tressif, Slovakia
Rabbi Joseph Moses Goldberger of Polina
Rabbi Jekuthiel Judah Teitelbaum of Sighet, Romania
Rabbi Jacob Itzkowitz of Zadnya, Ukraine
Rabbi Judah Zevi Eichenstein of Great Dobran, Ukraine
Kollel Chibas Jerusalem of Galicia in Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Mordecai Leib Winkler of Mad, Hungary
Rabbi Menachem Ziemba of Warsaw, Poland
Rabbi Mordechai Lichtenstein of Chirch, Germany
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Tannenbaum of Tarna, Germany
Rabbi Mordechai Eliezer Ehrengruber of Vranov, Slovakia
Rabbi Menachem Gershon Lebowitz of Chechovitz, Romania
Rabbi Moses David Ostreicher of Chimpa, Romania
Rabbi Moses Wertzberger of Orshiva, Romania
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Halberstam of Pristik, Poland
Rabbi Menasheh Simcha Friedman of Sabrancz, Slovakia
Rabbi Moses Greenzweig of Lipsha, Romania
Rabbi Moses Brody of Uzhgorod, Ukraine
Rabbi Meyer Arik of Tarna, Germany, author of Imrei Yosher
Rabbi Mordechai Zev Halberstam of Gribov, Germany
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Horowitz of Mehlitz, Romania
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Deutsch of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Mordechai Leib Rubin of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Menachem Weiss of Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia
Rabbi Meyer Zev Saltzer of Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia
Rabbi Moses Jacob Beck of Lower Apsha, Romania
Rabbi Mordechai Deutsch of Veliatin, Slovakia
Rabbi Naphtali Teitelbaum of Nirbator, Hungary
Rabbi Naphtali Zevi Weiss of Bilka, Romania
Rabbi Naphtali Hertzel Weiss of Vilchovitz, Romania
Rabbi Ezra Harari-Raful of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Pinchas Adler of Radvanka, Russia
Rabbi Zevi Hirsch Shapiro of Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia, author of Darchei Teshuva Rabbi Zevi Elimelech Shapiro of Bluzhev, Poland
Rabbi Zevi Hirsch Sofer of Greater Brezna, Ukraine
Rabbi Reuben Chaim Klein of Sanina, Slovakia
Rabbi Shalom Sofer of Greater Brezna, Ukraine
Rabbi Samuel Benjamin Halevy Jungreis of Pilek, Hungary
Rabbi Simon Sofer of Erlau, Slovakia
Rabbi Shabse Lifshitz of Orshiva, Hungary
Rabbi Solomon Ehrenreich of Simlau, Romania
Rabbi Samuel Zevi of Alexander, Poland
Rabbi Samuel Engel of Radimishlau, Poland
Rabbi Samuel Rosenberg of Unsdorf, Slovakia
Rabbi Simon Greenfeld of Semihaly, Hungary
Rabbi Samuel Cahana Frankel, president of the Orthodox office in Pest, Hungary Rabbi Solomon Zevi Strasser of Debrecen, Hungary
Rabbi Simon Israel Posen of Shapron (Edinburgh), Hungary
Rabbi Shalom Eliezer Halberstam of Ujfeherto, Hungary
Rabbi Simcha Teumim Frankel of Cracow, Poland Rabbi Simcha Nathan Greenberg of Kezmark, Hungary Rabbi Shalom Mordechai Hakohein of Brezan, Romania Rabbi Solomon Sofioff of Jerusalem, Palestine
Rabbi Shalom Saffrin of Komarno, Poland
Rabbi Solomon Israel Klein of Selish, Hungary
Rabbi Samuel Zevi Weiss of Bnedikovitz, Slovakia Rabbi Shalom Noah Landau of Veretzky, Romania Rabbi Solomon Friedman of Rachov, Romania
Rabbi Solomon Isaac Scheinfeld of Aulik, Hungary Rabbi Samuel Jechiel Moscowitz of Palad, Hungary Rabbi Solomon Spitzer of Bogdan, Hungary
Rabbi Solomon Eliezer Alefandri of Jerusalem, Palestine

Chapter 1: The Agudah is Rejected by Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Shapiro, Author of Darchei Teshuva

The struggle against the Agudah and its ideology began under the leadership of the author of Darchei Teshuva, in his capacity as a leader of Hungarian Orthodoxy. In the year 5673 (1913) a wind of change began to blow from Germany; a certain German rabbi attempted to convince the Hungarian rabbis to join in founding the Agudah. At a meeting of the Hungarian leadership, the Darchei Teshuva arose and completely rejected the idea. He explained his reasons to those present using the analogy of two sticks, one long and one short: "If a man wants to make both sticks the same size, he cannot make the short one longer; the only way is to cut the long one shorter. Here too: do you not agree, dear rabbis of Germany, that Judaism in our country is in better condition than in yours? Hungary is the long stick and Germany is the short stick. How then will they fit together in the Agudah, which originates from Germany? We will have no choice but to cut down Judaism in our country, and this we will never agree to do. You may consider the Agudah a good thing for your country, but it would be a bad thing for our country." The Hungarian rabbis, all wise and respected leaders of their people, agreed not to join the Agudah, and so the land remained clean of this breach. The rabbis of Germany did not so much as consider bypassing the rabbis and turning directly to the people, for they had enough good sense and respect to know that the rabbis are the pillars of the land and without them one can do nothing. And certainly the Jews of Hungary would not think of disobeying the call of their Torah leaders.

Chapter 2: The Confusion Begins

Then came the World War, when the countries were broken up, great misfortunes came to the world, and the Jewish people were bereaved, uprooted and impoverished, wandering without a safe place to settle. In this state of confusion, when the wisdom of the wise had gone crooked, the Satan found an opportune time to ensnare the masses. He found many an ear willing to listen to him, to found various groups and parties whose goal was the settle of Eretz Yisroel. Among these parties, to a greater and greater extent, was the Agudah. The masses, unable to distinguish between holy and profane, clean and defiled, began to slip, without knowing what they were slipping on. Even among many of the remaining great Torah leaders, disputes began to arise, and they did not gather together in unity to protest against the false ideologies for the war and the peace that followed it greatly confounded the entire world, as anyone who lived in those bitter days knows.
And at that time, the Darchei Teshuva's son and successor, the great leader, zealot son of a zealot, the holy gaon, Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapiro, author of Minchas Elazar, arose and donned the cloak of zeal for the sake of Hashem and His Torah, and printed the following warning:

Chapter 3: The Minchas Elazar Takes a Clear Stand Against Zionism and Settlement, Even With Permission from all the Nations

For the sake of truth and Torah, I will call in the name of Hashem, to remove the stumbling block from the house of Israel, that we might not be suspect in anyone's eyes. I saw the newspaper Vochenshrift, mouthpiece of the Organization for Settling (i.e. destroying) Eretz Yisroel, printed in Pest, in which they make me the victim of their lies in order to attract more people to their movement. They put my name at the top of the list, together with two gedolei hador, as approving of the Yishuvist1 movement. "When these three pillars of Torah come out in support of us," wrote the editor, "who will not come out?"

I was shocked to see this how can they write such a obvious lie about me when I am here to deny it? And my opposition to the Yishuvists was well known, for when I was at the conference in Pest, in the presence of everyone, Dr. Zev Tzvi Klein, rabbi of Eisenstadt, came to debate with me over what I had already written against the Yishuvists in the introduction to a book published by our kollel. He was upset that I had called them heretics, deniers of the miraculous coming of moshiach were the great rabbis who had founded the organization heretics? I replied that my accusation of heresy had not been meant to refer to the rabbis, only to the youth groups that have been formed recently, who laugh at all our faith in the miraculous redemption, showing disrespect for their elders. They are not only destroying (not settling) Eretz Yisroel, but destroying the whole Torah world by founding this groups and carrying on these activities.

The new groups advocating settlement in Eretz Yisroel are no better than the Mizrachists, who also claim to be following Shulchan Aruch. We look not at the name "Yishuv Eretz Yisroel" but at the substance and platform of the organization. Regarding the Mizrachists, our rabbis and fathers, righteous men of our country, both past and present, have forbidden joining them. A lesser court cannot annul the ruling of a previous greater court. And the Yishuvists fall under this ruling.

They claim that now it is different, due to the great losses and destruction from which the Jewish people in Europe has recently suffered. For this reason, they want to become farmers in Eretz Yisroel. Even naturally speaking this idea is futile there be will no room for all the Jews in the Holy Land until it expands (see Gittin 57a). This is not the place to delve into this issue. But more importantly, the question of emigration to Eretz Yisroel is not new; it was already raised forty years ago during the pogroms in Russia. In those years a million Jews, or perhaps more, were fleeing Russia. Still, the rabbis of the time ruled that they should not form groups and organizations to colonize Eretz Yisroel, for worse than all the persecution would be to take away from the remnant of Israel their spark of faith and observance of Torah. What has changed now? Who permitted this?

We cannot take lightly the ruling of Rabbi Meir of Rottenburg, brought by the Tashbatz (responsum 559), regarding the mitzvah to go and live in Eretz Yisroel: "This is only if he accepts upon himself to be exceptionally strict and careful of any type of sin, and he will fulfill the mitzvos that apply in Eretz Yisroel. For if he sins there, he will be punished more than if he had sinned in the rest of the world. The Torah says (Devarim 11:12) that Hashem your G-d looks after the land; His eyes are always on it. One who rebels against the King in His palace is much worse than one who rebels outside the palace. This is why it is called 'a land that eats its inhabitants' (Bamidbar 13:32). Regarding those who wish to go there and act with lightheaded and quarrelsome behavior, Yirmiyah (2:7) said, 'You came and defiled My land,' and Yishaya (1:12) said, 'Who asked this of you, to trample My courtyards?'" These are the words of the Tashbatz.

Now we understand the wisdom of our rabbis, who instituted the charity of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness for those Jews living in the Holy Land and occupying themselves with Torah and service of Hashem. Some of them do a little business, but the main goal of the charity is to support Torah study. This is what Jews in the King's palace should be doing. But if they go there and work the soil, plowing and sowing and reaping as farmers do, they will become sunken into the physical and forget the spiritual, and the words of the Tashbatz will apply to them.

It is also well known that the greatest of latter authorities, Rabbi Yonasan Eybeshutz of righteous memory, in his work Ahavas Yonasan, forbade any return to the Holy Land during exile, even with permission from the nations. In the Haftorah for Parshas Vaeschanan we read: "Go up on a high mountain, announcer of Zion; lift up your voice with strength, announcer of Jerusalem; lift it up, do not fear, say to the cities of Judah: here is your G-d" (Yishaya 40:9). Rashi notes that the word "announcer" is in the feminine, while later on (52:7) the word "announcer" is used in the same sense, but in the masculine. Rashi explains that if the Jewish people deserves it, the redemption will come quickly like a man, but if not, it will be weak like a woman and will be delayed
until the End. Based on this, Rabbi Yonasan Eybeshutz explains the verse in Shir Hashirim (2:7), "I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, not to arouse or awaken the love before she desires." Here too, the word "techpatz" she desires is in the feminine. The meaning is that the Jewish people, who is the speaker in this verse, cries out to the nations (the "daughters of Jerusalem") with a curse and an oath: "Do not arouse and do not awaken the love towards the ingathering of Israel!" Even if all the Jews are ready to go to Jerusalem, and all the nations agree, still she cries out that, G-d forbid, she will not go there. For the end is hidden, and perhaps now is not the true time, only a temporary moment of favor. In a short time they will sin, and be forced into exile again, G-d forbid, and that exile will be worse than the previous one. Therefore she requested that they not go until "she desires," that is, until the time arrives when the earth is filled with knowledge. After that time, the Creator promises that the Jewish people will never lack anything, for that is the true time. Therefore, the prophet Yishaya calls the announcer feminine, for the end of the exile will be slow in coming, but once it comes, "Lift up your voice with strength" for there will be nothing to fear. There will never be, G-d forbid, another exile, for "say to the cities of Judah, here is your G-d" He Himself will come and redeem you.

Rabbi Yonasan Eybeshutz lived more than a hundred years before the Zionist movement began, but it seems that Divine inspiration moved him to write about this matter which so plagues us today. We cannot rely on the faltering support of the nations, even if right now they are in favor. They act with guile and all that they do is for their own benefit, as our Sages say (Avodah Zarah 2b).

The Yishuvists also write explicitly in their program that they are willing to join other organizations that have similar principles. So they admit that they are part of the Zionist movement and wish to join the Zionist establishment. If one joins forces with the wicked, "an organization of the wicked does not count" (Sanhedrin 26a). Chazal also say that in the days before Moshiach impudence will increase, and the truth will be absent (Sotah 49b). If they write that great and righteous rabbis of this country support them, do not believe it! If the publishers of the newspaper "Vochenshrift" in Pest were not ashamed to print my name among the supporters of the Yishuvists, after I had written so vehemently against them, then they have no credibility. Certainly we need not believe what they write about rabbis in places further away than I am.
I acted swiftly and published this denial of the position attributed to me by the "Vochenshrift" in order to prevent people from stumbling in this sin. I apologize to my dear rabbis and teachers for not waiting to gather signatures of many rabbis, as is normally done, for it was impossible due to the time constraints and the dangers of travel. "Wherever there is a desecration of Hashem's name going on, we need not defer to the honor of a greater person" (Berachos 19b). I hope that they will forgive me and be supportive of my words. "Assyria will not save us...and we will no longer call the works of our hands our gods" (Hoshea 14:4). This means that we will not think that with the acts of our own hands, or with the help of the nations, we should be able to accomplish our redemption. "All the predicted times for the redemption have passed, and the matter depends only on repentance" (Sanhedrin 97b).
I am ready to discuss this matter in further detail, but for now we must hold no gatherings in Pest or anywhere else for the purpose of settling Eretz Yisroel. Unless all the rabbis meet and reach a positive decision, we must not change our position on this matter. Whoever tries to change the position has the burden of proof, for he is lending a hand to the sinners and causing Jews to slip into the pit of iniquity, may Hashem spare us! This is the period of tests following tests, refinement after refinement, that Chazal foretold would come before Moshiach (Sotah 49b, Sanhedrin 97a, Kesubos 111a, Zohar end of Balak); these are the birth pangs.

Let me also mention that many of our activists have begun to draw up agreements to join the Agudists of Germany and Switzerland. But this is not the proper way to strengthen Orthodoxy in our country. Until they receive our permission at a general gathering of rabbis of this country, they are forbidden to join, for the Agudah was not founded in Hungary. This is what our leaders ruled before the War. Therefore, "anything new is forbidden by the Torah" unless we assemble, analyze the matter and vote to permit it. May Hashem help us to continue in the way of our fathers, and may their merit protect us, to go from darkness to great light, with the coming of the redeemer and the redemption of Israel.
Signed in Munkacz this Tuesday of Ki Sisa 5679 (1919), Chaim Elazar Shapiro

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