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Their Silence Might Be Misinterpreted
Rabbi Boruch Boaz Yurkowitz, rav of Kiryat Chabad in Lud, in a special interview with Beis Moshiach
By Shai Gefen


The Jewish nation is in danger, with talks of giving away most of Yehuda and Shomron to the Palestinians, thus abandoning 50,000 Jews to full Arab authority...

Everybody knows what the Rebbe said about this! The Rebbe spoke explicitly about this over twenty years ago, asserting what would happen in Eretz Yisroel if they continued on the road of concessions and capitulation to the nations of the world. Each of us heard the Rebbe on more than one occasion, screaming from the depths of his pure and holy heart about the terrible situation developing in Eretz Yisroel. Today we see that the Rebbe was speaking prophetically about what would happen if we didn’t take a strong stance to protect our borders.

The Rebbe demanded that we vehemently protest when dangerous actions like these are taken, and not to refrain from protesting even if we consider it a useless activity. This is even more applicable today when the lives of the tens of thousands of Jews who live in Yehuda-Shomron are in danger. There are heinous plans to abandon them, and these plans are already known to all, with no government official denying them. At a time like this, I don’t see how anyone can stand on the sidelines and keep quiet. The Rebbe stated clearly that those who keep quiet at a time like this are included in the category of “do not stand by your brother’s blood.”

Many people say that protesting won’t help matters, so why bother?

The Rebbe dealt with this question numerous times and stated his opinion more than once. I will preface that with what the Rebbe said in the sicha of 20 Av 5739 (1979): “It makes no difference whether crying out will help, since the reason for crying out is not because it makes logical sense to do so, but because the situation is painful! No doubt they will act zealously in this matter.”

For those who still want to know that their protesting will make a difference, the Rebbe said that you cannot know what protesting will accomplish, and whether it helped or not. You can never know what they would have done had you not protested – so the claim “what use is there in protesting” is unacceptable.

The Rebbe quoted a story said in the name of the Chofetz Chaim, where the Chofetz Chaim sent a delegation to attempt to annul a government decree against the Jews. The delegation returned, having accomplished nothing, and they reported the bad news to the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim asked them, “Did you faint?”

The lesson the Rebbe derived from this story is that until we have fallen faint over the desire to return land, we must throw ourselves into opposing these steps. Only afterwards can we say we did all we could to save Eretz Yisroel from those who arise against it.

What should be done? Should we go and demonstrate?

I am not here to make suggestions as to how to protest. I know that the Rebbe ordered and asked us countless times to do all we can to protest for the sake of shleimus ha’Aretz. As far as exactly how to go about doing so and what to do, let everyone do as they see fit. There are many ways to protest.

First and foremost, we must not be complacent, and we must realize that this is a terrible danger for five million Jews! This is the only thing the Rebbe stated explicitly, regarding the danger there would be if, ch’v, they would give back land. The Rebbe contended that this would endanger the lives of millions of Jews in Eretz Yisroel. Just hearing this is enough to make one tremble and realize that you cannot remain quiet under the circumstances. There are many ways of protesting, and I believe that everybody knows exactly what he has to do and how.

Nevertheless, in simple terms, what great urgency is there in protesting when it won’t help anyway?

First of all, who says what will and will not help? I’d like to quote a letter from the Rebbe, dated 24 Shvat 5741: “In my opinion, the main point now regarding the security situation is in vigorously protesting against the concessions, in the face of all the pressure affecting the security situation, which amounts to one thing – that there is no end to concessions, may it not come to pass.

“Another important point in my opinion, perhaps because I am overly optimistic, is that if this protest were non-stop and extremely forceful, as the situation warrants, it would finally succeed in the end and in the near future.”

We learn from the Rebbe that a forceful, non-stop protest will surely be effective.

Another point, which is no less important, is the terrible chilul Hashem that results when Jews who oppose the Torah publicly represent the Jewish nation. Protesting mitigates somewhat the enormous chilul Hashem, as well as the great kitrug (Heavenly accusation). By protesting we make it very clear that whatever certain individuals do is completely of their own volition and does not represent the Jewish people. May Hashem help us see the fulfillment of the verse, “they plotted and were thwarted, spoke and yet it was unfulfilled, for G-d is with us.”

What is the role of the rabbanim when the lives of five million Jews are endangered?

I’m not here to tell any rav what to do, as it is not my job to do so. However, the Rebbe was quite clear when he said that rabbanim are the true rulers, and they must stand firm and clarify “dvar Hashem zu halacha” (the word of Hashem – this is halacha), about the gravity of the isur (prohibition) in giving away land. The Rebbe said that in a situation regarding returning land, even rabbanim who don’t usually protest must protest if their silence will be wrongly understood. The Rebbe said it is the obligation of the rabbanim to publicize the psak din in Shulchan Aruch about the severity of the prohibition in these situations. We all know that the Rebbe quoted the halacha in Shulchan Aruch numerous times, stating that it is forbidden for a rav to wait until they come and ask him, because “one who waits to be asked is disgraceful and sheds blood.” The rabbanim are obligated to publicize the halacha that it is forbidden to return land, and they must lead the protests in order that they not transgress a Biblical prohibition and endanger the lives of the Jewish people who live in Eretz Yisroel.

The settlers in Yehuda-Shomron and Aza are in a terrible situation. What can you say to them?

First of all, we may not differentiate between those living in Yehuda-Shomron and elsewhere. We are all in this together. They are part of us and we are all in danger.

In any case, they have a great z’chus in that they are in this challenging position, as they live in our border cities where they protect the Jewish people. If we had settled all the borders as the Rebbe told us to do, perhaps we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today. Therefore, we must encourage those living in Yehuda-Shomron-Aza and stand by their side in this battle.

It is difficult for me to speak about them when they are the ones living there b’mesirus nefesh while we live peacefully in the center of the country. It’s a time to daven and cry out to Hashem that He perform miracles to extricate us from this calamity. We must unceasingly cry out and protest so that Hashem will listen to our cries and save us.

They are talking about dividing Yerushalayim. Consequently, the danger is not only for those living in Yehuda-Shomron-Aza, but for those living in Yerushalayim as well.

I had no doubt that they would return Yerushalayim. When the Rebbe told Minister Moshe Katzav in 5752 that autonomy would lead to returning Chevron and Yerushalayim, I was certain that matters wouldn’t stop where they wanted it to stop, but would continue to what we are presently experiencing.

The Rebbe says that when you take the conciliatory route, there is no end in sight, and matters won’t stop with Yerushalayim. As the Rebbe said many times, they will return land in the center of Eretz Yisroel. I live in Lud and we see how the Arabs rule neighborhoods in the city, where there are whole areas where Jews cannot go! Unfortunately, there is a massive flight of Jews from Lud now.

There is a feeling of powerlessness. What can we do?

A Jew must not despair. Even if a sword rests on his neck, one mustn’t despair of [G-d’s] mercy. At the same time, we cannot deny the fact that we are all confounded by the situation; despair is eating away at everything good. However, it is specifically at a time like this when we must fortify ourselves and strengthen all the Rebbe’s inyanim. We must remember that “the Guardian of the Jewish people neither sleeps nor slumbers,” and in the end everything will have its effect, especially when we do the little bit incumbent upon us.

I would like to mention a sicha from Mattos-Massei 5749 about the obligation of the askanei tzibur (activists) in Eretz Yisroel to take strong measures and ensure that they will not concede even an inch of Eretz Yisroel. I think that all askanei tzibur must be aware of the responsibility they have, to exert their influence that no additional land be returned, ch’v.

Our problem is not with the Arabs, but with our Jewish leaders. The nations of the world are like an ax in the hand of the woodchopper. When Jews make terrible errors and wantonly abandon the nation’s security, it is our problem. Nobody should even consider the possibility that we can have peace in a way that contradicts the Torah. The Torah says, “if you go in My statutes” and only then, “I will give peace in your land.” Peace will not be achieved by Oslo nor by other political means. The only solution for peace is when we conduct ourselves according to the dictates of our holy Torah. Since the Torah establishes that returning land achieves the opposite of peace and tranquility, this then is the reality, and no politics can change that.

In conclusion

In this terrible situation, we must strengthen ourselves with the Rebbe’s words of “hinei hinei Moshiach ba.” When we see the terrible deterioration, we realize that from this great darkness, the light of Geula will shine forth.


“I am not crying out because of a logical assumption that it will help, but simply because it hurts. I know that I will not receive nachas or respect for this, but degradation, etc. But I cannot do otherwise, because it is a clear halacha in Shulchan Aruch that one mustn’t be silent when lives are in danger!

“I was raised on this principle. I was my father’s firstborn, and he was rav in Yekaterinaslov, so it became my “job” to answer in Russian to the questions and mockeries, etc., that came up then. I was not educated to expect titles of honor, and that is how I continue to educate others – not to remain silent when lives are in danger, not to be impressed by everything they will say about me, and not even to consider the decree of the nations of the world.”

(Free translation. Sicha of 20 Av 5739)


Every day brings more terrible news, and they silence the protests and cover it up in exchange for a few liras they give to the yeshivos! It was never like that. They are ready to agree to anything, even that which is the opposite of Jewish education, even matters regarding which it says “be killed and do not transgress.” Yet they silence this [ruling] and give excuses so that it does not interfere with the yeshivos’ budget.

…in the “olam ha’Torah” there was never such doubled and redoubled darkness, which silences the protests against life-threatening circumstances, all in order that somebody gets a check for his yeshiva! He only cares about his yeshiva and not about the endangerment of the life of another Jew! There was never before anything like this!

(Free translation. Motzaei Shabbos Mattos-Massei 5739; Noach 5742)


Rabbi Boruch Boaz Yurkowitz
I don’t see how anyone can stand on the sidelines and keep quiet. The Rebbe stated clearly that those who keep quiet at a time like this are included in the category of “do not stand by your brother’s blood.”





Each of us heard the Rebbe on more than one occasion, screaming from the depths of his pure and holy heart about the terrible situation developing in Eretz Yisroel.


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