Sabbath Homesh Visit Raises Questions

Religious-Zionist rabbis differ on whether it was right to spend Sabbath in Homesh while expecting the army not to desecrate the day & evict them.

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Hillel Fendel,

Religious-Zionist rabbis differ on whether it was right to spend the Sabbath in Homesh while expecting the army not to desecrate the Sabbath and evict them.

This past Friday, approximately 100 young Jews made their way to the site of the Disengagement-destroyed community of Homesh in the Shomron - and some 70 of them spent the Sabbath there. The others were unable to avoid being evicted by police and army forces before the late-afternoon eviction operation was called off.  It was canceled "on orders from above" in order to avoid Sabbath desecration.

Some of those who were evicted from Homesh just before the Sabbath complained that they were driven around in an army jeep on the Sabbath itself. They spent the holy day in nearby Shavei Shomron.

Rabbi Cherlow: Against
Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, one of the founders of the Tzohar Rabbis Organization, has gone on record as saying that the Homesh pioneers were guilty of "using" the Sabbath in a manipulative and coercive manner in order to avoid being expelled from the area.
If we were in Brooklyn, we wouldn't have to deal with these issues.

"In and of itself," Rabbi Cherlow wrote, "it is wrong to use [the fear of] Sabbath desecration in this coercive manner. This is not the way to run a campaign [to settle the Land]. To claim later that the army is not allowed to desecrate the Sabbath is ethically tainted - for they are taking advantage of the Sabbath in order to fight for something that they very much believe in, and then they turn to the army and say that they must not take advantage of the Sabbath."

"This causes damage to the entire struggle," Rabbi Cherlow wrote. "Firstly, manipulations do not succeed in inspiring others, but rather put them off. Where there is a sense of deception, people do not want to join. Secondly, the fact is that this caused soldiers and guards to desecrate the Sabbath... The damage was great."

The rabbi added his hope that the struggle to rebuild Homesh will succeed, and said that the army should not have desecrated the Sabbath in the course of evicting the pioneers: "It's not a matter of life and death, and nothing terrible would have happened had they been permitted to remain there for the Sabbath."

Rabbi Levanon: In Favor
Rabbi Elyakim Levanon of Elon Moreh, whose students were among those who spent the Sabbath in Homesh, was not pleased with the publication of the above opinion, saying it was based on a lack of knowledge of the facts.

For one thing, Rabbi Levanon said, there is a need for Jewish security forces to work on the Sabbath in order to build and maintain a Jewish state and Jewish communities therein. "If we were in Brooklyn," he told Arutz-7's Uzi Baruch with great feeling, "we wouldn't have to deal with these issues; there would be no need for Sabbath desecration. In hareidi-religious cities, which are supposedly more Sabbath-observant, even more police protection is required on the Sabbath... Let's all just move to Los Angeles, and then we won't have to worry about these problems."

Rabbi Levanon said that he does not mean that individuals may desecrate the Sabbath in order to build the Land, "but only the security forces in their routine work of protection... For instance, the army's protection on the Sabbath of those who came to Homesh is part of their routine work of providing security to the citizens and to the State."

In the case at hand, Rabbi Levanon feels that evicting the Jews from Homesh did not require any Sabbath desecration at all: "The people arrived there before 2 PM, giving the security forces several hours in which to evict them before the Sabbath arrived. But in fact, no one objected to their presence - until suddenly one officer woke up and decided to throw them out. But this happened too late, just before the Sabbath, and it spilled over onto the Sabbath... The ascent to Homesh was not hidden; some people even came up by car, and they didn't try to hide their plans from the army."

Rabbi Levanon himself was in contact with the army on Friday afternoon, and promised that the people would leave on their own accord after the Sabbath - which in fact occurred.

He said that he himself was "attached to Homesh very deeply, after having given a weekly Torah class there... and especially when you see that aside from the destruction and expulsion of Jews, not a thing was done there and the area remains totally desolate. Why?"

Uplifting Sabbath
The Sabbath in Homesh was "especially uplifting," participants said. They and other groups plan to make the same trek over and over, until they are given permission to rebuild the town.

Unlike Gaza, Israel remains in control of northern Shomron. However, General Security Services (Shabak) chief Yuval Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last year, "Northern Samaria has turned into Islamic Jihad-land, due to the lack of a permanent military presence there.”