Who's Who, According to the Rambam

The Rebbe expresses his disapproval that his correspondent has ceased associating with Jews whom he refers to as those who scoff at and rebuff the Torah.

Aliza Karp

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
The Rebbe's answer must have come as a shock to his correspondent. In volume 18 of the collection of letters by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, is found a letter dated the tenth of MarCheshvan, 1958, in which the Rebbe expresses his disapproval that his correspondent has ceased associating with Jews whom he refers to as those who scoff at and rebuff the Torah.

Known for his inclusion of all Jews in the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel, the commandment to love your fellow Jew, the Rebbe says that the Torah explicitly does not sanction separating yourself from such people, except for specifically defined cases. The Rebbe refers to the definitions by the Rambam in Hilchos Tshuva, perek Gimmel, Halachos Hes (8) and Yud (10).

In Halacha Hes, the Rambam gives the definition of those who are known as apikorsim, whom we are justified in rejecting; not only justified, but from whom it is a mitzvah to stay away. Halacha Yud explains further who should be rejected: "Those who cause the multitude to sin... by tricking other people and causing them to stumble."

The Rebbe was clarifying that the people his correspondent was referring to did not come close to qualifying for the definitions put forth by the Rambam. But, for myself, upon reading this letter, I found this teaching very relevant in helping me deal with the pain, disorientation and confusion that I find myself experiencing since the Disengagement.

I was one those innocents who could not conceive of the Disengagement actually taking place. If I am involved in a project, and I invest my time, energy and money, I would be devastated if someone would come and delete all my work. To think that three generations, with all their hearts and souls, built not just a garden, not just a kitchen, not just a school - they built beautiful, industrious communities. And all of it was deleted. This is beyond my imaginative capacity. And to think the destroyers were Jews. The army that should be protecting Jews from deportation actually did the deporting. I am confused. And I am angry.

So, I found that the words of the Rebbe and the Rambam helped me to focus. When we say, "We will not forgive and we will not forget," I am clear about what and whom I will not forget, but whom do I not forgive?

The soldiers were the ones to perform the evil deed. I know that it has been hard for some people to be as open and loving to soldiers as they used to be ? especially soldiers who took part in the Disengagement. I never thought I would be writing such words - "a Jewish soldier who took part in the Disengagement" - it still seems impossible. But in truth, tens of thousands of soldiers did participate.

There are stories and pictures of soldiers who became emotional, but those were the minority. Most carried out their mission. Yet, the Rebbe says that every Jews is worthy of our companionship, and these soldiers neither fall into the category of apikoros nor of leading others to sin. Boruch HaShem, it is still a mitzvah to embrace our soldiers, bring them treats and, of course, if you happen to be a Chabadnik, to offer to put tefilin on them or give them Shabbos candles to light.

Before our soldiers were sent to extract Jews from their homes, they underwent vigorous brainwashing to convince them that the people they were dragging from their homes were nothing more than worthless trespassers, impediments to the security of the country. Those who engineered the psychological preparations for the soldiers - those people do fall into the category of leading others to sin.

MK Arieh Eldad had become a resident in the northern Samaria community of Sa-Nur and was present at the Disengagement battle. Together with other residents, he took up a position on the rooftop of the building that served as the last stronghold. From his vantage point, he reported that he observed the army commanders who were leading the operation. These were men he knew from his many years as a brigadier-general in the army.

What Eldad saw was not commanders who were pained to have to follow orders against their personal moral values. Eldad reports that they were slapping each other on the back, congratulating each other and joking around. These are the men who gave the orders for their soldiers to remove Jews from their homes in Eretz Yisroel, by force, if necessary. A process that not only caused personal loss to those involved, but also reduced the security in the area and increased the danger for Jews living in the surrounding areas.

From these commanders on upward to all the members of Knesset and ministers in the cabinet who voted for or abstained - even once - in support of the government, in support of the budget or in support of the Disengagement itself, all the way to the prime minister and court judges - here is where the yoke of responsibility lies, the ones who caused others to sin.

Included also are the influential media outlets, who manipulated their publications and presentations in favor of the Disengagement.

It is not enough to blame the prime minister. He did not stand alone. And if he says he takes full responsibility, it is only so that we will overlook the sins of the accomplices and continue to give them our undeserved support. Just as the Oslo process did not stop when Yitzchak Rabin was murdered, so would the Disengagement continue should Sharon decide to retire. Sharon is both a leader and a puppet.

The soldiers themselves do not carry the responsibility as the leaders do. Participating in the Disengagement caused seven soldiers to commit suicide and six hundred to be committed to psychiatric confinement. It is heartbreaking to think of the psychological damage done to these young and, in most cases, innocent boys and girls. Meanwhile, has even one member of the Knesset collapsed from the pain of what they call painful concessions?

In Devarim 23, verses four and five, the Torah tells us, "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of HaShem, even their tenth generation shall not enter the congregation of HaShem, until eternity." Rashi explains, "Because of the advice that they advised you to cause you to sin." Even nations that tried to kill us were not given such an extreme status. But causing the multitude to sin - this is unforgivable.

We will not forget and we will not forgive.