Rabbi Baruch Efrati
Rabbi Baruch EfratiR.B.E.

Our way of life as Religious Zionists, the legacy bequeathed to us by our mentor Rabbi Avraham Hakohen Kook and his followers, views settling the Land of Israel and the prevention of foreign rule in any part of it as one of the foundations of the Torah.

The entire world was created so that the Nation of Israel could live a life of sanctity on its land – the Torah starts with creation, "In the beginning," and ends with our entering Eretz Yisrael.

This is the ultimate purpose of creation – that all of G-d's people, in all of G-d's land, are true to all of G-d's Torah.

That is why it is impossible, from a Torah standpoint, to agree to a foreign regime in Eretz Yisrael, even if we stand to gain other things by doing so.

The fact that an Arab entity (which the world calls "Palestinian") exists has no bearing on the matter.

That is the fundamental difference between politics and ideology. Politics is a necessary tool for dealing with tactical issues – profit and loss and the art of the possible. These are very important as long as we are not dealing with principles.

Principles, however, those that support the foundations of the Torah and the nation, are in the realms of ideology and the Torah, and therefore cannot be waived.

One cannot abandon a basic premise. It is impossible for a family to sell "just" one child into slavery, in order to obtain enough money to add another storey to its home. There are things that are simply not abrogated. At any price:

Torah, loyalty, love, intimacy, famly and Eretz Yisrael.

There is a crucial difference between granting the Arabs authority in a defined area without recognizing that authority as a regime, and the expectation that we and others will agree to accept the presence of a foreign regime in Eretz Yisrael.
Politics is most important when it comes to tactics and techniques.

But for the People of Israel to recognize the rights of a foreign power to territory within Eretz Yisrael? To have us accept and allow the national transgression of a Torah prohibition? Never.

There is a crucial difference between the way we have had to give the Arabs authority in a defined area without recognizing that authority as a regime, and the expectation that we and others will agree to accept the presence of a foreign regime in Eretz Yisrael

Isn't this what Joshua Bin Nun, King David, and the Hasmonean brothers fought for? Isn't that what we will fight for, to the end?

Claims that we have to preserve our good relations with a true friend like the United States do not apply. Claims similar to this one were sounded by the kings of Judea and Samaria during the days of Jeremiah and Isaiah.

Then it was Egypt who was our friend, and what a mistake some of our kings made in sacrificing values in order to enter into a tactical agreement with that country. The prophets warned against doing so and they were right. We could not rely on Assyria and Egypt then - nor can we rely on America today.

Naturally, we feel affection towards these good people of integrity and have respect for their values, but that does not permit us to give up our own values when their opinions differ from ours. On the contrary, true friendship is measured by how it manages disagreement, not agreement. We cannot sacrifice our homes, our souls and our land, for good relations with a nation living across the sea, no matter how loyal to us they are.

A Palestinian state does not square with our values as Jews nor with those of the Torah, particularly not with Religious Zionism and Gush Emunim's great enterprise, the resettlement of Judea and Samaria. This, as is known, blossomed from Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda's teaching that there is a positive Torah commandment to declare sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael and not to recognize any foreign rule. This is in our DNA, an integral part of our philosophy and halakha – Eretz Yisrael, from which everything begins. Loyalty to the land gives meaning to our efforts, grants Divine blessing to our accomplishments in the reborn Jewish state.

Those Zionists who believe otherwise have good intentions and wish the best for the Land of Israel, but are making a significant and grievous error in this case. Those who are loyal to the land must raise their voices high and express their reservations about establishing a foreign state in the land of our forefathers.

There are people who claim that we have to do things in small increments, "a little at a time" as the Talmudic Sages described the arrival of our Redemption, but this is a fundamental error in understanding our role vis a vis Divine Providence.

The Almighty does things at the pace He has set, for everything is the work of His hands. He redeems mankind by way of esoteric means which we do not always understand. What we, as human beings, are expected to do, is to try to observe His commandments and avoid breaking His laws to the best of our ability. We can advance Redemption only in permissible ways, by increasing settlement and the influence of Torah. Recognizing an Arab entity in our land is a grave sin as expressed in the Torah (d'Oraita). It has nothing to do with advancing Redemption a little at a time, but is a sin we must oppose with all our might, confident that G-d will do what is right in His eyes.

"Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God" as the verse in Samuel I! says. And to our brethren in isolated communities in Judea and Samaria, you are not alone, we will be there for you, steadfast at your side. You are our representatives, you exemplify the best of our people, and we will not give up on any community nor any part of Eretz Yisrael. We will stand our ground, fortified with eternal love for all of the Land and Nation of Israel.

Rabbi Baruch Efrati studied in Merkaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem for many years and serves as a rabbi in Efrat. He is a prolific and much-read writer on Torah issues and heads the "Derech Emunah" (Way of Torah) movement of young Israeli Orthodox rabbis.

Translation from Hebrew by Rochel Sylvetsky