The Rabbinical Congress for Peace – Pikuach Nefesh
The Rabbinical Congress for Peace was founded in 1993 in order to alert public attention to the clear position of the Torah concerning territories under Israeli rule. This Halachic ruling is anchored in the supreme value in Jewish Law known as “the sanctity of life.” Saving a life supersedes the entire Torah. Because of this value, the Torah unequivocally forbids relinquishing even one inch of territory under Jewish rule or participating in any negotiations concerning withdrawal from any such territory.
The Source of this Halachic Ruling
The Code of Jewish Law, which is the basic guideline for a Jew’s daily life, states (in the section entitled Orach Chaim, Chapter 329:6):
If the intent of non-Jews laying siege to Jewish cities is financial gain, the laws safeguarding the sanctity of Shabbos should not be violated because of them. (I.e., one should not wage war against them on the Sabbath.) If their intent is to attack Jewish lives, or if they lay siege without any stated intention, or if there is a suspicion that they are coming for Jewish lives , then even before they come, and are still only mobilizing themselves , it is a mitzvah to go out and attack them with weapons of war and violate the Shabbos laws. And if it is a city located near a border, then even if they are demanding only hay or straw, we attack them and violate the Shabbos, lest they conquer the city, and because of that conquest it becomes easier for them to conquer the rest of the land.
The source of this ruling is the Talmud (Tractate Eruvin 45a) and no Halachic Authority has ever disputed it.
Genesis of the Halachic Ruling by Israeli Rabbis
In the early 1990s representatives of the Israeli government entered into disastrous negotiations with the sworn enemies of Israel. The goal: Israeli withdrawal from territory adjoining a border, which was under Israeli rule. That decision, as was later proved, threatened the entire population in Israel . At that time hundreds of rabbis, including former chief rabbis and heads of the Supreme Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem, signed a Halachic ruling echoing the aforementioned ruling in Chapter 329 in the Jewish Code of Law which forbids any such withdrawal.
The rabbis stated very clearly that this Ruling applies to any region in the world (even outside Israel) that is under Jewish rule. It has nothing to do with the sanctity of Eretz Yisroel, or the days of Moshiach, the Geulah or similar considerations, but solely with the principle of Pikuach Nefesh, the Halachic obligation to save lives.
In the past 18 years this Ruling has been published in the Israeli and international media many times. The Rabbis repeatedly warned against the grave consequences inherent in negotiating with the enemy on withdrawals. Unfortunately, the predictions of this Ruling proved accurate: every single withdrawal in these years has invited waves of increased terror and bloodshed of thousands of Jews, men, women and children, young and old. And today, those withdrawals jeopardize the security of millions of Jews in Israel.
The warning of the Halacha, that “because of that conquest it becomes easier for them to conquer the rest of the land,” has proved to be without error. In 2005 by government order, thousands of Israeli citizens were evicted from their homes and farms in Gush Katif, in the Gaza Strip, and forced to settle in temporary accommodation elsewhere. And to their horror, they found their new homes repeatedly bombarded by missiles dispatched from the very homes that they themselves had built and from the very fields that they had tilled! Today Israel’s enemies and terrorist organizations have been boosted and become more emboldened. They have acquired positions and territory closer to Israel and can easily fire and reach every part of Israel.
Goals of the RCP
The Rabbinical Congress for Peace calls upon additional rabbis from all over Israel to join in and affix their signature to this unequivocal ruling in the Code of Jewish Law which no one disputes, and to support its activities in clarifying this ruling.
This ruling needs to be constantly publicized, mainly in order to influence Israeli policy-makers, and to raise public attention. But it also has a much deeper effect: According to our Sages, a Psak Halacha (Halachic ruling) issued by a duly qualified rabbi, how much more so by many rabbis, has the spiritual power to affect and transform facts on the ground, and to ensure that no steps are taken that would contravene the Halacha. (See the Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Nedarim Chapter 6:8; Ketubot Chapter 1:2; Sanhedrin Chapter 1:1:2, et al.).
We therefore believe that the mere publication of this Halachic ruling, which was signed by hundreds of Israeli rabbis, will have the desired effect on the officials who determine policy and on the facts on the ground. The dangerous proposals for catastrophic withdrawal will then be nullified completely and the Jewish people, imbued with the self-respecting pride of Jacob, will dwell with security in its land, for “I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and none shall make you afraid.”