13 Kislev, 5760
Rabbi Yosef Shmuel Gerlitzky Shlitah
Chairman of the Pikuach Nefesh Comm.
Peace and Blessing:
You asked my opinion on the issue of Eretz Israel as well as the issue of handing over territories
to enemies claiming to make peace – as they call it, “peace in exchange for territories,” or
“territories in exchange for peace.” You also asked whether a rabbi should issue a ruling in
Eretz Israel in its entirety was given as a gift to the Jewish people, not to Esau nor to Ishmael,
and they have no part in it. There is a commandment to conquer the land and not to abandon it
and certainly not to relinquish it to foreigners, especially to an enemy.
Peace is made in exchange for peace, because peace itself is a supreme and sacred value that
cannot be bartered for anything else.
There is a Halachic principle that one rabbinical court cannot override the ruling of another
court unless it is superior to it in wisdom and in numbers. The council of the former Chief
Rabbinate, as well as the great luminary who was proficient in all areas of the Torah with
amazing clarity, the Lubavitcher Rebbe of saintly memory, ruled against relinquishing territory,
and no rabbi has the right to override them. As mentioned, today there is no one who can
compare to them in wisdom and numbers.
This is particularly so when we see that this is not even a flawed peace. Rather, they are making
preparations to declare a Palestinian state and so on. Therefore, every rabbi is fully entitled to
rely on the aforementioned ruling and to state unequivocally that it is forbidden to relinquish
territories to foreigners, and certainly not to an enemy. No minister nor rabbi should protest
against them for upholding that view, even if he thinks that it is contrary to the Halacha.
I wish to add that they have no right to issue a verdict that it is permissible to relinquish
territories if in their opinion they are “civil servants.” Especially when this is a matter of pikuach
nefesh, an issue of life or death, who can assume responsibility to take such action?
May it be the will of G-d to bestow a pure and holy spirit on the Jewish People. May we no
longer hear of woe and calamity in our Holy Land, and may we merit the Final Redemption
speedily in our days. Amen, so be His will.
Rishon Lezion, former Chief Rabbi of Israel