Shabbat Parashat Eikev| 5763
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - The Need to Deal With Modern Halachic Questions - Introduction to Hatora V’hamedina 5710 (’50)
Hatora V’hamedina was a Torah journal, edited by Rav Yisraeli, which, in the early years of the State, dealt with halachic issues which arose with the situation, a Jewish State for the first time in 2,000 years. This piece gives a taste of his approach to the exciting, frustrating, and daunting task of treading on nearly uncharted halachic ground..
The path we have set in this journal is to elucidate the halacha in all areas of public and governmental life. There are those who look unfavorably on this project, just as they view other actions of the Board of Rabbis of Hapoel Hamizrachi with suspicion. They claim that halachic decisions are the realm of older rabbanim and dayanim. The approach to learning of younger rabbis should be, in their view, to focus on abstract topics and curiosities of the Torah. We feel differently. We think that the call of the times is to give ourselves fully to halacha and its implementation, particularly in areas which have arisen with the establishment of the State. Whatever we can add to clarifying and implementing halacha in our own lives we are commanded to do.
It is very possible that if we would see other, more suitable rabbis taking on this task, we would choose to deal with side matters, sufficing to learn, teach, and inculcate their responsa to the Israeli religious community. However, this is not happening, unfortunately.Some gedolim seetheState as a harsh Divine decree and employ the rule, “a decree is destined to de undone.” They, thus, disregard the fields we are dealing with. We have no intention to argue with them, because their honor is dear to us, and they are set in inflexible positions. We see this fact as a Heavenly punishment to our generation, that we did not merit to have its Torah giants setting out its course.
Even those gedolim who consider the State as a revelation of Divine compassionand thebeginning of redemption still have difficulty in turning that approach into rendering halachic decisions. This is because of the fear of rendering such rulings, which is understandable in and of itself. Indeed all who seek the full truth are afraid to act on matters which have been dealt with only in the periods of giants of the giants, Anshei Knesset Hagedola, tanaim and amoraim. We cannot fantasize to be their equals, as Chazal said, “If the earlier generations are like angels, we are like human, etc.” However, preoccupation with this truth causes us to forget another statement of Chazal: ”Yiftach in his generation [has the authority of] Shmuel in his generation.” This means that one cannot escape the obligation that the times place on him. Only in that way was Yiftach able to be for his generation what Shmuel was for his.
We, therefore, take upon ourselves the role of catalyst for gedolim to speak out on these crucial topics and as talmidim who raise issues and suggest solutions to their masters with the humility which befits their position. We are not presenting clear halacha but are clarifying halacha, by collecting material and discussing it. We are the stone carvers. The builders will come afterwards to erect the structure of clear halacha. Only after we clarify the foundations of the halacha, reaching its deep intentions, will we be able to receive the true answers and the suitable guidance to solve problems of our present lives.
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