On Monday, 20 Cheshvan (November 13), the Rosh Yeshiva, 
Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, addressed the Yeshiva.  Having been 
in America during the week of the murder of Prime Minister 
Yitzchak Rabin, this was his first opportunity, nine days 
later, to speak in the beit midrash about this event and its 
impact on the lives of us all.

	The purpose of the sicha, at this relatively late date, 
was neither to express protest and shock, nor, as Rav 
Lichtenstein mentioned at the outset, to serve as a eulogy for 
the Prime Minister.  For more than a week, the Yeshiva 
students, like the rest of the country, had grappled with 
unprecedented questions of guilt, doubt, and shame in a 
national atmosphere which included collective recrimination 
and accusation.  One day earlier, we had witnessed eighteen 
armed police accompanying a teacher in the Yeshiva who had 
received telephone death threats.  Speaking for an hour and a 
half, Rav Lichtenstein concentrated only on the self-
examination that we must conduct and how this can be done.  We 
are presenting an English summary of the sicha.  Naturally, 
this summary, limited both by print and abridgment, cannot 
fully capture the anguish and passion of the oral presentation 
of what is, ultimately, not an intellectual shiur, but a 
personal call, from Rav Lichtenstein's heart to the hearts of 
his students, myself included, who sought his counsel.  
Despite this, I hope each of you will be able to place 
yourselves, with open mind and searching heart, in the beit 
midrash of this sicha, not merely reading it but pondering, on 
a personal level, how it should deepen and shape your beliefs, 
actions, and convictions.

                     With sadness and hope,
                     be-birkat haTorah miTzion
                     Ezra Bick


            by Harav Aharon Lichtenstein shlit"a

	I spoke last week in Teaneck, referring to the funeral of 
Sarah in this week's parasha.  Avraham spoke of hesped and 
bekhi, of eulogy and weeping.  Hesped relates to the past, to 
an assessment of the individual, his personality and his 
achievements; bekhi to the sorrow and the pain of the present.  
There, I tried to do both.  Here, for people who are far more 
familiar with the facts, and where there are others, like Rav 
Amital, who knew the Prime Minister better, I will leave out 
the hesped and go straight to the bekhi.

	There are many reasons to cry, to mourn.  First, we must 
not lose sight of the personal aspect, the family's loss, even 
when there is a national public aspect.  The first and most 
immediate loss is suffered by those closest.  Nevertheless, 
for us, the public side is the most important.  Here we have 
undoubtedly suffered a grievous loss.  It is rare to find 
someone with such a level of leadership: the combination of 
military background and over twenty years of political 
statesmanship, and the ability to lead and inspire confidence, 
to steer a course in turbulent and dangerous waters towards a 
shore whose safety is itself questionable.

	Aside from this, there is a special source of worry for 
those to whom the settlement of Yehuda and Shomron is 
important.  This is paradoxical, since the fiercest opposition 
to his leadership arose from precisely those ranks.  It is 
clear, though, that within his government, Yitzchak Rabin was 
he who more than anyone else cared for and protected the 
settlements, and hence will be missed by us, more than by 
others, for just this reason.  But even more, within the peace 
process there is importance not just to what is given back, 
but also to how it is given back; not just to the contents of 
policy, but to how it is carried out.  In this respect, 
objectively speaking, if we rise above the opposition to the 
policy, Rabin was the proponent of this policy as a necessary 
compromise, with pain, with real feeling for the nature of the 
loss, more than anyone else involved in the process.  This was 
not, perhaps, to the extent we would have liked, but 
nonetheless, he had a real feeling for the values we hold.  
Recently, out of frustration and in the heat of the argument, 
he made several statements which expressed disregard for the 
value of Eretz Yisrael, which I am sure he regretted 
afterwards.  Nonetheless, in summary, his genuine feeling for 
our values will be missed by all of us, whether we support 
territorial compromise or not.

	All this would be true if he had died naturally.  The 
circumstances of his cold-blooded murder, though, are a source 
of great pain and distress for us.  Last week I visited mori 
ve-rabi Harav Aharon Soloveitchik shlit"a, whose fierce 
opposition to the peace process is well-known.  As soon as I 
walked in, he repeated over and over - "A badge of shame, a 
badge of shame."  For two days, he hadn't slept, out of shame 
and humiliation.  This shame, that our state, our people, 
should have fallen to such a level, should be felt by everyone 
- religious, secular, right and left.  For to the extent that 
we feel any sense of unity within Am Yisrael, to the extent 
that we feel like a single body, then the entire body should 
feel shamed and pained no matter which limb is responsible for 
this tragedy.  We should feel deep shame that this method of 
supposedly solving conflicts has become part of our culture.

	But naturally, this shame should be felt by our camp, the 
National Religious camp, more than any other.  Here was a man 
who grew up in the best of our institutions.  A day before the 
murder, he could have been cited as a shining example of 
success and achievement, and a source of communal pride.  
Coming from a "deprived" background, he studied in a Yeshiva 
High School, attended a great Yeshivat Hesder, and was 
accepted to the most prestigious division of Bar-Ilan 
University.  Today, we hide behind the phrases, "a wild weed," 
"from the outskirts of our society."  But if a day before the 
murder we would have said proudly, "See what we have 
produced," we must say it now as well - "See what we have 
produced!"  It is indefensible that one who is willing to take 
credit when the sun is shining should shrug off responsibility 
when it begins to rain.  Let us face our responsibility not 
defensively, but as Chazal would see it.  I cite words which 
are so terrible that it frightens me to say them.  I am not 
saying that we should apply them literally, but let us examine 
how Chazal see such things and what is their standard of 

	Concerning one who worships the Molekh, the verse states, 
"I shall put my face against that man and his family (Lev. 
20:5)."  The gemara asks, "If he sinned, did his family sin?  
This teaches you that there is no family that includes an 
extortionist where they are not all extortionists, and none 
that includes a robber where they are not all robbers - 
because they protect him (Shevuot 39a)."

	Let us not fool ourselves - to a great extent we are all 
his family.  Protection is not only after the fact, but also 
before; not only cover-up, but also nourishment and support.  
Can we honestly say that what the murderer did was "despite" 
his education, in the same way that some yeshiva graduates are 
no longer Shabbat-observers?  In that case it is clear that 
the choice is "despite" the education.  Is not here the 
choice, at least partly, not "despite" but "because?"

	The gemara in Yoma (23a-b) relates: "It happened once 
that two Kohanim (priests) were running evenly up the ramp [of 
the altar in the Temple, in order to be first and thus be the 
one to perform the sacrificial service of the day.]  One of 
them intruded within the four cubits of the other.  He drew a 
knife and plunged it into his heart.  R. Zadok stood on the 
steps of the Sanctuary and said: My brothers, the House of 
Israel, pay heed!  It is written, 'If one be found slain in 
the land [and it is not known who the killer is]... your 
elders and judges shall go out...[and the elders of the town 
nearest the corpse shall... break a heifer's neck... and wash 
their hands... and declare: Our hands did not shed this 
blood...](Deut. 21:1-9).'  In our case, who should bring the 
egla arufa (broken-necked heifer), the city or the azarot 
(Temple courtyards)?  And the people burst out crying.  The 
father of the [slain] youth came and found him in his death-
throes.  He said, 'May he be your atonement - my son is yet in 
his death-throes and the knife is not yet defiled!'  This 
teaches us that ritual purity was more serious in their eyes 
than bloodshed.  And thus it is written (2 Kings 21:16), 'And 
also Menashe spilled very much innocent blood, until Jerusalem 
was filled from end to end.'"

	The gemara proceeds to ask: we know that egla arufa is 
not brought in Jerusalem, so what room is there for R. Zadok's 
question?  Furthermore, is not egla arufa brought only in a 
case where we don't know who the murderer is?  Here we all 
know - the deed was done in public!  The answer is, R. Zadok 
said this "in order to increase the weeping."  Is the gemara 
suggesting that R. Zadok distorted the law for emotional 
effect?  No!  R. Zadok is making a point.  The principle 
behind egla arufa is collective guilt.  When there is a known 
murderer, then on a technical-legal level, he takes the guilt.  
If not, it is attached to the whole city, to the community, to 
the elders.  Collective guilt is not established in order to 
remove or excuse individual responsibility; family, society, 
upbringing and climate do not remove personal guilt.  Jewish 
tradition insists on personal responsibility.  But egla arufa 
teaches that there is another level - that beyond the 
individual guilt, there also is a level of collective guilt.

	One priest stabbed the other.  Do the other priests say, 
"He was just a wild weed which somehow sprouted in our midst,"  
and return to their everyday pursuits?  Do they say, "He was a 
lone madman," and go home?  R. Zadok is saying that this act 
wasn't DESPITE us; this was, partially, BECAUSE.  Did the 
Kohen kill because he rejected sanctity and opposed the 
service in the Temple, or rather precisely because of his 
passion and love for the service of God?  God forbid that we 
should say that his teachers taught him that killing another 
human being is an acceptable way of expressing devotion to 
God.  But they were undoubtedly responsible for emphasizing 
one side - the importance of competitiveness, of devotion, of 
striving and commitment, of zeal and ardor, without 
sufficiently emphasizing the corresponding importance of 
brotherhood, love, and respect, which must accompany the 
honest, pure, good, holy and exalted desire to serve God.

	The gemara proceeds to relate that the father of the 
victim, himself a priest, demanded the removal of the 
sacrificial knife before his son was completely dead, in order 
to prevent its ritual defilement.  "The purity of the knife 
was more important to them than murder."  The gemara (23b) 
understands that there is an educational imbalance here and 
asks - did they overvalue ritual purity or undervalue the 
sanctity of life?  Where was the educational flaw?  The 
conclusion is that it was human life that they failed 
sufficiently to value, and not that they exaggerated the value 
of ritual purity.

	In any event, and in either case, the youth was dead, and 
R. Zadok stands and says - we have educated properly for some 
religious values, but in the end this is murder.  Don't fool 
yourselves into thinking that this is a case of one wild weed, 
that the murderer is known and bears all responsibility by 
himself.  What has this to do with egla arufa?  Even when 
technically the murderer is known, the principle of egla arufa 
still applies, because his actions derive from something we 
taught or failed to teach.

	R. Zadok asked, "Who will bring the egla arufa - the city 
or the azarot (temple courtyards)?" - and the people couldn't 
answer, but burst out crying.  What is the meaning of "city" 
and "azarot?"

	The murderer draws from two environments, two frameworks.  
One, wide and encompassing, is the city - society as a whole, 
verbal violence in the Knesset and wife-murder in the home, 
the lack of tolerance and a sense of arrogance.  But R. Zadok 
was honest and moral enough to know that perhaps we cannot 
blame only the community at large.  Perhaps we must also blame 
the Temple courtyards, the environment of the priests and 
Levites, the environs of holiness and sanctity.  Why did the 
people burst out in tears?  Not because they didn't know which 
environment is responsible, but rather because they all knew, 
instinctively and intuitively, that the real answer is both - 
and neither can avoid responsibility.

	There are many of us for whom it is convenient to sever 
the connection of the city and the azara.  The city is them: 
television, decadent music, pub-culture, and corruption; the 
azarot are us.  To some extent, this is true.  There does 
exist an element in general culture which is the opposite of 
Jewish values, which sees itself, today more than ever, as 
engaged in a campaign to uproot and destroy anything with a 
glimmer of holiness.  But God forbid that we should try, or 
even want, to detach azara from city.  There are some of us 
who rejoice at every chance to point out the drugs, the 
prostitution, or the violence in the wider community, so we 
can say, "Look at the difference between US and THEM" - look 
at the statistics, look at Dizengoff, look at their family 
lives.  But remember - the people on Dizengoff aren't 
foreigners; they are our flesh and blood.  It is our city and 
it should hurt; it cannot be a source of joy, of satisfaction, 
of self-congratulation and gloating.  We should cry over the 
lack of values.  And if, indeed, part of what has happened is 
the result of the culture of the city - and I think this is 
undoubtedly so - we are also part of the city, and we too must 
take part in the city's egla arufa.

	There is, of course, a difference between the city and 
the azara.  We see ourselves - justly! justly! - as residents 
specifically of the azara, the keepers of the flame.  But that 
is precisely why we have a special responsibility, because 
part of the zeal of that Kohen who murdered comes from his 
also having been a resident of the azara, from his desire to 
be first to the altar.  Therefore, beyond our responsibility 
to bring an egla arufa as members of the city, we must also 
bring an egla arufa specifically as members of the azara.  It 
is no wonder, then, that all the people burst out in tears.

	One may ask, but what is wrong with our values?  We try 
to educate people to strive for holiness, to love Eretz 
Yisrael, Am Yisrael, Torat Yisrael - shall we then stop 
adhering to and teaching these values?  Shall we abandon the 
azara?  God forbid! - not the azara, not the ezrat nashim, not 
the heikhal, surely not the Holy of Holies, not Har haBayit, 
not one rung of the ten rungs of holiness of Eretz Yisrael.  
But if we indeed strive for completeness, if we want to adhere 
to all these values, then we must at all times keep in mind 
the whole picture, the balance and interplay between these 
values.  Have we done enough to ensure that our approach to 
each aspect of our sacred values is balanced?  Perhaps even if 
we have indeed taught the evil of bloodshed - we have 
exaggerated, as that terrible gemara suggests, the value of 
ritual purity.

	There are several points I would suggest as worthy of 
reflection.  First: the self-confidence that arises from 
commitment and devotion to a world of values and eternal 
truths - whether in terms of Torat Yisrael or Eretz Yisrael - 
sometimes has led to frightening levels of self-certainty and 
ultimately to arrogance.  This arrogance has sometimes led us 
to act without sufficient responsibility towards other people, 
and at times even without responsibility to other values.  "We 
are good, we have values, and they are worthless" - this 
attitude has seeped deeper and deeper into our consciousness.

	Secondly, at times we have promoted simplicity and 
shallowness.  Pragmatically, this has a greater chance of 
success than teaching complexity and deliberation.  A simple 
direct message, appealing to one emotion and calling "After 
me!" will have more followers than the injunction to think, 
consider, analyze and investigate.  Uncomplicated directives 
excite more passion than a balanced and complex approach, 
which confronts questions of competing spiritual values and of 
competing national interests.  Because we wanted our youth to 
strive, to run up the altar, we not only promoted simplistic 
slogans, but also a simplistic lifestyle.  Once, shocked to my 
core, I walked out of a meeting of religious educators where a 
teacher said that although we know that the Ramban and the 
Rambam disagree about the nature of the mitzva to settle the 
Land of Israel, we must keep this information to ourselves, 
lest we lower the enthusiasm of our youth and dampen their 
fervor.  Here we aren't delegitimating Dizengoff; we are 
delegitimating the Rambam!

	Third, sometimes we taught our students to belittle and 
suspect others.  One who doesn't agree with us is criminal, 
not merely mistaken.  Any opportunity to credit a public 
leader with good intention was rejected in order to credit him 
with alienation, with hostility, with malice - not a suspicion 
of evil, but a certainty!  From this way of thinking, horrible 
things can result.  The Sifre (Shoftim 43) to the verse, "If 
there be a man who hates his fellow and he ambushed him and 
rose against him and mortally struck him and he died," states, 
"Based on this, it is said: If a man transgresses a minor 
precept, he will eventually transgress a major one... If he 
transgresses 'You shall love your fellow as yourself,' he will 
eventually transgress 'You shall not hate' and 'You shall not 
revenge'...until he finally spills blood."  From a sin of the 
heart, an attitude, from not enough love, Chazal see a 
straight path to the ultimate sin of murder.

	I am not coming to delegitimate our entire educational 
system or ideology - it certainly contains much that is 
wonderful.  But I  do mean to say that we cannot claim that 
this murderer was a "wild weed;" we must bring an egla arufa 
on behalf of the azarot as well.

	The awesome, difficult question is - And now, what?  
Should we close the azarot, abandon our values?  On my way 
back to Israel, I met Rav Eichler (a journalist from the Belz 
Chareidi newspaper).  He asked me whether I do not think that 
what happened - and he is genuinely shocked - is a result of 
an educational system which teaches that there are things of 
more value than human life.  I answered, we all believe that - 
it is in the Shulchan Arukh.  "Yehareg ve-al ya'avor" 
(commandments which may not be transgressed even at the cost 
of one's life) means that there are values greater than human 
life.  The question is what is the balance, what are the 
halakhic, hashkafic and moral  values which enable us to know 
when and how.  In this sense, we need not be ashamed, nor need 
we erase one letter of our Torah.  We will not surrender to 
any city, nor abandon a single one of our values.  Our values 
are eternal; nothing can be given up or erased.  But in terms 
of balance and application, of seeing the whole picture, of 
the development of the ability to think profoundly in order to 
know how to apply the Torah - here undoubtedly we must engage 
in a renewed and deeper examination.  Priorities must be re-

	The same gemara in Yoma tells that there was another 
incident in the Temple which led them to change their 
procedures.  Despite R. Zadok's speech, they hesitated about 
instituting a different procedure.  But after a later 
incident, where one Kohen knocked another off the ramp, and 
the second one broke his leg, they realized that something was 
wrong with the system itself.  They no longer said, "An 
exceptional case cannot change ancient practice."  They 
instituted a new procedure, using a lottery to determine who 
should perform the Temple service.  Why didn't they do this 
right away, after the murder?  The answer is simple.  Ideally, 
which procedure is better - giving the prize to one who runs, 
strives, and makes the effort due to his commitment to values 
and to service, or the use of a lottery, without pursuit, 
without struggle, a simple mechanical system?  Clearly, the 
old system is better, more educational, more imbued with 
value.  But after a murder, "seeing it could lead to danger," 
Chazal abandoned the method of individual initiative and 
competition, fully aware of the considerable educational loss, 
but willing to pay that price.  Even things which are better 
in principle must be sacrificed if that is what is necessary 
to prevent terrible consequences.

	I don't know what is the precise equivalent for us.  But 
the process of examining the azara, of the problems which 
arise not despite its holiness but because of its holiness - 
that is clearly mandated.  Not our principles, but surely our 
analysis of public policy and public needs, needs to be re-

	In 1978, Shimon Peres visited the Yeshiva.  He asked me 
what the political credo of the Yeshiva was.  I told him the 
Yeshiva has no political credo, but we teach three things: 

	1. Even when sitting in the beit midrash, you have a 
responsibility to the community;

	2. When addressing these problems, you have to think 
deeply and not simplistically;

	3. Even when doing what is right, you have to know how to 
respect other opinions and the people who hold them.

	This has to be our educational goal.  The question is not 
just what are the particular values we hold, but through which 
spectacles we view values, through which eyes.  A man, said 
Blake, doesn't see with his eyes but rather through his eyes.  
What sees is the mind.

	Finally, there is another facet to what we have been 
discussing, which relates to our community and leadership.

	Leaving out for now the question of individuals - who 
said what - we must remember the principle of the gemara in 
Shabbat:  "Anyone who can rebuke the members of his household 
and doesn't do so is culpable for [the acts of] his household; 
[if he can rebuke] his townspeople, is culpable for his 
townspeople; the whole world - he is culpable for the whole 
world (Shabbat 54b)."

	Everyone should tally his own accounts in this respect, 
but I am not wrong if I say that for all of us the degree of 
rebuke, of protest was not sufficient; for some, because they 
did not evaluate the evil properly, for others because they 
were not willing to publicize wrong when they feared our 
opponents could use it to attack our whole system.  The point 
of Chazal remains the same; their terrible words carry the 
same force in either case.  That they could have protested and 
did not - this carries a particular responsibility beyond the 
"city," perhaps even beyond the "azarot."

	We are today in a very difficult situation, partly 
practical, partly metaphysical.  Practically, our struggle for 
our values within society has suffered a mortal blow.  Among 
ourselves, there is a shocking atmosphere.  Yesterday, the 
sight of armed guards in the Yeshiva, accompanying R. Yoel 
Bin-Nun, was shocking.  Why was it shocking?  I remember the 
gemara describing how the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur was 
suspected of being a Sadducee, a heretic - and both he and his 
accusers wept; he because he was suspect, his accusers because 
they lived in a world where such suspicions were necessary.  
Sadder than the sight of bodyguards in the Yeshiva was the 
knowledge that we live in a world where it is necessary.  The 
transformation from a healthy, organic, trusting society, a 
society of azarot, to one sundered by suspicions is an awful 
and terrifying one.

	Let me read a few lines from the Ramban in Acharei Mot.  
The verse states:  "From your seed you shall not give to pass 
before the Molekh and you shall not desecrate the name of your 
God."  The Ramban explains:  "The verse states that the 
worship of the Molekh is a desecration of God's name and in 
the next parasha it is added that it 'defiles My holy place 
and desecrates My holy name.'  The reason may be that it 
defiles the people who are hallowed in My name...  Perhaps it 
means that one who sacrifices to the Molekh, and subsequently 
comes to the Temple of God to bring a sacrifice, defiles the 
Temple, for his sacrifices are defiled and an abomination to 
God, and he himself is defiled eternally, as he has been 
defiled by the evil he did... It mentions desecration of God's 
name because when the nations hear that he has given his 
children to the Molekh and an animal to God, this is 
desecration of God's name."  There is not only chillul Hashem 
(desecration of God's name) as reflected in what others say, 
in our sullied public image, but also intrinsically, because 
(as it were) God is not complete and His name is not complete 
if there is bloodshed in Israel.

	Today we must, out of the crisis, assume an educational 
and ideological task.  Someone may say, "The Rosh Yeshiva says 
that azarot can lead to bloodshed - let's close the azarot!!  
Let us abandon the Mikdash!"  I say, no!  We will not close a 
single azara, nor will we encourage tepid and unenthusiastic 
service.  The challenge is, can we continue to inspire the 
yearning for sanctity, shake people out of complacency, get 
them to face the great call of the hour - to understand the 
importance of the Medina, to understand the historical process 
in which we live - without losing a sense of morality, of 
proportion, of right, of spirituality?  Do we have to choose 
between azarot and morality?  Chas ve-shalom!  But we must 
purify our hearts and our camp in order to serve Him in truth.

	About ten years ago, after the disclosure of the 
existence of the Jewish Underground, I spoke about the role of 
the Levites.  I said then and I say now: the Levi'im had a 
double role.  On the one hand, their job was to educate, to 
inspire, to open eyes and arouse hearts to the service of God 
and its ecstasy.  At the same time, they were the guards at 
the Temple doors: forbidding entry to the unqualified, not 
letting one enter where one cannot, setting up and enforcing 
boundaries.  On the one hand, they called everyone to the 
Temple, and at the same time, they themselves pressed on the 
brakes.  We are Levi'im - we must call a great and large 
company for this endeavor.  We must not divide by saying - I 
saw and warned and you were silent.  This sort of pettiness 
must be placed aside.  We have to build a wide, secure base 
that can allow all Levites, all who are committed to the city 
and the azarot, to conjoin in the great effort to ensure that 
the light of the azarot shines onto the city.  

	This is very hard, ten times harder now than before the 
murder.  But anything less will be a betrayal of our 
obligations and our rights, in this holy hour.  May we purify 
our hearts and our camp, and through a spiritual and Torah-
inspired effort, attempt to purify and to sanctify, to the 
greatest extent possible, our city and our society.

	"She-netaher et libeinu ve-et machaneinu, u-mitokh 
ma'amatz ruchani ve-Torani, nishaf le-taher u-lekadesh, ad 
kama she-efshar, et ireinu."


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