People over property … always

The wisdom of our precious Torah sages always bears repeating.

With reference to the safety and welfare of the State of Israel and its inhabitants, the apparent choice is between the hawkish territorialism and revanchist, one-state pro-settler agenda of Marc Caroff and the Zionist Organization of America (Your Say, April 11) and the courageous and nuanced “land for peace” optic of the great Joseph B. Soloveitchik (of blessed and sainted memory), the illustrious Rav.

For rabbinic Judaism, people come before territory — or, for that matter, property. Halacha speaks of pikuach nefesh and knows nothing of pikuach cheftza.

In sobering comments all the more remarkable for having been made during the period of euphoria after the triumphant 1967 war, the Rav made it clear that when it comes to the matter of land, it is the people of Israel who are holy, not the land. The people of Israel — their welfare and well-being, safety and security — take precedence. In the Rav’s own words “Our Judaism is not a religion of shrines; that as dear as [even] the Western Wall is, the 2 million lives of Jews [the population of Israel in 1967] is more important.”

Like any authentic Jew, privileging people over property and peace over lebensraum, I proudly side with the Rav over Caroff and the ZOA.

Issachar Friedmann

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