Rabbi David Cohen, Rabbi of Congregation Gvul Yaavetz, Brooklyn (b. 1932)

As history shows, it was by a hair’s breadth that Ben-Gurion decided to proclaim a state. The members of the Jewish Agency had to come to a decision because five Arab armies were threatening them… it was a fifty-fifty vote… It was Maimon, I think, who broke the tie and they proclaimed the state… The decision to proclaim the medinah was a clear cut decision which brought about the avadon (loss) of ten thousand Jewish neshamos (lives). The great tragedies we know – that the Jews who were killed were both husbands, fathers, sons, and grandsons all wrapped up into one. What kind of a loss and tragedy this was! It is not up to us to measure. Even it if is one Jewish life, we do not measure lives. By gentiles, for nationalistic or chauvinistic reasons, for the muterland, one does this. But in our value system, what is worth more? So this momentous decision to say that we are taking medinah over Jewish lives is to me a decision which is grounds for mourning rather than simcha. The Gemara says that when someone hears that his father died, he recites two blessings: one that G-d is the true judge and one for his inheritance. But what does he celebrate the next year? The yahrzeit or the fact that he got his inheritance? A year ago his father died so it is a yahrzeit. The fifth of Iyar is a yahrzeit. The medina is not more important than the loss of ten thousand Jews, who died as a result of this decision. That decision was a momentous error. It was an achzarius (extreme cruelty). (Speech to the Torah Umesorah Convention in 1983, printed in The Jewish Guardian, Summer 1983)


Rabbinic Quotations