Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik related that the Brisker Rav once asked: Why is the wording of the last oath different from the first two? In the first two (Shir Hashirim 2:7 and 3:5) it says “If you arouse and if you awaken,” and in the last one (8:4) it says, “Why do you arouse and why do you awaken?” He answered that the verses refer to two different situations during the Jewish people’s exile. Shlomo Hamelech foresaw with his holy inspiration that there would come a time when people of Jewish descent would try to force the end of exile. Therefore, in the first two oaths, he warned the Jewish people not to do this. But the third oath refers to the period after the oath has already been violated, when forcing the end and provoking the nations have become facts of life. This is why the oath reads, “Why do you arouse?” After you have seen that violating the oath did not help you at all, why do you continue in your folly of provoking the nations and spilling Jewish blood like the gazelles and deer of the field?
(Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 4 p. 187. Note: After receiving inquiries about the authenticity of this story, we verified it by directly consulting Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik zt”l in the last year of his life, and we have adjusted the wording above to match what Reb Meir said.)
After the decision of the United Nations to establish a Jewish state, when many religious Jews also rejoiced over the Zionists’ success, some of the anti-Zionist Jews of Yerushalayim came to ask the Brisker Rov how they should word the signs they were planning to post about the current situation. Right away, he opened up a Tehillim to Chapter 2 and said, “Here Dovid Hamelech describes our situation: ‘The kings of the earth stand, leaders meet together’ – this refers to the United Nations – ‘against Hashem and His moshiach.’ We must strengthen ourselves in our belief that the exile was decreed upon us by Hashem Yisborach, and we must wait patiently for Him to redeem us and save us through moshiach. We must pass the tests. Then we will merit to see Hashem’s laughter at the wicked and their false redemption, as Dovid Hamelech continues, “He Who sits in heaven will laugh, Hashem will mock them.” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 4 p. 195)
Once someone asked the Brisker Rov, “Where does it say in the Gemara or Shulchan Aruch that the idea of Zionism is illegitimate?” “Gemara? Shulchan Aruch?” he replied. “Bring me a siddur and I will show you where it is written.” He showed him the words of Shmoneh Esrei, “‘And may our eyes see when You return to Zion…’ In other words, we are waiting for Hashem to reveal Himself again, and we must not hope to be redeemed on our own, before the building of the Temple and the revelation of the honor of Heaven upon us.” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 4 p. 195)
At the time of the establishment of the state, anti-Zionist activists asked the Brisker Rov, “When we speak to Jews about the state, should we stress the fact that the leaders of the state are wicked people whose whole purpose is to uproot Torah and cast Jews in a new mold, empty of any spark of Judaism? Or should we stress the serious prohibition of establishing any Jewish state at all before the coming of moshiach and the Sanhedrin in the hewn chamber?” He replied that they should stress the prohibition of establishing any Jewish state, lest anyone think that if the State were run according to the Torah and Shulchan Aruch it would be permitted to establish it.
Similarly, he once said to Rabbi Amram Blau, “We must stress that the problem with the State is not just the chillul Shabbos and other aveiros that they do. For even if you would be the prime minister, it would be forbidden to establish the State.”
Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik quoted his father, “Even if they appointed the Chofetz Chaim himself as the leader of the state, it would be forbidden.” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 4 p. 196)
The Brisker Rav also said: “The Rambam (Melachim 12:2 and Teshuva 9:2) says that moshiach will redeem the Jewish people from their subjugation to the nations. Anyone who believes that it is possible to be redeemed from subjugation to the nations without moshiach is lacking in full belief in moshiach.” (Yalkut Divrei Torah)
The Brisker Rav once said to Reb Zalman Sorotzkin, “Why does the Torah say, ‘And Esav despised the birthright,’ implying that that was his main sin? The Gemora (Bava Basra 16b) says that he committed five sins that day: he violated a betrothed girl, he murdered, he denied the revival of the dead, he denied Hashem, and he despised the birthright. How could despising the birthright be considered the worst of those sins? The answer is that it is understandable that a person can stumble in sin. But to sell a birthright for lentil soup – that shows that all service of Hashem is worth nothing to him. The same is true of Zionism and the State. The Jewish people has lived throughout history relying on the promise of Hashem through true and just prophets, and on their faith in the coming of moshiach and the open miracles that will take place then. The founding of the state came to destroy all of that, like lentil soup in place of the birthright. There is no other sin like it!” (Teshuvos Vehanhagos, v. 2, siman 140)
When the Brisker Rav came to Eretz Yisroel [in 1941] they asked him if he planned to go back or to stay. He replied, “Do I plan to go back?? I plan to run away!!”
After the Brisker Rav came to Eretz Yisroel someone remarked to him, “The Rav is certainly happy now that he merited to fulfill the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel.” He replied, “If not for the great destruction that the Germans, yimach shmam, have brought on the Jews of Europe, I would have stayed there until the coming of Moshiach. I had no specific desire to come to Eretz Yisroel. Only need and desperation brought me here.”
Reb Yaakov Rosenheim visited the Brisker Rov and discussed with him the situation in Eretz Yisroel. The Brisker Rov said that one must leave the State because it is a place of danger. “Isn’t there a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel today?” asked Rosenheim. “There definitely is, but from such a state one must flee,” said the Brisker Rov. He then quoted the Rambam in Hilchos Deos (6:1): “The nature of man is that his character traits and actions are influenced by his neighbors, friends and the people of his country. Therefore… if one is in a country whose practices are bad, and whose citizens do not walk in the straight path, he should go to a place whose residents are righteous and follow proper practices.”
Rabbi Ahron Katzenellenbogen once related in a speech, “The Brisker Rov said that the Zionist State was the most dangerous place for Jews, both physically and spiritually. I asked him, ‘If so, perhaps we should go and live outside Eretz Yisroel.’ He replied, ‘Yes, according to halacha perhaps we are obligated to do that. But since there is no place as good as Yerushalayim for the proper Jewish education of boys and girls, for it is the only place in the world where there are no secular studies, we must be moser nefesh for the education of our children, and Hashem will help us.’” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 4 p. 207-8)
Once activists who were working for the observance of Shabbos in the Zionist state came to discuss an issue with the Brisker Rav. He said to them, “You are happy with the state; you see it as an achievement and a place of refuge for the Jewish people. Only, you want to make it better, that it should at least have a religious character. But in my book the whole thing is wrong. When it comes to pork, it makes no difference if there is a lesion on the lungs or not!” (ibid. p. 198)
He was referring to the story of the girl who became fatally ill, and the doctors said the only cure was to eat the meat of a pig. She was a very religious girl, however, and she said to her father, “I would rather die than eat from a pig!” Her father brought her to the rav of the town, who explained to her that when a life is in danger, the laws of the Torah are pushed aside. Finally she relented, but said to the rav, “There is one thing that would make me feel a little better about this. Please ask the shochet to slaughter the pig according to the laws of shechitah.” The rav was surprised at this request, but promised to fulfill it. So the shochet slaughtered the pig, and then the girl asked him to examine the lungs. He found a questionable lesion on the lung, and he sent it to the rav for his ruling. The rav looked it over for a long time, and then said, “I don’t know what to say. If this question had been found on a kosher animal, I would not hesitate to say, ‘Kosher, kosher.’ But how can I say the word ‘kosher’ when the animal is a pig? No matter what reasons I can think of to permit it, a pig remains a pig.” (My Uncle The Netziv, p. 130)
When the Zionists campaigned in the United Nations for permission to establish their state, the Agudath Israel lay leaders worked alongside them. The Brisker Rav, fearing the great bloodshed the state would bring about, tried to dissuade them from these diplomatic missions. “But,” someone said to the Brisker Rav, “it says in the works of Kabbalah that before the coming of moshiach there will be a government in the hands of the eirev rav.” “I don’t believe that,” said the Brisker Rav. The man persisted, “The words of the prophets, too, contain a hint that the Land will be partitioned and governed by a Jewish government before the coming of moshiach.” The Brisker Rav replied, “The Gemora states explicitly that even when something is foretold by prophecy, it is forbidden to violate the law of the Torah. It says in Berachos 10a that Chizkiyahu foresaw that he would have wicked children, and because of this he refrained from having children. Why? If he saw prophetically that he would have children, it would happen no matter what, so why did he try to avoid it? The answer is, since – according to what Chizkiyahu held – it was forbidden to bring bad children into the world, he was obligated to make all efforts to avoid doing it, despite the knowledge that his efforts would fail and the children would be born anyway. So too here, it is forbidden to found a state, for it will cause bloodshed. Even if the prophets say it will happen anyway, it is forbidden for us to help.”
The Brisker Rav gave another example to illustrate this point: “The Rambam writes that we can see the hand of Hashem even in the spreading of the major religions of the gentiles. These religions serve to prepare the world for the Days of Moshiach, by bringing belief in Hashem and the Torah – albeit in a corrupted form – to the whole world. Does that mean that we should go and help spread these religions?” (Teshuvos Vehanhagos v. 2, siman 140)
Once the Brisker Rav was going over his household expenses with his daughter, and she had written, among the items bought, the word “mivreshes.” The Brisker Rav asked her what “mivreshes” meant. Just at that moment, his talmid Reb Mordechai Solomon came in. “Reb Mordechai, what is a ‘mivreshes’?” asked the Rav. “The original Yiddish word was ‘bersht’ (brush),” said Reb Mordechai, “but the Zionists changed it to ‘mivreshes.’” Then the Brisker Rav said to his daughter, “If so, erase ‘mivreshes’ and write ‘bersht.’” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 2 p. 192)
At the Keren Hatzalah gathering in Tamuz 5754 (1994) during the Beirach Moshe’s visit to Eretz Yisroel, Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch told the following story: In the months preceding the establishment of the Zionist State, the Brisker Rav was very worried and he asked many rabbanim to work hard to prevent the new state from coming into being. After the State was established, the Chazon Ish heard that the Brisker Rav was feeling ill. He sent him a message, “You need not fear the State, for we have a rule that ‘a decree usually becomes annulled’ (Kesubos 3b). So the State will not last long.” The Brisker Rav told the messenger, “Go back and tell the Chazon Ish that it is true that a decree is usually annulled, but that would only apply here if the community considered the State an evil decree. However, I fear that the community does not think of it as a decree at all, and religious Jews will join the Zionists in running their state. Not only that, I fear that the wicked will be nourished from our holiness, from the yeshivos and chadarim that they support. If so, it will be a bitter decree for us. Go and tell the Chazon Ish that I fear that this evil decree will remain until the coming of moshiach!” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk v. 4, p. 209)
Reb Dovid Soloveitchik reports that his father, the Brisker Rav, once said, “Those who keep far away from the Zionist movement – from their deeds, their money and all that is theirs – need not fear, G-d forbid, the evil that will befall those who support Zionism.” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 4 p. 203)
Reb Elyakim Shlessinger once asked the Brisker Rav why his wife’s grandfather, Reb Yaakov Rosenheim, changed his views on Zionism in his old age. Throughout the pre-State era, Rosenheim constantly reiterated the decision of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, that Jewish law did not permit the founding of the proposed Jewish state. We must see the planned state as a great misfortune for Jewry, Rosenheim wrote in a 1944 letter to Rabbi Chaim Bloch. But after the State was founded and the Agudah activists, without the benefit of any explicit ruling from the Moetzes, began to participate in the government, Rosenheim began to speak more positively of it. “I will tell you something the Kotzker said,” said the Brisker Rav. “The Torah says that Yisro heard about the Exodus and came to join the Jewish people in the desert. Rashi explains that he heard about the parting of the Red Sea and the war with Amalek. Why did Rashi select these two things? So the Kotzker said, Yisro heard about the great miracle of the Red Sea and he wanted to be a Jew, but that didn’t mean he had to come out to the desert to join the Jewish people. He could have waited till they entered the Land of Canaan and joined them there. But then he heard about Amalek’s attack. The Amalekites had also heard about the miracles, and yet they continued to be wicked. How could that be? Because Amalek didn’t have a rebbe. One must never rely on his own reading of events; one must always have a rebbe. In that case, said Yisro, I must come to be with the Jewish people right away. Your grandfather,” the Brisker Rav concluded, “in his younger years, always had a rebbe. He listened to my father and to the Chofetz Chaim. The gedolim then were all much older that he. But I and the other rabbanim of today are closer to his age. In his formative years, we were all mere yungerleit, and that is the permanent picture he formed of us. Now, in his old age, when all his rebbes are gone, it’s no wonder that he can’t see us as his rebbes. So he is left without a rebbe. And without a rebbe, it is impossible to stay on the proper path.” (Mikatowitz Ad Hei B’Iyar, p. 343)
At the Knessia Gedolah of Agudath Israel in Marienbad, 1937, the central topic of discussion was the recent proposal of England’s Peel Commission to partition Palestine, designating a piece for a Jewish state.
The Brisker Rav, who was not at the Knessia, was also very angry when he heard that they were considering the idea of a Jewish state, which would bring bloodshed, G-d forbid. He lamented, “They are sitting and discussing whether it is permitted to give up on part of Eretz Yisroel, but to give up on one Jewish life is definitely forbidden!” Reb Avrohom Kalmanovitz visited the Brisker Rav and tried to calm him, saying, “What difference does it make what the Agudah says? The British aren’t going to take the opinion of rabbis into consideration in any case.”
The Brisker Rav opened a Gemora to Sanhedrin 26a and read: “Shevna’s lectures were attended by 130,000 people, and Chizkiyah’s lectures were attended by 110,000 people. When Sancheiriv came and beseiged Jerusalem, Shevna wrote a note and delivered it with a shooting arrow: ‘Shevna and his followers surrender, Chizkiyah and his followers do not surrender.’ Chizkiyah was afraid, saying, ‘Perhaps the mind of the Holy One, blessed is He, follows the majority. Since the majority will be delivered into the hands of Sancheiriv, we will also.’ The prophet Yishayah came and said to him, ‘Do not call a conspiracy, what this people calls a conspiracy.’ In other words, it is a conspiracy of the wicked, and a conspiracy of the wicked does not count.”
He finished reading and explained, “Yishayah told Chizkiyah that G-d indeed goes after the majority, but the opinion of the wicked does not count toward determining that majority. Here also, G-d does not care about the plans of the secular Zionists. He looks only at what the Torah Jews say. At this Knessia the majority of the gedolim of our generation are present, and G-d goes after the majority – we cannot call them “a conspiracy of wicked people.” If they decide that there should be a state, then I am afraid that there will be a state.
“In our holy Torah, it makes no difference what character this Jewish state will have. Even if it would be a Jewish state run completely according to the Torah law, even if the president and prime minister would be Reb Chaim Ozer, and everything would be done according to the Torah – even then it is forbidden that even one Jew be killed in order to establish a Jewish state. That is the crux of the issue here. The issue is not how the Jewish state will be run, religiously or secularly. The point is that it is forbidden for Jewish blood to be spilled for the purpose of establishing a Jewish state. And since it is impossible to accomplish the partition without spilling Jewish blood, it is forbidden to accept this plan.”
“But,” said Reb Avrohom, “why does the Rav say that there will be bloodshed? The plan is that the British and the League of Nations will carry out the partition peacefully, with the agreement of the Arabs.” “It will never be so,” said the Brisker Rav. “The Arabs will never agree to the establishment of a Jewish state. There will definitely be bloodshed. Even if there were only a possibility of bloodshed it would be forbidden, all the more so now that it is definite bloodshed.” (Teshuvos Vehanhagos v. 2 siman 140, Peninei Rabbeinu Hagriz p. 148)
The Gemora says (Sanhedrin 63b): “The righteous Eliyahu walked among the people dying of hunger in Jerusalem. He found a child who was swollen from hunger, lying in the garbage heaps. ‘From which family are you?’ he asked. ‘From such-and-such a family,’ he said. ‘Is there anyone surviving from that family?’ ‘No, except for me.’ ‘If I teach you something through which you will live, are you willing to learn it?’ ‘Yes,’ said the child. ‘Say every day, “Hear O Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One.”’ The child said, ‘Be quiet, do not mention the name of Hashem!’ For his father and mother did not teach him that. Immediately, he took out his idol from his bosom and hugged it and kissed it until his stomach split, and his idol fell on the ground and he fell on top of it, to fulfill the verse, ‘I will place your corpses on the corpses of your idols.’”
The Brisker Rav used to repeat this passage often, and he would say, “This is the situation today. People see that rebelling against Hashem will not succeed, and that because of the establishment of the State we are suffering bitterly from our Arab neighbors. Every day people are killed and wounded, may Hashem have mercy. All the arms of the Zionists do not help to stop terror. And still people continue to support the State and think that it is the salvation of Hashem and the redemption of the Jewish people. They do not understand that this is a threat of destruction to the Jewish people!” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk v. 4, 191)
When the Brisker Rav would be called up for the Haftorah during the Seven Weeks of Consolation, he would always cry. He explained, “Throughout history, the hope of every Jew was always hanging on the words of the prophet, “Console, console My people” and “It is I, it is I, Who consoles you” (51:12) – and all the other verses of consolation spoken by Hashem through His true prophets, promising that Hashem Himself will redeem us. This promise breathed life into every Jew. But now, the Zionists have come and created a new vision, claiming that there is a natural solution to the “Jewish problem.” Jews must take their fate into their own hands, they say. They think that their state somehow saves the Jewish people, when in reality it is the worst exile of all.” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 4 p. 189)
A religious politician once came to the Brisker Rav to request his approval to take a certain action, promising that this action would bring much benefit to the yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel. The Brisker Rav said, “It is written (Devarim 10:17) that G-d does not take bribes. What does this mean? How could anyone give a bribe to G-d, Who owns the entire world? The answer is that when one strengthens Torah study by giving in on other areas, when one tries to cover up a sin with a mitzvah, that is a bribe to G-d. And G-d does not accept bribes.” (See Rabbeinu Bechaye and Sforno.)
During the fight over the drafting of girls, one rosh yeshiva suggested to the Brisker Rav that the Zionists might be so angry at the charedim’s refusal that they would begin drafting yeshiva boys. It might be wise to be more lenient on the issue of national service for girls, in order to keep the yeshivos strong. The Brisker Rav said, “Heaven forbid to permit the forbidden in order to strengthen Torah study. We find that when the Beis Hamikdash was burning, the kohanim went up on the roof and threw the keys up to the sky, saying, ‘Since we did not merit to be trusted caretakers, we are giving the keys back to You.’ A hand came out of the sky and took the keys (Taanis 29a). So too, if we cannot continue the study of the Torah except by permitting serious sins, then we are not responsible to continue it. We leave Hashem responsible to fulfill His own promise that the Torah will never be forgotten.” (Mishkenos Haro’im, p. 842)
When the Zionist state was proclaimed and the Holy Land was bathed in bloodshed, one religious Jew who was a participant in the provisional government came to visit the Brisker Rav. He said, “I will not exaggerate and say that we religious have a great influence in the government, but our influence is not too small.” The Brisker Rav replied, “Previously I thought that you had no influence at all, and even in that case you would share in the blame for the blood that is being shed. Now that I hear you say that you do have some influence, and not too small, even if you succeed in getting all the Jews to put on Rabbeinu Tam tefillin, I do not envy your portion, because of your responsibility for what is happening.” (Lechoshvei Shmo, Sivan 5748, p. 8)
The Brisker Rav said, “Two things are certain: 1) Zionism is idolatry, and 2) every Jew living in Eretz Yisroel stumbles in Zionism.” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 4 p. 197)
Reb Moshe Shmuel Shapiro relates that when he was young, at one point he was not sure if he should open a yeshiva or become a dayan within the Zionist system. He went to speak to the Brisker Rav, and he found him sitting together with his son Reb Berel. The Brisker Rav told him, “To be a dayan in their system is much worse than taking their money for yeshivos!” “Is there any prohibition to take money from them?” asked Reb Moshe Shmuel. “I’m not saying that it it’s a prohibition,” said the Brisker Rav, “but would you be able to take money for a yeshiva from someone who owns a pork store?” Then he looked at his son and Reb Moshe Shmuel and said, “I promise you that as long as you take money only from clean sources, you will never lack money.” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 2 p. 181)
Reb Dovid Soloveitchik later expressed his father’s position in another way: How can one take money for the support of Torah from those who are trying to destroy Torah? Chazal say, “One who causes another to sin is worse that one who kills him.” (Sifri quoted by Rashi, Devarim 23:9) If Hitler, yimach shmo, had proposed to support the yeshivos at the same time that he was murdering the Jews of Europe, would they have accepted it? (“Today, maybe they would…” he added.) So why is this any different? The Zionists are working as hard as they can to destroy whatever remains of Torah-observant Jewry. (ibid. p. 179)
Although the official declaration of the Zionist state was made on May 14, 1948, it was preceded by six months of fighting, in which the Zionists brought the anger of the local and neighboring Arabs upon the Jews of Eretz Yisroel. Jerusalem was besieged, and the Arab villages along the western approach to Jerusalem became major battefields. In the midst of this war, on April 8, 1948, the Brisker Rav and the Chazon Ish encouraged all the religious Jews of Jerusalem to come out to the streets and wave the white flag to show the Arabs and the British that they were not Zionists and wanted no part in this war. The demonstration was led by Rabbi Yaakov Halperin, a close disciple of the Chazon Ish, and Rabbi Amram Blau, a close disciple of the Brisker Rav.
Several hundred Jews of the Old Yishuv gathered in the Meah Shearim Yeshiva to say Tehillim and hear speeches. Then they came out and began to march down Meah Shearim Street. Businesses closed and thousands of other residents joined the march. They held white banners reading, “We are for peace! We demand a ceasefire!” The leaflets they handed out read, “Do not blindly follow the leaders of the Zionist Agency, who refuse to listen to our holy Torah! Do not allow your sons and daughters to be killed for the sake of a state of emptiness! We are for peace! Jews, rise up against the policies of the leadership of the Agency, who are mafkir Jewish blood. The Zionist leadership does not represent us! We are Jews, and we will follow the Torah’s guidance! We are for peace! We turn to the British Government to save us from our predicament!”
The demonstrators had planned to march to the British Mandate offices to deliver their message in person. But they had only reached Geulah Street when the Zionist Haganah met them with blows and shots. They beat the demonstrators mercilessly until they scattered and ran home. The Zionists also confiscated all films and pictures taken of the demonstration before they could reach the media. The Jews of the Old Yishuv submitted their plea to the British in writing.
The Brisker Rav once said, “The Zionists take credit for protecting the Jews in the Holy Land with their military might. This is similar to the false prophet described in the Torah (Devarim 13:2) who claims to have received a prophecy that Jews should worship idols, and brings a miracle as proof of his authenticity. The Torah says that despite the miracle, we must not listen to him, for “Hashem your G-d is testing you.” Our Sages say, “Even if he makes the sun stop in the sky.” G-d may cause the sun to stop in the sky one day, and the prophet will claim that this unusual event is connected with him, but in reality there is no connection. The imagined connection is a test from G-d. Here too, the seeming connection between the Zionists and the survival of the Jews in the Holy Land is but a test from G-d, and in reality the Jews are saved in the merit of those faithful to the Torah among them.”
“Any miracles in Eretz Yisroel in our time were not done for the Zionists, as if G-d desires the existence of their state and their army. People say that the state is a place of refuge for the Jewish people, but that is false. The state is a great misfortune for the Jewish people, and no one knows what will be in the end. Our prayer is that we be saved through the kindness of G-d from all the dangers threatening us from inside and outside, without any connection to the Zionists and their state. G-d forbid that we should pray for their success in their wars.”
The Brisker Rav gave an analogy: “A mother washed her young child and dressed him in his finest Shabbos clothes, and then he went stomping in the mud puddles. When he came home, his mother, in her love and mercy, washed him again and put clean clothes on him. Then the foolish child went and bragged to his friends about his greatness, his success, his wisdom and his power, showing them the beautiful new clothes he had received. Here too, how foolish are those who got themselves into deep mud, pulling all the Jews of the Holy Land after them into terrible danger, and then when G-d has mercy and they are saved, they take credit for the saving, as if G-d did miracles for their sake!” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 3 p. 50)
The Brisker Rav once compared the Arabs to the Emorites described in the Torah (Devarim 1:44), who came out to fight the Jews who invaded Eretz Yisroel too early. The Torah says that “They pursued you like bees, and they beat you in Seir until Chormah.” Rashi comments, “Just as a bee, when it stings a person, dies immediately, so too when they hit you they died immediately.” The Brisker Rav posed the question: The Torah seems to be using the comparison to bees to explain how strongly the Emorites fought, yet Rashi says that the comparison to bees was meant to highlight their weakness, that they died immediately. How does Rashi’s comment conform to the simple meaning of the Torah?
The Brisker Rav explained: If A hits B repeatedly and B does not hit back, we only see that A hates B a little. But if B hits back double for every time A hits him, and still A continues to hit B, we see that A must really hate B, for he is willing to suffer so much just to hit B.
Here too, the Emorites also knew that when they fought against the Jews, they would die on the spot, and yet this did not deter them from pursuing the Jews – so powerful was their hatred. Thus the description of the Emorites dying like bees is meant to show how strongly motivated they were to pursue the Jews.
The Brisker Rav quoted the Vilna Gaon, who gave a similarly explanation to a comparison to bees in Tehillim (118:12): “They surround me like bees…” David Hamelech is describing his enemies’ motivation to fight as so powerful that they are willing to die like the bees.
The Brisker Rav concluded, “The Zionists think that if they kill Arabs, the Arabs will be afraid and surrender to them. But we find here in the Torah that these nations pursued the Jews like bees – even when they knew it would cost them their lives. The Arabs kill and wound because they were sent by Heaven!” (Nesivos Rabboseinu v. 2 p. 164)
In Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk (v. 4, p. 190) we read that the Brisker Rav once said, “The Zionists’ use of this word (Chashmal) from Yechezkel shows that they deny the meaning and existence of that holy concept mentioned by the prophet Yechezkel.”
The Brisker Rav pointed out many other falsifications of the Holy Tongue committed by the Zionists, and his blood would boil with anger whenever he heard someone speak a word or expression of Modern Hebrew. When he spoke to Bnei Torah who did not understand Yiddish, he would speak in Lashon Hakodesh with the Ashkenazic pronunciation, but never in Modern Hebrew. He said, “The motive of those who introduced Modern Hebrew was to create a language barrier between the younger generation and the older generation, so that each one should not understand the other.”
In the end of days, the Torah foretells in Parshas Nitzavim, the “last generation” of Jews, as well as “the gentile who comes from a faraway land,” will see the desolate condition of Eretz Yisroel and ask, “Why did Hashem do this to this land? Why was this great anger aroused?” And the answer will be that they worshipped idols (29:23-25). The Brisker Rav commented: The worst part of the tragedy described here is that the Jews will be just as ignorant as the gentiles as to what caused the Jewish people’s problems. But note that only the gentiles from faraway lands will be ignorant; the gentiles from Eretz Yisroel will know well what the problem is.