Disengagement Statement

Human leaders are vulnerable to making mistakes or being swayed in their decision-making by motivations that are not necessarily in the best interests of the people they are meant to serve. This can lead to major historical changes, and those harmed may feel frustrated, anxious and even depressed as a result of the injustice. Any reasonable effort that can mitigate or prevent an imminent wrong should be made. But sometimes even that fails.

Judaism says that Hashem’s design is behind historical events, particularly those happening in Eretz Yisroel and directly affecting Jews. No matter how convincing someone’s explanation of the causes of a specific development may be, it is incomplete at best. Hashem’s design still remains, and it explains not only the causes leading up to the event but also Hashem’s purpose leading from the event. Hashem has a master plan and specific goals that must be reached, and He is capable of weaving His agenda into world history in such a way that His plan is not apparent to historians. Insofar as one has internalized this belief, one will benefit from a great side effect. Knowing that historical events are not just a product of the past but preparation for the future is comforting, especially because—unlike human leaders—He never errs, He always does that which is ultimately in the people’s best interests and He never fails in His mission. Every tragic historical event that is a black cloud for the people living through it has a silver lining.

Take, for example, the rise of Christianity. This terrible tragedy led to the spilling of Jewish blood, humiliation of Jews, and the dispersal of the Jewish people and brought many people to worship a god other than Hashem. The Rambam, however, searched for the silver lining in this calamity. He wrote that Hashem’s goal was to prepare the world for the arrival of Moshiach. People around the globe now speak of the Messiah, of the Bible and its commandments. They may reject many mitzvos and have a distorted perception of the Torah and Moshiach, but that will be easily rectifiable when the true Moshiach arrives.[1]

In this vein, I urge others to explore Hashem’s goal in the disengagement. I believe this exercise can lead to greater bitachon and may reduce frustration, anxiety and even depression. Regardless of your conclusion, trying to see things from Hashem’s perspective can ease your pain and reduce your feelings of anger and defeat.

Merely by way of example, I shall share my speculation as to some possible benefits of the disengagement plan. The entire process may serve to increase the yiras shomayim of many Jews who are already committed to mitzvoh observance. Losing a portion of our beloved land drives home the point that we are still vulnerable. Our hold on Eretz Yisroel is tenuous and uncertain. As we say in the Shema, only by a complete commitment to the Torah can we earn Eretz Yisroel. Until the arrival of Moshiach, our hold on the land is not secure and should not be taken for granted.

Furthermore, we have experienced betrayal by our own family, by people we considered our brothers. Integration between secular society and Torah-committed society surely has many positive aspects, but there are significant negative ramifications as well. When the societies interact, each side is influenced by the other. Fundamental differences in values can be blurred when committed Jews identify too closely with non-believing Jews. By bringing some differences between the two groups into sharp focus, the disengagement process may induce Torah-committed society to acknowledge those differences and attempt to preserve them. Until the pain of betrayal passes, Torah-committed society will likely retreat and be more circumspect about involvement with non-believers. All this may stanch the negative influence of secular society and stimulate Torah-committed society to become even stronger in its devotion to Hashem. Then we can resume the interaction, but carefully so as to achieve the best results.

These suggestions are my personal opinion. They are speculative in nature and are mentioned merely as examples of how one might begin exploring the master plan. My goal in writing this essay will be accomplished if readers consider, challenge and even reject my thesis, as long as they also try to come up with an alternative thesis. When one contemplates a hypothesis, it is not necessary to search for a benefit that makes the suffering worthwhile. Our sense of justice will in all probability see the overall loss as greater than the gain. Nevertheless, knowing that there is some spiritual gain can be comforting.

If there is any reasonable possibility of thwarting the disengagement, it should be considered. But if there isn’t, let us try to accept these yisurim without indignation and search for the good that is destined to come from the disengagement process.

[1] עיין פי''א ממלכים ה''ד בהוצאת פרנקל שהכניסו מה שצנזרו הדפוסים הקודמים.