Rav Amital’s Torah

This entry was posted in Beliefs on by .

A couple of months ago I mentioned — with great fondness — Rav Yehuda Amital, the founder of Yeshivat Har Etzion, in a blog post.

Amital.JPG Well, over the weekend I started reading the first English-language book of Rav Amital’s writings.

Commitment and Complexity is a translation of a Hebrew book compiled in honor of Rav Amital’s 80th birthday. It consists of very short selections from his varied writings on numerous topics.

Rav Amital has a unique story: Holocaust survivor, student of the famed Hevron (aka Slabodka) Yeshiva, pioneer of the Hesder program, founder of Meimad, and most interestingly, a proponent of both the settlement movement and the peace process.

As the title of the book implies, Rav Amital is not a man who appreciates simple answers and his teachings derive their wisdom from this fact.

Rav Amital is, above all, a humane thinker, who forcefully asserts that stressing Torah or the Land of Israel over and above the concerns of Am Yisrael and human life is a corruption of Judaism.

There is a hierarchy of values if Judaism, and anyone who fails to differentiate “bein kodesh le-kodesh” (between one level of holiness and another) will end up unable to differentiate “bein kodesh le-chol” (between the holy and the profane), as we say in the Havdala prayer. The proper order is: the nation, the Torah, the land. Chazal address the importance of this hierarchy in Tana De-vei Eliyahu Rabba, Chapter 14: “He said to me, ‘My master, there are two things in my heart which I love greatly – Torah and [the nation] of Israel, but I do not know which of them takes precedence.’ I said to him: ‘People usually say that Torah takes precedence over everything else, as it is written: “God acquired me at the beginning of His way” (Mishlei 8:22), but I say that the holy [nation of] Israel takes precedence, as it is written, “Israel is holy to God; the first of His produce” (Yirmiyahu 2:3).’” The interests of Am Yisrael certainly take precedence over the interests of Eretz Yisrael.

Posted on July 21, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy