Israel – Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger: No Fast for Gush Katif


    FILE - Israeli soldiers praying during the evacuation of Gush Katif. August 21, 2005. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90. Israel – Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has ruled that a fast day should not be instituted over the expulsion from Gush Katif (Katif Bloc) and northern Samaria (Shomron), nor should kinot (traditional dirges) be composed.

    The ruling appears in the latest volume of Tchumin (Zomet Institute, Vol. 30), an annual compendium of scholarly articles on matters of modern society and state in Torah law. Rabbi Metzger addresses the question of how to commemorate the tragedy of the Disengagement – the expulsion of 9,000 Jews from Gush Katif and northern Shomron, the destruction of their homes and communities by Israeli forces, the burning of their synagogues by Arabs, and the consequent takeover of the area by Iranian-supported Hamas and its Kassam rockets.

    He notes that days of fasting in the Jewish calendar are not a method by which to remember historic dates, but rather a way of encouraging repentance and self-accounting for our sins.

    While not minimizing the tragic proportions of the expulsion, Rabbi Metzger gives several reasons why it should not be commemorated by an official day of fasting.  For one thing, the rabbis are empowered to make new rulings such as national fast days only in cases where the public, or most of it, can be expected to observe them – which is not the case here.

    In addition, he writes, “The subject of the uprooting from Gush Katif was a matter of sharp and painful public debate within the nation, such that a ruling of this sort as a day of mourning is liable to deepen and increase the split in the nation.”

    Thirdly, Rabbi Metzger does not believe that there is a body today that has the authority to institute rulings over the entire Jewish nation. At one point, the Sanhedrin – the Supreme Court of the original Jewish state, especially during the Second Temple period – was the ultimate authority. It has never been renewed, though an attempt to do so has been made in this generation; most leading rabbis do not support it, though some actively do.

    Rabbi Metzger adds that even kinot – dirges of the type recited on Tisha B’Av – should not be composed. The only official way to commemorate the tragedy, he writes, is by reciting an abridged form of the blessing, “Blessed art Thou… the True Judge” when one sees (for the first time in a month) the site that has been destroyed.

    Despite the above, there continue to be calls to fast on the 8th day of the month of Elul, the date in 2005 that the IDF officially left Gaza. Such a call would not be in opposition to Rabbi Metzger’s ruling, which bans only a nationwide ordinance.

    In 2008, the Knesset passed the “Gush Katif and Northern Shomron Legacy Center Law,” calling for the establishment of various means, such as a library, research institute and website by which to teach about and memorialize the destroyed areas. In this framework, the Education Ministry conducts a “Gush Katif” week in schools that request it. Only a few schools participated in 2009, but in February of 2010, some 400 schools – mostly of the public-religious stream – took part.

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    1. The rav is right for a change….we cannot go around having special fast days for every government decision that some might disagree with. Nothing stops individual yidden from fasting or saying tehillim if thats their preference but don’t impost such an obligation on the tzibur when many believe that in the long term, the evacuation of the gaza settlements will be shown to have been the right decision.

      • are you serious?? you still somehow think the gush katif catastrophy will somehow be proven correct!!?? maybe one day chamberlain will be proven right for making peace with hitler and proclaiming peace in our time, after all only 60 milion people had to die for that to actually come to fruition.

        • Yes. I agree that a generation from now, the forced evacuation of the settlers from Gush Katif will be viewed as the right decision and one that ultimately saved many yiddeshe lives.

          • Your head is buried in the sand. The “Palestinians” wouldn’t be happy until all the Jews are forced out of all of Israel, chas v’Shalom.

        • “maybe one day chamberlain will be proven right for making peace with hitler and proclaiming peace in our time,”

          Oy Estherka, Estherka! Get your facts right and don’t display your ignorance like that.

          Neville Chamberlain did NOT make peace with Hitler. He did all he possibly could to rein him in. On the contrary: on 3 September 1939 he declared war against Nazi Germany for invading Poland.

          Just what did they teach you at your seminary? Bopkes?

          • hey GB,maybe they whitewash what chamberlain did on your isle.the fact is until that invasion, chamberlain thought and publicly announced that he had succeeded in securing “peace in our time”.he did all that he could to pacify hitler,first by allowing him to to occupy the sudentenland and then by allowing him to accept power in austria.

      • Sure there is- Tisha B’av.

        There’s also a difference between members of the community that was specifically impacted taking part in the fast, and the wider Jewish community, which generally uses Tisha B’av as the catch-all day of Jewish mourning.

    2. although i disagree with the rabbi many times, i’m on his side this time but for a different reason. we cannot have all jews fast for something that, in the eyes of most jews, isn’t a tragedy to begin with.
      in addition many of the evacuated communities were built after negotiations with the PLO were taking place, and it was clear that sooner or later this territory will be handed over to the palistinians. therefore the shuls and houses were built for temporary usage.

    3. Metzger is an am ho’oretz. He’s the first person who was elected Chief Rabbi and did not have dayonus so he couldn’t be a member of his own beis din!

      • He isn’t at all an am ha’aretz, but still, the only reason why he was chosen was because of Rav Elyashiv’s support.

        It should have been Rav Yaakov Ariel, who is a huge talmid chacham.

        Even so, Rav Metzger, as the Rav HaRashi, calls the shots (if you disagree, remember the story of Rabban Gamaliel ordering Rebbi Yehoshua to come to him on Yom Kippur with his wallet and staff), and his article in Tchumin is quite comprehensive.

    4. Whether or not you agree with the disengagement, it was tragic for the people involved, BUT nobody died! How can anyone begin to compare it to other tragedies that we have fast days for?


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