Preempting the UN: Minister of Religious Affairs Rav Gedalya Schreiber: The Rebbe told us how to keep Israel safe.
COLive.com / JEM
January 9, 2017 Mr. Gedalya Schreiber is formeer director general of Israel's Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Director General of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. He was interviewed in his home in Jerusalem, July 2011 by JEM's: "Here's My Story" (Click To Print Off JEM PDF): The summer of 1980, I was serving as the director-general of the Religious Affairs Ministry in Israel. Rabbi Avraham Shapira, my colleague who would later become a member of the Knesset, invited me to attend his son's wedding in New York. Once there, I took the opportunity to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe. As it happened, the Sadigura Rebbe, Admor Rabbi Avraham Friedman, was also attending the wedding. He also planned to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe, so together with Rabbi Shapira, we joined the Rebbe's entourage. Having heard so much about the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and now preparing to meet him face to face for the first time, I felt a strong sense of apprehension. When I and the others arrived at 770 Eastern Parkway, we went directly into the Rebbe's study. The first thing that made an impression on me were the Rebbe's deep and penetrating eyes – they bore deep inside of me in a way that I can't describe. As we entered, the Rebbe rose from his chair to greet us and invited us to sit in a semi-circle around his desk. The conversation that followed was conducted in Yiddish with phrases of Hebrew being interjected from time to time. The Rebbe first began by inquiring about the Sadigura Rebbe's institutions and about his plans for the future. The Sadigura Rebbe responded that most of his schools were in Bnei Brak while his synagogue was in Tel Aviv. As such, he was planning to move to live in Bnei Brak in order to be closer to his institutions. Objected the Rebbe: "But if you move to Bnei Brak, what will become of the Jews of Tel Aviv?" "If all the Rebbes move away, they will be abandoned." Apparently this argument touched the Sadigura Rebbe because, subsequently, he did not leave Tel Aviv – not until later when he reached an old age. Even then, the Rebbe made a point of returning from time to time to help the community there. Next, the Rebbe brought up the painful subject of a plan to give away huge areas of the Land of Israel as part of a peace treaty with the Arabs. Our meeting was taking place just a year after Israel had returned the Sinai to Egypt. Now it was considering to do the same with the West Bank. Israelis Unhappy About Winning Land
The Rebbe mentioned some of the open miracles which took place so that the Jewish people could acquire this land and how, with G-d's help, they were victorious during the Six Day War. The Rebbe then exclaimed, "But instead of receiving this gift from G-d happily, there is now talk of giving it away!" The Rebbe pointed out how the three main areas being demanded by the Arabs happened to be the places which, the Torah testifies, were bought with money by our forefathers – Hebron, Shechem (Nablus), and Jerusalem. "And even the non-Jews who accept the Bible believe this. President Jimmy Carter gives a Bible class, and he knows this and believes it," the Rebbe declared.* Egypt Claims Sinai For Religious Reasons; Israel Can't Do The Same?
Continued the Rebbe: "How is it that President Anwar Sadat can refuse to relinquish even one bit of the Sinai because he say that it's holy to his nation, but the Israeli leaders can't say the same thing about our land? On the contrary, they are willing to give it up! What's more, they send a message that they are willing to bargain away parts of the Land. Why don't they simply announce that the Land of Israel is ours? Just as one cannot give up on a part of one's body, so too it's impossible for a Jew to give away parts of the Land of Israel." The Rebbe spoke very loudly and from the depths of his heart. One could see that this matter really troubled him deeply. The atmosphere was charged and thick with emotion and we all sat with tears in our eyes. The Rebbe begged us that we each use our positions – the Sadigura Rebbe as a member of several rabbinical councils in Israel, I as the director-general of the Religious Affairs Ministry, and Rabbi Shapira as a politically-involved businessman – to do whatever is in our power to change the political outlook and fix the situation. Settle The Land!
When we asked what would be the best way to go about it, the Rebbe said that we should encourage more building in Judea and Samaria, and that we should do whatever possible to strengthen the notion that the Land of Israel is a gift from G-d. More Benefits Needed For Large Families
We then began to discuss the demographic situation in Israel.
The Rebbe wanted to see a push to raise the Jewish birth rate in Israel. "Try to convince those in the government who think otherwise," the Rebbe urged us. "Make sure that they continue to give benefits to families with many children. If the government is willing to spend thousands of dollars to bring new immigrants into the country? Surely they should be willing to spend that much to encourage Israeli families to have more children." The Key To Winning Is Jewish Unity
Another topic which we spoke about was Jewish unity. "There are so many separate camps – Ashkenaz, Sephard, the Right and the Left – but the key to our future is unity," the Rebbe said. The Rebbe wanted to know what we were doing to bring the various factions together. I told him about the many activities of the Religious Affairs Ministry to further that goal. He urged us to keep on doing more, and not to be satisfied with what we had achieved thus far. The meeting had been slated to last for half an hour. Instead, we ended up staying for over an hour and a half. The Rebbe wanted to hear every detail about the situation in Israel – whether political, military, social, economic or religious. And we could see that he already had an intimate knowledge of these matters. When it was time to leave the Rebbe said, "Your name is Rabbi Gedalya Schreiber. King David says in the Book of Psalms (55:15), 'Into the House of G-d we walked with a multitude.' The Hebrew word for multitude – regesh – is the acronym of Rabbi Gedalya Schreiber." When I walked out of the room, I was a different person. This meeting with the Rebbe gave me strength of purpose, and the Rebbe's spirit and perception guided me throughout my life. The Rebbe's demand that we fight for Israel, both in a spiritual sense and a physical sense, continues to inspire me until today. *Note: President Jimmy Carter once made a presentation to the Knesset about giving Israel's land for peace. Someone brought up this very point about these three areas having been bought as one reads in the Bible. The President used to give a Bible class and so he was not unfamiliar with this point and was embarrassed apparently by this remark and had no answer. Mr. PM Rabin ignored the point and rescued Mr. Carter by providing a convenient answer, something he was later sorry he did.
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