Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Yielding the Right of Way

When the government of Israel wished to pass a law requiring all girls to serve in the army, the Chazon Ish, zt”l, and many other gedolim were steadfast in their ruling that the girls should literally die rather than allow themselves to be conscripted for any reason. Ben Gurion met the Chazon Ish in an effort to force him to submit to the law, or at least to convince him to withdraw his psak that conscription of girls was an issue of יהרג ואל יעבר.
When Ben Gurion asked the Chazon Ish how the secular and charedi elements of Israeli society could possibly find a way to bridge the gap between them, he replied with a parable from the gemara. “Our sages teach that if there are two wagons on a narrow road, one full and one empty, which wagon must accommodate its counterpart? Surely the empty one must make space for the full wagon to pass first. The wagon of the chareidim has been filled with Torah and mitzvos for thousands of years, ever since the revelation at Mt Sinai. Your wagon is empty since you only began to fill it a comparatively short time ago. You must make space to accommodate the religious community.”
But because the Chazon Ish did not want to insult Ben Gurion, who was a guest in his home, he added, “You should not misunderstand me when I say our wagon is full and yours is empty. Our wagon is full of the many halahcos such as Shabbos and kashrus that we are required to observe. Your wagon is ideologically flexible enough to accommodate us, since you are not required to eat non-kosher and you need not profane Shabbos to be an upstanding member of secular society. You can give in to our approach and lose nothing by it. We cannot."

No comments: