“There is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael” (BeReishit Rabbah 16:4).

EIM HABANIM SEMEICHAH - On Eretz Yisrael, Redemption, and Unity

From the Back Cover

First published in 1943, Eim HaBanim Semeichah remains the most comprehensive treatise on Eretz Yisrael, redemption, and Jewish unity. Much of this remarkable work has been proven prophetic by the passage of time. It is truly a priceless treasure.

Rav-Yisachar-Shlomo-TeichtalThe saintly author, R. Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal, originally shared the prevalent, Orthodox view which discouraged the active return to Zion. The Holocaust, however, profoundly changed his perspective. The annihilation of unprecedented numbers of his fellow Jews forced him to seek explanations. Thus, relying almost exclusively on his phenomenal memory and keen insight, he investigated the matter exhaustively. His conclusions are eye-opening! The Jewish people will find refuge from their troubles, he argues, only if they unite to rebuild the Land. This will bring about the ultimate redemption.

Although more that 65 years have passed since its original publication, the message of this book is as crucial today as it was then. We therefore take great pride in presenting this masterpiece to the English-speaking public. We only hope that Jews the world over will absorb its message and apply it in practice.

 

EHS

APPROBATIONS:

HaRav HaGaon R. Zalman Nechemyah Goldberg shlita:

I was happy to hear from my dear friend, R. Chayim Menachem Teichtal shlita, that the wonderful book written by his brilliant, righteous, and saintly father, R. Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal ztvk”l… author of Responsa Mishneh Sachir, [was being published in English]. This book, which is completely holy, arouses the hearts of Israel to their Father in Heaven and inspires them to cherish the great mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel.

For some time now, this book, entitled Eim HaBanim Semeichah, has been renowned throughout the Jewish world. Recently, R. Moshe Lichtman shlita took the initiative to translate this book into English, so that the Jewish masses who do not understand the Holy Tongue (Hebrew) can benefit [from it]. The translator has expertise in this field and, undoubtedly, will produce a proper work for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.

Written in honor of the Torah and in honor of the brilliant tzaddik zt”l,
Zalman Nechemyah Goldberg

 
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HaRav HaGaon R. Hershel (Tzvi) Schachter shlita:

Many years ago, I read several sections of the beautiful work, Eim HaBanim Semeichah, and I enjoyed it tremendously. The saintly author, may HaShem avenge his blood, certainly does not need my approbation, God forbid.

Today, unfortunately, there is much confusion, even among Torah-Jews, on the issue of Eretz Yisrael, which is a vast discipline in the Torah. [Therefore], I commend our dear colleague, R. Moshe Lichtman (may he live), who translated this important book into the common vernacular. For, due to our numerous sins, many Torah-Jews cannot read this book in the original [Hebrew]. I reviewed several pages of the translation and enjoyed them, as well.

Written and signed in honor of the Torah and in honor of our Holy Land,
Tzvi Schachter

 

TESTIMONIALS:

Thank you for translating Eim HaBanim Semeicha. It's an amazing sefer -- one of the two or three most significant sefarim I've learned.

So far, I have only got through the introductions (90 pages) and find it fascinating and full of sources for why one should make Aliyah. If anyone is looking for religious sources for making Aliyah I strongly recommend you get your hands on this book which recently came out in English. The author is Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal who passed away in the last days of the Holocaust. It's actually an English translation of a book that has been available for about twenty years in Hebrew. This is not a "how to" book. R. Teichtal zt"l was a Munkatcher Chassid who decided that Munkatch (probably as vehemently anti-Zionist as Satmar) had it all wrong, at least when it comes to making aliya.

The book was actually originally published during the Shoah. Yes, during the Shoah! The English translation was just published by a young scholar/Rov who had been working on it for a few years. Yes, it is excellent. No home should be without it. As a matter of fact, Rav Teichtal, a"h, himself said in all humility that as a Rov and Posek there was so much he didn't know concerning the mitzvah of yishuv eretz yiroel until he began writing the sefer.

I second the recommendation. The sefer is probably the best and most influential sefer I ever read. Besides for the excellent Torah content, the chizuk with repsect to Aliyah, and the fascinating history covered, the sefer teaches a tremendous amount of Ahavat Yisrael in discussing an area that has generated a lot of Sinat Chinam. I was often brought to tears reading the sefer. In short, it is highly recommended reading.

Your translation of "Eim Habanim Semeichah" was the best book I've ever read.

I just made Aliyah, and I now live in Ramat Beit Shemesh. The decision to make Aliyah was a 10 year process. Actually, the decision was immediate; the courage to do it took 10 years. I have many strong feelings about the status of the Jewish people and about the issue of Aliyah. Some friends who know how I feel suggested that I read the book that you translated. I have purchased a copy and have read 100 pages so far. Though I am not finished reading it yet, I am extremely moved by it. It explains exactly how I feel about all these issues but adds a Torah source. I believe, without trying to be overly dramatic, that this may be one of the most important books out today…

 

ARTICLES:

Book Review by Rabbi Berel Wein, Jewish Action, Summer 5761/2001

There is an enormously powerful book about the Holocaust, Orthodox Jewry, the Land of Israel, Zionism, Jewish unity and hatred and the Messianic Era, that has been in circulation for the past number of decades. Written in difficult and scholarly Rabbinic Hebrew, it is called Eim Habanim Semeichah (The Mother of the Children is Happy), a phrase taken from Psalm 113. The author is Rabbi Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal, a noted scholar, author of three volumes of responsa, and rabbi in pre-World War II Slovakia and Hungary. Rabbi Teichtal was murdered by the Germans during the forced evacuation of Jewish and Ukrainian prisoners from Auschwitz to the Mathausen concentration camp, at the end of January, 1945. He was barely sixty years old at the time of his death.

Before World War II, Rabbi Teichtal was an adherent of the Rabbi of Munkacs, Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapiro. This rabbi of Munkacs was the fiercest foe of all types of Zionism. Rabbi Shapiro also opposed and bitterly criticized the non-Zionist Agudat Yisrael for its alleged cooperation in certain areas with the Zionists in building the Land of Israel. Teichtal was as committed an opponent and as strong a critic of the Zionist movement, its aims and achievements, before the war, as was Shapiro. It was only during the German destruction of the Slovakian Jewish community, which Teichtal was forced to personally witness and endure, that he began to draw conclusions diametrically opposed to his pre-war views on Zionism, Messianic times and secular Jews. In Eim Habanim Semeichah, Teichtal humbly and yet proudly confesses to his previous errors of judgment and misguided interpretations of Jewish faith. The purpose of his work now is to call on his fellow, learned Jews, strictly observing of Torah precepts, to recant their blind and wrong opposition to Zionism. Rather, they should join with all Jews, irrespective of their level of Torah knowledge and observance, in a unified effort to build the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. This effort of united Jewry is to be carried forward on the basis of Jewish activism and initiative. The lesson of the Holocaust is that the Jews are to forego the passive attitude of the Jewish exile that relied solely on Divine intervention and supernatural Messianic deliverance. Instead, the active programs of settlement and building in the Land of Israel, coupled with the declared abandonment of the Jewish exile in any foreign country as a solution to the problems of the Jewish people, and enhanced by a determined effort to deal with all Jews in tolerance, understanding and even love, are the methods for the successful initiation of the Messianic Era.

Rabbi Teichtal’s change of heart and attitude did not receive universal approval. He was driven from certain Hungarian synagogues and not allowed to conduct his regular Torah classes and sermons in other study halls, due to his now “heretical” views. This opposition to him personally, only caused him to write and disseminate his book and ideas with even greater impetus. Teichtal was especially incensed by the statements of certain rabbis in Hungary that Hungarian Jewry would be spared the fate of German, Polish and Lithuanian Jewry because of God’s presumed approval of its fiercely anti-Zionist, anti- Enlightenment stance. They claimed that their “Munkacs” attitude stood in sharp and correct contrast to the prevalent popular Jewish attitudes in those other lands, where even the Orthodox leadership was corrupted in advocating Zionist ideas — i.e. immigration to the Land of Israel and the active rebuilding of the country by Jewish efforts, sweat and resources. Of course, history tragically proved Teichtal correct, since in 1944 Hungarian Jewry met the same fate that earlier decimated its Eastern European brethren .

Teichtal’s book was intended for an audience composed mainly of the rigorously Orthodox members of the Jewish community. The book has never reached that audience. Most of the present students of the yeshivot and members of the Chassidic communities are unaware of its existence, let alone of its contents and challenges. In the aftermath of the Holocaust and the rise of the State of Israel, many of the attitudes in the Orthodox world that Teichtal so criticized and blamed as being contributory to the Holocaust – insularity, open opposition to the rebuilding of the Land of Israel through Zionism and now the State of Israel and its official bodies, sanctioned and institutionalized intolerance and even hatred of other Jews, a sense of fatalism and inaction in the face of changing social circumstances, a glorification of the ‘easy life’ of exile in lands outside of the Land of Israel, a mistaken dogma that preaches a passive dependence solely upon Divine aid that paralyzes any Jewish national initiatives – have in fact hardened. A new generation has arisen that knows not the circumstances of the Holocaust or of the founding of the State of Israel and thus is unable to draw any historic lessons from these cataclysmic events. It is to this new generation of committed Orthodox Jews that Eim Habanim Semeichah should speak and argue its case.

In Israel, the book has become a second Bible for the Gush Emunim / Mercaz Harav camp. The authoritative Torah arguments marshaled by Rabbi Teichtal served as a needed support of the correctness of the ideology of settlement of the Land of Israel everywhere and against all odds, practical and diplomatic considerations and objections. Because of the fervor of Gush Emunim in adopting Rabbi Teichtal (together with Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook) as their spiritual father, the other camps of Orthodoxy, most notably the non-Zionist yeshivah and Chassidic world, have almost automatically ignored or rejected Rabbi Teichtal and his book. The irony is that Rabbi Teichtal intended the book and its message precisely for the non- Zionist Orthodox world and not necessarily for the committed Religious Zionist Gush Emunim section of the Orthodox world. Nevertheless, in spite of this limited political appeal, the book has been republished in its original Hebrew format many times in Israel and tens of thousands of copies have been sold and distributed in Israel and worldwide.

Within the past two years, Eim Habanim Semeichah has been translated and published in two English editions. The first translation appeared in 1999 and was authored and edited by Dr. Pesach Schindler of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The second translation was published in 2000. It was translated and edited by Rabbi Moshe Lichtman of Israel. Both books face the great task of translating an extremely difficult, scholarly, heavily nuanced book written in a Hebrew that is itself somewhat obtuse, into clear, interesting and readable English. Both authors have done nobly in their translations, albeit naturally with different readings and style. Schindler’s translation is not quite as literal, and omits portions of the book. Lichtman’s translation is unabridged. Schindler’s translation also has more copious and informative footnotes that are most helpful in understanding Teichtal’s work and thoughts. He has paraphrased Teichtal, and done some important editing in order to make the book much more readable. Both the print and the format of Schindler’s book are very attractive and user friendly.

Lichtman’s book has very helpful paragraph and subject headings in the margins of the page, thus allowing the reader to know instantly where Teichtal is heading with his words and ideas. The rendering of the Hebrew text in this English translation is most faithful, the footnotes are spare and simple and not only the words but the mood of the author comes through very clearly. Each of the translations has its own style and rhythm. Choosing one over the other is in my opinion simply a matter of subjective taste. What I do believe is that thoughtful Jews, interested in hearing the opinion of a great Torah scholar on the crucial matters of faith and policy that face world Jewry today, must read one or both of these translations if they are unable to read the original work in Hebrew.

The attitude of Diaspora Jewry, especially Orthodox Jewry, towards the role of Israel could stand improvement in the current times of crisis and challenge in Israel. We here in Israel do not hear the call for the love of the Land of Israel and our unquestioned right to the Holy Land in a strong voice emanating from our Diaspora brethren. I think that Rabbi Teichtal would be heartbroken to see that even after the Holocaust and the events in the Land of Israel of the last fifty five years, much of the same attitudes of the glorification of the Exile and the negation of building the Jewish home in the Land of Israel that he so decried still remain dominant in much of the Orthodox Jewish world. Both Pesach Schindler and Moshe Lichtman have done the Jewish English-speaking world a great service by bringing Rabbi Teichtal and his message to its attention and study. It is our task to truly make our mother — the Land of Israel — happy with her children — the people of Israel.

Some Thoughts on Zionism

by David Hillel Nadoff (toratimecha yahoo group)

1. I am a Theist, but not in some abstract philosophical or generic religious sense. My understanding of, belief in and orientation toward God arise from and are rooted in my commitment to and understanding of Torah. Hence, I am a Torah Theist. I am likewise a Torah Monotheist insofar as my notion of God's unity grows out of and is grounded in the Torah's qualitative conception.

2. In the same sense, I am a Zionist. That is, my understanding of, allegiance to and orientation toward Eretz Yisrael arise from and are rooted in my commitment to and understanding of Torah. Hence, I am a Torah Zionist or, in common parlance, a Religious Zionist.

3. Properly understood and practiced, Zionism no more implies commitment to a political, cultural or social ideology extraneous to ones Torah convictions than Monotheism implies confession of a philosophical, theological or religious doctrine extraneous to fundamental Jewish belief. Each of these "-isms" is an organic element of Torah, the recognition and assimilation of which is essential to the integrity of Torah and Jewish life.

4. Such was the Zionism of the Ramban, the Gaon of Vilna, the Chatam Sofer, Rav Yehuda Alkalai and Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalischer, to mention only a few of the many great Chovevei Tzion and Mevasrei Tzion of the generations. Although the term Zionism is plainly anachronistic in reference to those Torah luminaries, it is nevertheless accurately descriptive of their beliefs insofar as we understand it in the sense described above.

5. As Judaism "gave" Monotheism to the gentile world so did it "give" Zionism to the secular Jewish world. In each instance, the "gift" was inevitably distorted when uprooted from its native Torah context. Transformed into a grotesque caricature of its holy source, it led to a variety of regrettable consequences from which the sensitive Jewish soul instinctively recoils. This spiritual revulsion triggered a reactionary dissociation on the part of many Torah Jews from Zionist beliefs and aspirations, including those authentically rooted in and integral to Torah (except as they relate to the person and actual coming of Mashiach).

6. I understand Eim Habanim Semeicha (EHS) to be an articulation of genuine Torah Zionism -- an extended meditation on the proper orientation of Am Yisrael (and every Jew) to Eretz Yisrael, within the framework and based on the sources of Torat Yisrael. It represents the author's struggle to reclaim fundamental Torah values all but lost to many otherwise faithful Jews as a result of the reactionary impulse described above. It is all the more poignant in that it represents the rectification of the author's former anti-Zionist zealotry, which he came to recognize as a gross error born of blind conformity and failure seriously to consider the matter with Torah discipline. It is all the more pure in that it is an original exploration and formulation based on a comprehensive review of Torah sources, free of presuppositions or external influences and generally without recourse to any pre-existing systems of thought on the subject.

7. None of this is to say that Religious Zionism is immune to variance from, even betrayal of, the Torah ideal, whether as a result of the exigencies of its practical implementation, cooperation with secular Zionists, conceptual distortions or insufficient emphasis of other Torah values. In this, it is no different than any other Jewish organization or movement dedicated to a particular Torah value. Religious Zionism must therefore be self-critical, constantly evaluating its own Torah integrity and correcting for deviations.

8. There are those who are quick to deny that various Torah leaders were Zionists, and certainly they were not if, by that, secular Zionism is intended. For example, the Rebbe of Lubavitch is reported to have said that Rav Teichtal was "far from Zionism." As Rav Teichtal's son (a Chabad Chasid) explains, that refers to secular Zionism, the movement of "Eretz Yisrael without Torat Yisrael," but the true Zionists are Torah Jews like his father, who promote aliya and development of the Land, and aspire to its Torah governance. (Forward of R' Teichtal's son, Chayim Menachem, to the Kol Mevaser edition of EHS, p. 26.)

9. It is ultimately uninformative and unhelpful to belabor the obvious fact that Gedolei Torah are not secular Zionists, particularly in instances where it only serves to obscure their authentic Torah Zionist teachings. Granting their opposition in principal to any belief or conduct contrary to the Torah, it is far more instructive to examine how Gedolei Yisrael actually relate to the secular Zionists and their efforts, a subject on which they vary widely.

10. R' Teichtal maintains that, for profound theological reasons, the secular Zionists were God's preferred and intended messengers for the initiation of the ingathering of the Exiles, whom Torah Jews should have joined, supported and guided in vast numbers and with intense enthusiasm once the secular efforts began to bear fruit and the European Diaspora became progressively more intolerable. Had they done so, Jewish life and governance in Eretz Yisrael (not to mention the fate of European Jewry) would have been of an entirely different character, far more in keeping with Torah ideals and long-cherished Jewish expectations.*

11. Rav Teichtal did not believe that the secular Zionists were wicked or malicious, but considered them anusim or tinokot shenishb'u (i.e., victims of force exerted by errant predecessors and irresistible cultural influences that effectively imposed a debased spiritual condition upon them involuntarily). He held that they are precious Jewish souls whose efforts on behalf of Eretz Yisrael are most welcome before God, and that it is a Torah obligation to relate to them with love, understanding and patience, in a spirit of unity and cooperation. Blame for the misdeeds, errors and excesses of the secular Zionists, and for their impact on Jewish life and governance of Eretz Yisrael, rests heavily upon the shoulders of the Torah Jews who despised them, condemned their efforts or simply failed to join, support and guide them.*

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* The propositions of paragraphs 10 and 11 above pervade Eim Habanim Semeicha, but see especially pp. 20-25, 79, 120-22, 129-30, 132-40, 149, 173-6, 206-10, 210-11, 221-2, 233 and Chap. 4.