Jerusalem - Rare 1953 Photo And Document On Auction Offers Glimpse Into Ben-Gurion As A Jew
Jerusalem - A rare glimpse into the world of former Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion is being offered at auction tomorrow by the Jerusalem-based Kedem Auction House for a starting price of $300.
The contents of this 1953 document reveal a heated discussion between Ben-Gurion and the leading rabbis of the generation at that time over whether women should be drafted into National Service or Sherut Leumi. Present at the gathering was Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank, Rabbi Menachem Porush, Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, and Rabbi Meir Karelitz, brother of the Chazon Ish.
Rabbi Frank began the meeting by saying Jewish Law prohibited women from being drafted to the army or any form of nation service. “. . .We request that you nullify this idea. . .we greatly fear that we will reach a situation, Heaven forfend that we will face the Divine consequence of ‘your sons and daughters will be given over to another nation.’”
According to notes from the meeting, “silence reigned in the room” while Rabbi Frank wept and the other rabbis emitted “heart-breaking sighs.” Adding to Rabbi Frank’s concerns, Rabbi Karelitz told Ben-Gurion, “In our great love for our Holy Land, we live in trembling and piercing fear to the depths of our soul that possibly, as a result of this law to draft women, we might face, Heaven forbid, the Torah’s warning, ‘Lest the Land vomit you out in your defilement of her.”
Though no agreement was reached between the prime minister and the rabbis over this issue, Ben-Gurion acknowledged that he knew he was sitting among greatness. “I sit before you in great awe, and I know that I must be careful with what I say so that I not be as one who ‘teaches the law in front of his teachers.’ I am always sorry that I did not learn enough Torah, but I know to honor you and your prominence. I know your position and your status and your great influence.”
Rabbi Frank remarked that although some rabbis approved of National Service for women, “The Knesset cannot determine Jewish law.” Ben-Gurion seemed to agree with this statement when he said, “I want you to know that I, too, know that we will not be saved by the sword. . .I well know that we have emerged victorious in the merit of the Spirit.”
The documents are purportedly in “good condition” but contain “creases and filing holes.” The auction will take place at Hechal Shlomo in the capital.
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