THE PUL­PIT

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - THE VIEW FROM

DOC­TORAL RE­SEARCH can of­ten be mo­not­o­nous, de­mand­ing con­stant self-dis­ci­pline and good study habits. But oc­ca­sion­ally, it leads to the dis­cov­ery of a real his­tor­i­cal gem. A few weeks ago, I was study­ing a rare col­lec­tion of ha­lachic letters and rul­ings by Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, a 20th-cen­tury Amer­i­can rabbi, when I came across one of those gems.

Rabbi Henkin passed away in 1973, and his writ­ings are far less well-known to­day than those of other con­tem­po­rary rabbinic fig­ures from the pe­riod, such as Rabbi Moshe Fe­in­stein. But, in the first few decades fol­low­ing the Sec­ond World War, he was widely recog­nised as the, “Mara D’athra D’Amer­ica”, the lead­ing ha­lachic au­thor­ity of the Amer­i­can Ortho­dox Jewish com­mu­nity.

One par­tic­u­lar let­ter, writ­ten in 1962, has the strik­ing ti­tle, On the Diminu­tion in Value of the State of Is­rael in the Heart of the Na­tion. In the let­ter, Rabbi Henkin be­moaned the fact that, de­spite the ex­tremely pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion the state of Is­rael found it­self in, sur­rounded by en­e­mies hell-bent on its de­struc­tion, there were still some Jewish peo­ple in the di­as­pora who felt the

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