Daas Yachid - The Satmar Rebbe and the Three Oaths

The Satmar Rebbe's position that mass aliyah to the Land of Israel and the establishment of the State of Israel are transgressions because they violate the infamous Three Oaths is an isolated opinion, i.e. a Da’as Yachid. It is clearly not Halacha.

None of the great Halachic authorities of the 19th and 20th centuries shared this opinion. Neither the Gra (Vilna Gaon), Chafetz Chaim, Chazon Ish, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky, or Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aurbach felt that the Three Oaths were still in effect today. None of them held in any way that mass Aliyah and establishing a national homeland in the Land of Israel was a sin.

In addition, the Rambam does not mention any issur of violating the oaths anywhere in the Yad Chazkah. It doesnt appear in any codes of law. Its not mentioned in the Rosh, Rif, the Tur Shulchan Aruch, or in the Shulchan Aruch by Rabbi Yosef Kairo.

Already in In 1890, as recounted by his son, the Chafetz Chaim (R. Yisrael Meir Kagan), who was the foremost halachik authority of modern times and one of the most important Orthodox figures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, felt that after hundreds and thousands of Jews were making aliyah and establishing settlements throughout the land of Israel, that it was “very probably the beginning of the in-gathering of the exiles (which precedes the coming of the Mashiach) and was therefore proper to buy land and make Aliyah.”

In addition, Rabbi Zev Leff of Moshav Matisyahu discusses this very topic in response to a question he received on his online Q&A section of his website. A submitter asked the following:

"...According to the Satmar Rav Z”tzl whose sefer VaYoel Moshe I have looked at this day may be quite negative. He also writes that the sefer is meant to clarify Halacha. His case there is well backed up with sources cited from Talmud, midrash commentary etc. Is there a counter argument as halachically sound as his?"

Part of R. Leff's response is as follows:
"...the Satma Rav who has his way at looking at the entire question of the State of Israel in general, also my Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Boruch Zorotzkin zt'l, said very clearly that the Satmar Rav's opinion is a das yachid, its a minority opinion. The opinion of most gedolim is that the State of Israel is not a representation of the ideology of Zionism. It is a pareve thing and therefore one should be involved in guiding that state to be the way that it should be...."

In addition, Rabbi Yaakov Kamanetsky himself stated the following:

"It is incumbent on us to understand that the establishment of the state of Israel in our day, after the the great destruction and despair that overtook the remnant, and given the desperate and destroyed status of Russian Jewry, God caused the establishment of the state of Israel in order to strengthen the connection to Judaism and to sustain the link between the Jews in exile and the Jewish nation." Emes Le-Ya'akov Al Ha-Torah (Exodus 12:2 n. 17)


  1. Great article! This is something you definitely dont think about. They gedollim might have shared the Satmar Rebbes position against zionism all the dangers and so on but that doesnt mean they agreed with him about the medinah being assur and against the ratzon Hashem.

  2. Agreed. I dont think I ever heard any Godol come out and say that the Medinah was against ratzon Hashem. If Hashem was against the JEws having a state then believe me there wouldnt be a state. People are so quick to say that everything comes from shamayim but when it comes to Medinas Yisroel all of a sudden they are quiet. I am not saying I am pro the State especially taht its being run by secular Jews but one needs to wake up and admit that much of this comes from Hashem.

  3. Very important article. I dont think you will read this around the yeshiva velt. I find especially interesting the quote from R. Yaakov. How come I nver heard this growing up??

  4. I love Rabbi Leff. His question answer section on his site is great. His lectures are amazing too.

  5. So you only allow favorable comments ?
    Are you so scared of losing the debate?

    1. Losing which debate? Are you suggesting that the Satmar Rebbe knew more than all those mentioned above?

    2. There's a long list of gadolim that held the three oaths to be applicable today. The Rogatchover Gaon who was, in his own words, “one of the fiercest opponents” of Zionism, references the applicability of the Three Oaths in a letter. “Regarding what you asked about settling the Holy Land, this is only for individuals, and we must not do it as a group. As it states at the end of Ketubot, we must not go up as a wall (she-lo yaaleh ke-homa). In other words, we cannot go to Israel en masse, as a distinct group.” Rav Yaakov Emden says that the tragedy of Beitar, which we reference in the fourth blessing of the Blessing after Meals when we say “Who is good and does good,” came about as a punishment for violation of the Three Oaths. Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch said “it became essential that the Jewish people be reminded for all times of another important fact; namely, that Yisrael must never again attempt to restore its national independence by its own power; it was to entrust its future as a nation solely to Divine providence….This fourth Blessing is an acknowledgment that it has always been God and God alone Who has given us, and still gives us to this very day, that good in which we have had cause to rejoice and that for future good, too, we may look to none other than God and none beside Him.”

  6. "Rabbi Shneur Kotler said, “People call the Satmar Rav’s ideas a shitah, but it is not. He proves in Vayoel Moshe that this is what Shas and poskim, Rishonim and Acharonim all held. What he holds is what all gedolei Yisroel once held. On the contrary, our Agudah shitah is a new shitah: that in today’s environment, we have to do an aveirah lishmah and salvage whatever we can, choose the lesser of two evils and so on. But the Satmar Rav’s shitah is the shitah of Shas and poskim, the age-old Jewish way."

    1. So the Chazon Ish, Chafetz Chaim and the Vilna Gaon were holding a new shita. Very dangerous to suggest that the Satmar Rebbe's shita was correct over the Vilna Gaons. I doubt Rav Kotler actually believed that about the Gra.

    2. Chazon Ish held of the three oaths: Reb Tzvi Dov Abraham, rav of Kedushas Levi in Monsey, related that he was once sitting with the Chazon Ish in his room when a man came in, his mouth full of praise and amazement at the Zionist State. We see with our eyes that it is the beginning of the redemption, he said, and spoke at length. The Chazon Ish said, “Bring me a Gemora Kesubos.” They brought a Gemora Kesubos and he showed on page 111a the Three Oaths and their punishment. Then, holding his finger on the place, he said to the man, “Es shteit az men vet azoy ton vet azoy kumen, men hot azoy geton un es iz azoy gekumen, un ir zogt az es iz aschalta degeulah!” (It says that if we do this, this will happen. They did it, and it happened. And you say it’s the beginning of the redemption!) (Mishkenos Haro’im, p. 1195)

  7. You are making assumptions about the Vilna Gaon and the Chofetz Chaim. Where do they write that the oaths don't apply? The Gemara suggests that they do. If the VG and the CC don't comment on it, then you assume they hold like the Gemara appears to. A individual trying to come to EY is not a violation of the Three Oaths. People coming in mass and with violence, which is what the state represents, is another matter.

  8. There's a myth going round town that very few gadolim viewed the Three Oaths which prohibited immigration en masse and conquest of Eretz Yisroel pre-Mosiach as binding halacha. Many people think that only the Satmar Rav said this, as if that wouldn't be substantial in itself.

    However, even according to leading figures at YU, many if not most gadolim viewed the oaths as halacha.

    Rabbi J. David Bleich, a Rosh Yeshiva and prominent scholar at Yeshiva University, writes,

    “Elsewhere in Contemporary Halakhic Problems, Vol. I, I have presented a fairly comprehensive list of the various views concerning the nature of the oath, ‘shelo ya’alu be-chomah.’ The view that ‘the oath was simply aggadic and never binding’ is but one view among many and is distinctly a minority view.”

    Rabbi J. David Bleich, “Withdrawal from Liberated Territories as a Viable Halakhic Option,” Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, Vol. XVIII, Succot 5750, Fall 1989, p. 107.

  9. Rabbi Hershel Schachter, another prominent figure in the Religious Zionist world, writes,

    “In expounding the verse ‘I have made you swear, O daughter of Jerusalem,’ the Gemara relates that the Almighty administered three oaths on the Jewish people. The time and nature of these oaths are not clear, but one of them entailed a commitment on the part of the Jews not to return and conquer Israel by force. Many Gedolim in Europe took this to forbid any attempt at reestablishing the State of Israel before Messianic times.”

    (Rabbi Hershel Schachter, “The Mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael,” Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, Number VIII, p. 27.)


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