Israel versus Judaism



(Exile and Redemption>

Had the aim of Zionism been to advocate this conversion of “this People which I have created for Myself” into ”a nation as all the nations” only in theory, it is very doubtful whether it would have succeeded, as it did, in conquering the hearts of the masses. In the framework of the ”translation of concepts” or ”transformation”, Zionism had also to concern itself with the other basic tenets that form an indivisible part of the Jewish People : Galuth and Geulah-Exile and Redemption.

Both Exile and Redemption, according to the Torah, are not the results of historic developments. They also are matters rooted deeply in the beginning of Creation, in the blueprint of the foundation of the universe ”among the Secrets of the almighty”. Prior even to the creation of heaven and earth, the Midrash tells us, Exile and Redemption had already been created. Commenting on the second verse of Genesis, the Midrash says : ”And the earth was unformed”, this is the Kingdom of Babylon etc. ”and void”, this is the Kingdom of Media, etc., ”and darkness”, this is the Kingdom of Greece, etc. ”upon the face of the deep”, this is the Kingdom of Evil (meaning our present exile) which is unexplorable, etc., ”and the spirit of G-d hovered, etc.,this is the spirit of King Messiah (Bereshith Rabba 2, 5).

The tidings of exile and redemption had already been given to Abraham before Israel existed as a people at all, and were afterwards explicitly and meticulously described in the Torah before the Jewish People ever entered its country: ”But if ye will not hearken unto Me... I will bring your land into desolation... and I will scatter you among the nations... then I will remember My covenant with Abraham.... (Lev. 26).... If any of thine that are dispersed be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will the L-rd thy G-d gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee” . . . . (Deut 30, 4). All these events were predicted to Israel; they constitute part and parcel of the Torah which, so to speak, is the blueprint of Creation. As our Sages said : ” . . . . as a mason does not build on his own, but looks into a plan, so The Almighty looked into the Torah and thereupon created the world” (Bereshith Rabba 1, 2).

According to the Jewish view, the Exile was imposed upon us against our will and in a supernatural manner; we have survived throughout it only supernaturally; and the redemption will come only through the Messiah. The belief in the coming of the Messiah is one of the thirteen basic principles of our faith to no less a degree than the belief in the existence of the Creator and the truth of Torah. ”He who says that the resurrection of the dead is not derived from the Torah”, according to our Sages, and attention should be paid to the fact that they do not speak of one who disbelieves in the resurrection altogether but of one who, while believing in the resurrection, claims that it is not contained in the Torah, i.e. that it is not part of the “Divine Blueprint” preceding and directing creation ”has no part in the hereafter” (Sanhedrin 90a), the most severe of all penalties in the eyes of our Sages.

Zionism, however, when seeking to eradicate Israel's identity as “This people which I have created for Myself” and turn it into a ”normal” nation with all the ideas and attributes associated with ”normal” nations, had necessarily to approach matters of Galuth and Geula quite differently. It cannot, to be sure, provide any ”normal” explanation as to how this ”nation” had managed to survive its dispersion for almost two thousand years, while other nations that have certainly been far more ”normal” have perished. But, as far as the present is concerned and for all practical purposes, Zionism sees in Galuth only a ”national” process resulting from political circumstances during the era of the Roman Empire, and consequently regards the return of the nation to its ”normality” as a nation dwelling on its own soil also merely as a process to be achieved through a similarly ”normal” political or military approach.

Needless to say, this view too is diametrically opposed to the view of Torah and to the knowledge and belief that “because of our sins were we expelled from our country and that Jews will be redeemed only through repentance”. (Yerushalmi Taanith 1, 1). Nor need one repeat that everything that has been said above with regard to ”religion”, applies equally in this respect. Here, too, the Zionist view does not become less hostile to the Torah-view if, say, the Offices of the Zionist Congress are closed on Sabbath, if the kitchen of the Israeli Army serve kosher food, etc. Not that these achievements are to be minimized; but as has been explained above, this is not the real issue.

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