Israel versus Judaism




The purpose of this work is to fill a certain gap the results of which are perhaps felt more than the existence of the gap itself.

The problem to be discussed in the following pages, namely, the attitude of Torah-Judaism towards the State of Israel, belongs to that particular type of subject, about which much is said but little is known. It has more than once been a topic of written and oral discussion and even of dispute and polemics, yet to the knowledge of this writer very few efforts have hitherto been made towards the definition of this attitude for its own sake, and in a systematic and precise manner. A number of articles on related topics have appeared in various papers and periodicals; ideas connected with it have been expressed during speeches or sermons but only very little, if anything, has ever been compiled and published on the problem itself.

As has been said, the results of this deficiency are more far-reaching than most people might think. The lack of a clearly defined attitude in this matter which, one might say, constitutes today the question of questions for the Jewish public, both in Israel and abroad causes a confusion of issues both in the camp of Torah observers and even in the non-religious camp. The resulting ignorance is the cause of widespread misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Various events and situations are described and appear in a distorted form. Views are ascribed to “zealots” or “extremists” which are, in fact, the views of believing Judaism at large, etc. On the other hand, this lack of a clear-cut definition often creates a situation, even among the orthodox and even the so-called “ultra-orthodox”, in which minor issues are granted top-priority while essentials are sometimes neglected so that results are mistaken for causes, and vice versa.

This work will, therefore, attempt to formulate basic definitions in this respect.

The attitude of Torah Judaism towards the State of Israel may be defined in three correlated areas: (a) in the area of Halacha-analysis, (b) in that of political analysis, and (c) in that of ideological analysis. These three aspects are interwoven and correlated, and the boundary-lines may sometimes not be clearly established; for, according to Jewish belief, “there is nothing that is not indicated in the Torah”. The Torah is all-embracing and governs everything, ideology and political life no less than actual "Halacha".

This work will seek to concentrate only on the third aspect.

A Halachic analysis, i.e. a compilation of all Halachic sources, a true explanation and interpretation of the various Talmudic saying’s, of the various quotations of our ancient sages often used incorrectly by various propagandists, is, of course, badly needed and well worth an effort by a qualified Torah authority; but it is not the subject of this work.

Political clarification, i.e. definition of the correct Jewish attitude on the basis of political experience and of the actual problems arising from time to time, listing various actions done by the rulers of the State of Israel in relation to Torah and Torah Judaism, is also worth attempting, and it is occasionally being attempted in various publications, but this again is not the purpose of the present work. Moreover, there is the old Talmudical rule “just as men's faces are not alike, so their views differ” a rule that naturally applies to orthodox Jews as well. In political matters concerning how to react to one event or another, there is ample room for differences of opinion; and it is not the aim of this writer to go into these matters here.

The purpose of this work will be ideological clarification, definition and analysis, clarification but not polemics. It is not the aim of this work to carry on a dispute with anybody, but only to seek a definition and formulation of an existing 'Weltanschauung’. It is true, of course, and there is no reason why this fact should be concealed, that this writer personally adheres to the views which are described in it. Hence it might be an exaggeration to claim that this work has been written with absolute and complete objectivity, merely as a sort of research essay on a subject far from the author's heart, as if it were, say, a thesis on Chinese literature. At the same time, however, an attempt has been made to describe this view as objectively as is humanly possible under the given circumstances all the more so in view of the fact that it is not intended exclusively for orthodox readers, and certainly not exclusively for those who do adhere to the views in it. Far from it. The intention is to present also, and perhaps primarily, to the “non-religious” reader the views of Torah Judaism (or any other name by which one may designate Jews faithful to the Torah) and to make them understand even though they might not approve.

Two more introductory remarks will not be entirely out of place in view of the atmosphere in which we are living today. The present writer does not claim to represent, nor is he affiliated with, any movement or party; nor are the views expressed here, as he will try to prove, the monopoly of any political party. Legally and officially, the author alone is responsible for the views presented. This fact, though perhaps a shortcoming from one point of view, has its advantages as well. It eliminates the necessity, to use the American vernacular, of “plugging in a commercial” for one party-slogan or another, of proving that one particular organization, party or group is always right in all its actions and in its general policy. Views and not organizations are being discussed here.

On the other hand, this writer will take the liberty of making one personal remark. During my lifetime, I have had the privilege and opportunity of meeting personally, or otherwise coming into contact with, almost all the Torah authorities of our generation, men of varying types and backgrounds, originating from different countries. As for those whom I have not been privileged to know personally, I have either been on terms of friendship or acquaintance with their faithful disciples or followers, or I have at least seen their writings. The views which I have presented derive from an attempt to find the “common denominator” of all the various approaches wherein all Torah authorities or, at least, the overwhelming majority of them agree. Therefore, although I do not, as I have pointed out, officially represent any individual or group, yet it is clear that, in general principles at least, I seek to reflect the climate of opinion prevalent among the Torah-leaders of our generation.

One final remark: This work neither denies nor overlooks the fact that there are observant Jews whose views are in conflict with or even in direct opposition to the views expressed here. However, it is not intended as a polemic work. Accordingly, although the fact of conflict will, of course, also have to be mentioned and discussed, the main purpose remains to explain and define the views that are presented with discussion of other views confined to what may be necessary for that purpose.

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