Thursday, May 3, 2012

Yom HaAtzmaut – A Historical Perspective Part 3

This post is a continuation of the previous one and is dedicated to a discussion of Orthodox Jewry’s opposition to Zionism.

When the Jews arrived at Har Sinai, Hashem commanded Moshe to tell them that they would be treasured by Him as a “unique nation above all other nations” on the condition that they would “hearken well to Me and observe My covenant”. Kabalas haTorah is the defining quality of Jewish nationhood. Without it we are no different than any other nation. This principle served as the foundation of Jewish life for over 3000 years. Zionism rejected this principle.

Zionism’s motto was that the Jews were a nation because of “culture, geography, nationalism and persecution”. In the beginning the Zionist organization relied heavily on Jewish Orthodox participation but it didn’t take long for the movement to break away from Orthodoxy. Cultural, Socialist, and Nationalist Zionism was clearly incompatible with the age-old attitude of the nation and was therefore rejected by the vast body of Torah Jewry. Even the Religious Zionists (Mizrachi) did not agree with Zionism’s “new mandate” for the Jewish nation. (As to why they participated in the movement, see the following post)

Connected to this issue was the fact that the Zionist organization was led by assimilationists, agnostics and secularists. It was inconceivable to the average Torah Jew that apikorsim, ochlei treifos and michaliley Shabbos were the ones who would represent the Jewish nation in their quest for yishuv ha'aretz.

Another reason for the Orthodox opposition to Zionism was it’s unspoken, but nevertheless inherent messianic quality. Many (but not all) of the gedoley Yisrael were concerned that Nationalist Zionism would turn out to be another false messiah dressed up in the guise of chibas ha'aretz.                       

In the following post we will discuss the Mizrachi Movement (Religious Zionism), it’s founding leaders, and it’s ultimate expression in the views of Rav Avraham Kook ztz’l.  

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