I write about the things that matter to me. All opinions are my own.

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Why Zionism Is Continually Under Siege


Zionism is incomplete without the Jewish religion: The Torah teaches us that if we don't deserve the land, we will get kicked out. The problem is, any prescriptive statement of any kind is automatically rejected because we are first and foremost a critically thinking people and we value disagreement. 

On the ground, the not-very-workable solution has been unwinnable theological debates about what "the Jewish state" means. 

Failing the resolution of those, we focus instead on common ground: the easily unifying matter of survival. 

Above it we construct an accompanying narrative of freedom, empowerment, civil rights, inclusion. 

But the human systems that have been made up to establish a civil state don't work fully. Precisely because they're human-made, when they need to tie back meaningfully to the Torah - meaning, Divine decree. 

In other words the Constitution of Israel is simply the Torah. And the truth is it ought to be a theologically-based state, although how that is implemented would require a lot of discussion. 

We didn't want to do that or we weren't able to. And so we find ourselves in a mess today. Where major issues pertaining to the Land's administration are decided through a civil political system, rather than by unifying under religious law. (Again, which is subject to interpretation.)

This is the problem when you try to get things done without truly grappling with the major overarching "big picture" questions. You avoid certain topics, and your enemies gladly take them up and use them against you. As in the multitudinous array of lies and propaganda hurled at the Jewish people and the State of Israel - deception, manipulation and smear tactics of every kind.

Why does G-d not defend us? How can this type of thing go on?

I think it goes back to why we got exiled from the Land on the first place. We learn from our rabbis that the reason was not a failure to keep the Sabbath, nor did it have to do with decadence.

Instead the problem was "sinas chinam" -- bitter, baseless, hatred from one Jew to his fellow. 

For this behavior, we learn that G-d decreed, "You don't deserve the land and you don't deserve to worship Me in My Holy Temple. I am sending you into exile."

The fact of the matter is that there have always been Jews in Israel. Even after we were dispersed we remained there. But the notion of a Jewish "state" rather than simply dwelling in the Land became important in the context of ruthless anti-Semitism. With enough brutality, even before the Holocaust, it became clear that there really was no alternative but to conceive of a land where we could settle and defend ourselves as necessary.

The problem was and is -- and we cannot ignore this problem no matter how hard we try -- we haven't resolved the hatred and we haven't acknowledged G-d. 

Instead we congratulate ourselves for our fine military power and talk against our fellow people, just as in the past.

Salvation for Israel and the Jews worldwide will come when we faithfully acknowledge and return to our Creator and truly make our peace with one another as well. 

Doesn't mean being an extremist fundamentalist nutball. Does mean just a little bit of changing our natural desire to be completely free of dominion or subject to association with those whose look or manner is completely off-putting.

Paradoxically the more you serve G-d and take your place in the community, the better able you are to relate to the world at large.

Every single step in this direction is good.

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Photo by Steven Dubois via Flickr. All opinions are my own and do not represent those of my agency or the federal government as a whole.