The State of Israel as a Modern Jewish Enterprise: An Introduction


Ambivalent Zionism From its inception , the Zionist movement’s attitude to the place of religion in the life of the movement , and in the life of the future state , was inherently complex and replete with contradictions : Zionism rebelled against the chains of ancient tradition , and the religious belief that hoped for the Jewish people’s Heavenly redemption . It also , however , was profoundly cognizant of the fact that , over the many generations in which religion and its standard bearers ruled the lives of the people , the Jews retained an awareness of their affiliation to a shared framework , one that was both religious and national . Thus , they maintained their relation to Eretz Israel as the ancient homeland that would yet return to its former glory . As with other national movements that arose in the nineteenth century , Zionism and the other forms of Jewish nationalism ( the territorialists , the autonomists , and even the Bund ) were marked by an ambivalent attitude to the people’s time-honored , fundamentally religious heritage . Continuity and rebellion were intermingled . This ambivalence is evident , to some degree or other , in the thought of most of the founders of Zionism . Almost all , including those who had not received a traditional education , retained in their consciousness a bond to the Biblical myths . The way in which the Bible surpassed the Oral Law in attaining preeminent standing in the Jewish national movement had its beginnings in the changed attitude to Scripture among Protestant denominations in the eighteenth century . It was an important component of the eighteenth-century European Enlightenment , and so influenced the Jewish maskilim in Central Europe that they believed that the Bible could serve as an intellectual foundation for an alliance with Protestant ethical liberalism . This orientation is also consistent with the desire of the maskilim to weaken the influence of the rabbis and undermine their authority , which drew its power mainly from the Oral Law . In both the Haskalah and the Jewish national movements that were born in its wake , the turn to the Bible deepened the connection with the people’s early past and its most ancient heritage ; and to no less a degree , it also expressed the depreciation and rejection of the rabbinic-Talmudic literature . This , too , was an expression of the modernization and secularization revolution that the Jewish people underwent . Herzl declared in no uncertain terms ( in his The Jewish State ) that just as the army officers would be limited to acting within the bounds of their barracks , so , too , the rabbis would be given freedom of action only within their synagogues , and both would be forbidden to interfere in the affairs of the state . He thereby wished to avoid a frontal confrontation with the religious Zionist public . Borochov ( see the entries in the Modern Jewish Thought and National and Social Movements sections ) , a socialist , secular , and an atheist , was infused with love and admiration for important chapters in Jewish history and in the Jewish cultural heritage . Additionally , the attitude to religious tradition of Nachman Syrkin ( see the entry in the Modern Jewish Thought section ) , whom Borochov viewed as the founder of socialist Zionism , ranged between admiration and rebellion . Jabotinsky ( see the entries in the Modern Jewish Thought and the National and Social Movements sections ) , also secular and an atheist , who created the Jewish model of nationalistic , modern , and secularized politics , that of power and muscles , a rightist , an enemy of socialism , whose spiritual-cultural world was vastly more European than Jewish , regarded the laws of the Bible as the basis for a modern social program for the Jewish people . Most of the Zionist leaders also had ambivalent relations with the rabbinic world , including the religious Zionist rabbis , who were a small minority within the rabbinic world . Most rabbis completely rejected Zionism , which they considered to be a militant secular element that was liable to undermine the foundations of faith within the Jewish people ; they suspected it of Sabbateanism and false messianism ; they feared its attempt to offer Jews a national - and not religious - identity , to the extent

Posen Foundation

לצפייה מיטבית ורציפה בכותר