The Vision of the Religious Zionist Movement; Loneliness and Separateness החזון של תנועת שיבת ציון הדתית - בדידות ולבדיות
1 א

What should be the relationship of religious Zionism to its secular counterpart? It seems to me that ‎political, secular Zionism has failed by virtue of one basic error. It is based on a false assumption ‎that was introduced into the Covenant of Egypt, the Covenant of Fate. Secular Zionism asserts that ‎with the founding of the State of Israel, we became a people like all other peoples, and that the ‎force of, “It is a people that shall dwell alone” (Numbers 23:9), was diminished. The extremists in ‎this movement want to eradicate the idea of the shared fate (community and nation) of the Jews ‎of the Diaspora with the Jews of the Land of Israel. This train of thought is not only philosophically ‎and historically erroneous, it is mistaken practically. In [adhering to] the notion of equality with all ‎peoples and unity with all, the representatives of the State of Israel have on many occasions ‎showed themselves to be extremely naive. They have failed to properly evaluate specific ‎circumstances and conditions and have not correctly understood the hidden motives of certain ‎persons. Out of a childlike naiveté, they put stock in people who later betrayed us, and have been ‎inordinately moved by smooth talk and flattery. To my mind, in several instances Israel’s foreign ‎policy has lacked a sense of self-respect, national pride, prudence, and the strength to stand by its ‎principles.‎

2 ב

These mistakes are outgrowths of the primary error made by secular Zionism when it wished to ‎erase both the feeling of isolation and also the phenomenon of shared suffering from our history ‎books. The beckoning of the Beloved must open the eyes of all of us, even the most confirmed ‎secularists. The State of Israel was not and will not be able to abrogate the covenant of, “And I will ‎take you unto Me as a people”(Exodus 6:7) and put an end to shared fate, the source of Jewish ‎aloneness. The State of Israel is as isolated today as the community of Israel has been during the ‎thousands of years of its existence. And perhaps the isolation of the State is more pronounced ‎than in the past because it is so clearly revealed in the international arena.‎

3 ג

They crafty plot against Your people, And take counsel against Your treasured ones. They have ‎said: “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more ‎in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent; against You do they make an ‎alliance; the clans of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab, and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and ‎Amalek: Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria too joins forces with them; they give support ‎to the Children of Lot. Selah. —Psalms 83:4-9‎

4 ד

Communist Russia together with the Vatican, Nehru, the student of Gandhi, together with the ‎devoutly Catholic Franco, the British Foreign Office with Chiang Kaishek, have all joined in the ‎attempt to isolate Israel and are being assisted by [Israel’s other] enemies in other lands. This ‎conspiracy began specifically after the establishment of the State, at a time when many of Israel’s ‎leaders thought that the Jewish problem had been solved, that Jewish isolation had been ‎eradicated and normality had been introduced into our ex i s t e n c e .The assumption that the ‎State of Israel has weakened antisemitism is erroneous. On the contrary, antisemitism has grown ‎stronger and employs false charges against the State [of Israel] in the war against us all. Who can ‎foresee the end of this anti-Semitic hatred? The Covenant of Egypt cannot be abrogated by human ‎hands. We remain a scattered people, nonetheless attached one to another. Our fate is the fate of ‎the Yishuv, and conversely the fate of the Yishuv is our fate. No segment of the ‎Jewish Nation will delude itself by “fleeing to the palace of the king more than all the Jews” (Esther ‎‎4:13). Everyone must “pray for his friends” (Job 42:10). An American Jew must not be silent and ‎rest until the danger in which the State of Israel finds itself is removed and passes. The inhabitants ‎of the Holy Land should not babble about the “New Jew” that has been fashioned there, one who ‎has no connection with Diaspora Jewry. We are all obligated to listen to the “Clarion Call of the ‎Beckoning Beloved” (Song of Songs 5:1).

5 ה

Still, the error of the secular Zionists is graver than just not understanding the true meaning of the ‎Covenant of Egypt, the Covenant of a Nation-Camp realized through shared fate and forced ‎isolation. They also sin against the Covenant of Sinai, the covenant of a sacred community and ‎people that finds expression in the shared destiny of a sanctified life. Only religious Zionism with its ‎traditional and authentic perception has the power to “repair the perverted” (Ecclesiastes 1:15).If ‎you were to ask me how the role of the State of Israel can best be described, I would answer that ‎its mission is not to nullify the special loneliness of the community of Israel or to destroy the unity ‎of its fate — in this it will not succeed — but to raise the people of the encampment to the level of ‎a sacred community nation and to turn Shared Fate into Shared Destiny. We must ‎remember, as we have already emphasized, that fate is expressed, in essence, in the ‎experience of life under duress — in an inability to run away from Judaism, in being forced to ‎suffer as a Jew. This, though, is not the ideal of the Torah or of our Weltanschauung. Our ‎solidarity with the community of Israel, according to an authentic Jewish outlook, must not come ‎from the conclusion of the Covenant of Fate—that of the Encampment-Nation possessed of a ‎compelled existence to which we are subjugated by outside forces — but by the conclusion of a ‎Covenant with a sacred community-nation of Shared Destiny. Man does not find the ‎experience of fate satisfying. On the contrary, it causes him pain. The feeling of isolation is very ‎destructive. It has the power to crush man’s body and spirit, silence his spiritual powers, and stop ‎up the wellsprings of his inner creativity. The feeling of isolation, in particular, troubles man ‎because it is devoid of reason and direction. The isolated person wonders, for whom and for what? ‎Isolation, which cleaves to man like a shadow, shakes his awareness and ability. An existence of ‎destiny, which is based on the Covenant of Sinai, is different. This concept turns the notion of ‎‎“nation” (a concept that denotes an ordained existential necessity, participation in blind pain, and a ‎feeling of isolation devoid of meaning) into a “sacred people” and to the elevated station of a ‎moral, religious community. Man draws from it strength and sustenance, creative power and a ‎renewed joy in an existence that is free and rejuvenated.‎

6 ו

Let us return to what we said above. How does destiny differ from fate? In two respects: fate ‎means a compelled existence; destiny is existence by volition. Destiny is created by man himself, ‎who chooses and makes his own way in life. Fate is expressed in a teleological sense, in a denuded ‎existence, whereas destiny embodies purpose and objectives. Shared Fate means an inability to ‎rebel against fate. It is, as with the tragedy of Jonah the prophet, about the lack of alternatives to ‎escape the God of the Jews; “And God hurled a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty ‎tempest in the sea, so that the ship was about to break apart” (Jonah 1:4). Shared Destiny means ‎having free will to strive for a goal (a decision freely willed to be sanctified to an ideal) and a ‎yearning and longing for the Master of the Universe. Instead of the blind fate that pursued him, ‎Jonah in the end chose the exalted destiny of the God of Israel. “I am a Jew, and I fear the Lord, ‎the God of the heaven” (Jonah 1:9)‎

7 ז

Albeit, even in the experience of Shared Destiny there is an element of separateness, but the ‎apartness of destiny is totally different both in character and experience. It is not the negative ‎sentiment that Balaam foresaw in his prophecy of “they are people which dwells alone” (Numbers ‎‎23:9), but rather the special awareness that Moses promised Israel in the last few hours before his ‎death: “And Israel shall dwell in safety [separate and secure] by the fountain of ‎Jacob”(Deuteronomy 33:28). In truth, this self-isolation is nothing but the aloneness of a glorious, ‎strong, holy, and sacred existence. It is the isolation expressed in the singularity of a people, in its ‎holy self-image and unique existential experience. It is loneliness that creates an individual spiritual ‎personality. It is loneliness that demonstrates man’s honor and his aloofness. It is the solitude of ‎Moses, whose exalted spirit and sublime vision the people did not comprehend. It is the solitude ‎of Elijah and the other prophets. It is the solitude of which Abraham spoke to his attendants when ‎he said, “You sit here with the donkey, and the lad and I will go to that place, and we shall ‎worship” (Genesis 22:5, emphasis added). While man’s isolation is a destructive feeling of ‎inferiority that expresses self-negation, the solitude of man testifies to his greatness and sanctity ‎‎— the greatness contained within himself and the sanctity that hovers in the recesses of his ‎unique awareness. Isolation robs man of his inner peace; loneliness bestows upon man security, ‎self-esteem, significance and confidence — “separate and secure” (Deuteronomy 33:28).‎

8 ח

Judaism has always believed, as we said at the outset, that man has it within his power to take fate ‎into his own hands and shape it into the destiny of a free life, a life full of meaning and saturated ‎with the joy of living, turning isolation into aloneness and disparagement into significance. For this ‎reason Judaism places so great an emphasis on the principle of free will. [And] for this reason ‎‎[Judaism] so appreciates the human intellect, which has it within its power to free man from his ‎enslavement to nature and allow him to rule over his environment and its blind circumstances and ‎subjugate it to his will. The Community of Israel is obligated to use this free will in all facets of life, ‎and especially for the good of the State of Israel. If secular Zionism, in the end, comes to ‎understand that the establishment of the State of Israel has not weakened the paradoxical fate of ‎Jewish aloneness, but, on the contrary, that the incomprehensible state of, “I shall take you unto ‎Me as a people” (Exodus 6:7) has become even more pronounced in the international arena, it ‎must ask itself the age-old question: “What is your occupation; from where do you derive . . . and ‎from what people do you come?”(Jonah 1:8).The question is asked in any event; if not by the Jew, ‎then by the gentile. We must answer with pride that, “We fear the Lord, the God of the heavens” ‎‎(Jonah 1:9). Our historic obligation today is to raise ourselves from a people to a holy nation, from ‎the Covenant of Egypt to the Covenant of Sinai; from a compelled existence to an original way of ‎life, permeated with morality and religious principles, that transcends history. We must go from ‎being an Encampment to being a Nation. The task of religious Zionism is to fuse the two covenants, ‎the Covenant of Egypt and the Covenant of Sinai; the covenants of fate and destiny, of isolation ‎and loneliness. This task entails self-perfection by suffering; the out-pouring of lovingkindness ‎brought about by combining all the elements of the nation and uniting them in one community, “A ‎nation unique in the land”(II Samuel 7:23),and the readiness to pray for one’s friend and to feel his ‎joy and his grief. The goal of this self-repair is the purposeful consecration of self and ascent to the ‎‎“Mountain of God” (Psalms 15:1).One great goal unites us all. A single exalted vision captures our ‎hearts. One Torah (Written and Oral) directs us all to a unified end — the fulfillment of the vision of ‎aloneness and the vision of the sanctity of an Encampment/People that ascends to the level of a ‎Community/Nation and ties its lot to the destiny that was proclaimed to the world in the words of ‎our ancient father Abraham: “And I and the lad shall go unto that place and shall worship God and ‎return to you” (Genesis 22:5).‎‎