The Religious-Zionist Community

[Ma'ayanei Yeshua – Parashat Vayeshev 5770]

Question: How can we internally strengthen the Religious-Zionist community and increase its influence?

Answer: When we speak about a movement, i.e. a powerful historical process, we must identify the fundamentals of the movement which nurture and increase its strength. This movement was born a little over one hundred years ago and its purpose was to insert a spiritual soul into a powerful movement which then appeared and was growing: The national revival of the Nation in its Land. The Religious-Zionist movement therefore nurtures into strength from these two entities, the body and soul. Its beginning was quite modest but it grew stronger, both internally and in influence.
Regarding its quantity, it has reached ten percent of the Nation which dwells in Zion, and regarding its quality, it contains a much high percentage of those active in the government, army, economy, science, and more Bnei Torah, Torah scholars, yeshivot, women's high schools and seminaries.
Its influence on the Nation is incredible, and much greater than the ten percent it represents. One must obviously point out that the Religious-Zionist community has many shades and includes different streams: yeshivish, university types, those who are punctilious about the mitzvot, liberals, right-wingers, left wingers, etc. The common denominator between all of them is the belief in the revival of the Nation in its Land according to the Torah.
Besides the fact that this community is becoming stronger both quantitatively and qualitatively, it also has a major impact on the other two communities between which it mediates: the Non-Zionist Charedim and the Secular-Zionists. This influence is not a direct one but a natural one of absorption. The Secular-Zionists are coming closer to Torah, and are much closer than they were before the establishment of the State. This is from being in contact with the Religious-Zionist community, in which it sees many sterling qualities in the area of education, family life, and in our relationship to the State and the army. Similarly, the Charedi community is coming closer to the State and the entire enterprise of the national revival, in that it unwittingly absorbs Torat Eretz Yisrael of the Religious-Zionists.
There is obviously much more work to be done, and there are certainly many deficiencies in our community, but this is not on account of a faulty foundation, but because we are still at the beginning of our path. It is the correct path and we must continue on it. The strengthening of the physical national revival is a natural process which feeds itself, and does not require addition action.
But regarding the national spiritual revival, we must exert much more effort, i.e. to increase Torah learning in our community. The more we learn Torah, the greater blessing will come to us and others.
This conclusion is not surprising. We know that the Torah is the Divine cure for everything, both communally and individually, as the Maharal wrote at the beginning of his work Netivot Olam, Netiv Ha-Torah, that the Torah provides the order of the world. The Netziv of Volozhin similarly wrote in his teshuvah "Yamin U-Semol" (Right and Left) regarding the different streams among the Nation of Israel, in which the solution is not separate communities but increasing Torah among the Nation, producing Torah scholars, and Torah learning among the masses (Shut Meishiv Dvar 1:44). Maran Ha-Rav Kook similarly wrote that the various spiritual ailments are a result of something disturbing the pure Israeli nature, which retains its purity by learning Torah, whether learning Torah in order to produce Torah scholars or Torah learning for the masses (Orot Ha-Teshuvah).
The main medicine is therefore to increase Torah among the Religious-Zionist community, from head-to-toe, in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and yeshivot for both men and women.
And we must also strengthen what must precede Torah, i.e. proper character traits of integrity, honesty, helping other, gentility, with guarding one's tongue at the center. Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook, did not want to force the yeshiva's schedule on the students, except for demanding that every day between 12:45-1:15 the students learn the book "Chafetz Chaim".
The general principle is that we must increase proper character traits and Torah learning among both individuals and the community as a whole.