Religious Zionism between Two Worlds

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Vayikra 5773 – translated by R. Blumberg]


Question: What is the path of Religious Zionism? How is it possible to be hanging between two worlds?

Answer: Seemingly, the one world is Zionism and the other world is religiosity, and Religious Zionists are torn between the two. It is true that in practical terms, these represent two different worlds. There are irreligious nationalists and there are non-nationalist religious Jews. Truthfully, however, it is all one world, for what is the essence of Zionism? The Jewish Nation’s rebirth in its Land. This includes the Jews’ moving to Israel, settling the Land and taking sovereignty over the Land. Obviously, sovereignty over the Land includes having an army. Yet all this is written in the Torah countless times – that Eretz Yisrael is our Land, that we have to live there, build it and occupy it. In other words, we must fashion national ownership over it, or in other words, a state and an army.

See Ramban in his Addenda to Rambam’s Sefer Ha-Mitzvot, Positive Precept 4, where Ramban reduces the Mitzvah of Eretz Yisrael to three parts: 1) living in the Land 2) not leaving the Land desolate, i.e., settling the Land, and 3) not leaving the Land in the hands of any other nation, i.e., occupying the Land and establishing a state.

The essence of Religious Zionism is the rebirth of the Jewish Nation in its Land, living according to Torah law. And truthfully, it is all one. Yet since we were prevented from dealing with the nation’s rebirth for two thousand years, we forgot. There is nothing new here. Rather, there is something old that has been forgotten. Our sages, at the beginning of Tractate Megillah coined such an expression: “They forgot about it, and then they once more established it.”

There is nothing new here. It is all old. It is just that we have to re-accustom ourselves to it, since we forgot it. It is true that at the start of the renewal of settlement in the Land, between the nationalists and the Charedim reigned not only hostility but apathy – what occupied the one did not interest the other.

Yet gradually, through their living together, they began to know each other and to admire each other, and to cooperate. The Zionists became more religious, and the religious became more Zionistic, and the Religious Zionists stand in the breach and represent the fulfillment of the Torah to perfection. Perfection! “All that G-d has said, we shall do and obey!” (Shemot 24:7).

Also in Religious Zionism, itself, there are various hues. Some are more Zionistic and some are more religious.

That is the proper path. It can be likened to the relationship between body and soul.

One cannot survive without a body, otherwise the soul will depart. Neither can one survive without a soul. The body will be lifeless.

The truth is, however, that when a Jew says, “I am religious,” that itself makes him a Zionist, even if he is unaware of it.

The Charedim are Zionists, even if they are unaware of it. And when someone says, “I am a Zionist,” that itself makes him religious, even if he is unaware of it.

All of this is explained in depth in Rav Kook’s work “Orot”.