Today’s secular rebellion was foreseen in the Talmud, even at a time when everyone in the world was "religious" in one form or another. Thus it must be a part of the Divine Plan of Redemption. Why must such a rebellion against religion and tradition preceed the magnificent Geula we yearn for?

Ma’amar “HaDor”[1]

Understanding Secular Zionism in the Eyes of Rav Kook- In His Generation and Today

by Rabbi Avi Shvat (Chwat)


In order to know how to approach the secular Jews in Israel,[2] we must first understand where they‘re coming from. What was it that drove their grandparents away from Torah, and subsequently, what will bring them back?

One of the most puzzling aspects of the secularization, is the fact that regarding the other aspects of redemption, such as the ingathering of the exiles, revival of the Land of Israel, the Hebrew language, etc. there is obvious advancement over the last 100 years. Davka regarding religion, where we expect the most important improvement during the ge’ula process, the last century has seen a drastic decline! Why?

This question is sharpened even more by the fact that already 1,800 years ago (!), we are taught that preceding the ge’ula, there is going to be a universal and national rebellion against religion.

“In the advent of Mashiach, chutzpa will heighten, expenses will skyrocket, there will be fruit but wine will be expensive. Governments will turn heretical, and noone will rebuke. The House of Sudy will be exchanged for prostitution, … those border-dwellers will wander from city to city and will not be pitied! The wisdom of the rabbis will be scorned, and the religious will be hated, truth will be sorely lacking. Youth will embarrass their elders, the elders will stand for the young, the son will scorn his father, the daughter will rebel against her mother, the bride against her mother-in-law, a man’s enemies will be from his own family. The generation will have the face of a dog (impudence), the son will not be ashamed even before his father.”[3]

If today’s rebellion was foreseen in such an ancient tradition, even at a time when everyone in the world was religious, that infers that this must be part of some G-dly plan. The question is, what kind of benefit could possibly result from such a spiritual tragedy that would make it part of the G-dly plan? Why must such a rebellion against religion and tradition preempt the magnificent ge’ula?

If we compare the modern non-religious with their historical counterpart from Biblical and midieval times, we find that their flights from Judaism were a result of not only different, but opposite reasons.

Being raised in a monotheistic society, we see religion and moralty as being intrinsically connected, but in paganist society, the more religious one was, the more immoral he became! [4]  Polytheism is not just a question of mathematics, but one of morality, as well. In Biblical times, we find that in a generation where prophets castigated Israel for paganism, they also had to rebuke them not only for child sacrifice,[5] but also fo exploiting the widow , orphan  and convert, theft, drinking, and promiscuity. Problems בין אדם לחברו, regarding mitzvot between man and his fellow, and weakness b/w man and his G-d, inevitably were inseperable. One can summarize by saying that the son who rebelled against his Father in heaven, the בן סורר ומורה, in biblical times, was motivated by hedonistic pleasure, to be a זולל ושובע, a satiated glutton

Even during the long exile, the average Jew who abandoned his religion did not do so out of idealism or theology, but as a result of his desire for life or standard of life! In exiles where Jews were in danger, or were not allowed to buy land, attend university, work in certain (or most!) trades, or reside in most neighborhoods, understandably, many abandoned Judaism for ulterior motives (to live “normally”)!

Put simply, in previous generations to be a religious Jew demanded not only sacrificing those pleasures prohibited by G-d, but also foregoing all those basic pleasures which gentiles forbade the Jews. For those who left, Judaism was just too difficult.

On the other hand, about one hundred years ago, when teenagers began to be attracted to the Zionist youth movements in Europe, the appeal was in the ideology. Upon being asked by their fathers: “What did you discuss today at snif?”, the son would answer: “We spoke about the ideals of national revival, zionism and aliya (T. Herzl), Jewish labor (A.D. Gordon), reviving the Hebrew language (Eliezer Ben-Yehuda), socialism (Berl Katznelson), Jewish pride and self-defense (Jabotinsky), and the need for Jewish culture and literature (Ahad HaAm).”

The reaction of the “fathers” and many rabbis in Europe, to this long list of ideals of the “sons” was one big “NO”.

.*They opposed nationalism, seeing Judaism as a religion and the Jewish State and aliya, as a messianic dream, some even actively opposing it, seeing zionism as a rebellion against G-d’s degree of exile.

*They were against their sons becoming farmers and menial laborers, seeing the ideal as learning Torah, and if one must work, he should opt for a clean profession befitting a “nice Jewish boy”, not a “goyishe” trade.

  • The elders saw Hebrew as Lashon haKodesh, meant to be used for prayer and study, and not for secular conversation.
  • Standing up to fight was seen as the non-Jewish way. The galuti Jew even rationalized his weakness by turning it into an ideology of pacifism: “We don’t stoop down to their level.” “The goyim fight with weapons, the Jews, with prayer and passports.”
  • Socialism was associated with atheism, and Karl Marx’s “Religion is the opiate of the masses”.
  • Seeing Judaism as a religion and not a nationality, Torah, mitzvot and gefilte fish were seen as the Jewish culture. The elders didn’t see a need for Jewish theater, university, or literature which dealt with secular topics. On the contrary! Most saw modern culture as competition and a threat to Judaism.


Upon being informed that Judaism and zionism were diametrically opposed, the sons opted for the modern, idealistic nationalistic ideology, and rebelled against what they saw as a stagnant, old-fashion and shallow religion.

Rav Kook points out that as opposed to the rebel in biblical and midieval times, the chalutzim ran from Torah not because it was too difficult or “high” for them but the opposite, because it was too “low” for them. They wanted ideals and were answered with negatives.

The chalutzim were not lazy people!  For the ideals that they believed in, they were willing to move to a far and deserted Land, to struggle and often die fighting malaria and Arab marauders. They simply did not find Judaism as an ideology but as empty ritual.

The chidush of Rav Kook was that he explained to the fathers ans sons alike, that the youthful rebellion was not against Torah but against galut!

An objective examination of the “original” Torah (as opposed to the galuti one) finds that those very ideals of the chalutzim not only did not contradict Judaism, but in those respects, the rebellious sons were even more “religious” than their elders!

An objective reading of the Jewish sources finds that Am Yisrael has a nationalist aspect which is actually embedded within the religious one. Moshe, Yehoshua, Shaul, David and all of our biblical heroes were all religious-nationalists! They spoke Hebrew, led the  national army, worked the land as farmers or shepherds, and saw their national and their religious roles as one-and-the-same.

  • The conquering of Eretz Yisrael and running the Jewish State cannot but be called nationalism. This is exactly the mitzva to conquer, rule and settle the Holy Land called mitzvat yishuv haAretz, “והורשתם את הארץ וישבתם בה”.[6]
  • Even though it’s not always possible, Aliya is always a Jewish ideal.
  • How much more so when associated with the national revival stressed so often in the tanach as the ultimate Jewish dream!
  • Our forefathers were preoccupied with physical labor and working the Holy Land of Israel, as part of the aforementioned mitzva of settling the Land. Just as we shouldn’t be embarrassed to don our holy tfilin, if necessary, even publicly before the eyes of gentiles, how much more so, there is no shame to be a farmer and cultivate the holy fruits of the Holy Land, for the sake of the holy People!
  • It is a mitzva to speak even about secular topics in Hebrew,[7] Lashon haKodesh, as did our forefathers in the Tanach. Moshe spoke with Yehosua in Hebrew, not yiddish, and was called Rabbenu, not Rabinowitz!
  • Our forefathers and national heroes were not warmongers, but when oppressed or mocked, Avraham, Moshe, Yehoshua, Gidon, Yiftach, Samson, Shaul, David, the Maccabees were far from being pushovers! They all served in the Israelite (sounds more frum than “Israeli”, but it means the same thing!) army and stood up for Jewish pride. “Turning the other cheek” is a Christian, not a Jewish, concept.[8]
  • The ideals of equality and social justice were not invented by modern socialist but are the very backbone of Judaism. Especially in Eretz Yisrael, we give about 2% of our produce for truma, 10% for ma’aser and trumat ma’aser, 10% for tzedaka or ma’aser ani, every seventh year (=14%) our produce is left for the poor, in addition to the year of yovel (=2%), not to mention 22 (!) other matnot kehuna, and other significant percentages for the poor (leket, shikcha,pe’ah, peret, olilot, etc.). All this amounts to about half (!) of what we earn, we share with the less fortunate! The most common mitzva in the Torah (35 times) is to love and take care of the ger, the foreigner, that he shouldn’t be exploited.
  • Being that complete Judaism is not only a religion but a nationality as well, when living our natural national life in Erets Yisrael, there obviously always was an Israelite (sounds more frum than “Israeli”) culture.
  • Inevitably, in the modern world, that Jewish State must have not only farmers but also universities, trade schools, think-tanks, institutions for research and development, plumbers, etc. etc.

In fact, suggests Rav Kook, not only do these modern ideals not contradict the eternal Torah, but their actual source is in the Torah itself. Why Israel and not Uganda? Why Hebrew and not Yiddish? Who brought morality, social justice, and Jewish pride to the world, if not the Torah! Simply put, it’s not the zionists who are reforming or changing Judaism (a common anti-zionist complaint), but davka the galut is guilty of that offense. On the contrary, Zionism is calling for the return to the original! חדש ימינו כקדם. It even borders on the heretical to see the eternal Torah as something ancient, outdated or anachronistic, not applicable to today’s modern world.

The problem is that in the meantime, an interesting but unfortunate coilition was formed between the zionist anti-religious sons and their religious anti-zionist elders, that stands until this very day. The chilonim and the charedim,[9] ironically agree that zionism and religion exclusively contradict.

Rav Kook tells us that instead of division, the fathers and the sons should learn from eachother. Not only should the young learn from their elders, but as the navi Malachi directs us, in the generation of  ge’ula, the converse is true , as well. והשיב לב אבות .על.בנים ולב בנים על אבותם[10] The fathers should learn nationalism from their children, and the rebellious sons should return to the religion of their fathers. They should both realize that their common rebellion should be against the galut who’s time is up (as the sho’ah and rampant assimilation subsequently proved) , and that their common goal is to return to the days of yore. The artificial mechitza that they commonly erected between nationalism and religion should be removed, and the original religious –zionism should be restored.[11]

The solution, suggests Rav Kook, is to be found in the root of the problem. Instead of seeing Torah as the deepest and most meaningful of G-dly eternal ideals, many, maybe even most, to this day, see Judaism as a religion, or set of shallow and meaningless rituals.

The story is told of how Rav Kook, upon one of his visits to an anti-religious kibbutz, was approached by one of the leaders who greeted him as follows: “With all due respect Rabbi, you shouldn’t waste your time trying to convince us to be religious. It’s not that we don’t know what Torah is, most of us were raised in observant homes. We know Torah, rabbis, mitzvot and we don’t like them!” Rav Kook questioned,”Why?” The kibbutznik replied: “We simply can’t stand your old-fashioned, meaningless, outdated rituals!” Exclaimed Rav Kook, “I agree”. “What?”, asked the surprised rebel. Explained the Rav, “I also hate the “religion” that you describe. But the dynamic, idealistic and deep Torah is so beautiful that anyone who is exposed to it cannot but love it!”.

  1. How could something so basic and appealing as the deepness of Judaism get “forgotten” over the generations?
  2. The problem is that, to this day, in most yeshivot,[12] the usual curriculum consists of Talmud, Talmud, Halacha and Talmud. The beauty and depth of Torah is easier to see through the study of the more philosophical, kabbilistic, chassidic, moralistic and deeper sources. Outsiders may find it hard to believe, but even the dynamic Tanach, the “best-seller” of all times in just about all languages, almost ceased to be learned in the Jewish halls of higher knowledge, even though we, Am Yisrael, the People of the Book, are the central figure![13]

Several explanations are offered as to why we all but ceased to learn the deep, beautiful, idealistic and appealing aspects of Torah.

  1. The maskilim embraced the universally acclaimed Tanach, philosophy, and ethics as part of their objective to depreciate the importance of rabbinical Talmud (which they saw as “too Jewish” or restrictive).[14] In reaction, the traditional community veered away from those universally appealing topics in order to distance the danger of assimilation, and conversely stressed the halachic do’s and don’t’s even more. Similarly, the secular zionist interest in Hebrew, Tanach and the Land of Israel knee-jerked many religious to recoil from the Holy Toungue, the Holy Book and the Holy Land!
  2. Similarly, the fiasco of Shabtai Zvi,[15] whose claims to being the messiah were based upon sources from the kabbalah, caused a super-conservative reaction against learning the more esoteric or mystical sources.
  3. Some leaders in the charedi community have actually admitted that the problem is fear of questions or challenges inevitably raised through the study of these topics. If we try and understand the mitvot with our logic and our emotion in order to identify with them, there is the risk that the student will not understand nor identify. Subsequently he will likely forget that man cannot be the “measuring-stick” for a G-dly Torah, and that the study of the “why’s” cannot be but a partial understanding of G-d’s infinate wisdom. Similarly, the study of Tanach raises many questions and apparent contradictions from within (as expressed by bible critics) as we see in the Talmud. If it is difficult to ascertain that each and every teacher at all levels is adequetely trained to answer all of the many difficult and fundamental questions, some felt it safer to avoid these topics altogether.
  4. Chovot HaL’vavot suggests that traditionally, status in the Jewish community came through excelling in the the complex study of Talmud.[16] Other topics such as Tanach, ethics, understanding the meaning of the mitzvot, was seen as material for children and the less intellectual.[17]
  5. Technically, man had much less free time than he does today. Although the average Jew always knew how to read and spent much more time than his gentile counterpart on scholarship and study, before the techneologogical revolution, there wasn’t time for to learn everything. As such, the necessity of first learning halacha, Parshat Hashavua, and keeping up with the seasonal holidays took priority and the deeper studies were left for only the most learned.
  6. The Tanach and subsequently the study of the depth of mitzvot are a “package deal”. Most mitzvot can be done only in Eretz Yisrael, and the real dynamic total life of Torat Hashem Tmima (=complete, perfect) as seen throughout the Tanach and ta’amei hamitzvot, can only apply when we are living our full national life in the Land where the Torah was meant for. The national, agricultural, military, geographical, purity, and sacrifical aspects, comprise most of the Tanach and ta’amei hamitzvot, and unfortunately were seen by many as secondary (at best) to the areas of Shabbat, Kashrut etc. which apply to everyday life in the galut. In short, Galut inherently is a very partial and incomplete Judaism, but nevertheless, that’s what was relevent to the Jew for 1,900 years. Consequently, the true width and depth of the complete Judaism as seen in the aforementioned topics were far-removed from the Jew in galut, and consequently their study was neglected.


Simply put, “From the time that Israel was exiled, G-d’s only place is in the 4 cubits (= the limited field) of halacha (Berachot 8a). Yet with all due respect to the unquestionable super-importance of g’mara and halacha (to which Rav Kook and his followers dedicatethe vast majority of their countless hours of learning), the depth, ideals and beauty of Torah are hard to see through the technical do’s and don’t’s.


  1. How did we manage on this relatively shallow Judaism without rebellion for so many years of exile? Why did the rebellion against religion wait so long?
  2. When there is no competition, a product can stagnate and nevertheless its demand will continue. As long as religion had a monopoly over mankind, people didn’t examine or compare, they just followed the ways of their fathers. With the rennaisance, and afterwards the emancipation, the Jew began to see that the modern outside world has some appealing ideologies to offer. The gentile was no longer an uneducated heathen usually associated with drunkeness and violence. There was now an intellectually palatable alternative outside of Judaism.

Competition is forcing the rabbis to “market” Torah in the most appealing way possible. The question “how much must I pay if my ox gores your cow?” is not going to succeed in bringing back the masses to Judaism.[18] On the other hand, the beauty, depth, and positive experiences of learning ethics, morals, ideals, hassidut, mussar, kabbalah, Tanach, philosophy, the appealing aspects of the G-dly Torah, will undoubtably bring them home!

One of the prevailing themes in the writings of Rav Kook is that in a world created by G-d who is good, everything, even that which appears to be bad, is for the good.


“The lofty ideal essence is revealed, that there are no opposites (contradictions) in the (unity of) reality. There is no “good” as opposed to “bad”, but there are only different levels of reality: “good” as opposed to a “higher good”…”.[19]

This is one of the reasons most of Rav Kook’s books are named “Orot” or “The Lights of …..”. Even that which appears bad does so only because we have yet to see the good that will come. “Even the evil is really… the ‘developing good’.”[20] Not only is failure a preparation for the good, but every advancement must be preceded by falling. This is based upon the kabbalistic idea that the physical world is an allegory to help us understand the metaphysical world.[21] Just as in the physical world, in order to jump, we must first bend our knees. Even moreso, the more you wind –up, the further you can throw, and the lower you press a spring, the higher it will jump. Similarly spiritually,

‘אל תשמחי אויבתי לי כי נפלתי קמתי’ – אלולא שנפלתי לא קמתי ‘כי אשב בחשך ה’ אור לי’ – אלולא שישבתי בחשך לא היה אור לי:[22]

“’For (because) I fell, I rose. Were I not to have fallen, I would not have risen”.

We can now understand Rav Kook’s explanation to the original question: Why did our rabbis teach us already 1,800 years ago that, preceding the ge’ula, there will be a mass rebellion against religion? What do we “benefit” from this terrible rebellion?

The answer: This rebellion against the seemingly shallow and stagnant old-fashioned Torah, is davka what necessitated the rediscovery of the original deep, exciting, dynamic and idealistic Torah of Eretz Yisrael, which had been forgotten and neglected. It was always around, just not studied by the masses. As we approach the ge’ula, Hashem wants the original Torah to be re-revealed, in all of her glory and appealing truth.


  1. Some question whether Rav Kook’s ideas in this article, which were ingeniusly appliccable in his generation,[23] a generation of super-idealists, are still true regarding today’s non-religious in Israel?[24]
  2. It’s true that unfortunately, that entusiastic idealism once found among the chalutzim, is less common among the non-dati in Israel today. Nevertheless,
  3. The high rate of 17% of Israeli adults who have become significantly more observant shows that although it’s obviously easier to be chiloni, when convinced, they are willing to “make the change”.[25] Just as many get “turned on” by vegetarianism, humanism or other idealistic or activist causes or unfortunately, l’havdil by the far-east beliefs and ways, all of which demand a price for their idealism.
  4. The main point is that they are still significantly closer to the modern rebel as described by Rav Kook, than they are to the rebel in the Tanach and Jewish history who knew that there is a G-d but He is too demanding. Today, the problem is not that Judaism is too difficult, but that since the renaissance, man will ask questions and won’t settle for something that seems shallow and meaningless. They wouldn’t be interested in “mumbo –jumbo” even if it were easy! They are not going to other, more convenient religions or movements (such as Reform or Conservative), but are definitely capable of being convinced. Even the argumentive nature of Jews (3 Jews will have 4 opinions), and especially Israelis (having in most elections more than 20 political parties, wheras America, about 4,000% larger, manages to make do with 2!), reflects the idealistic and uncompromising personality that demands meaning and won’t stand for emptiness.[26]
  5. In the modern world of freedom and transprtation, almost anyone who really wants to leave Israel, can (and not a few actually do). Among the majority that does stay, most serve in the army and are, when necessary, even willing to die for their land and country which they believe in. If chalila, another Yom Kippur War would break out, I have no doubt that the majority will stick and fight together and won’t flee to other countries, worrying just about themselves. Although most may not express it in day-to-day life, our rabbis say that the way to find out who a person really is inside, is how by his reaction under pressure and extenuating circumstances.[27] As such, Am Yisrael is likened to the the olive whose goodness comes out under pressure.[28]


In short, idealism is far from dead by the People of the Book. All we have to do is expose them to the beauty, depth and super-morality of Torah, and they are not only capable, but thirsty and searching.


  1. Granted, the beauty of Torah often speaks for itself, yet what about the difficulties, questions, apparent inconsistencies between the torah and modern morality and reality?
  2. To relate seriously to each and every question people ask on Judaism is obviously beyond the scope of this publication. Not only is each question different and often unrelated, so too each questioner is unique. The only proper framework for this is “the oral Law”, face-to-face, and step –by-step, through personal guidance geared towards the pace, level, and mindset of the questioner.

Nevertheless, I believe it important to mention one issue which answers many of the most legitimate questions on halacha and Torah practice.

The “Master-Plan”of Torat Hashem tmima”, calls for a Sanhedrin to gather all gedolei hador to discuss and concretely decide how to deal with each new question or challenge that may arise. The fractionalization of Judaism into so many different customs and streams, where every local rabbi decides what is Judaism, was necessary during galut, but with modern communication, it is not only confusing but is often correctly seen as inconsistent and contradictory.

In addition, with no collective responsibility, most individual rabbis will inevitably shy away from making many significant statements or innovative decisions for fear of what the others will say. Subsequently, even if there are some (not many) “outdated” customs or halachot, they technically cannot change until the Sanhedrin is renewed. I don’t believe that we will forever pray in Y’kum Purkan for the great rabbis of Babylon, especially since for decades, there are no and will not be any more rabbis there at all! I obviously do not think it wise to give more controversial examples, yet the more learned a person is, the more he knows that there is a lot more flexibility than the current halachic framework allows.

Today, we are unnaturally and illogically in abeyance. On the one hand, with kibbutz galuyot, the centralization of the yeshivot and globalization, we are no longer in the disconnected dispersion, where each local rabbi monolithically defined halacha for his congregants. Not only are we all aware of the different approaches which need to be settled, but additionally, the abundance of questions raised by modern reality, deem necessary the Sanhedrin which has yet to be revived.

Here too, as in many cases,[29] Rav Kook, in his historical and evolutionary view of the world, would say that not only is this a religious prayer, or blind belief, but it is logically inevitable, as well.

[1] The majority of this article is based upon Rav Kook’s classic article “HaDor”, “The Generation”, the first article in “Ikvei HaTzon”, which first appeared in 1906/תרס”ו, most particularly pp. 108-109. The significant name of the booklet, is based upon the pasuk which Rav Kook quotes on the title page, “If you didn”t know… go out in the footsteps of the flock” (Shir HaShir. 1, 9). Usually, shepherds lead and their flock follows. Nevertheless, Rav Kook is clearly saying (as found throughout the booklet),  that many don’t know that sometimes, especially in this historical period of redemption, and especially when referring to the flock of Israel (who’s G-dly nature and history is mentioned so often by Rav Kook), the rabbis would be wise to follow their flock who are being drawn back to the Holy Land and to many of the forgotten ideals of original Judaism. Unfortunately, the rabbis were often among the last to realize that it’s time to come home. See Orot HaKodesh, vol.II, p. 364, where Rav Kook warns the intelligentsia, both rabbinic and secular, not to disconnect from the masses, whose approach is sometimes healthier, more natural and straightforwardly “normal”, regarding certain issues, davka because of their unadulteration from their G-dly nature. This is obviously not the norm, nevertheless, as regarding the national revival, it is sometimes clearly the case. See also Ma’alot HaTorah, Jerusalem, 5751, p.142 who cites his brother, the Vilna Ga’on, that without proper preparation, the study of Torah (though rarely) can sometimes be detrimental.

[2] Much of what we will discuss applies to the secular Jews in the exile as well. On the other hand, the problem there is usually compounded by total ignorance and disconnection of several generatons, so the problem is usually not one of animosity but total indifference.

[3] Sotah 49b.

[4] The connection between polytheism and immorality, as opposed to monotheism and morality is clear:

  1. As soon as there are even two gods, inevitably, each of them is imperfect and lacking. Consequently, the gods, in order to fill their void, are constantly found taking from others. If the gods are “takers,” according to the rule of imitateo dei, that in all religions, man copies his god, than man can justify his being a “taker”, as well. Conversely, in monotheism, the perfect G-d doesn’t lack anything. Accordingly, He is not a “Taker” but a “Giver.” Imitateo dei, so should we be “givers”.
  2. As soon as there are even two gods, inevitably, each one wishes to be “king of the hill”, and they will subsequently fight about it, as they do, throughout mythology. If the gods are constantly bickering and fighting, imitateo dei, it justifies similar actions in man. Conversely, in monotheism, the perfect G-d has noone to fight with, for nobody is in His league! We now understand why one of His names is “Shalom”, a trait wthat we , as well, are meant to emulate.
  3. As soon as there are two gods, that infers that there is no one judge, nor one absolute truth or moral code. Everyone can justify and rationalize to his heart’s content claiming, ‘I pasken like this god today”. Especially when we remember that the gods represent the contradicting powers in the world (e.g. strength vs. beauty, water vs. fire etc). Conversely, One G-d means one absolute truth, one absolute moral code, which we all must answer to, comes judgement day.
  4. Only a physical-pleasure oriented society will idolize physical gods. Conversely, a spiritual G-d with no body testifies that monotheistic society is more spiritual and less physical oriented.

[5] Thus, explains Rav Kook, the main point of Akeidat Yitzchak is that in a society where “frumkeit leMehadrin” was expressed by sacrificing one’s children, Hashem stops Avraham at the climax, telling him:  “Not by Me. This travesty must stop!” In monotheism, love of family not only does not contradict one’s love of G-d, but is davka an high expression of that same love. There is one Creator, and consequently, all love and unity, whether towards inanimate, vegetation, animate, or man, is seen, by Rav Kook, as the loving unity of man, G-d, and all creation (Olat Re’Iya I, p.93 ; Midot HaReIya, Ahava 1, 3, 6). This, as opposed to a story told of one of our  great sages of the past generation, who upon the death of his son, supposedly exclaimed that now he can love Hashem even more wholeheartedly, because he used to also love his son. Needless to say, some stories are  better off being historically, if not Jewishly, challenged!

[6] Note that there are two verbs or actions necessary to fulfill this mitzva, to conquer or rule (= national zionism) and to settle.

[7] See chapter “Speaking Hebrew- Our National Language”.

[8] This concept is explicitly described in Eicha 3, 30, as shameful and contrary to the behavior of all of the Jewish heroes in Tanach. See the chapter on Jewish Heroism.

[9] We use these innacurate but often-used terms for the sake of brevity not clarity.

[10] Malachi 3, 24.

[11] Although the point is that nationalism is part and parcel of the complete and original Torah, the hyphen commonly placed between the words religious-nationalism is only a reaction to those who began seeing Torah not as an all-encompassing way of life, but as a religion, in the limiting (=galuti) sense of the term.

[12] The problem is much less acute in the educational system of girls, where Talmud is not the all-encompassing topic of study.

[13] R. Moshe Shternbuch, Tshuvot v’Hanhagot II, 457, explains that Tanach is not stressed in the charedi community because it raises questions. The Satmar Rebbe, R. Yoel Moshe Teitelbaum, VaYoel Moshe, Lashon HaKodesh, ch. 13, goes so far as to say that one of the reasons we shouldn’t learn or speak Hebrew is to prevent the learning of Tanach which can easily be “misunderstood”.

[14] See Orot….. where Rav Kook reacts to Graetz’s call to “prophetic Judaism”…..

[15] See Gershom Scholem, Shabtai Zvi, who convincingly portrays this tragedy as  the turning point in modern Jewish history, causing many responsive movements, such as the mistrust of rabbis and transferring the communal leadership to lay-leaders, the ban on study of kabbala, the uprise of the chassidic, reform, and haskala movements.

[16] Chovot HaL’vavot, Lev Tov edition, p. 35.

[17] See also Ramchal, Misilat Yesharim, intro. Eshkol edition, p.4; Sefer Hachinuch, intro. p. 1, writes explicitly that his work on understanding the mitzvot was written for youth.

[18] Although even the most technical and seemingly “dry” topic, upon deeper examination, can and should be seen in its true moral light. If we take the above example, the moral code of the Torah is so demanding, that not only must I pay for all damages I may cause, but even if my ox gores one’s cow, I am morally and halachically obligated to cover his loss.

[19] Orot HaKodesh II, p. 455. See Brachot 60b, “Everything G-d does is for (for the sake of) good”. Pesachinm 50a, “In the future, we will only bless ‘Hatov v’hameitiv’ (made when one hears good news, and not ‘Dayan ha’emet’, blessed today upon hearing bad news, for we will see the good in every event).”

[20]  Ibid, p. 469.

[21] See Eyov 19, 26, “מבשרי אחזה א-לוהי”, explained by Rabenu B’chaye, Breishit 1, 27, as alluding to the above idea.

[22] Yalkut Shimoni, Tehilim 628.

[23] See R. S. Aviner, Zvi Kodesh, p. 42, Rav Tz. Y. Kook quotes the famous anti-religious zionist writer Y. Ch. Brenner who wrote him, regarding his father, “This Rav (Kook) apparently understands the turmoil of the younger generation”.

[24] See a symposium of articles relating to this question in בצהר יח (אביב,תשס”ד), , and my article “אתגר ‘הדור’: עדכון שם התנועה ל’דתי-לאומי-אנושי”, צהר יט (קיץ, תשס”ד), עמ’ 137-146.

[25] See Dachaf national survey polled by Dr. Minna Tzemach , “Hatshuva Hashkufa,”  Y’diot Achronot, 6 Iyar 5757 (16/5/97) p.53.

[26] See Beitza 25b, “Yisrael is the azin (bravest/stubborness/argumentative) of all nations”.

[27] Eruvin 65b, “A person is recognized by when he is drunk, loses money, or angry “בכוסו, בכיסו ובכעסו”,.

[28] Yalkut Shimoni, Yir. 289.



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