The Zohar/Rav Brandwein Writings
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RELIGIOUS ZIONISM IN CRISIS
by: Rav Avraham Brandwein, Dean
Religious Zionism now finds itself in crisis and at a crossroads. Zionism was founded by a secular movement. Afterwards, religious elements joined in. The main impetus for secular Zionism was national revival without any overt connection with the Jewish faith. One of the proposals, for example, was to establish a homeland in Uganda and not necessarily in the promised land of Israel.
For many years, before the establishment of the State of Israel and afterwards, religious Zionism was a partner with secular Zionism in all national matters including settlement and defense. But all the time that secular Zionism concerned itself with purely national matters, religious Zionism saw these matters also in a religious and messianic light.
As long as conflicts didn't arise, these two partners could work smoothly together. But, lately, with the issue of turning over parts of the land of Israel to Arabs, a conflict began since the main purpose of secular Zionism is comfort. Furthermore, it doesn't see the land of Israel as sacred to the Jewish people. The religious Zionists, on the other hand, see the land of Israel as sacred in its own right.
Religious Zionism is now in crisis because their whole enterprise now seems to be in grave danger and all their sacrifices, including on the battle field, appear to have been in vain. Religious Zionism is also at a crossroads because some elements within it have begun to gravitate towards secular Zionism while some are even beginning to agree with Sutmar that negated Zionism from the start seeing it as premature.
The mistake of the religious Zionists was to confuse means and ends. The true purpose of the Jewish people is to cleave to the Creator. One of the instruments to this end is settlement in the land of Israel. But having taken settlement as and end in itself, religious Zionism now finds itself in grave conflict with much of the nation over an issue that is less than paramount to its true purpose.
Since 1967, when most of the Jewish lands came into our possession, the religious Zionist movement passed up an historic opportunity to emphasize unity and love of Israel, regardless of political orientation, as a means of teaching all of Israel about the inner meaning of Torah and cleaving to our Creator. Instead, they rested on their laurels as if the objective had already been attained.
It is written that there are two messiahs - Mashiach Ben Yosef and Mashiach Ben David. The significance of Ben Yosef concerns human acts including war. Ben David signifies the spread of wisdom and Torah. Until 1967 was the epoch of Mashiach Ben Yosef. In 1967 we entered the period of Mashiach Ben David. We should then have abandoned militarism and turned to spiritual development. Perhaps, even today, it is not too late to return to the way of peace.