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Many politologists and culturologists today write about the absence of clear criteria for a well-
defined Israeli identity. What makes an Israeli Israeli? Is it the Hebrew language? Judaism?
Jewish blood? Patriotism? Simply being born in Israel? Or having an Israeli passport,
There are a number of conventional approaches to answering that question – historical,
geocultural, and geopolitical. All are the subject of lively and frequent debate in the media and
Let us examine this question from a different, metaphysical point of view.
What is Israel, exactly? Yasor El: “God shall reign as king.” Israel is the nation that enthrones
God to rule the earth, the conductor of Divine will that transforms the material – individual flesh
and social fabric – in accordance with spiritual laws. The Kabbalah tells us that yisrael (Israel)
is a higher spiritual category than ivri (“Hebrew”) – “he who passes through,” that is,
overcomes, transcends his own egotistical nature – and also higher than yehudi (“Jew”),
whose life gives testimony to the presence of God. It is just this exalted, comprehensive
understanding of the essence of the “Israeli” as a co-creator with the Almighty that must
become the core of the new national identity.
The universal soul is a kind of magical crystal, divided into seventy distinct segments, each
representing one of the seventy nations. The Almighty wishes to see them united. But they
have no common facets, along which they could be aligned and integrated with one other.
Fortunately, at the center of this crystal is Israel. Israel is a small diamond of seventy facets,
each of which is particularly close to one of the nations’ seventy facets. That is why the
Diaspora Jew so profoundly fathoms the soul of “his gentile facet,” the soul of the nation
among which he resides, becoming a superlative poet, artist, or even a politician of that nation,
and completely identifying with its interests.
He understands the essence, the spark of the stranger’s soul (culture, religion, and country, for
the Almighty has given to each nation its own particular aspect of wisdom and sanctity). He
knows how to liberate it, and show it the way: “Now this is your noblest 'I'; the rest is just the
soiled husk. This is what you actually are, and this is how God sees you. Let us build together
upon the foundation of that sacred essence.” This skill is what makes the Jewish soul special.
The Israeli is the integrated man, the every-man, whose soul incorporates the sacred spark of
all nations, such that all nations can acknowledge in his individuality and his land, Eretz Israel,
a center for unification and reconciliation.
The Civilization of Israel is the future civilization of our world. The anti-Semites are correct:
there is in fact a “Jewish plan to rule the world” – but it is a plan of spiritual, not financial or
political control, and it exists by the will of Providence, not in the Knesset or in the White
House. To suspect Jewish political and financial leaders of such aspirations is, alas, ludicrous.
The most important task facing our intellectual elite is to create this ideal of the new Israeli: a
priest for the new world, who combines ancient wisdom and modern knowledge. He knows
how to use them to bring out the very best and most sacred in every individual and nation, thus
rallying all around Tziyyon, and will create and instill this ideal in our youth, who will then
understand that to be an Israeli is a great honor, privilege, and responsibility — simply the best
and “coolest” thing going.
All citizens of Israel, including non-halakhic Jews, non-Jewish immigrants, and even Arabs —
anyone sincerely devoted to the State of Israel and its great mission — can join the fold of the
The non-Jewish Israeli is a “delegate of the nations” for achieving the world’s most critical
objective as part of a pilot project for all humankind – the creation of a perfect social organism,
beginning with one specific country – the Holy Land. A "delegate” is a person chosen because
he is the best. The non-Jewish Israeli will thus enable the creation of a spiritual connection
between his gentile nation (Arab, Russian, or any other) and Israel; the souls of all nations will
thus unite as one. The non-Jewish Israeli who is sincerely committed to the cause of Tziyyon’s
renaissance, and to building the Third Temple, is in a certain sense just like a ger who
embraces Judaism – even more “precious to God” than a Jew from birth.
This identity of the new Israeli must become the basis for a political-ethical community like the
early Ivri – a union of persons endeavoring to be “yashar el,” upstanding before God,
irrespective of ethnic background. Membership in that union must be defined exclusively in
terms of loyalty to Zionism and love for the Jewish nation, its Torah, its land, and its language.
Reform is often a return to something all but forgotten. “Ivri” was originally a politico-ethical –
not ethnic-confessional appellation. The Ivri nation was made up of different tribes, not only
those who had joined the house of Israel at the exodus from Egypt, and who crossed the
Jordan river with them into Israel, but also those who became settled denizens of Canaan,
without subordinating themselves to the local kings. These Ivri were united not by a common
government, but by their shared commitment to ethical monotheism. The ethical community of
Jehovah rejected the notion of membership based on fidelity to a particular tribal system, or
any system rooted in a common dynastic lineage. For the ancient world, it was Jehovah's
trans-national ethical revolution.
Ancient Israel was as much a melting pot as America is today. Anyone aligning himself with
the Ivri nation, and prepared to share in the destiny of the new community, would automatically
(after a straightforward operation for men) become an Ivri. In Jewish mysticism, the idea of
Knesset Yisrael was always more than just a group of consanguineously related individuals.
Rather, it was a spiritual community, open to God’s children of all nationalities. Incidentally,
that is why the intelligentsia of every country are branded as “Jews” and “traitors”: because of
their greater loyalty to ethical than to ethnic values.
Today’s Israel therefore needs a new, ethical (not secular, not Orthodox) revolution, the
essence of which is to unify the highest values of each of Israel’s diverse tribes.
The secular must understand that all the spiritual categories are real: the chosenness of the
Jews, the sanctity and indivisibility of the Land of Israel, our roots and our Mission. They must
understand that we cannot afford to repeat the mistake of the West by refusing to embrace any
moral or ethical values other than “human rights.”
The Orthodox need to understand that we must not repeat the mistake of the East: no one
should be branded a sinner for not observing traditional forms of piety. Moreover, the Orthodox
must leave their spiritual ghetto, and understand that religious people must set an example for
curing social ills. “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deut. 16:20). "Pursue" means not only
within one's own confines, but anywhere in the state where there are “unjust weights and
measures." It is precisely the religious who, being more staunch in their faith, should be at the
forefront of the global movement of repentance: for avarice, deceit, and betrayal in so many
spheres of Israel’s social life.
The new Israeli must integrate the cosmopolitanism of the Left with the religious Zionism of the
Right, becoming the "personal fitness trainers" of mankind, the priests of the future era, who
will apply their wisdom to serving (while not becoming servants to) all the suffering and
confused of mankind. In any international forum where Israeli liberals endeavor to curry favor
among their own, willingly accepting any and all amoral dicta, the new Israeli must speak out
and say, “I know not how such matters are normally resolved according to your laws, but this is
how they must be resolved according to the laws of the God of Israel.”
For that to happen, clearly he must first himself acknowledge those universal spiritual laws.
Any ethical revolution must be accompanied by educational reforms in both the secular and
religious sectors. In schools that receive governmental financial aid there must be a
standardized curriculum for creating a common Israeli identity, and most important — teaching
our children spiritual laws about the structure of the Universe and the purpose of human
existence, knowledge that until now has been the prerogative of sages, but in the future age
must become the possession of all.
We shall return later to this issue. Meanwhile, let us examine more closely the two great
missions of the New Israeli:
> The internal mission – Transforming Israeli society such that its unique spiritual-political
construction will become a model for other nations, and
> The external mission – Transforming Israel's international politics such that the spiritually
correct solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict will pave the way to new standards for uniting
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