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A Land for a People Spread Across Many Lands

םֶכקיֹלֱא קָוקְי יִנֲא ,שׁוֹדָק יִכּ :וּיְהִתּ םישֹׁדְִ


Where does Israel the Nation end, and the State begin? Does Am Israel have a purpose and calling beyond mere survival? What is the meaning of collective life?

According to the ideas current among Zionists today, all that is needed is to establish the conditions for a normal national life, and everything will come of itself. This is a fatal error. We do, of course, need the conditions of a normal national life, but these are not enough—not enough for us, at any rate. We cannot enthrone “normalcy” in place of the eternal premise of our survival. If we want to be nothing but normal, we shall soon cease to be at all….But this will surely not be the fate of a people that brings great tidings to struggling manking…We shall not, of course, be

able to boast

possessing the Book if we

betray its demand for righteousness. –Martin Buber


I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; to love the LORD thy God, to hearken to His voice, and to cleave unto Him; for that is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to

give them. (Deut. 30:19-20)

R’Chiya bar Abba said in the name of R’ Yohannan: All the prophets prophesized only about the Messianic era, but as for the World-to-Come, No eye except yours, O God, has seen (Isaiah 64:3). And he disagrees with Shmuel, for Shmuel said: There is no difference between this world and that of the Messianic era, except for Jewish independence from the dominion of foreign kingdoms, for it says, For the poor shall not cease

from the land (Deut 15:11). [BT Berachot 34b]

There was prevalent for a long time the opinion among Jews that although the

Jewish nation has a "mission" of its own,

a complexity of ideals which it must

contribute to civilization, we can, nevertheless, best serve this mission by remaining scattered among the nations of the world. Thus we will be able by closer contact, they maintain, to offer our ideas to every nation so that it should follow our advice in its collective life. This is a grave mistake. As already stated, one cannot be taught by precept alone. The world is prone to learn even new ideas

from tangible examples only. England has, for instance, given to the world an

important social idea self government of

a free citizenry. How then did the

English nation teach other peoples to understand and regulate such a parliamentary system? Certainly not by being scattered among the nations and so convince them; just the opposite is true. Thus it became an example from which the world learned. In a like manner, the French nation carried out its mission of instructing the world the teachings of liberty and equality which it accepted during the great French Revolution The only right way to offer mankind some good is to show practically, and not verbally, how to achieve it. It is not true that the Zionists have ignored the idea of mission, the mission of the Jewish nation in the world; rather we believe that the world will yet learn from us many truths, truths still unknown to it. However, the single way leading to this is the creation

of the Jewish State. – Zeev Jabotinsky, Betar Ideology:

Q: Is it reasonable to assume that the Jewish future in America is more secure because of the rebirth of Israel? A: If by “the security of the Jewish future,” is meant the possibility of maintaining a thriving Judaism, the answer is unhesitatingly, Yes…To prove how true that is, imagine what the Jewish future in this country would look like, if there were no State of Israel, nor any prospect of establishing one. There

would then be no common aim for which Jews everywhere, with all of their diversities of belief and practice, could strive as a means of giving expression to the spiritual, social and moral potentialities of their three-thousand year old tradition. Without the opportunity of demonstrating what Judaism that has a free field for itself can do to further social and spiritual progress, the Jewish people is like a musical genius who lacks an instrument on which to play…The establishment of the State of Israel thus means for Jews everywhere, and notably in America, an instrument by which the Jewish people is enabled to play a significant role in human civilization and demonstrate the validity of its holiest ideals. By making Jewish life more worth living, it serves to maintain the loyalty and devotion of Jews everywhere to their heritage

and insures its continuation and enhancement.

Reconstructionist Federation (1951) pp. 48-49

--Mordechai M. Kaplan, Know How to Answer. New York: The Jewish

Creative Zionism Worksheet, prepared by Ariel Beery and Aharon Horwitz