Ask the Rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • The State and Government of Israel

Israel (People v State)


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Av 20, 5779
Is it a Torah prohibition to differentiate between the People (nation) of Israel and the modern State of Israel? Why or why not?
ב"ה Shalom I don't understand why would differentiating be a prohibition. As Jews, we differentiate all the time. We say every morning in Birkot Hashachar , that Hashem gave even a rooster the ability to distinguish between night and day. We say in the Shmoneh Esre, "Ata Chonen ladam da'at., " You favor men with perception and you teach mortal men understanding. Not to mention the distinctions we make at Havdala every Motza'ei Shabbat , between the holy and the mundane, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and the six days of creation. To clarify what is the Halachic status of the State of Israel today, I wish to quote from the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Avraham Shapira zt"l, in an article which was published in 1978 in "Whose Homeland" a WZO publication. "Whatever our theological interpretation of current history, we have witnessed the rebirth of "Malkhut Yisrael", Jewish sovereignty. Malkhut Yisrael implies a regime whose leaders are Jews- descendants of Ahraham, Isaac and Jacob. Whereas alien government denotes Galut, Diaspora life, Jewish sovereignty spells its abrogation, whatever the character of the leaders. One might well object to several spiritual shortcomings in the newly arisen Israel and even draw a parallel with those sins, that by Jewish tradition, brought about the destruction of both Temples, such as idolatry and fraternal strife. Nevertheless, Jewish authority represents Malkhut Yisrael, the resurgence of a dignified Jewish existence. As pointed out by Rashi in Sanhedrin 97b, "the real splendor and glory (of the Jewish People) during the Second Commonwealth lay in the fact that no foreign nation ruled over them". In simpler terms, regardless of the political or religious character of the leaders of modern Israel today, the existence of a Jewish State today means that the Jewish people are the rulers of Eretz Yisrael with all its spiritual and Halachic ramifications. So, on the one hand, a nation and a state are two separate entities, however, the State of Israel basically represents the Jewish presence and sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael , which in itself is the fulfillment of the Mitzva that Eretz Yisrael be in the possession of the Jewish people as enumerated by the Ramban (Nachmanides) in his addendum to Sefer Hamitzvot,( Mitzvat Aseh 4. ) All the best
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