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Difference between Haredi and Religious-Zionist education


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Shevat 2, 5782
What does "Haredi" mean, and aside from the obvious philosophical differences regarding Zionism and the State of Israel, what is the educational difference between the Religious-Zionist approach and the Haredi one?
In a nutshell, the term "Haredi/m" literally means "The Fearful" or "Quakers", those who educate through fear and quaking, as opposed to our way which puts the stress on loving God, and identifying (!) with the mitzvot out of a positive choice, rather than through fear of punishment in this world or the next (which especially doesn't work if the average person today doesn't even believe in hell...). Rav Kook says that the quaking educational approach today can "boomerang" and "turn people off" rather than "turning them on" to Judaism. In a democratic world where most Jews aren't religious, we have no choice but to "compete" by attracting people to God and His Torah through the beauty and positive aspects, and not through scaring them. Even our awe of God today, should be for His unbelievable greatness and great traits ("merciful, kind, patient etc.") and not a more childish lower level of fear of punishment, which often brings to a resentment (even sub-consciously), rather than respect and love of Torah. The entire Tanach barely mentions heaven or hell, for that's not what is supposed to motivate us, but rather the ideological desire to be Godly as a nation and as individuals. In addition, Rav Kook once explained the difference between his religious-Zionist ideology and Chabad/Lubavitch, in that "we are out to build a Nation", not just a religion of individuals. Similarly, we believe it basic to believe that God runs history, and we must thank Him and participate in the Gathering of the Exiles and the Jewish State which He lovingly granted us, including celebrating Yom HaAtzma'ut and Yom Yerushalayim. The recent history of Zionism proves that even after the Holocaust, the God of Israel is still around and that we are still the Chosen People, through whom God chooses to appear to the world. Whoever doesn't relate to all this, is unfortunately neglecting the greatest proof of God in the modern world, and that's truly unfortunate and not beneficial educationally. Similarly, we believe that God has given us modernity & technology to be used properly, in the context of living in a Jewish State, where we have the "home court advantage", and need not "fear" or quake from assimilation, but rather utilize God's modernism in a Jewish context, the way it was meant. To see Judaism as a total Living Torah, the original Judaism, for all the Ideal Jews in the Tanach were religious-Zionists, living in the Jewish Land, in a Jewish State, speaking Hebrew, serving in the Israeli army, working for a living, and participating in the national efforts. With our return to Israel, Judaism is no longer limited to just studying Torah and just being a religion, but to live Torah and holiness in every aspect of life, both individual & national, not just at home but in all walks of life.
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