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Zionism- love of Eretz Yisroel and nationalism seem goyish


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tevet 25, 5775
The Zionist love of Eretz Yisroel and nationalism seems so goyish to me! How can there be “religious”-Zionists?! If I make aliya it will be because of the cost of Jewish education in America, and not because of Zionism!
Love of Eretz Yisrael is not just because of the many more mitzvot we can only perform in Israel, but is cited in super-emotional terms even by the most rational Rambam (Hil. M'lachim, p. 5), who quotes chazal, that they used to roll in the holy dirt and kiss the holy rocks, of Eretz Yisrael. Similarly, love of Am Yisrael is extolled throughout chazal, the rishonim and achronim, and is not chalila, "goyish" (non-Jewish)! It's natural and commendable to feel pride even when a fellow individual Yid wins a Nobel prize for chemistry or discovers a vaccine, so how much more so that it’s praiseworthy when Hashem gives Am Yisrael national (!) victories like the War of Independence, the Six Day War, and more recent battles. Even the clearly non-Zionist Sridei Esh was asked about his approach to the Jewish State and he answered (found in his closest talmid muvhak, R. Weingorth's, sefer about his rebbe muvhak): “I have no doubt that the holy 6 million from the Holocaust went up straight to the Kisei HaKavod (Heavenly Throne) and demanded from Hashem to give his children a sign that He is still around and that we are still His Chosen People. Because otherwise, many are, chas v’shalom leaving Judaism! I have no doubt (he continued), that the State of Israel and the miraculous victory in the '48 War of Independence, just 3 years after the Holocaust, was that direct Godly sign. How can one call this Godly intervention and benevolent sign: “goyish”? Even more basically, I strongly suggest learning Tanach (especially Yehoshua, Shoftim, Shmuel, M’lachim, but also the latter prophets) to see objectively what normal Judaism is about: living in Eretz Yisrael, as a JEWISH NATION (even when it often was far from ideal!), defending and participating (and even being threatened) with the rest of our nation when endangered, rejoicing when our nation is happy with rain, prosperity, victory etc. It's not a coincidence that the Torah doesn't mentions as the reward and punishment for mitzvot, if I personally will go to heaven or hell, or will be revived in t'chiyat hameitim (revival of the dead), for we aren't meant to be self-centered even about those important topics. To the contrary, the Torah is educating us that what should (!) pre-occupy us is altruism: “what's good for Am Yisrael”: Israeli rain, economy, and victory. Or in the words of R. Yisrael Salanter, "My fellow Yid's gashmi'us (physical needs) is my ruchni'us (spiritual needs)!" This applies not only to my fellow Mr. Jew, but kal vachomer to all of the Jews (=Am Yisrael). To be obligated in half the Torah’s Bein Adam l’chavero mitzvot towards every bank-teller, bus-driver and regular person walking in the street (because they’re almost all Jewish!), and to actively participate in the destiny and future of the Chosen People, is not something to be begrudgingly accepted, but rather acknowledged proudly and happily. Ashreinu ma tov chelkenu! I once heard from an important rabbi in Monsey, who said cynically that “after the Zionists started learning Tanach, speaking Lashon HaKodesh (Hebrew), and living in Eretz HaKodesh (the Holy Land), and the frum, in reaction, stopped fulfilling these mitzvot- pretty soon, we frum won't have any Judaism left!” If non-frum Jews give tzedaka, that obviously doesn't mean that the religious should stop, but to the contrary, we should appreciate those mitzvot that they do, and try and encourage them to do more (tzedaka, and more mitzvot)! A more logical approach would be for frum Jews to (kal vachomer!) revive those same religious ideals but from a higher spiritual level. We should realize that if Hashem makes an entire storm to move 1 blade of grass closer to 1 worm, kal vachomer it’s He who’s awakening these national mitzvot in our century [even (!) among the non-religious], telling us it’s time to revive them and return to original Judaism (as in the Tanach)! The Jewish exile was always meant to be temporary. What Judaism used to be, and is BH now and forever more, a national-religion, not just a religion. Moshe, Yehoshua, Gid’on, David, and the rest of the Tanach heroes, were national leaders, no less than they were religious leaders! In addition, retroactively we understand the chessed (kindness) that Hashem did by beginning the Zionist movement as non-religious. If it was a frum movement, most of Am Yisrael (our unfortunately mistaken brothers who are the majority!), would have stayed away, seeing it as irrelevant to them. As Y’chezkel says, ge’ula is for all Am Yisrael, not just the frum ones! In short, the “storm” of economic difficulty in America, as well as the anti-Semitism in France, is, we frum Jews believe, obviously G-d-sent to those last 2 remaining large exiles, as is the inevitable solution of aliya. Just as the Gaon HaRav Yisachar Teichtel (author of the highly recommended in your situation, “Em HaBanim Smeicha”) admittedly only examined (and changed!) his anti-zionist hashkafa out of the necessity raised by the Holocaust, thank G-d that you are under going a similar process but with BH, less crucial and less painful ramifications. Why would a frum Jew settle for the shofar kattan (aliya out of begrudging necessity), when he has all the tools, sources, rabbis, reasons and benefits (!) of viewing his aliya as the shofar gadol (aliya out of spiritual ideal and identification)? “U’ba’u Tzion b’rina!”- return to Zion with happiness (not just necessity!), “V’samchenu b’Binyana!” - that we should rejoice (!) and thank Hashem for her rebuilding (not just accept it begrudgingly)! With Love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat (Chwat)
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