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Dual Loyalty, Missionaries, Herzl & Israel's Collapse

Rabbi Ari ShvatTammuz 26, 5777
92
Question
1. Don't you think that considering Judaism to be a nation (or ethnicity) and a religion at the same time is rather problematic? First, when one considers themselves to be a "Nation within a Nation" it inevitably leads to charges of Dual Loyalty. And sometimes this is actually true. I have witnessed this up close and personal. 2. Second, Jewish members of missionary cults are eligible for return to Israel on the basis of having at least one Jewish grandparent. It seems that they immigrate to Israel specifically to proselytize. Do any of these people return to Judaism while in Israel? Or are they primarily converting the olim from Russia? 3. Also, some Christian missionaries were recently on my doorstep. They said that they are indeed discriminated against in Israel (and Russia currently). And if the average Israeli is aware of centuries of discrimination against Jews while in diaspora, then why would they participate in similar behavior towards other people (or Jews of a different religion)? 4. Is it possible to have an Israeli identity devoid of a religious context, like Herzl envisioned? 5. Do you think that Judaism will survive if Israel collapsed?
Answer
1. Yes, dual loyalty is a problem, and so is assimilation and anti-Semitism. In short, exile is a punishment and inherently very problematic! As Iv’e written in the past, normal Judaism throughout the Torah calls for the Jewish People to live in the Jewish State in the Jewish Land. 2. Unfortunately, every now and then you hear about a missionary in Israel, and sometimes they are Jewish, but thank God, it’s relatively rare. Iv’e never heard of any who returned to Torah-Judaism. They definitely target the olim from the former Soviet Union, for they come with no Jewish background or knowledge, and are naïve and easy prey. Especially, if they are told that there’s an option to be religious but without the difficulty of 613 mitzvot. 3. I’ve never heard even once in my 40 years here of discrimination against Christians in Israel. To the contrary, Israel goes out of her way not to offend other religions, even in the slightest way, for fear of this accusation (e.g. discrimination against Jews! who wish to pray on the Temple Mount). Nevertheless, what your missionary visitor was probably referring to is the Israeli law preventing proselytizing through exploiting physical benefits to the young and naïve, to attract potential converts to join another religion. 4. Apparently Herzl didn’t think it out to the end, for all nationalism, including Zionism, is based upon what’s unique to each nation. By us Jews, our land is the Holy Land, our language is the Holy Language, our history is unique and Godly, and our “bible” is the Bible! Our religion and nationality are intertwined, so basically, the answer to your question is: no. 5. Accordingly, it would be extremely traumatic, maybe even more than the Holocaust, if God forbid, the State of Israel would collapse. Thank God, we have a promise and ancient tradition, that once we have returned for the third return to Israel, there will not be another exile. See my articles:“Could Zionism Be Just Another False Messiah?” at: http://www.yeshiva.co/midrash/shiur.asp?cat=231&id=10933&q= and also “We Should Stop Seeing Exile as an Alternative!” at: http://www.tora.co.il/shiurim/shvat.htm
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