- Family and Society
- Ways of Redemption
Translated by Hillel Fendel
Q. I would love to understand why the Religious-Zionist public views the establishment of the State of Israel as part of the Redemption process, and why the Haredi public objects to the State institutions and holds that the existence of the State is not part of the process? On what sources is each approach based?
A. This is a very involved topic, with many sources. The more straightforward view is that held by the Haredi public, which holds that the Redemption we await is not only the physical return to the Land of Israel, but is mainly Israel's spiritual return to G-d and to the observance of His commandments. In practice we are in a generation in which the majority of the Jewish Nation is not careful to observe Jewish Law [thus seemingly supporting the view that this is not a generation of Redemption].
Within the Haredi camp are those [a minority] who say that the State of Israel must be opposed because of its non-religious leadership, as well as many who differ and say that it is permissible to take part in the State, out of a desire to save what can be saved.
However, from our Rabbinic sources as well as the Prophets, we know that it could very well be that the first stage of the Redemption shall occur even before the nation does teshuva [return to Torah observance]. There is in fact a dispute in the Talmud as to whether Redemption is dependent upon teshuva or not. The latter view states that it is G-d's decision when to call a halt to the punishment of Exile and redeem Israel, regardless of the nation's spiritual state. Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook brought proofs showing that this opinion is the prevailing one in Jewish Law.
Even according to the opinion that Redemption is in fact dependent upon teshuva, there are those who cite the Zohar to the effect that this does not mean that the entire nation must repent before the Redemption. Instead, it could be that if even one community does teshuva, this would be enough to bring the Redemption.
On the other hand, even those who hold that Redemption is not dependent upon teshuva, agree that this refers only to the first stage thereof – but that in the later stages of Redemption, all of Israel will most certainly change their ways and return to emuna and Torah observance.
It could be that the differences between the Haredi and Religious-Zionist approaches are not ideological, but rather educational. That is, they differ as to the best approach by which to educate the nation during this period of history. One approach says that we must promote the idea that we are a generation of special quality that, from an inner perspective, is bringing about the Redemption. The other holds that if we say that we are in times of Redemption, we weaken our hands in requiring teshuva and the return to Torah observance.
The Religious-Zionist approach holds that such a great revolution within the nation as we have seen with the return to Zion in our times cannot have happened without it being of Divine origin. The changeover from being a scattered and downtrodden people in exile to being a renewed nation in our land – one that has attained so many accomplishments in so many areas – is clear testimony to the Divine Providence that guides the State of Israel. This faith in G-d is precisely that which guides us to believe also in Israel and its potential to do teshuva very soon. Rav Kook explained many times in his writings that even those phenomena that appear to be distancing us from the Redemption, such as lack of belief in G-d, can be understood to indicate, if examined more profoundly, that in the end, the nation will return out of love.
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