Rabbi Shmuly - heal thyself!

Rabbi Shmuly writes: “Sadly, as Israel reaches a milestone in her modern history, Religious Zionism is fundamentally flawed, directionless, and even broken in many ways.” Funny, that description sounds like pluralistic Judaism to me.

Tzvi Fishman, | updated: 08:08

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Who is the author of the essay, “Zionism: The Great Jewish Ethical Project,” posted recently on the Arutz Sheva website? According to his bio, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz was named one of the top 50 rabbis in America by Newsweek Magazine. Frankly, I’d never heard of him. So I took a look at the Newsweek list and discovered that it is filled with reform and reconstructionist rabbis, women rabbis, and non-Jewish rabbis. After a quick search of the Internet, I found out that Rabbi Shmuly supports gay weddings, interfaith partnerships, laxer conversion laws, women in the rabbinate, and Palestinian equality. He describes himself as pluralistic. You get the idea.  

Rabbi Shmuly states in his essay, “I am proud to be an unabashed Religious Zionist.” If he is an unabashed Religious Zionist, why does he live in Arizona? Does he believe that the great moral light of justice for which he yearns is destined to shine forth from Phoenix? After all, the Prophet promises that Israel’s great beacon of light to the world, embodied in the word of Hashem, will go forth from Zion and Jerusalem, not from the deserts of Arizona. In the beginning of his essay, he describes being in Israel during the struggle against the evacuation of Gush Katif and taking part in protest demonstrations. Perhaps his discouragement led him to abandon the country. “For too long,” he writes, “the focus by Jewish religious communities has been on the land of Israel, rather than the moral purpose of Israel.”

Rabbi Shmuly doesn’t seem to understand that the lofty moral purpose of Israel can only be achieved when all the Jewish People live in all of the Land of Israel. Precisely, in fighting for the Land, we are fighting to bring the Truth and Justice of G-d into the world, for the Torah of Justice and Righteousness goes forth from Zion – not from Arizona. Rabbi Shmuly wants to build a “just society on ideals which transcend borders” and make “Israel a global beacon of hope and inspiration.” Wonderful! B’vakasha. Come join us here in Israel and help in the building!

Woe, Rabbi Shmuly is saddened that Religious Zionism has become, in his eyes, like an idolatrous cult worshipping the land of Israel and sovereignty, instead of leading the world to the enlightened moral standards of the Prophets. What high moral standards is Rabbi Shmuly speaking about? Gay Marriage? Interfaith partnerships? Easier conversion laws and the rest of the anti-Torah ideals he champions in Arizona? Are those the sacred ideals of ethics he speaks about when he says: “Our most central goal should be our highest commitment to Jewish values and ethics”?

He writes: “Sadly, as Israel reaches a milestone in her modern history, Religious Zionism is fundamentally flawed, directionless, and even broken in many ways.” Funny, that description sounds like pluralistic Judaism to me. In contrast, Religious Zionism is right on course, holding the flag of the Torah proudly aloft, and getting stronger all the time.


I can’t help thinking that nicely-written essays crying out for morality and justice from the wastelands of Arizona are just another form of Israel bashing.
Have you ever noticed, Rabbi Shmuly, almost the whole world is against Religious Zionists settling the of Israel? When a few eighteen-year-old Jews with peyes construct even a frail shack on a desolate Samarian hillside, the headlines in newspapers across the globe hysterically decry the world-threatening event. The leaders of powerful countries lose sleep at night. The United Nations convenes an emergency session.  

The reason, Rabbi Shmuly, for their panic, is because in their innermost psyche, the nations of the world know that the true “Tikun Olam” depends upon the settlement of the Land of Israel by the Jews. This spiritually transcendent union of the Jewish People with their Homeland is what brings the word of Hashem into the world, putting an end to all of the licentiousness, falsehood, and injustice of the nations. They instinctively know that when the prophecies of the Bible come to pass, as the promised ingathering already has, they will have to give up their robbery, whoring, and murder. Mankind subconsciously knows that this apocalyptic spiritual revolution is destined to transpire on the Biblical hillsides of Israel, and that is why all eyes are focused here.

This is the reason that Hashem ordered our Forefather, Avraham, to live in the Land of Israel, and why He promised the Land to the children of Yitzhak and Yaacov, with the Divine Declaration that their offspring, the Religious Zionists of today and tomorrow, will lead the Nation of Israel to become a beacon of light to the world, when all of the gentiles will flock to the House of the L-rd in Jerusalem to learns the ways of Hashem. How important that that Land of Israel be in our hands, under Jewish sovereignty – for the Salvation of the world, in order to establish the great ethical principles you write about so ardently.

True, far away in Arizona, it is hard to feel the holiness which we feel in Israel. Patience, Rabbi Shmuly, savlanut. If you want something strongly, you have to work for it. Like the gradual dawning of day, the Redemption of Israel, and the subsequent Redemption of the world, comes, in the words of our Sages, “little by little,” progressing in a slow, developmental process, so that regular people like you and me won’t be blinded by the great light which is destined to shine. Look at the prophecies which have already come true! While there may still be a handful of Jews in Arizona, Hashem has returned the scattered exiles to Zion, just as He will turn our hearts to embrace all of the details and moral paths of the Torah, may it be soon.

Rabbi Shmuly sincerely declares: “As an American living many thousand miles away from Israel, I feel a deep responsibility to bring the culture of tolerance, diversity, and civic engagement to Israel to strengthen the commitments there.” How are you going to do that, Rabbi Shmuly – by spouting hollow slogans about righteousness and justice to your congregants in Arizona? The ways of righteousness and justice which we all desire are not banners waved in the air. Like rebuilding the Israelite Nation in Zion, holy ideals are achieved through the hard and diligent work of defending the land, building more and more settlements all over the country, establishing more and more yeshivot and Torah institutions, strengthening the Chief Rabbinate, and filling the Israel Defense Forces, courts of justice, Knesset, and government offices with Jews faithfully committed to Hashem’s moral paths and righteous Laws.

I can’t help thinking that nicely-written essays crying out for morality and justice from the wastelands of Arizona are just another form of Israel bashing. It is true that the Orthodox world in Israel is not interested in pluralistic visions of Torah. We understand the plight of all the liberal rabbis of America, the sad and the gay, and we understand their frustrations in not being able to implant their watered-down versions of Judaism in the Holy Land. But before condemning Religious Zionists for our faults, Rabbi Shmuly, heal thyself!

 

 

 

 




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