Gap between secular and haredi? It's an abyss!
Gap between secular and haredi? It's an abyss!

Here we go again. Just read the article by the Gesher’s Oded Sheinberger about his work attempting to bridge the societal gap between secular and haredi in Israel.

It’s not a gap it’s an abyss! What we have learned to call “secular Israeli” is so far from the worldview of traditional Judaism that haredi is off the charts!

Let’s start with the assumption that Judaism is a worldview. I would add even a universal world view. The Land of Israel is the “Promised Land” not just a “Nation State” and as such it is part of the process of the return of the remnants of the Jewish people dispersed from this Land over 2000 years ago after the destruction of the second Temple.

This narrative, although true, is hardly the story that most Israelis learn in this country. Instead, they learn about modern history and Herzl and the establishment of the State in 1948. So right from the start we are educating those living in this Land with totally different stories about what we are doing here and how we got here. There are two stories...the Jewish one and the Zionist one and never the twain shall meet!

There are those that would argue, using Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook zts"l, Israel's first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, as the leader of such thought, that we must synthesize Torah and Zionsim to a worldview called Religious Zionism. Does it work? It is a coherent and Torah-true philosophy for living in Israel, but now instead of two categories we have three, and we have not closed any gaps.

If anything the gaps only grew because now we had observant Jews with nationalist, for lack of a better definition, values as part of their Torah observance. Is Judaism “nationalist”? And as such is this a “nation” State of a different kind?

Our return to this Land from which we were exiled is for the purpose of keeping commandments which can only be kept  in Israel and working towards the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isiaah 56:7 of the reestablishment of the “House of Prayer” for all people...the Temple, which was destroyed and was the impetus for our dispersion. Is this not the case? 

To close the “gap” is to restore the original narrative for all the people living in this Land, particularly all the Jews but for the Muslims and other religions too! There can only be one narrative and once we establish that, the rest will be much easier.

The “nation state” is politically correct but not the full truth unless Torah is in the picture

This Land only belongs to the Jews because G-d said so! That’s the truth and that is what Israel must say unabashedly. But does our present government believe that? And what of the Arabs sitting in our government? Certainly they would not agree to this story. We are a democracy and for them a secular democratic state.

Ultimately to bridge the gap we must share a common story. This does not assume all will embrace the story and live and love accordingly, however without a common narrative, bridging the gap is impossible.