Reflections of Jewish Destiny: Getting From Here to There – Emerging From the First flowering of Our Redemption
Note: this was first published in Jewish Indianapolis in 2005 as two articles. The two articles have been combined into one for this on-line magazine, and, G-d willing, will be republished in Jewish Indianapolis in the same format.
Part I: “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up!”
In our prayers, the State of Israel is referred to as Reishít TzmiHát G’ulaténu – the first growth (or flowering) of our redemption. This phrase was conceived of by Rav Kook, z”l, the first chief rabbi under the British Mandate. Anyone who has done any gardening knows that the first flowering, the first growth, is not the final goal. The tree, its fruit and the promise of the continuance of the growth of the tree is the goal.
Personally, I believe a more apt analogy is that of the caterpillar. A child looking at a caterpillar understands that the caterpillar never becomes an “adult” caterpillar – it metamorphoses into a butterfly or a moth. By itself, the caterpillar is incomplete. The metamorphosis is what completes the growth. Metamorphosis is the death of a whole series of cells, replaced with a whole series of different cells. It is a more dramatic and rapid version of what happens first to an embryo as it grows into a fetus; which then emerges (G-d permitting) as an infant and continues to grow first into a child and then into an adult.
The same is true with the “ingathering of the exiles,” bringing them home to Israel. The first serious expression of bringing them home in our day is the State of Israel – the first flowering of our redemption. It grew from the Zionist movement, both secular and religious wings of it. But in order for it to metamorphose into its final form, parts of it must die and other parts of it must grow.
I assert here a concept that is becoming all too self-evident to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear:
The State of Israel is not the final goal of Jewish destiny. It is a station on the way. Zionism is not the final set of beliefs or the dream of our people. It is a tool to accomplish a goal. In order to accomplish the Redemption promised, which is the goal, this State must be transformed and Zionism must move aside.
We can see the government of the State of Israel destroying the Zionist dream, even as it mouths words to the opposite. The use of the term ‘Palestinian” to describe the resident Arabs and presuming that they have a right to live here equal with ours, the recognition of a “Palestinian Authority,” allowing this “Palestinian” Authority to impose a death sentence for the sale of land to a Jew, allowing and abetting a campaign of demonization against those Jews who live in liberated Judea and Samaria, eliminating Zionism from the education curriculum, allowing the expulsion of Jews from Jewish holy sites like Kéver Yoséf (the Tomb of Joseph) and now the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and plans for further expulsions, all fit into a pattern of self destruction that began in 1992.
The intent of successive Israeli governments in doing all these things over the last fifteen years has been to mold the average Israeli’s self image of his homeland, to excise the idea of Judea, Samaria and Gaza being rightful inheritances of our people. When you examine carefully the many many deaths of the leaders of the “settlement enterprise” over this period, you also see a pattern of executions designed to remove the best minds of those who live in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and also to break the spirit of those who remain.
These goals are the goals of a government wedded to the idea of remaining a tzmiHá, a first flowering that does not grow further. Having seen where the tzmiHá must finally lead; to a Temple on the Temple Mount, a Sanhedrin, to the evacuation of the land by most of the resident Arabs, to the final victory of the Jewish faith-identity over the non-religious “Israeli” identity that they had crafted before the creation of the State and during its early years; our “leaders” are backing off and backing away, hacking the dream to bits lest the dream of redemption cast them off and cast them away as it transforms itself, as it must, in order to grow to fruition. The government rejects the tree of redemption and its fruit together.
The term that can be most aptly fitted to our leaders is a line from the movie “Peter Pan”.
“I don’t wanna’ grow up!”
So in short, the State is not the final goal of the Jewish resettlement of our homeland – redemption is. But the State is in the hands of those who understand this all too well and don’t like it one bit. In order for the leaders and governing élites to remain in power here, they have to see that they must transform themselves – from secular ‘Israelis” to Jews who actually believe in redemption. This they thus far refuse resolutely to do. Instead they propose to prevent entirely the transformation of the State to a redemptive mechanism and attempt instead to alter or if necessary, destroy the belief system - Judaism - that brought them here in the first place.
Let’s return to the original analogy of Rav Kook, z"l. In a vain attempt to keep this country nothing more than a sproutling, a tzmiHá, our leaders are attacking the obvious symptoms of its growth, the towns and villages of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and those who live there (in the case of Gaza, those who lived there). Even if many of our leaders were not in the pay of foreign powers, which unfortunately, they appear to be, they would do this. All they are succeeding in doing is pruning the plant, and stimulating the next stage of its growth.
Look at the beginnings of the next stage of the growth. Go to Reuven Prager’s website. There you will see facts on the ground - not villages that foreign powers and traitors in their pay can attack - you will see ideas researched, brought back from their original uses from two thousand years ago and resurrected into practices that are bringing Judaism home as a breathing, living way of life. Slowly, the shell of a "religion of remembrances" that Judaism needed to be in order to survive the Roman destruction 2,000 years ago can be shed.
Slowly, hope awakens in the face of the onslaught of the enemy.
Part II: the Collapsing Back Stairs
Rav Kook, z”l, the First Chief Rabbi under British rule of this country, viewed our renewed settlement efforts here as the “first growth of our redemption.” The point of any plant is not the first growth – it is the tree and its fruit. The first growth must progress and transform to achieve its promise – in this case, the promise of Redemption.
My argument is of two parts: firstly, that the regime in power rejects the promise of Redemption and what would be necessary to achieve it, and is invested in maintaining the country as a “first growth” so that it may maintain its hold on power. Secondly, that in doing so, it “prunes” the plant, preparing it unwittingly for transformation and paving the way for its own downfall. The most obvious sign of this is the effort has invested in expelling Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and turning them into refugees in their own country and in suppressing increasingly strong dissenting opinion in the process. But that is history. This is not still one more screed on the tragedy that was Gush Katif.
In 1993, my wife and I bought a house in St. Paul. It was a cinder block house with a basement, main floor and upstairs. There were two cement steps in the front about four meters in from the city sidewalk. Around the back were wooden stairs painted a light green like the outside ledges were. We almost always used the wooden stairs in the back.
Because they were made of wood, and because we had never owned a house before, we didn’t really notice the slow deterioration of the wooden stairs. One day about five years after we bought the house they collapsed. There was no way at all to salvage the stairs. So I sat down and designed new stairs. My brother-in-law and I went to the lumber yard, bought the best and most weather resistant wood we could get and built the new staircase. We painted them after they were completed and I painted them each year subsequent to prevent them from rotting away. Experience is a good teacher.
Why tell you this? Is this an advertisement for a would-be architect or carpenter? Well, if you really want me to design stairs for you and you don’t live too far from me, I’m sure we could come to a reasonable price. But no, this is not an ad. It’s an analogy.
The country I live in now, Israel is very much like those rotting back stairs. What is deteriorating and falling apart is the glue that holds the country together, unseen by the press, taken for granted by everyone.
Let’s take the local government – you know, the guys who pick up the trash, do licensing for zoning, stuff like that? A lot of the local governing councils and their employees have not been paid their salaries for quite a while. We’re talking about months here. The banks are willing to allow these folks to go into the red – up to a point – relying on the government to eventually live up to its obligations. But this won’t last forever. Eventually the banks will call in their teds. Local government will collapse.
In the war with HizbAllah this year, the government in the north did indeed collapse. The mayor and municipal employees of Tzfat fled and the city administration of Haifa was not at all working. They’re back at their cubicles now, but for how long?
Let’s take the religious councils, the folks who certify kashrut in most of the country, the folks responsible for washing the dead for burial and a host of other mundane tasks.
They haven’t been paid their salaries either for months at a time. Again, the banks will allow the councils and their employees to go into the red – up to a point – relying on the government to eventually live up to their obligations. But eventually the banks will call in their teds as well here, shutting the system down.
This government that does not want to live up to its obligations is the same one that resists the pull of prophecy, the very same one that refuses to allow the Jewish tzémahh to develop into a full grown tree because they are trying desperately to protect their “Israeli” state.
On Rosh Hodesh Nisan 5765 (the sping of 2005), we were treated to the sight of Israeli soldiers and police stopping and arresting Jews who sought to enter the holiest site of Judaism, the Temple Mount. The head of security explained to the head of the Temple Mount Institute, Rabbi Haim Richman, that every religious Jew was a potential terrorist. More recently, we saw those wearing the color orange, the color chosen to represent the residents of Gush Katif in their effort to maintain their homes, banned from praying at the Western Wall. The Attorney General decided that it was okay to dock the pay of rabbis who opposed the government’s actions in expelling Jews from their homes.
There’s more. Jurisdictionally, Israel consists of two parts; Judea and Samaria, which is under martial law where the IDF enforces such rules as it chooses. In the rest of the country, the police enforce civilian law. Israeli law enforcement however, is breaking down. Cameras on the highways record speeders and warrants for court appearances are automatically issued. But there are thousands of scoff-laws. Israelis make New Yorkers look like law abiding sheep.
The law is generally not enforced too strongly against Arabs where the police are in charge. For the most part, Arabs living in “Green Line” Israel obey the law voluntarily, but if they choose not to, little or nothing will be done. People expressing opinions at serious variance with the government’s viewpoints, or those of the mainstream Hebrew media, find themselves harassed and often jailed for no reason at all. Those whose political opinions are in line with the government and the mainstream media enjoy the blessings of democracy. Put differently, there is only “rule of law” for those who agree with the government. Everyone else lives under capricious semi-dictatorship.
The government seems powerless against organized crime here. It appears that it is the good sense of the organized criminals that keeps the crime rate down. Evidently someone in this country has brains. If Israelis behaved like Americans, life here would be hell, with no protection against a shoot-em-up mentality, predatory mobs, gangs and ever-growing violence.
Nevertheless, in this wonderful country, which has achieved so many great things in a half century that other nations have taken centuries to even approach, there is an attitude of not following the law. There is an attitude of brashness and not respecting other people. There is an attitude of I’m for me – and I’ll stomp on you – all this a part of the shtetl culture of exploitation that the secular founders of this nation brought with them, though they rebelled against that very culture in coming here (one cannot escape the man in the mirror, no matter how much one tries). This contributes to the rot and deterioration of this country’s infrastructure. There is a common Hebrew saying, lo medinát Hok, medinát tzHok. “This is not a state of law; it is a joke of a state”. Of everything I write here, this truly hurts most to say.
To make a long story short, the basic infrastructure of civil society here is rotting away before our very eyes, just like those back stairs of ours did in St. Paul.
Notice, I haven’t really mentioned politics, or terror, or security issues. I have barely touched on that sore point, Gush Katif, or of the deleterious effects of ethnically cleansing 1,600 families there has had on the nation, or the Lebanon War and the fact that most Israelis do not trust their leaders anymore. I’m just talking about every day events.
Let’s deal with security. In order for this country to survive, it has to expel those hostile to its existence and secure its borders. If it fails to do so, it will not survive. The State of Israel is unwilling to do what it needs to do to survive; therefore it will not last. Period.
All the pages and pages of analyses, excuse-making, conferences, seminars, hand-wringing, layered analyses, think tanks and other varieties of verbal and written diarrhea which abound on the subject cannot get around this basic fact. In 1948, this country expelled those hostile to its existence (or put them under martial law), and did its level best to secure its borders. That is why it is still here now. That is why I am able to write this article from Israel instead of St. Paul.
In 1967, the hostile Arabs in liberated Jordan fled and our flag flew on the Temple Mount. Moshe Dayan stopped these hostile Arabs from leaving and pulled our flag from the Temple Mount. Astoundingly, he did this on the advice of rabbis who could not comprehend the import of the Temple Mount remaining under the control and jurisdiction of the Jewish people.
What he did cannot be undone.
Either the State must both abandon Judea and Samaria entirely, and expel the million or more Arabs within the 1949 Armistice Lines – or it must expel the Arabs living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and annex the territory outright. One of these two roads must be taken for the State of Israel to survive. This state is incapable of either choice. Therefore it must and will be replaced. The only question is by what?
Nota bene. I don’t say that the government should be replaced or overthrown. That’s sedition. I don’t call on anyone to overthrow the government. That’s incitement. I will not work to overthrow the government. That’s treason. I certainly will not help the Arab enemy. That’s idiocy and suicide. What I do say unequivocally is that the government will collapse of its own incompetence, perhaps very suddenly.
Are our nation’s leaders traitors? Are they criminals? Are they in the pay of foreign powers? The truth of the matter is that all of the above statements are probably true, but I’m not an investigative journalist to make such accusations. Investigative journalists do this job better than I. I alone cannot draw up bills of particulars against them. So it is pointless for me to accuse.
But, just as the weather ate away at our staircase in St. Paul, and made its collapse inevitable, the rot eating away at Israel’s civil society and the government’s unwillingness to do what it needs to do to survive guarantee that it too, will collapse. The role our leaders play in this tragic process speaks for itself. On the basis of the inevitable collapse of “rotting stairs” I speculate upon the “day after”.
Wait just as second. Inevitable collapse? What kind of nonsense is this! Israel has the strongest army in the Middle East! It has an arsenal of nuclear weapons (shhh – you’re not supposed to say that – it’s a secret!) It has beaten the Arabs at least five times on the battlefield!!
In addition, it is crystal clear that the leaders of the country did at one time have a clear understanding of how to deal with Arab terrorism.
About a half century ago, a young Israeli soldier in his twenties, Ariel Sharon, was assigned to pacify terrorists attacking the country. The following comes from a website devoted to the “war crimes” of Mr. Sharon called Indict Sharon.
This brief summary taken from the website gives an idea of some of the activities of the young Sharon when he still fought for Israel instead of for himself alone.
In August 1953, in El-Bureig refugee camp, located south of Gaza, Sharon led one of its first terror assaults against Palestinians civilians.
In September 1953, Sharon escorted Unit 101 in an attack on Bedouins in demilitarised Al Auja (a 145 square km juncture at the western Negev-Sinai frontier), killing an unknown number.
On October 14, 1953, Sharon led the Unit into an attack on the village of Qibya, a West Bank village then under Jordanian control….. Under his command, Israeli soldiers moved about in the village blowing up buildings, firing into doorways and windows with automatic weapons and throwing hand grenades, killing 69 civilians (mostly women and children).
So we know that Israel has had a powerful military which has fought manfully and bravely to keep the Arabs from destroying this country, even using vicious brutality when needed.
But in the last six years the army has not been used to win and to secure the country from terrorism. In Lebanon, in 2000, the army practically ran away, abandoning allies of 18 years. In the autumn of 2000, the army did something unheard of in all of its annals. It abandoned a soldier to die at the hands of the enemy. In Jenin, in 2002, the army, attempting to use the most humane methods possible to get rid of terrorists, suffered heavy casualties and got accused in the international press of a massacre!! The IDF has not been allowed to win for fear of international reaction to a victory. In the summer of 2005, the IDF was used, along with the Israel Police, to expel 10,000 residents of the 21 villages of Gush Katif and 4 villages in northern Samaria. The only real success that the IDF had had in five years, that the soldiers could feel “proud” of, had been the expulsion of fellow Jews from their homes. Soldiers were not celebrating. Indeed, many have committed suicide.
Middle East Newsline foreshadowed the probable downfall of the IDF on 10 May, 2005
ISRAEL'S MILITARY ABANDONS VICTORY OPTION AGAINST PA: TEL AVIV [MENL] --
Israel's military has abandoned the hope of defeating Palestinian insurgents
in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"In the idea of low-intensity conflict, there is no concept of victory,"
Col. David Marciano, head of the weapons department in the military's Ground
Forces Command, said. "There perhaps could be a cessation of violence."
In short, the army has been ordered to view the war against terror from resident Arabs as a “low intensity conflict” and has come to the conclusion that victory in such a conflict is impossible.
In July of this year, the IDF was tasked to attempt to attack and to destroy HizbAllah. They hade specific goals: to liberate two soldiers kidnapped by HizbAllah and to destroy its ability to ever again pose a threat to the people of the State of Israel. Their utter failure to do so is the proof of the words in Middle East Newsline
So, to make a long story short, the powerhouse that had been the Israeli Army is losing its strength and ability to defeat the enemy.
In fact, it is being called upon not to destroy the Arab enemy, but to make war upon loyal Jewish citizens of Israel. The expulsion from Gush Katif is only the first of a number of expulsions planned. As a result, there is now a politicization of the army as well, drawing in its wake all the internal divisions of this fractured society. Since a united army is the bedrock of this nation’s defense against its enemies, and this too is being eaten away, collapse is inevitable.
Having now established that point, let us examine the possible replacements after a collapse.
Before we do, let’s briefly note that elections to this or that government institution are a waste of time. The basic power structure – the Israeli power élite that rejects a Jewish faith identity – will remain in power. This nation saw elections recently and may be seeing new elections in the near future. But the party of the prime minister, Kadima, now seeks government reforms that would bring about a “presidential” form of government, such as one sees in France or the United States. At least that is what the newspapers say today. But these are just the croakings of a dying régime, an extended death rattle, if you will.
A possible replacement is Palestine. In this scenario, the Arabs are either at parity or are a majority in our land and the State of Israel ceases to exist and is replaced by the Republic of Palestine – one country from the river to the sea.
For a couple of years there might be peace. But as Arabs consolidate their rule, and rich Jews flee to Australia, Europe or America, the remaining Jewish Palestinians would find themselves stuck in a position of being “dhimmis,” second class citizens. Would they wind up in gas chambers too?
It takes a Jew to dream that nightmare. Arabs appear to like beheadings and massacres and blood – lots of blood. Gas chambers are clean! They don’t yield blood. Pogroms with lots of rape and murder are more likely to be our fate in the Republic of Palestine. So let’s make it simple. Any solution where the Arabs get to rule means we get to die.
That means that something other than an Arab “Palestine” has to replace the State of Israel after its collapse. Let’s turn to our own religious sources to see what is suggested. In doing so, I must emphasize to all and sundry that I am not a religious scholar and make no pretense to being one. My expertise is political science and public administration (and designing staircases).
In essence, the religious sources suggest a monarchy with a redeemer (haMashiah ben David) playing a leading role in its governance. In the absence of a redeemer and in the wake of the collapse of the state, the logical solution suggested when a monarch is awaited is a regency council.
A group of learned rabbis established a Sanhedrin during the month of Heshván two years ago. If the religious councils are unable to function do to lack of funding, the Sanhedrin is the logical group to organize some kind of alternative. But this Sanhedrin has not developed according to its promise. So we will need a Supreme Beit Din (a chief religious court) in place of a Sanhedrin that is yet to come. What about the rest of the government?
For this we can turn to Dr. Ya’acov Golbert, a Jerusalem attorney with a brilliant mind for designing “do it yourself” methods to progress from nothing to something. The point of his ideas is to build institutions. His website is. Shmuel haLevi, an engineer, talks about reconstructing Israel. The goal to aim for in institution building will be found at the website of Professor Paul Eidelberg. He is a constitutional scholar who has designed numerous reforms for the doomed structure of governance called the State of Israel. He and I differ in one small aspect. His designs are based on a republican form of government and my belief is that we will be dealing with a monarchy. Replacing his executive with a regency council would be the only change I would suggest.
To sum up, I suggest that the State will pass into oblivion; collapsing upon its own unwillingness to do what it needs to do to survive. The organizational work of the people I recommend:
Dr. Ya’acov Peretz Golbert
Dr. Paul Eidelberg
The people above are just a small comprehensive sampling of the bubbling pot of ideas here in Jerusalem.
So let’s summarize:
At some point in the not too distant future, the State of Israel will pass away. What will follow is not clear, but in my opinion, this much is. It will be a Jewish entity ruled by a regency council with a Supreme Religious Court that will deal with legal and judicial issues. There will be a Jewish military, but it will not be the IDF, it will be the successor of the IDF. The rest is unclear. What is clear is that any attempt to establish an Arab entity here will fail. The bloodthirstiness of the Arabs and their inability to organize intelligently around anything but violent and murderous regimes will guarantee that Jews here will suppress them and drive them from the land.
Alright – you’ve read this far. Kol hakavód! All honor to you! What does this mean to you? Should you get involved? If so, how? Well, if you’re a Jew, this has relevance to your life whether you want it to or not. You are an inheritor of the Patrimony of Jacob and this is all part of your inheritance. You can choose to embrace and claim your inheritance and be part of the Tribe – or not. You face that choice.