The State of Israel – Acceptance or Denial

  • Zionism means the desire and will of the Jewish people to live in their land.
  • The Zionism of today is not exactly what was called Zionism in the times of Joshua.
  • The difference between Strict Orthodox Jewry and other Israeli Jewish living in Israel is that the Strict Orthodox have not accepted change.

The State of Israel is in the middle of forming a new government after its recent elections. Israel is in the center of the world and cannot be ignored.

Judaism is the first of the three religions which are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. After the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, the Jewish people were given their Torah by Moses.  Between the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai and when the children of Israel entered into the land of Israel took forty years. In the beginning of these forty years there was an event in Jewish history recorded in the Bible which was the building of the Golden Calf. Another event in Jewish history recorded in the Bible Numbers 13: Moses sent spies from each of the twelve tribes of Israel distinguished men to report to the Jewish people in the wilderness about their capability of conquering and living in the land of Israel.

The spies returned after visiting secretly the land and gave their reports.  Of the twelve spies only two of them reported positively that Israel is a good place for the Jewish people to live.  The other ten spies gave negative feedback that in the land live giants and it will be impossible to conquer the land.  The spies spent forty days in their mission of recording information about the land of Israel.  Because these ten spies talked negatively about the Land of Israel, the Jewish people were punished by God and Moses.  For each day that these spies were in Israel on their mission which was forty days, the people of Israel were punished to have to remain in the wilderness and wait to enter the land forty years.  The Jews spent forty years in the wilderness and did not cross over into Israel immediately.

Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum the foremost Orthodox religious opponent to The State of Israel. (Photo: David Wexelman)

The two spies who gave positive feedback Joshua and Calev were the only ones of the generation of the wilderness who were allowed to enter the land of Israel after forty years.  Only the younger generation were given permission to enter the land.  Their fathers and mothers remained in the wilderness with Moses. From this story in the Bible we can see how much faith God demands from the children of Israel that they can succeed to live in the land of Israel.

The Jewish people entered the land of Israel under the leadership of Joshua and Calev the two spies who were faithful to God.  They conquered the land which took over four hundred years.  After completion of the conquering of the land by King David, his son Solomon built the holy temple.  The Kingship of Israel had officially been established in Jerusalem with its constitution which was the Torah and the Law of Moses. The Ten Commandments two tablets given by Moses to the Jewish people was placed in an ark in the holy of holies of the holy temple.

The story of the spies Numbers 13, shows how important is Zionism to the Jewish people. Zionism means the desire and will of the Jewish people to live in their land.  The Zionism of today is not exactly what was called Zionism in the times of Joshua.

The Biblical State of Israel was run according to the Law of Moses.  The nation was a kingship.  The king was a dictator.  There was only one party in the government which was the Ultra-Orthodox religious party.  Each person living in the country were obligated to observe the laws and commandments of the Torah which was the law of the land.  The Torah commands the Jewish people not to go to the right or the left but to follow the Torah the word of God strictly according to the way it is taught by the leaders of the congregation.  There was no free choice how to interpret the Torah which is the five books of Moses which was written by Moses before the Jewish people entered the land. Joshua received the Oral law from Moses the only proper interpretation of the Five Books of Moses.  Joshua and the Jewish people were commanded not to change this interpretation of the Torah and even to build fences around the law of later decrees to reinforce the observance of the law from generation to generation.

The Jewish people today come from a strict religion enforcing the Law of Moses commanding them not to change liberal or conservative.  The foundation of Jewish law is the keeping of the Sabbath. Two other fundamental practices in Jewish law which are called signs of Judaism are to circumcise their children on the eight day and the wearing of Phylacteries black boxes on the arm and head at the time of prayer.

Before the Jewish people were exiled from their land after the destruction of the second holy temple, their leaders instituted prayers three times a day for the coming of the Messiah and to return to the land with the Messiah and rebuild Jerusalem and the holy temple. Nineteen hundred years after the destruction of the temple, the State of Israel was established in 1948.  The desire to return to their land was kindled by the leaders of the Jewish people who commanded them to pray three times a day to return to Zion.

The State of Israel recently celebrated its 71th anniversary. The difference between the Modern State of Israel and the Biblical State of Israel, is that the Modern State of Israel has accepted change.  The State of Israel is a democracy. In a democracy there is freedom of religion.  In the Biblical State there was no freedom of religion.  The laws of religion were very rigid even to prohibit the people from building private altars throughout the land but only to bring sacrifices to Jerusalem to the holy temple.  If someone sincerely believed in the need for change, and preached reform he would be punishable by death.

The Ultra-Orthodox who follow the Torah strictly are against the State of Israel.  Because the State of Israel is a democracy the Orthodox who are against the State are given a place in the government.  In the last elections the strictly Orthodox opponents to the State received eight mandates.  The Sephardic Religious Party who are also Strictly Orthodox received eight mandates. The Sephardic Religious are less rigid in their acceptance of the State of Israel.  On the anniversary of the State a majority of the Sephardic Orthodox community not all of them celebrate Israel Independence day. The Ashkenazi Orthodox party do not celebrate Israel Independence day.  A large section of the Strictly Orthodox community do not vote in elections only those connected to the Agudat Israel party.

The difference between Strict Orthodox Jewry and other Israeli Jewish living in Israel is that the Strict Orthodox have not accepted change. Orthodox Jewry does not accept or give respect to Christianity and Islam faith.  They maintain their Biblical tradition which prohibits them from accepting change and pray to return back to a one party system of government only Jewish and only Judaism.  This strict heritage has been instrumental in preserving the Jewish lineage throughout the diaspora.  Now that the Jewish people have returned to their land and established a democratic state does not change the religion.  Orthodox Judaism remains separate from the Modern State of Israel even though they are in the government.

The Orthodox Jewish parties who have 16 mandates are holding back the establishment of a new government after the last elections.

Being fundamentalist in their beliefs they have no love for the State of Israel only for the land.  The Ultra- Orthodox rabbinical court called the Eida Charedit do not allow there to be Agudat Yisrael in the government at all.  They are against taking money from the government and being part of the government. They have strong support from Chassidic Jewry abroad primarily Satmar Chassidism who are anti-Zionists.  The leader of the Satmar Chassidism Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum wrote a large thesis on Jewish law when he was the leader of the Eida Charedit to show clearly the biblical prohibition to be part of the government. He lived in Hungary in Europe and was taken by Hitler into the concentration camps.  After the war he came to Israel in 1945 during the British Mandate, but decided to immigrate to America where he established the Satmar community in Williamsburg Brooklyn. He considers Zionism to be against Judaism.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been given two weeks to establish a new government.  If the government is not established with at least 61 representatives there will have to be new elections.

Jews have the choice to accept or deny change.  Judaism denies change.  To accept change according to Jewish law is a sin.  There are many sinners in Israel today even amongst the Orthodox who participate in elections.  They accepted change but they won’t admit it.

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David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.

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