The Exile of the Jewish People and the Zionist state of Israel
Christian Zionists are quick to remind all who stand up for Palestinian rights to self determination in their land of birth, that the Jewish people own the land of Israel. The patently obvious fact that the Bible clearly teaches that Jewish occupation of the Holy Land is conditional upon their adherence to the ethical and religious traditions of the Torah, is ignored. Texts like Leviticus 25:23 …
“The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.” (Lev 25:23)
are rarely if ever even considered. The Zionist government has, according to Christian Zionist dogma, the divine right to dispossess and ethnically cleanse Arabs in Israel-Palestine despite the fact that Zionism, as a secular ideology, repudiates the Torah and hence violates the divine mandate to treat non-Jews in the Holy Land with total equality with Jewish people.
Orthodox Judaism has taught for some three thousand years that exile of the Jewish people from the Holy Land occurs as a result of the sins of the Jewish people. Exile is therefore just as mandated by God as is entrance to the Land in the first place. The end of exile in scriptural references is always accompanied by a declaration by major prophets of God, telling the Jewish people that a return to the land is safe. The famous Oaths of the Talmud underline the fact that a return to the land by Jewish people not in accord with the desires of God is just as dangerous as disobedience while in the land.
Christian Zionism ignores the crucial question of whether or not the exile of the Jewish people is over. The mere fact of the existence of the state of Israel is not in any way or fashion confirmation that the exile is over. The very existence of the Oaths of the Talmud, tell us that from a Biblical perspective, Jewish people can occupy the land illegitimately. If such an illegitimate occupation was not even a possibility, then the Oaths taken forbidding such an occupation would be meaningless.
To get an Orthodox view of the concept of exile, I posted an article on the Mondoweiss website in which I talked about my understanding of this topic. An Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, Rabbi Beck, emailed me about my understanding of Jewish exile and gave some insights into the nature of the various attitudes that exist towards Zionism and Israel in today’s world.
“I saw your article. What you said that “Virtually every Orthodox Jew on earth agrees to the fact that the exile of the Jewish people has not ended. The exile is a spiritual problem and cannot be solved by nuclear arsenals or secular European colonialist ideologies” is absolutely true and I don’t see why any Jew had a problem with it. Every Orthodox Jew, even the Zionist settlers, fasts on Tisha B’av, the Jewish day of mourning for the Temple and the exile, which will be abolished when our redemption comes. Every Orthodox Jew recites the prayers that say, “Because of our sins we were exiled from our land.”
‘However, to say that the vast majority of Orthodox Jews are against Zionism would unfortunately not be the truth. The percentage is closer to 50%. Orthodox Jews are defined as Jews who believe that the Torah and Talmud are the word of G-d, are legally binding, and believe in the 13 Principles of Faith. The Zionists believe all of the above yet they are able to twist the meaning of the texts to suit their purpose. But they are Orthodox because they accept the authority of the same texts as we do, and therefore it is possible to convince an Orthodox Zionist that he is wrong by showing him the true meaning of the texts, whereas we could never convince a non-Orthodox Zionist because he doesn’t accept the authority of our proof texts.”
“One person commented on your article: “Orthodox look at Zionism in three ways (yes, this is an oversimplification); support of Eretz Yisrael, support for Medinat Yisrael, and anti-Zionism. Only a small fraction of Orthodox Jews are anti-Zionist. I know some graduates of Yeshivas that preach support of Medinat Yisrael and some that preach support of Eretz Yisrael. I don’t know which group is larger, but the anti-Zionists are tiny.”
“His mistake is that he separates the “support of Eretz Yisroel” (by which he presumably means the Haredim of the Yeshiva and Chassidic worlds, outside of the Satmar Chassidim) category from anti-Zionists. The idea of “support of Eretz Yisroel” is very vague, and it can mean many things. If the person supports the state but just wishes it were named Eretz Yisroel instead of Medinat Yisrael and wishes it had a more religious character, then that is nothing but religious Zionism. But most of the Yeshiva and Chassidic worlds don’t think that way. Rather, they recognize that Zionism is wrong and they believe the state has nothing whatsoever to do with redemption. They will go to visit Eretz Yisroel, the Holy Land, now just like they would visit it if it were ruled by any non-Jewish government. Their visiting or studying there does not constitute approval of the idea of a Jewish state. And if concern for the Jews of the Holy Land is what makes them “supporters of Eretz Yisroel” then anti-Zionists also support Eretz Yisroel. So there’s not much that separates them from the anti-Zionists, except for certain practical matters such as the question of whether it is hypocritical to accept funding from the Israeli government. “
Rabbi E. Beck
Later, Rabbi Beck added that…
“Even religious Zionists don’t claim the exile is completely over. They just say that their state is an early stage of the redemption. They admit that if a Jew has an important reason to be in other countries, for example if he is teaching other Jews, or if he has a source of income there but will not have in the Holy Land, then he can stay. That explains why there are still hundreds of thousands of religious Zionist Jews living outside the Zionist state.”
“You are correct, however, that half or more of the Orthodox population outside the Zionist state believes that the state has no connection whatsoever to redemption, and is simply one country among many where Jews live. These Jews, usually classified as Haredim, or ultra-Orthodox, do not attach any special importance to the state, do not say any prayers for it or fly its flag. Many of them actively oppose the state; others are unfortunately not educated about the Torah’s prohibition to have any state at all during exile, but they at least recognize that the exile is still in full force.”
Rabbi E. Beck
The Christian supporters of Israel need to understand that from a Biblical perspective, true friends of the Jewish people are the ones that take into account this aspect of the relationship of the Jewish people to the Holy Land. The following comments made by an Orthodox Jew from the True Torah Jews website is revealing…
“Supporting the true Israel, that is the Jewish people, is indeed a good thing. The state created in 1948 that bears the name “Israel” is not really Israel at all. It is a country founded by non-believing Jews who did not understand the historic destiny and belief system of the Jewish people. We Jews appreciate the friendship of gentiles like you. We stress, however, that if someone truly likes Jews, they will want to have Jews as neighbours, not encourage them to run off to the other side of the world to a place where their gentile neighbours do not appreciate their activities.”