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Judaism vs. Zionism: the happy ending.


The schism between Judaism and Zionism is a long-term, tenacious struggle that must be resolved because it is blocking the Final Redemption (Geulah).

Even when the religious Zionism movement (dati leumit) appeared in the 1920’s, and attempted to unify Judaism with Zionism, the struggle continued as fiercely as ever. The movement’s founder, Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, zy”a, was abused by the ultra-orthodox rabbinate for no other reason than he was a Zionist.

Rav Elchonon Wasserman, z”l, the disciple of the Chofetz Chaim, expressed his colleagues’ feelings when he said, “Anti-Semites want to kill the body, but Zionists kill the soul. Better to die than consort with the Zionists.”

And the loathing is mutual. When an ultra-orthodox Jew, dressed in black, speaking Yiddish, refuses to stand when the siren signals a moment of silence for the fallen defenders of Israel, the blood of a Zionist runs cold.  

The question is: How can Zionism and Judaism, two implacable foes, be at peace with each other?

The answer is: Hashem has done it before and He can do it again, for this is how G-d formed the heavens (shamayim).

The camp of the angel Michael and the camp of the angel Gabriel are in conflict with each other. Michael is the essence of Chesed (Kindness), which is the spiritual source of water that flows from above to below. Gabriel is the essence of Gevurah (Divine Power), the spiritual source of fire that rises from below to above. The two camps are incompatible since water extinguishes fire and fire boils off water. In Hebrew, water is mayim and fire is aish.

Hashem resolves the conflict by nullifying the natures of Gabriel and Michael, and bringing aish and mayim together as one, thus creating the heavens – shamayim (aish + mayim).

But man is not an angel. He has free will. And Hakodesh Baruch Hu is not going to nullify this precious gift to resolve a spat between two old combatants. But He can introduce something between them that includes both of them, is higher than both of them, and is mandated by the Torah. This something is the Levite.

And this is what it means (Ezek.37:16,17), “And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write upon it, For Judah and for the children of Israel his companions,’ and take one stick and write upon it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ And bring them close, one to the other into one stick and they shall be one in your hand.”

Judah and Joseph are Judaism and Zionism (the fight is 3500 years old). We see it in their names. Judah is obvious – Judaism stems from Judah. Joseph is only a little less obvious. The name Joseph has the same gematria (numerical value) as Zion – 156. And Ezekiel, in whose hand they become one, is a Levite.

The Prophet Ezekiel was a Cohen, and all Cohanim are from the tribe of Levi. In fact, when a verse mentions the “Levite,” it often means the Cohen.

The Levite is the minister of Zion. He is also the teacher of all Israel. He is Judaism and Zionism in one. Only one man may enter the Holy of Holies and attain forgiveness for Israel, the Cohen Gadol, a Levite. And only one may sing to G-d in His own House, the Levite. And only the Levite is mandated by the Torah as the teacher and judge of Israel, as per Moses’ blessing to the tribe of Levi (Deut. 33:10), “And he will teach Your judgments to Jacob and Your Torah to Israel.” Judaism and Zionism are unified by the authority of the Levite.

Rabbinic Judaism’s highest aspiration is to maintain the status quo in Galut. It has no ability to take the Jewish people out of Galut. Therefore, Rabbinic Judaism has to nullify itself to Levitical Judaism. And the government of the State of Israel, which is a non-Jewish parliamentary form of government must nullify itself to the tenets of the Torah for the security of the Jewish people, the original intent of Zionism. And once these things have happened, there will be unity and peace among brothers, and we can begin to build the Third Temple.     

In Geulah, neither the Talmud nor the Knesset is the authority. In Geulah, the Levite is the authority. The Levite has been consecrated as the Torah authority by G-d in the Torah. In Geulah, all pre-existing Jewish practices will be subject to Levitical review and change.

The Maharal taught (Netzach Yisrael #35), “Before the new order can arrive, the old order with all of its systems, processes and institutions must collapse.”

Israel has no constitution because the Torah is its constitution. But the constitutional Torah is not the Talmudic version; it is the Levitical version, as it says (Deut. 17:8-11), “If there arise a matter to hard for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between law and law, between disease and disease, matters of controversy within your gates, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the L-rd your G-d chooses [the Holy Temple]. And you shall come to the Cohanim the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and you shall inquire, and they shall declare unto you the sentence of judgment. And you shall do according to the words they tell you from that place which the L-rd shall choose and you shall observe to do whatever judgment they tell you. You shall not turn aside from the sentence they tell you, not to the right hand or to the left.”

The Torah says that the Cohanim, the Levites, are the final authority. As for the “the judge that shall be in those days,” he is also a Levite. The first ecclesiastical Supreme Court was one man, Moses himself, a Levite, as it says (Ex. 18:22), “Every great matter they shall bring to you, and every small matter they shall judge themselves.” That "the judge that shall be in those days" is a Levite is called a heckesh. And that a single Levite, Moses, serves as the model for all future Supreme Courts is called a binyan av.

Ironically, these are the same verses that the Talmudic sages used to establish rabbinic authority in matters of Torah and communal leadership. But they twist these verses (Deut. 17:8-11) beyond kosher limits in order to bestow the authority upon themselves. The Zohar calls them the Gibborim, the Mighty Ones, one of the five levels of the erev rav (mixed multitudes). And the Vilna Gaon, zy"a, in Likutim HaGra teaches that the Torah leaders in Galut are the erev rav and that is why they are called rav (rabbi). However, in Geulah, the lifeforce is sucked out of the kelipa (spiritual husk) of the erev rav, and the Shechina rises from the dust.

Rabbinic Judaism is Judaism of Galut. Levitical Judaism is Judaism of Geulah. It views every man as the Torah teaches, and not as the Talmud teaches. The Judaism of Geulah views every man as a tzelem Elo-him, one made in the image of G-d. The Shechina rests on every man, no matter how low he has fallen. And we now have the opportunity to help raise every man to become a vessel for the Light. This is accomplished through the Torah of Shem, the inner dimension (pnimiyut) of the Torah of Moses. We are talking about Kabbalah and meditation, the vessels for giving pleasure to G-d.

Next blogpost: Why the Levite?

Chaim Clorfene