Hear and Listen: The Success of Zionism

It is impossible to say with certainty how a thinker from the past would react to today’s events. I am sure that I am not qualified to debate Rabbi Melamed. However, I did think that his article on Rabbi Kook needed some additional context for readers unfamiliar with Rabbi Kook’s writing.

It can’t be denied that Rabbi Kook asserted that he had much to contribute to the development of Zionism. It is also true that he felt that he had much to learn from other streams in the movement. He saw the different approaches as complementary, rather than contradictory.

Rather than eleborate, I would prefer to let Rabbi Kook speak for himself. It will be up to the reader to decide if Rabbi Melamed captured his tone or message properly. (it goes without saying that translation errors are my own fault and that emphases are mine)

Here is the first source:

Three Factions

We now have three noteworthy factions among our people. The first is Orthodoxy, as we are accustomed to call it. It champions the cause of the holy; it speaks with vigor, with zeal and with embitterment on behalf of the Torah and the mitzvot, of religious faith, and of everything sacred to the Jewish people.

The second is the new nationalism that battles for everything toward which the national spirit aspires. It embraces many of the characteristics of a nation seeking to renew its national existence after a long period of exile. It also seeks to include many elements deriving from the influence of the other nations, to the extent that it judges them desirable and appropriate for itself.

The third is liberalism, which was an advocate of the Enlightenment in the recent past and still has a following in many circles. It does not confine itself to the domain of the national but demands general human enlightenment, culture, morality and much more.

It is understandable that in a healthy setting there is a need for each of these three forces. We must always seek to reach this healthy state, where these forces will act in our lives jointly, in all their fullness and their goodness, in harmonious integration with nothing in excess or in diminution. The claims of the holy, of the nation, and of humanity will be joined together in a spiritual and practical love. Individuals and parties will be in agreement that each one is to recognize with goodwill the positive service of the other. This acknowledgement will then develop to a point where each one will recognize the positive role in every cause, that it is desirable, and that in order to pursue it for the general good of spiritual harmonization as well as the enhancement of the particular cause with which he himself is identified. He will go even further in recognizing a positive dimension in the negative aspect of every cause, within its proper delimitation. He will know that it is to the benefit of the very cause of which he is an advocate to be influenced to some extent by the negation, because by its challenge it sets his beloved cause within its proper sphere and saves it from the perilous detriment of excess and exaggeration…

If we shall examine the tension that we suffer in this generation we will know that only one course is open to us. Everyone, the individual or the community, must take to heart this admonition: that together with the need to defend the particular position to which one is attached by natural inclination, habit or training, one must know how to utilize the positions that have found a following among other people and their parties. Thus one will perfect oneself and one’s party, both through the positive aspects in the position of the others, and through the beneficial aspects in their negations, by safeguarding one’s own position against the defect of exaggeration which produces weakness and destruction. Thus we may hope to attain a way of life appropriate for a people of high stature…

Orot, pp. 70-72

Here is the second:

The Rabbinate

The rabbinate is that great spiritual force, that crucial force which always shaped public opinion in the Jewish world… In our era, however, it has been greatly damaged, and its influence has waned. This development has had a detrimental affect on every aspect of our collective lives…

Now that we desire to reestablish and thoroughly repair our national lives, we must also implement deep and penetrating reforms into the rabbinate of Eretz Yisrael, to breathe new life into this essential, spiritual force… [into] a significant force that will influence every aspect of our national revival…

Rabbis must play a prominent role in Israel’s revival. They must work with the people in every facet of the building and the national restoration… A continuous, mutual connection must exist between the rabbinate and every productive force in the land.


[Rabbis must] constantly strive to bring people closer to each other and introduce a spirit of peace between all factions and parties, by way of the holy sentiments that are equally shared in every Jewish soul.


Rabbis must stay far away from all factional disputes and differences, they must view everything in a positive light, focusing only on the side of every faction and every event. This way, they will be able to infuse a spirit of sanctity, faith and pure Jewish awareness into the nation’s entire collective existence, materially and spiritually.

HaRabbanut, Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, pp. 52-54

About the Author
Michael is a Senior Israel Educator at Makom. He is a very proud father and grandfather, and lives in Efrat.
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