The ‘theory of everything’ is the term used in physics for a single grand theory that could unify currently separate theories on the structure of the universe and the nature of physical reality.
As we see the chaos across Israel, in the Knesset and on the streets, the Jewish people need a ‘theory of everything’ to create a single grand narrative that unifies our particularist Torah-based and our universalist secularising wings.
In a separate blogpost sometime hopefully soon, I will argue that both these wings are righteous, both contribute to the fulfilment of ancient prophecies, and this fragmentation, with roots going back to the mid-17th century, is a necessary phase in the evolving role, purpose and contribution of the Jewish people.
Right now, though, the Jewish people urgently need this ‘theory of everything’ to close the factionalist vortex that has opened up in Israel and threatens, G-d forbid, to engulf the entire Jewish people around the world.
The Jewish people need to stop this crazy anti-Torah approach in which each faction pursues the interest of its own faction to the negation of the interests of the Jewish people as a whole.
Let us set out the logic clearly so all can understand and join the debate.
If any side ‘wins’ this conflict, we are all likely to lose, G-d forbid, including the ‘winners’.
We are all likely to lose, simply because we would not be free in our Land anymore, again G-d forbid.
If the one side wins this conflict, we will likely have economic and military collapse, G-d forbid.
If the other side wins this conflict, we will likely have societal, moral and psychological collapse, G-d forbid.
If we would not be free in our Land, the Jewish people would not be able to study as much Torah or perform as many mitzvot as we do today, which is more than any Jewish generation before us for at least 2,000 years, and arguably more.
If we would not be free in our Land, the Jewish people would not be able to contribute as much to world history, progress and wellbeing as we do today, which is arguably more than any Jewish generation before us for at least 2,000 years, and perhaps since the generations of Kings David and Solomon.
Why are we so angry with each other when, whichever worldview you take, the Jewish people are in a better place than any of our ancestors’ generations going back more than 2,000 years? What has warped our minds like this?
We should understand the Jewish people are collectively committing a cardinal sin of being thankless before the Lord, Who has provided us countless incomparable blessings for 75 years, when the very word ‘Judaism’ itself invokes gratitude. (Leah named Judah for thankfulness, saying ‘This time I shall thank the Lord’ (Genesis 29:35)
The Jewish people need to channel the vibrancy and stridency we see in both our wings to create a Jewish unified theory of everything.
What should this unified theory comprise?
- Sovereignty and peace – a reconciliation between the fulfilment of mitzvot of the Land while living peaceably and securely with our Arab neighbours.
- Modesty and equity – a reconciliation between the dignity and equity of all, including women, youth and LGBTQ people, with an avoidance of the sexualisation and fragmentation of society and the resultant prevalence of family breakdown, depression, drugs and crime seen elsewhere*.
- Observance and tolerance – a reconciliation between the provision of physical and emotional space to sincerely and authentically perform mitzvot with the provision of physical and emotional space for expressions of non-idolatrous spiritual and cultural life by secular, non-orthodox and non-Jewish people.
- Spiritual and material – a reconciliation between the Torah priorities of learning, teaching, guarding and doing the mitzvot with the material imperatives of security, prosperity and social cohesion.
- Governance and justice – a reconciliation between religious authority and democracy, which espouse common principles of justice including due process, fairness, equality before the law and judicial impartiality.
(*Clarificatory note – I am certainly not saying that women, youth and LGBTQ people are the cause of sexualisation and fragmentation of society. Rather, I am saying that gratuitous public discourse on sex and sexuality, amplified by the echo chamber of social media, is a root cause of the societal challenges identified above, and that those who wish to consider issues of sex and sexuality as deeply private and personal matters should have the right to do so. Moreover, arguably, this issue is the root cause of Charedi insularity, and the range of implications that such insularity brings.)
A unified theory does not mean we have to agree with everything. It does not mean our different ‘tribes’ cease to be and we all become one big happy melting pot. Rather, it means we know how to live with each other, despite the differences. It means we have a narrative framework to maintain a civil discussion whatever the circumstances or issues that arise. It means we all have the fluidity to learn, grow and evolve – as individuals, communities, denominations or the collective Jewish people as a whole. It means we have a strong unified projection of Jewish values and Jewish continuity in the face of the changing world around us, including the many rising threats the Jewish people face day to day.
Let us hear the argument of any religious authority who says the need for factionalist victory, or G-d forbid, revenge, supercedes the fundamental principles in Torah, among others, of ‘ve’ahavta lereacha camocha’ (loving your fellow as yourself), ‘lo tisna et achicha bilvavecha’ (you shall not hate your brother in your heart), ‘darchei shalom’ (ways of peace), ‘btzelem Elokim’ (dignity of the human being in the image of G-d), and ‘shmirat halashon’ (dignified speech).
Let us hear the argument of any secular leader who says that the principles of democracy involves disrespecting the sincere, authentic, long-held values and beliefs of the religious and traditional people who are now emerging as a majority of the population in the State of Israel.
Let us restrain and marginalise the mad dog politicians on all sides who have vested interest in promoting hatred, anger, and vengeance – we know who they are.
Let us seek our self-validation, novelty and entertainment instead, if that is the root of our ‘addiction’ to those aforementioned politicians, with a societal voyage in the discovery and innovation of new visions of unity, reconciliation and peace.