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SIDIC Periodical I - 1968/2
The Jewish People and the Holy Land (Pages 03 - 11)

Other articles from this issue | Version in English | Version in French

Eretz Yisrael and the Jews
S. Henriques


Writing immediately after Jerusalem was re-united, Harold Fisch, professor of English at Bar-Ilan University, reflects on the challenge to Israel:

The true battleground is now that of the spirit... For the real challenge of the future is the challenge to us to discover our true path, our true identity. It has been said one of the factors preventing peace between Israelis and the surrounding Arab peoples is that the latter only explain us as a branch of Western imperialism or colonialism, and this we know is wrong. We have not yet arrived at a clear image of our own nature and of the community that we seek to create. When we attempt to define that, we tend to get a series of negatives. We are not like the East, we are not like the West, we are not like the Jews of the Diaspora, nor like the Jews who have graduated out of the Diaspora by assimilation. What then are we?
("Jerusalem, Jerusalem", Judaism, Summer 1967)

This is the question the Jews have been asking themselves down through the centuries: how are we a nation? how are we a religion? how are we a people? what are we? Essential to their self-understanding is the attachment to the land of Israel, sometimes without realizing either why or how profound is their love. But neither the land nor the people can be separated. The Hebrew poet Chaim Nachman Bialik in his speech at the opening of Hebrew University, 1925, expressed the either/or relation with the land of Israel — either the Jewish people have the land or there will be no Jewish people:

Without the Land of Israel — land in the plain meaning of the word — there is neither hope nor promise for a Jewish future in any place, at any time. Our basic conception of the nation's material and spiritual existence has by this point undergone a radical change. We in no way accept this split or distinction between matter and spirit, just as we accept no suchdistinction between Jew and human being. We declare the law now not according to the School of Shammai, who claimed that heaven was created first, and not according to the School of Hillel, who claimed that the earth was created first, but according to the Sages, in whose view both were created at once through a single divine utterance — and the one has neither reality nor existence without the other.
(quoted by Robert Alter, "Israel and the Intellectuals", Commentary, Oct. 1967)

The land, the people, their faith in the God of Abraham. This is how Abraham J. Heschel regards Zion:

There is an unique association between the people and the land of Israel. Even before Israel becomes a people, the land is preordained for it. What we have witnessed in our own days is a reminder of the power of God's mysterious promise to Abraham and a testimony to the fact that the people kept its promise: If I forget thee, o Jerusalem, let my right hand wither (Ps. 137:5). The Jew in whose heart the love of Zion dies is doomed to lose his faith in the God of Abraham who gave the land as an earnest of the redemption of all men.
(God in Search of Man, 1959)

But why this particular piece of geography? Why love Eretz Yisrael with a love so fierce, so terrible that without it one is not a man, not a Jew? The people did not only love the land because it was, and now again is, a country of wheat and barley, of vineyards, figs, olives, where one will eat all the good things of the earth and where one will want nothing (Deut. 8:7-9). They loved it in exile, they loved the stones and the dust (Ps. 102:15). It is the center of their universe, the center of their faith:

Our Rabbis taught: One should always live in the land of Israel, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are idolators, but let no one live outside the Land, even in a town most of whose Mabitants are Israelites; for whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a God, but whosoever lives outside the Land may be considered as one who has no God. For it is said in Scripture: To give you the land of Canaan, to be your God (Lev. 25:38 — implying that only in the land of Canaan would He be their God). Has he then, who does not live in the Land, no God? But to tell you, that whoever lives outside the Land many be regarded as one who worships idols. Similarly, it is said in Scripture, in the story of David: For they have driven me out this day, that I should not cleave to the inheritance of the Lord, saying: Go, serve other gods (1 Sam. 26:19).
(Talmud Kethuboth 110b)

The Hassidim in their exile extended the boundaries of Israel to eastern Europe, to the world; but it remains the promised land the Holy One has given His people:
Rabbi Moses of Lelov said: He who surrounds himself with holiness may obtain a blessing even outside of Palestine, since holiness sanctifies the very ground beneath his feet, making it as if it were Palestine itself.
Rabbi Abraham David Butzatzer said: Since the Holy Land was granted to Israel, every Israelite by virtue of his share in it may demolish the boundaries of any land where he resides and give entrance into it for the blessings from Zion.
The Great Maggid said: Zion is absolute in the world; it is the life of all countries; therefore all countries have a part in Palestine.

(quoted from L. I. Newman, The Hasidic Anthology, 1934)

Mystery of Eretz Yisrael.

Andre Neher describes the mystery of Eretz Yisrael ("Israel, Terre Mystique de l'Absolu", L'Existence juive: Solitude et Affronternents, 1962). The very word Eretz evokes more than land or country; it is neither a piece of geography nor an abstraction. Eretz is a person, and in the history of redemption she has a part to play, a fundamental role. Throughout the Bible she is invoked more often than described; Jeremiah cries: Eretz, Eretz, Eretz, hear the voice of Yahweh(22:29). All the images of love, with their thousand nuances, play in the role assumed by the Land, for it is a part essentially feminine. Eretz cannot live alone; she can only be fulfilled in union with another. Her first union is with God; she lives by the blessings He sends her. Between Eretz and heaven there is a continuous dialogue; she lifts herself up, all open, all welcoming, the movement of love. God has at the same time elected a people who also wait for and welcome His word; He gives in love the land, Eretz, to the people, Yisrael. Although the covenant between God and Israel is described as a marriage, Israel the woman, in reality Israel is virile, impregnating with the force of love, the strength of action. It is Eretz who waits to be loved and espoused. However, she is not conquered, contrary to what the national history suggests. She is offered by God to Israel, and He watches over her as His adored daughter. Israel must obey Torah; it is the marriage contract. And by this obedience Israel is worthy of Eretz. If not, she will vomit him out of herself. As long as Israel remains true to the Land, Eretz Yisrael is where the kingdom of the Covenant will be built.

All throughout the long history of the Diaspora Eretz was the center of the life of Israel, and on this was created a geo-theology, without which the Jews would not have known how to understand the exile from their land. Eretz is the center of the exile, she is the center of the world. The Jews of eastern Europe literally oriented their houses and synagogues so that their prayer might be directed towards her. The love of their brothers, commanded by Torah, was made concrete in the institution of haloukka, given to the poor Jews living in Palestine; they, the poor, gave to the exiled Jews a means to fulfill their vocation. After the first Zionist congresses, the orthodox Herman Shapira created a new form of this charity; haloukka would now be used to buy the very soil of Eretz, and no matter how small the gift every Jew would become co-owner of the Land. Today the Keren Kayemeth le-Yisrael is the biggest land owner in Israel, but it has not dispossessed itself in favour of the State. All the Land belongs to the people of God; she is given to individuals for a period of fifty years, after which it must be given back to the Keren (cf. Lev. 25). For the Jews of the Galu't, life was a slow death, but to be buried in Eretz was to be ready for resurrection. If the body of a Jew could not be buried in Palestine, a little of her earth was buried with him, in Galicia, in Morocco, in America. Meditating on the Land of the Covenant and its place at the heart of the world, the Jews came to a messianic sense of Eretz. The aliyyah, the going-up to the Land of Israel, this alone was capable of beginning the messianic redemption. Throughout the centuries there were courageous groups of Jews who went up to Palestine, living in great misery, in order that the marriage of Eretz and Yisrael should remain concrete. Eretz Yisrael cannot live in abstraction.

Zionism and the Service to the Land.

For Martin Buber Zionism is different from other national concepts (Israel and Palestine: the History of an Idea, 1952). This difference is expressed by the fact that it was named after a place, not a people, indicating that it is not so much a question of a particular people, but rather the association with a particular land, their native land. Even more, Zionism was not named after the usual description of this land — Canaan, Palestine, etc. — but after the name given to the city of Jerusalem, the seat of the sanctuary, by the poets and prophets of this people. The name means a holy place; Zion is "the city of the great king" (Ps. 48:3), that is, of God, King of Israel. In the exile all the holiness of this land was bound up in this name; in the cabbala Zion was equated with the presence of God Himself. The nationalist concept in modern Zionism was no new invention; it was not a product of social and political changes. Rather, it was the continuation of the age-old religious and popular reality adapted to the forms of nineteenth century national movements. This basic reality is the holy matrimony of a holy people with a holy land which is called Zion.

Holiness in the primitive Israelite community was not a sign of power, a magic that dwells in places, regions, and peoples, but a quality given to this particular people and this particular land because God elected both in order to lead His chosen people into His chosen land and to join them together. It was His election which sanctified and made the land and people dependent on each other. This was more a political, a theopolitical idea than a strictly religious concept of holiness. Holiness meant to belong to God not merely through religious symbols, in certain times and places consecrated to worship, but as a people and a land in the complete reality of the life of the community. Only later did the sense of the Holy become limited to public prayer, this process determined by the removal of more and more of the community's activities from God's rule.

The connection of the gift of Canaan to Abraham with the command to be a blessing is in Buber's thinking the most concise, and precise, resume that the association of this people with this land is meant as mission. The land at no time in the history of Israel was simply the property of the people; its possession always contained the challenge to make of it what God intended. From the beginning, this union was characterized by the intention to be realized; always it held the future in immediacy. This consummation could not be achieved by either land or people alone, but only in faithful cooperation. The land is a living, active partner. In every new encounter of this people with this land the task begins again, rooted in the historical situation and its problems. In an Open Letter to Gandhi, 1939, Buber defended Zionism as a means of building the kingdom of God:

What is decisive for us is not the promise of the Land, but the demand, whose fulfilment is bound up with the Land, with the existence of a free Jewish community in this country. For the Bible tells us, and our inmost knowledge testifies to it, that more than three thousand years ago our entry into this land took place with the consciousness of a mission from above to set up a just way of life that cannot be realized by individuals in the sphere of their private existence, but only by a nation in the establishment of its society: communal ownership of the land (Lev. 25:23), regularly recurrent leveling of social distinctions (Lev. 25:13), guarantees of the independence of each individual (Ex. 21:2), mutual aid (Ex. 23:4f.), a general Sabbath embracing serf and beast as beings with an equal claim to rest (Ex. 23:12), a sabbatical year in which the soil is allowed to rest and everybody is admitted to free enjoyment of its fruits (Lev. 25:2-7). These are not practical laws thought out by wise men; they are measures which the leaders of the nation... have found to be the set task and condition for taking possession of the Land.

In this same letter Buber situated this mission in immediate history:

We consider it a fundamental point that... two vital claims (Jewish and Arab) are opposed to each other, two claims of a different nature and a different origin which cannot be objectively pitted against one another and between which no objective decision can be made as to which is just, which unjust. We considered and still consider it our duty to understand and to honour the claim which is opposed to ours and to endeavor to reconcile both claims. We could not and cannot renounce the Jewish claim; something even higher than the life of our people is bound up with this land, namely its work, its divine mission... We love this land and we believe in its future; since such love and such faith are surely present on the other side as well, a union of common service of the land must be within the range of possibility... This land recognizes us, for it is fruitful through us... Together with the Arabs we want to cultivate this land — to serve it, as the Hebrew has it... We want to serve with them...

The Talmudic treatise on fasting, T aanith, reveals Israel's basic understanding of this service to the land. Although written in Babylon, it is concerned with Palestinian rain, the spring and fall rain that are considered a renewal of God's mercy. (The Rabbis decided that these rains were to be asked for after the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles; in fact, the prayers only were decreed at the times of year when rain generally falls in Palestine, a courtesy towards God on the part of His people.) The Mishna asks at whattime of year the Power of the Rain is to be mentioned in daily prayers as part of the second Benediction (Tam. 1). The original version of this prayer is:

Thou art mighty, none is as strong as Thee, there is none beside Thee who makest the wind blow and the rain fall, who sustainest life, revivest the dead and art great in helping.

Buber remarks that here we enter the world of faith where rain and resurrection belong together. Here nature and supernature do not exist; for God, rain is no more natural than resurrection and the resurrection no more supernatural than the rain. The preservation of the world is as much an action of God as creation. But only on Israel does God send down directly His rain, on the rest of the world it is by intermediaries (cf. Gemara). Because Eretz is the center of God's creation she receives His immediate care; by her fruitfulness will come the salvation of the whole world. When He does not send rain it is because of those who prevent the people from becoming God's people. But even then He sends His mercy because of those who have remained faithful, the anawim, holy rabbis, publicans, and prostitutes. Rabbi Akiba prayed before the Ark, "Our Father, our King, we have no other King but thee alone! Our Father, our King, have mercy on us for thy sake", and the rain came. A pimp sold his bed to save a woman from prostitution and a holy rabbi saw in a dream that this sinner was among the faithful whose prayers bring the rain.

A passage in the Midrash says:
There are three places in respect to which the nations of the world cannot torment Israel and say, They were stolen by you; these are: the cave of Makhpela, Joseph's tomb, and the Temple.
(Beresit Rabbah 79: 7)

Buber suggests that more is meant than simply the two burial places and the bought threshing-floor of the Jebusite. By them is explained the justice of Israel's possession of the land. The two graves of the patriarchs guarded and defended the claim of their people to this land. When Jacob and Esau divided their inheritance, Esau chose the gold and left the burial-place of the elect, of Abraham and Isaac (not Lot and Ishmael) to Jacob. This cave was the sign of the promise of the land, and to Jacob more precious than the rest of the world. The Haggada teaches that even after the destruction of the Temple, heaven and earth continued to meet there where God intended. Yet God was in anguish, for His people and His land were separated; He cried out, 0 that my sons were in the land of Israel even though they pollute it! When the Temple fell, even though the Shekhinah remained standing behind the west wall, the land suffered, "it has not the strength to bring forth its fruits". Another Midrash has God declare: Eretz Yisrael is more beloved by Me than everything else (Bemidbar Rabbah 23:7), and the Talmud explains this love:

The Holy One, blessed be He, gave Israel three precious gifts, and all of these were given only through sufferings. These are: the Torah, the Land of Israel, and the world to come. Whence do we know this of Torah? Because it is said: Happy is the man whom Thou chastenest, o Lord, and teachest him out of Thy law (Ps. 44:12). Whence of the Land of Israel? Because it is written: As a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee (Deut. 7:5) and after it is written: For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land...
(Berakoth 5a)


In the exile after the destruction of the Second Temple, the rabbis emphasized the im
, portance of permanent settlement in Israel. However, for those with authority in the community there was the problem of how Jewish life would be led in Palestine where there was great misery, no organization nor established academies of Torah, where life was insecure beyond reason. In amoraic times the great Rabbi Judah bar Ezekiel, faced with considerable emigration from Babylon to Palestine, this longing of the Jew for his home expressed with poignancy by Judah's disciple Zeira, nevertheless Rab Judah ruled:

Whoever goes up from Babylon to the Land of Israel transgresses a positive commandment, for it is said in Scripture: They shall be carried to Babylon, and there they shall be, until the day I remember them, saith the Lord (Jer 27:22).

The re-establishment of Jewish life in all its fullness was of primary importance and this meant holding together the community; dispersion was a threat to the revival and flowering of Israel:
Rab Judah declared in the name of Samuel: As it is forbidden to leave the Land of Israel for Babylon so it is forbidden to leave Babylon for other countries.
(Ket. 111a)

During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there was a large aliyyah from England, France, and Germany where conditions for the Jewish communities were becoming insecure. The tosaphist Hayyim Cohen decided that the religious duty to settle in Israel no longer applied because it was too difficult to observe all the many additional commandments applicable in Eretz and the penalty for transgressing these commandments was severe. Besides, he added, it was too dangerous to travel there. In response Meir of Rothenburg favoured aliyyah, but only if one's living was assured in Palestine.

Despite these restrictions and misgivings the Talmud and later halakkah kept alive the love for Eretz, the desire for aliyyah. In the Midrash one can find the responding note to the reasons given by learned rabbis for not living in Israel:
More beloved is a small school in Eretz than a large Academy outside it.
(Y. Nedarim 6:5)

In your land [Israel] you can sit in safety, but you cannot dwell in safety in a strange land.
(Siphra Behukotai)

He who resides in Palestine, reads the Sh'ma, and speaks Hebrew, is a son of the world-to-come.
(S. Berakah 13)

The cabbalists express with a love that leaps towards God why a Jew longs to live in Israel:
Happy is he who during his lifetime lives in the Holy Land, for such a one draws down the dew from heaven upon the earth, and whoever is attached to the Holy Land during his life becomes attached ever afterwards to the heavenly Holy Land.
(Zohar, Aharei Mot 72)

In the Diaspora a Jew's livelihood comes to him through non-Jews, but in Palestine through the Shekhinah.
(Zohar, 4:235a)

During the centuries there was a long line of distinguished rabbis who settled in Palestine: Nahminides, 1266, the first outstanding rabbi to rule that settlement was a positive biblical command; Obadiah of Bertinoro, 1488; Joseph Karo and other mystics, sixteenth century; Isaiah Horowitz, 1621; Judah Hassid and fifteen-hundred followers, 1700; Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk and three-hundred hassidim, 1777. But perhaps the classic example is that of Rabbi Zeira who could not follow the ruling of his teacher, Rab Judah, and left Babylon for Israel. Buber describes this voyage as moving from one world to another; before leaving, aim fasted one-hundred days in order to forget the methods of the Babylonian Academy. After he entered the Land he suddenly understood an opposing opinion of R. Elai; Zeira proclaimed, "The air of the Land of Israel makes one wise" (Baba Bathra 158b). However, two Babylonian dialecticians, whose way of teaching Zeira fasted to forget, agreed that the air of Eretz was superior:

Abbaye said: A student in Palestine grasps the reason of a law twice as quickly as a student in Babylon. [Or: One of them is as good as two of us, cf. Menahoth 42a]
To which his teacher Rabba added: Even a Baby-Ionian student who goes to Palestine becomes twice as keen as he who has remained in Babylonia. Take the case of Jeremiah; a disciple of Zeira in Palestine. When he was here, he did not understand the teachings of the Rabbis, but since he has been in Palestine he calls us, Those stupid Babylonians!

(Ket. 75a)

The Midrash sums it up simply:
There is no Torah like the Torah of Palestine, and no wisdom like the wisdom of Palestine.
(Beresit Rabbah 15)

Perhaps Buber explains best why this dark little unpresuming Babylonian dared to contradict the decision of his great teacher by coming to Israel in reflecting on how Zeira believed the messianic age would come:
...Just as one finds something unexpectedly, just as a scorpion bites unexpectedly, so Messiah will come when no one is thinking of him. This is... a fruit of Zeira's basic attitude of dwelling in the land: living in the land and in the midst of people, doing the will of God as a people, only this, not discussing the Redemption, not pondering over it, not making frantic exertions to bring it about, only living in the land as God's people will bring Messiah when no one is thinking of him.
(Israel and Palestine)

Theologians of Eretz.

There are two theologians of the Land, Judah ha-Levi (c. 1085-1145) and Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935). In ha-Levi's exposition of Jewish history, Sefer ha-Kuzari, Palestine becomes the point omega of his thinking. As Jews are the heart of the nations so Palestine is the spiritual home and center of the world. Eretz is the house of life, the gate of heaven. Whoever has prophesied did so either in Israel or concerning her. Christians and Moslems yearn for her, fight for her, turn their faces in prayer towards her. Without this Land the Jews are not a body, only scattered limbs and fragments without life. When the defender of the Jews declared to the king of the Khazars that he was going to Jerusalem, the king asked:

What can be found in Palestine, since the Shekhinah has long since departed from her? ...With a pure heart and desire one can approach God any place.

The Jew replied:
The visible Shekhinah is indeed departed... but the invisible Shekhinah is with every born Israelite of virtuous life, pure heart, and whose mind is directed towards God... Heart and soul are only perfectly pure and immaculate in the place which is believed to be especially selected by God.

As not only actions reach perfection in the Land so the heart only there can truly remain pure. Throughout the Kuzari there is the distinction between intent and action, yet it is only in Palestine that intent will find its natural substance, that the holiness of the Land will enter into the soul and purify the heart. One begins this purification when he starts the journey there; he offers himself joyfully to God, he who needs forgiveness for past sins, by exposing himself to all the dangers and insecurity of aliyyah. The action of those who make their way to the Holy Land will have an effect on the Land, on the people Israel, on the return of the visible Shekhinah, on redemption:

Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Zion: for this is the moment to favour her, for the set time is come, for thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and love her dust.
(Ps. 102:14-15)

Kook (or Kuk), the first chief rabbi of Palestine under the British Mandate, was aware of the need of adapting the traditions of Judaism to a new age. This was not to be a matter of streamlining but rather of penetrating the heart and giving the traditions an intellectual re-interpretation. Although he never joined the World Zionist Movement because of its secular interpretation of the nature of Jewish existence, he worked hard to get the cooperation of the orthodox for the practical work of re-building Israel. For Kook the dynamic creative urge of the Jewish people, which continually took new forms and created new values, was holy. Other orthodox leaders looked on the new Hebrew art and literature in Palestine as an impudent attempt to replace the traditional religious culture of Judaism, but Kook recognized it as a work of God. Israel, scattered and broken, was in need of the natural life that it had lost; it needed nature in order to reach true and perfect holiness. When Israel lost its soil, it was reduced to preserving the spiritual, a holiness independent from nature; thus the Shekhinah dwelt with Israel in exile. But the Source of the holy requires by His creation, by His Torah, that Israel make holy what is natural. The return of Israel to the Land is grounded in His commandment. Rab Kook declared:

We have forgotten the holiness of the body, we have forgotten that we have a holy flesh, that we have it no less than we have a holy spirit. We have forsaken the active life and the purification of the senses and the association with bodily, sensual reality because of a degenerate fear, because of a lack of faith in the holiness of the land.
(quoted by Buber, Israel and Palestine)

As ha-Levi taught before him, Kook believed that the highest level of spirituality could not be reached in the Diaspora, that only in Eretz would there be a revival of prophecy and that the people would know the joy of the Holy Spirit. He was convinced that the secular Jews were working as much for the revival of prophetic Judaism as the orthodox. When challenged to explain why God should allow atheists to lead the way in the rebuilding of Eretz Yisrael if it was truly His work, Kook replied that it was like ancient Israel, when the high-priest could enter only once a year into the inner sanctuary, but when it needed repairs ordinary workmen could go in to do the job at any time. Although Jewish nationalism on the surface was secular, underneath was the ancient inexorable yearning of the Jewish soul for God's service; a Jew's nationalism was the dynamic that carried Torah into the modern world.

The secular Jew.

Perhaps the attempt to define the secular Jew narrows down to a fine point of penetration into the question, what then are we? Monford Harris compares the Jewish fidelity to the Covenant with the loyalty of the secular Jew to the people of the Covenant:

The touchstone of Jewish faithfulness is the concept of the covenant. Crucial for the covenant is the continuity of generations, for this guarantees historical existence. And the continuity of the generations has been strengthened by the secular yet loyal Jew... We who hold that the convenant remains for all time also know that God makes use of those who deny Him. The secular Jew in his stubborn attachment to the covenantal people, although he has no understanding of the covenant and therefore denies our sonship in the process of denying God's Fatherhood, is, nevertheless, one of the builders in Jewish life, if we recall the Midrash which implies that sometimes sons are not builders and sometimes builders are not sons... The religious Jew... sees the stubborn, secular Jew as the balm of God's love... God's hesed, covenant-love, is all over Israel.
("Israel: the Uniqueness of Jewish History", Rediscovering Judaism, 1965)

Judaism never recognizes a Jew as secular, even though he sins; even though he denies God, performs no mitzvot, he remains Israel, a child of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Cf. Jacob Neusner, "Judaism in a Secular Age", Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Fall 1966.) Georges Friedmann (Fin du peuple juif? 1965), accepting J.P. Sartre's definition of a Jew as a man considered a Jew by others, makes the whole meaning of being Jewish dependent on the opinions of others. Robert Alter responds to this definition of a Jew, secular or religious:

In the ancient Near East, nationality and religion were co-extensive; the Jews in their own land, obviously, were a normal people with a national faith. What is remarkable... is that the monotheistic nature of thatfaith was able to sustain an unprecedented sense of national identity even in exile, enabling Jews to believe their banishment was a divine decree, not, as other ancient peoples in the same situation believed of their own defeat, proof of the inefficacy of their national god... We must surely ask what inner necessity compelled them to maintain [their particularist] practices when the established pattern of the ancient world should have prompted them to adopt the ways of their host nations.
("Question of Survival", Commentary, March 1967)

Within the secular Jewish community, in Israel and in the Diaspora, and most articulately among those of the political left, there is a fundamental indentifying of oneself as a Jew. After the June war there were wide differences within this group on the state of Israel, such as those between I.F. Stone and Martin Peretz (cf. Stone, Ramparts, July 1967, and NY Review of Books, August 3, 1967; Peretz, Commentary, November 1967), or even more extreme, a group from the political science, economic, and sociology faculties of Paris who separated themselves completely from the usual Jewish solidarity with Israel-incrisis, proclaiming theirs with "the oppressed Arab peoples", yet identifying themselves as Jews. None of these secular Jews have been read out of Israel. There seems to be a strong instinct to come down on one side or another politically without fundamentally removing oneself from •the people. Within the community there will be great outcries about its dissenters — often intra-mural among the dissenting groups — but the basic tolerance comes out of a profound sense that a Jew politically does not express himself merely in tactics or strategy for power in itself. The roots of this political man go deep down into Eretz Yisrael, sometimes unknown, unfound roots (cf. "Jewish Values in the Post-Holocaust Future: a Symposium", Judaism, Summer 1967). Buber perhaps describes best the relation of the believing to the secular Jew:

The true solution [of contemporary lack of faith] can only issue from the life of a community which begins to carry out the will of God, often without being aware of doing so, without believing that God exists and that this is His will. It may issue from the life of the community, if believing people support it who neither direct nor demand, neither urge nor preach, but who share the common life, who help, wait and are ready for the moment when it will be their turn to give the true answer to the inquirers. This is the innermost truth of the Jewish life in the Land... The contact of this people with this land is not only a matter of sacred ancient history: we sense here a secret still more hidden (italics mine. S. H.) .


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