With Tolerance, Respect, and Love for Jews of Other Torah Traditions
Principle 12 – The Torah’s Inherent Zionism, with the Long-Term Goal of a Torah State under a Sanhedrin, with a Holy Temple, and a Righteous Jewish King
As should be clear from Principle 11 above, the Torah is the inheritance of the entire Jewish nation, not only one community or school of thought. Just as there are Commandments that obligate each and every individual and even whole communities, there are Commandments that obligate the entire nation as one, such as rebuilding the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Without a proper Sanhedrin, however, this and other national obligations are practically impossible to fulfill. Therefore, even living according to the most rational and authentic understanding of Talmudic law (Mishneh Torah) is not a long-term ideal. Nothing can replace the Divine Commandment to form a Sanhedrin, whose rulings must be accepted by the entire Jewish People and the rest of the world. Living in a Torah state under a Sanhedrin (which can only exist in the Land of Israel), with a Holy Temple (which can only be built in a precise location on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem), and a righteous Jewish king, is our long-term ideal.
On the other hand, while belief in the prophesied messiah-king is a fundamental Principle of Faith (and we yearn for those times, so that we will dwell in strength and peace, so that we can fully apply ourselves to Torah and wisdom without distraction), the coming of the Messiah has zero halakhic significance. So long as the nation is dwelling in its Land and with a true Sanhedrin, there is not a single Torah Commandment –neither for the individual nor for the nation– that cannot, in theory, be fulfilled before the ultimate messiah-king is revealed. A king, however, can only be properly ordained by a true Sanhedrin, ideally together with a prophet.
The only practical way for the Sanhedrin to be restored in our times (which requires authentic Mosaic ordination), HaShem-willing, is through careful adherence to the rules set forth by the RaMBaM. Moreover, adhering to Mishneh Torah will be its best hope for success. This is why:
The greatest challenge to be faced by a restored Sanhedrin in our day is consensus: Effective judicial leadership of the nation requires general agreement among 71 Torah sages on literally hundreds of basic, critical legal issues from the outset, before they can even approach the enormous backlog of issues and challenges of the modern age. Over the centuries of exile, the range of rabbinical opinion has grown too broad, and the ideological rifts that divide the Torah world are too deep for meaningful consensus to be reached over any practical span of time.
Besides being the common legal base of all rival sects and communities in the modern Torah world, the Mishneh Torah is the only authoritative Code of Law written, covering whole areas of Law that become applicable for the nation under a Sanhedrin. Only by accepting Mishneh Torah as the initial baseline of the halakhah, the foundation and framework of Jewish Law, can the future Sanhedrin hope to fulfill an otherwise insurmountable task: unifying the Torah world and restoring Israel‘s national observance of Torah after nearly 2,000 years of exile.
Clearly, the Torah is inherently Zionist. However, some believe that the secular, ostensibly anti-religious character of the secular state of Israel pushes the Torah’s vision of a kingdom governed by halakhah further off. On the contrary: the very possibility of such a future reality has been afforded, if not saved, by the rise of the State of Israel. Such a dream would have all but perished in the modern age without the blessings only made possible by the existence of the State:
- the mass return and absorption of our far-flung exiles, brought in from the ends of the earth
- the rise of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), one of the most powerful armies on earth, to protect the Jews now restored to our homeland
- the ongoing mass return of Israelis to Judaism, which was largely catalyzed by the miracles of the Six-Day War, and nurtured by the many Torah institutions only made possible by the State’s existence
In fact, it is questionable if the Jewish People could have even continued to exist, much less thrived as it does today, without it.
Accordingly, while we yearn, pray for, and strive to bring about a holier, more faithful Israel, constructively criticizing the state and protesting certain policies, there is no place in the path of RaMBaM for hatred or antagonism to the modern state of Israel. According to the RaMBaM’s liberal concept of Jewish sovereignty (as expressed in Hilkhoth Ḥanukkah 1:1-2) and his open, realistic, down-to-earth, non-speculative vision of the prophesied events of the End of Days, (1)See M.T. Laws of Kings and Wars 1:14(11-12), 11:6-9(3-4), Laws of Vessels of the Sanctuary 1:10(11) and RaMBaM’s Commentary to the Mishnah tr. ...continue it is not difficult to see the State of Israel as “reshith ṣemiḥath ge’ulathenu” (the first flowering of our Redemption) – even with its faults and shortcomings.
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||See M.T. Laws of Kings and Wars 1:14(11-12), 11:6-9(3-4), Laws of Vessels of the Sanctuary 1:10(11) and RaMBaM’s Commentary to the Mishnah tr. Kerethoth, mishnah 1|