Zionism

“Religious Zionism, the brand of Zionism that benefited the most from the triumph in the 1967 war, is the strangest hybrid of all”

Religious Zionism, the brand of Zionism that benefited the most from the triumph in the 1967 war, is the strangest hybrid of all. An ideology that seeks to bridge traditional, lived Judaism and the political revolution of modern Zionism is predicated on the decidedly untraditional idea that Judaism as we know it can be corrected: This has always seemed to me the biggest conceptual question facing Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s famous lecture/essay Kol Dodi Dofek, a profound theological and political meditation that serves as foundational for so much of American pragmatic religious Zionism. The title of Soloveitchik’s essay is drawn from the fifth chapter of the Song of Songs, describing the moment when the two star-crossed protagonists—the lover and the beloved—find themselves separated just by a door, and a fateful knock. In the book, the beloved fails to answer the door in time; in Soloveitchik’s memorable formulation, it is incumbent on contemporary Jews to answer the door this time when God is so clearly “knocking.” Will we, Soloveitchik asks, fail to consummate our opportunity to reconnect with God? The unconsummated Eros imagined between the lover and the beloved in the Song of Songs — and in so many traditional readings, between God and the Jewish people — is understood in this paradigm as a problem to be solved rather than as an enduring condition.

As a Zionist, I am enchanted by second-chance history, by the possibility of the fulfillment of a story that the Jewish people never got right the first time around. But as a Jew, I find the idea that our canonical stories are there to be fixed rather than to challenge us with their intactness to be alienating and strange.

Yehuda Kurtzer, “Unsettled”, Tablet (5 June 2017) [http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/235527/unsettled-2]