Sunday, May 27, 2012


November 2012


Theodor Herzl wrote in his Diary (September 1, 1897) :
Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in one word, it would be this : at Basel I have founded the Jewish State. If I were to say it publicly today, I would be answered by universal laughter. Perhaps in five years and certainly in fifty, everyone will recognize it.
Theodor Herzl’s grandfather, Simon Loeb Herzl, was a fervent disciple of Rabbi Judah Alkalai (1798-1878) who, for most of his life, had been a preacher in Semlin, near Belgrade. This Rabbi astounded his congregants when, among other pronouncements, he published a textbook declaring that establishing Jewish colonies and a Jewish State in the Holy Land was the necessary prelude to the Redemption of Israel and to the Restoration of the Temple of Jerusalem for the coming of Messiah.
Thus, this Sephardic Rabbi Judah Alkalai, along with, for instance, the Ashkenazi Rabbi Zvi Kalischer of Prussia were representatives of a very tiny minority of European and American Rabbis who supported the religious concept of the Jewish people returning progressively to Palestine in order to recreate Israel and to restore the Temple.
However the vast majority of Rabbis (and religious Jews) opposed violently this view and were divided (to simplify matters with modern vocabulary) between “Reform Jews” and “Orthodox Jews” :
- The “Reform Jews” insisted that the Jews must integrate as loyally as possible any Nation where they found themselves, and that they do not need their own Land because they are, exclusively, a religious community.
- The “Orthodox Jews” and “Hasedim” (=”ultra Orthodox”) insisted (to summarize) that the Jews could not have a State of their own and rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem, until Messiah comes (although the Jews did not wait Messiah to rebuild the second Temple (Joshua and Zerubbabel) after their return from exile in Babylon (520 BCE), and although, also, the Jews did not wait Messiah to restore (20 BCE) the third Temple, rebuilt by Herod after he had completely destroyed the second Temple (including its foundations).
The Orthodox Jews’ belief of the necessary waiting of Messiah before recreating Israel and restoring its Temple was mainly based (and is still based) on a Midrash Aggadah (legendary comment) “The three Oaths” which is exposed in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Ketubot 111a (-“Tractate dealing mainly with the laws relating to marriage and married life”-).
“The three Oaths” are a mystical Aggadic interpretation of a refrain in the Biblical carnal love Poem Song of Songs (2/7 , 3/5 , 8/4) :
I adjure you, O Daughters of Jerusalem,
By the deers and by the gazelles of the field
Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. 
The Rabbis in Tractate Ketubot 111a gave the following mystical interpretation of this refrain :
(R. Jose son of R. Hanina said :) 'What was the purpose of those three adjurations (oaths) ?
- One, that Israel shall not go up [to restore Jerusalem all together as if surrounded] by a wall, - the second, that whereby the Holy One, blessed be He, adjured Israel that they shall not rebel against the nations of the world ; 

- and the third is that whereby the Holy One, blessed be He, adjured the idolaters that they shall not oppress Israel too much. 
This Aggadic interpretation of Ketubot 111a became progressively the steadfast cornerstone of the mystical leitmotiv of the diasporas Rabbis and their communities :
For instance, the Maharal of Prague (Rabbi Betzalel Lowy who lived in the 17th century) declared :
“Even if the nations wanted to kill the Jews with terrible torture, the Jews are forbidden to change the applicability of the “three Oaths’. This is relevant to every one of these ‘three Oaths’ and must be understood. Therefore, not only is it forbidden to leave the Exile even with the permission of the nations, but even if they force the Jewish People to do so under pain of death, it is forbidden to violate these ‘three Oaths’ in the same way it is required to give up one’s life rather than accept another religion.” 
And one of the most renowned German Jewish leader of the nineteenth century, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch wrote :
"During the reign of Hadrian when the uprising led by Bar Kochba proved a disastrous error, it became essential that the Jewish people be reminded for all times of an important, essential fact, namely that the people of Israel must never again attempt to restore its national independence by its own power : Israel has to entrust its future as a nation solely to Divine Providence (to the Messiah)."
(Incidentally, the Rabbis had also to resort rather laboriously to a similar Aggadic interpretation of the same Biblical love Song of Songs, in order to explain why the Jews stand in the wrong axis (west to east) when mourning and praying at the “Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem…)
In August 1897 , at almost the same time as the First Zionist Congress organized by Theodor Herzl took place, the Central Conference of American Rabbis adopted a resolution totally disapproving of any attempts for the establishment of a Jewish State.
And in the same spirit this Conference of American Rabbis, which met at Richmond, Va., on Dec. 31 1898, declared itself as opposed to the whole Zionist movement on the ground (as one of the members stated) "that America was the Jews' Jerusalem and Washington their Zion…"
The "Reform Advocate" in Chicago suggested editorially that the real object of Theodor Herzl was to possess himself of the savings of their poorer brethren.
Isaac M. Wise, president of the Hebrew Union College, thought that the Zionists were "traitors, hypocrites, or fantastic fools whose thoughts, sentiments, and actions are in constant contradiction to one another" ("Hebrew Union College Journal," Dec., 1899) ; 
while Rabbi Samfield wrote in the "Jewish Spectator" that "Zionism is an abnormal eruption of perverted sentiment." 
Prof. Louis Grossman held that the "Zionistic agitation contradicts everything that is typical of Jews and Judaism," and that the "Zionistic movement is a mark of ingenuity, and does not come out of the heart of Judaism, either ancient or contemporary" ("Hebrew Union College Journal," Dec., 1899).
In fact, the Rabbinical authorities had led the Jewish communities of the World for nearly 2,000 years.
The rise of Zionism was (as they wrongly thought) a distinct threat to their authority, power, revenues and their teachings. Moreover, the prominence of secular Jews in the movement and the emphasis on settlement in Palestine made them (wrongly) fear that the center of Judaism would move away from their local Yeshiva and Synagogue.
Moreover, the entire world incredulity at Theodor Herzl’s dream was such that an anecdote, cited by Theodor Herzl in his Diary, gives the full scope of the uphill battle he had engaged :
In the Neue Frei Press (The Viennese newspaper where Theodor Herzl worked as journalist) they had a feuilleton by Flammarion : "Is Mars Inhabited ?"
At the office they were discussing Mars. Bacher said to me in a superior tone :
"Maybe you can set up your Jewish State on Mars."
Laughter among the smart boys. 
(Diary, 28 January 1897)
For all these reasons (Jewish and non Jewish), one can understand that, despite all the superhuman organization efforts and the phenomenal diplomatic activity of Theodor Herzl -aimed at recreating politically a State of Israel which would have been recognized by the main international Powers- it took (after ceaseless pogroms and other similar anti-Semitic persecutions) the immense revulsion of the civilized world caused by the Shoah-Holocaust to convince a core of the secular Jewish community that, in order to survive, the Jews definitively needed their Jewish State, whatever the price would have to be paid for it.
Meanwhile, in this crucial History of Judaism, and although Theodor Herzl had lived as a secular, largely assimilated Jew and had been fluent in neither Hebrew nor Yiddish, his main mystical motivation and inspiration have been singularly and scandalously eclipsed :
According to the account which he gave to the Hebrew writer, Reuben Brainin, less than a year before his death (which makes his confidence most significant), Theodor Herzl was attracted to the Messiah legends of the Jews from early adolescence.
At the age of twelve, he had a “wonderful dream,” which he recounted as follows :
The King-Messiah came, a glorious and majestic old man, took me in his arms and swept off with me on the wings of the wind. On one of the shining clouds we encountered the figure of Moses. The features were familiar to me out of my childhood in the statue by Michelangelo. The Messiah called to Moses: “It is for this child that I have prayed !” And to me he said: “Go and declare to the Jews that I shall come soon and perform great wonders and great deeds for my people and for the whole world!” 
That Theodor Herzl had been, all is life, emotionally guided by his grand-father’s imprint is also revealed, for instance, by the following experience which he confided in his Diary, 6 September 1897 :
In deference to religious considerations, I went to the Synagogue on Saturday before the Congress of Basel. The head of the congregation called me up to the Torah. I had the brother-in-law of my Paris friend Beer, Mr. Markus of Meran, drill the “brokhe’’ into me. And then I climbed the steps to the altar : I was more excited than on all the Congress days. The few Hebrew words of the ‘’brokhe’’ caused me more anxiety than my welcoming and closing address and the whole direction of the Congress proceedings. 
But most of all, “The Old New Land” (or “Altneuland’ in the original German) is a utopia novel published by Theodor Herzl in 1902. which outlined specifically Herzl’s vision for a Jewish State in the Land of Israel :
“Altneuland” became, in fact, Theodor Herzl’s intimate Legacy to the Jews.
(Altneuland was translated into Yiddish by Israel Isidor Elyashev. and translated into Hebrew as “Tel Aviv” (Hebrew: תֵּל־אָבִיב‎) by Nahum Sokolow - which directly influenced the choice of the same name for the Jewish-Zionist Jaffa suburb founded in 1909 which was to become the major Israeli city.)
Hereafter is the conclusion of this premonitory Vision and Dream of the State of Israel by Theodor Herzl :

Altneuland - Book Five- Jerusalem
They (the heroes of the visionary novel) reached the Temple (of Jerusalem).
The times had fulfilled themselves, and it was rebuilt.
Once more it had been erected with great quadrangular blocks of stone hewn from nearby quarries and hardened by the action of the atmosphere. Once more the pillars of bronze stood before the Holy Place of Israel. "The left pillar was called Boaz, but the name of the right was Jachin." In the forecourt was a mighty bronze altar, with an enormous basin called the brazen sea as in the olden days, when Solomon was king in Israel.
Sarah and Miriam went up to the women's gallery. Friedrich sat beside David in the last row downstairs. "When the places were assigned," said David, "I chose the very last row. I wanted nothing else."…
Jews looked different now simply because they were no longer ashamed of being Jews. It was not only beggars and derelicts and relief applicants who professed Judaism in a suspiciously one-sided solidarity. No ! The strong, the free, the successful Jews had returned home, and received more than they gave. Other nations were still grateful to them when they produced some great thing; but the Jewish people asked nothing of its sons except not to be denied. The world is grateful to every great man when he brings it something ; only the paternal home thanks the son who brings nothing but himself.
Suddenly, as Friedrich listened to the music and meditated on the thoughts it inspired, the significance of the Temple flashed upon him. In the days of King Solomon, it had been a gorgeous symbol, adorned with gold and precious stones, attesting to the might and the pride of Israel. In the taste of those days, it had been decorated with costly bronze, and paneled with olive, cedar, and cypress,-a joy to the eye of the beholder. Yet, however splendid it might have been, the Jew could not have grieved for it eighteen centuries long. They could not have mourned merely for ruined masonry; that would have been too silly. No, they sighed for an invisible something of which the stones had been a symbol. It had come back to rest in the rebuilt Temple, where stood the home returning sons of Israel who lifted up their souls to the invisible God as their fathers had done upon Mount Moriah.
The words of Solomon glowed with a new vitality:
"The Lord hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
I have surely built Thee a house of habitation,
A place for Thee to dwell in forever." 
Jews had prayed in many temples, splendid and simple, in all the languages of the Diaspora. The invisible God, the Omnipresent, must have been equally near to them everywhere.
Yet only here was the true Temple…
At last Friedrich put a question, and every man answered it after his fashion. "
We see a new and happy form of human society here," he said. "What created it ?"
"Necessity!" said Littwak the elder.
"The reunited people !" said Steineck the architect.
"The new means of transportation !" said Kingscourt.
"Knowledge !" said Dr. Marcus.
"Will Power !" said Joe Levy.
"The Forces of Nature !" said Professor Steineck.
"Mutual Toleration!" said the Reverend Mr. Hopkins.
"Self-Confidence !" said Reschid Bey.
"Love and Pain !" said David Littwak.
But the venerable Rabbi Samuel arose and proclaimed: "God !"
...But, if you do not wish it, all this that I have related to you is and will remain a fable.
Now, dear Book, after three years of labor, we must part. And your sufferings will begin. You will have to make your way through enmity and misrepresentation as through a dark forest.
When, however, you come among friendly folk, give them greetings from your father. Tell them that he believes Dreams also are a fulfillment of the days of our sojourn on Earth. Dreams are not so different from Deeds as some may think. All the Deeds of men are only Dreams at first. And in the end, their Deeds dissolve into Dreams.
“If you will it, it will not be dream but reality” 
Theodor Herzl 

*To conclude with this Op-ed, and as the spiritual heir to Theodor Herzl, I shall paraphrase his Prophecy (quoted in introduction) :
Were I to sum up this Op-ed submission in one word, it would be this : with the website, I, Natan, have founded the 4th Temple of Jerusalem (downstream from the “Haram”). It may be answered by universal laughter or conventional disbelief. Perhaps in this decade and certainly in the next decade, everyone will recognize it. . 
Why ?
- Because it so happened in history of civilizations that only the Temple of Jerusalem has the necessary power to sustain, generation after generation, the flux irrigating moral subconscious infrastructures and fertilizing firmly the creative compass for World Democracy and for Human Life’s unknown Destiny-.

*** To conclude with this Op-ed, we would, also, add that it proceeds from a quite bizarre state of mind to think that Mystical Certitudes cannot be studied and analyzed, especially when these mystical certitudes result from the initial Hadrian's destructive and Machiavellian scheme, his cold manipulation and his ruthless thirst for world absolute power.


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