Magazine article Tikkun

Teshuva: Our Only Hope

Magazine article Tikkun

Teshuva: Our Only Hope

Article excerpt

Human reason, even at its most sublime, cannot begin to understand the unique holiness ofEretz Israel; it cannot stir the depths of love for the land that are dormant within our people. What Eretz Israel means to the Jew can be felt only through the Spirit of the Lord, which is in our people as a whole, through the spiritual cast of the Jewish soul, which radiates its characteristic influence to every healthy emotion.

-Rav Kook

A CCORDING TO THE PREEMINENT TWENTIETH-CENTURY SCHOLAR, ARTHUR HERTZBERG, IN HIS seminal work, The Zionist Idea, Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of Palestine, wrote the above words sometime between 1910 and 1930, to explain how and what Jews feel about the land of Israel. Today, as we celebrate sixty years of Israel's existence, we might apply the same description when explaining how we feel about the Jews who inhabit the land, our brothers and sisters. Kook, like the rabbis who composed our liturgy, was writing before the possibility existed that Jews would actually find themselves living in a modern state of Israel. Although his words are perhaps even more relevant to today's situation, and although I agree with Rav Kook's assessment of our soul-deep connection to our homeland, I also believe that it is precisely in applying reason that we will find a way out of this nightmare called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I feel intimately connected to Israel, having lived there and spent many subsequent visits leading groups on pilgrimage. I serve as National secretary of Brit Tzedek VShalom, the largest grassroots Middle East peace group in America, and I have dedicated a great deal of my rabbinate and personal life to working for peace and a just end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict And it has come at great personal cost to me, for the Jewish-American emotional landscape is completely out of whack when it comes to talking about Israel. Good, well-meaning people with whom I agree on most issues see me as a traitor to the Jewish people; a young, naive and ignorant leader who, with age and maturity, will understand that only through might will Israel come to terms with the Arabs. Negotiations have been fiitile in the past, so they will be futile in the future; diplomacy is for the weak, and what's more, there is no diplomacy in the Arab world. Egypt in 1978? Luck. Jordan in 1994? More luck Oslo failed because of the Arabs alone; Camp David 2000 failed because of the Arabs alone. When I grow up, these folks tell me, I will come to understand the real truth. Israel is under siege and we must stand with Israel, no matter what

When I try to bring up the Occupation, the settlement project, or the unilateral pull-outs from Lebanon and Gaza as examples of situations in which Israel has made mistakes, there is furor. …

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