24 Tamuz 5777
I tried. I really did. When I made aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, I had never even heard of “Zionism,” knew nothing about it. All I knew was that the Torah said the Land of Israel was a wonderful gift of God to His beloved people and that it was in the Land of Israel that God wanted His people to live. That’s all I knew when I made aliyah from love of HKB”H and faith in Him. That’s all I needed to know.
After I arrived, I quickly began to learn what the situation was and for the first time I heard about Zionism and “Religious” Zionism in particular. At first I tried to fit into that group. I read books written by Rabbi Kook and translated by his students. I got into political activism and started going to rallies and protests. I toured a lot of settlements and finally even found one that accepted me. But every experience left a bad impression of one sort or another. And the more Torah I learned, the less I identified with the so-called National Religious crowd.
Today, they have a famous rallying cry whenever Jews are slaughtered in Eretz Yisrael. They proclaim “The Zionist response to terror is to build!” But, the Torah response is to eliminate the enemy. The very idea that the Jewish-Israeli public should be placated for the murder of their brothers with (empty) promises of more building is just too ridiculous to comment on. But, you’ll hear it every time there is another incident – “Building is the Zionist response!” – and you’ll look and you’ll see that the person saying it has a kippah on his head. What a chillul Hashem!
Now I claim a spot in a sparsely occupied spiritual space where plain old unvarnished Torah-dedicated Jews live. We follow no particular Rebbe, but we know the truth when we hear it and support anyone who disseminates it. We refuse to be brainwashed by any “ism,” even one claiming to be “religious.” Like King David wrote (Tehillim 84.11), “…For one day in Your courtyards is better than a thousand elsewhere; I prefer to stand exposed at the threshold of my God’s house than to dwell securely in the tents of wickedness.” This is the basis upon which I came on aliyah to Eretz Yisrael and the reason I would do it over and over again, regardless of who or what rules over us here or whether the economy is booming or depressed. All that matters is being obedient to my Master, loyal to my King, faithful to my Father, in love with my Beloved in the home He created for me. I can’t NOT live here. It is my life and breath. I’d smother anywhere else.
In other words, any concept of “Zionism” had nothing to do my decision to be here or to remain here. I tried to buy into the idea that well, Zionism was originally a Torah concept – “Zion” and all that – but, when religious Zionists find common cause with the rebels against Hashem and His Torah and with idolaters calling themselves Christian Zionists, when the same ones speak disparagingly of their fellow chareidi Jews and often denigrate them and see them as “other,” then it just doesn’t wash. I have no problem at all identifying with my chareidi brothers and sisters, but I despise rebels and idolaters.
Allow me to share something from Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, ztz”l, Hy”d, student of the Chafetz Chaim, which he wrote around 1940:
Over the years, the nationalist idea begat a child that was named “religious nationalism.” The name implies that religion alone is not enough; it has to be perfected by adding nationalism. The very name “religious nationalism” constitutes a denial of one of the fundamentals of Judaism: “The Torah of Hashem is perfect” (Tehillim 19:19) – It lacks nothing: it is flawless. The Torah warns us, “Do not add anything to it” (Devarim 4:2) – and the Sages say: “He who adds [to the word of Hashem] subtracts [from it]” (Sanhedrin 29a). Since modern Jewish nationalism is essentially idol-worship, it follows that “religious nationalism” is nothing short of idol-worship coupled with service to Hashem. (Source: The Era Preceding Mashiach)
As soon as the “ism” was tacked onto the word Zion, it ceased to represent the age-old Jewish dream to return to Jerusalem and re-establish the Kingdom of David and instead became the Jewish pride movement which values military power, technological progress and the admiration of the nations. The Israeli Knesset with its Arab (terrorist) members became its Sanhedrin, the IDF (savior of the people) became their Mashiach and Yad Vashem became their Holy Temple. By adding the “ism” to Zion, they created another new religion to which everyone calling themselves a Zionist was welcome and held to be a brother or sister – no matter whether they were secular rebels against the Torah, Christian idolaters or Muslim sympathizers.
The term Zionism (ציונות) never appears in the Tanakh or in any Torah source. It does not appear in rabbinic writings earlier than the 20th century. As time goes on, the spoiled fruit of religious Zionism becomes more and more apparent. This will very likely be the final idol to fall before Mashiach is revealed.