Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Monday, July 17, 2006

Anti-Zionism and Passion for Eretz Yisroel: Can They Coexist?

This was a topic I've wanted to address for a while, and thanks to a comment on the last post, here goes.

I went to chareidi yeshivos throughout my yeshiva days. I heard a little bit about the greatness of Eretz Yisroel, maybe a few Chazals like "avira d'yisroel machkim." But it was an afterthought at best. Mostly, I heard a lot about how bad the chiloni government was, and how, as a result, yom ha'atzmaut shouldn't be celebrated. And then I heard about why chareidim shouldn't serve in the army. And the Israeli Day Parade? Chazer treif.

Throughout the years, I always got the feeling that my rabbeim were straddling the fine line between "Israel" and "Eretz Yisroel." In fact, one Yeshiva I attended during the Intafada had a special mi shebeirach for Eretz Yisroel, lest they chas v'shalom bless the medina.

I hate to say this, but I honestly feel more passion for the Mets than for Israel or Eretz Yisroel or whatever you want to call it. And American politics gets me much more excited than Israeli politics. And this is even after I've gotten sick of both parties here. When I was in Israel, I spent a few shabbosos with my Dad's high school classmates who had made aliyah many years back. I never understood why they were so crazy about the land. I just didn't get it.

And, to be frank, it's hard for me to feel the pain of the land, to feel the tension, to feel the urge to talk about it. It's simply not on my mind. Where I work, there are nonobservant Jews who are more worried about the situation than I am.

- To me, the chareidi system is at fault here. They're so busy straddling the Israel/Eretz Yisroel line that they forget to instill passion in us for the land. And image-itis is a big factor here. They don't want to look all Modern Orthodox now, that would be horrible! So we can't talk about that holy land with the horrible government! Or to go to a rally with our brothers who happen not to be religious - can't do that! So instead, you have tons of people who don't care much about the land, and just go to Israel for sukkos because all the cool guys are hanging out at the Plaza.

Subtelty is nice if you're a trial lawyer trying to make the winning argument for your client. But when it comes to instilling passion for the foundations of our religion, I say, to hell with subtelty. Let's develop the feelings for the land, and we'll worry about the details later.

3 Comments:

Anonymous SIL said...

Good points, and an honest post too. Do wish wish you had deeper feelings for Israel?

11:43 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Excellent post. I've actually thought of this a few times since my HS was as you described, but my Seminary Rabbi (In NY) is extremely passionate of, um, "Eretz Yisroel" as he says. "YisrAel" is almost as bad as "Israel."

And,like Sil, I commend you for your honestly. Unfortunately, I feel the same way. American Politics fascinate me, whereas once Israeli politics are mentioned, I tune them out practically before they begin. Partially because I don't understand it. BUT DON'T TRY TO EXPLAIN IT TO ME!!

One of my teachers in JHS told me she sends her daughter to a modern school, and wouldn't send her to mine, because of their position on Israel.

When I was there a few years ago with my cousins who attend HAFTR for a tour, we went to the Palmach museum, Independence Hall, and other Zionist landmarks. When I returned, I asked my friends who had spent a year in Israel if they had ever gone there, and what do you think they said? NO.

You are certainly right, which is completely upsetting, about their lack of Zionism as not to be associated with the Modern Orthodox. Another point I've pondered and been upset about.

Can't we all agree on the land that G-d gave us in the Torah, so clearly?

2:54 PM  
Anonymous SIL said...

Michelle, I don't think it that it is rooted in the desire to dissociate from the MO (though they certainly do), rather it is very hard to instill love for Eretz Yisrael if you do not agree with the state-- if we teach kids that EY is the real home of the Jewish people, than some smart kids will start wondering why, if we can, do we not live there??

8:58 PM  

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