Out of the Galut
This is my post for Chag Sheni (the second Festival of Passover), in which the date of the Exodus is commemorated, with the future expectation of being brought out of our current galut.
Regarding the state of being away from the homeland, we Jews have two terms: the one is golah, translated as “Diaspora”, and the other is galut (or galuth or golus or joluth, depending on the Hebrew reading tradition), which can be translated as “Exile”, but goes far beyond the simple meaning of that English word. Golah and galut are not interchangeable: the former is merely a place, meaning anywhere in the world outside the Land of Israel, our only true physical homeland (so those on the Left who are thinking of solving the Israel/“Palestine” conflict by relocating the Jews of Israel to some other place had better think again), while the latter is much more than that, it is a spiritual state as well. I am out of the golah, praise be to HaShem, but I am—all of us Jews are—still in the galut, for the Temple is still in ruins, therefore the sight of the spirit of G-d is away from us. We are still exiled from our Father in heaven, although He is with us even from afar.
Galut is also a whole state of being, of mentality. Secular Zionism had not only the goal of getting the Jews out of the Diaspora, but also transforming the Jews, pulling away from two millennia of exilic mentality. Many of the ideas of the Secular Zionist founders as to “exilic mentality” were based on their times, for example they regarded intellectualism as something of the Exile, and advocated manual labor and self-reliant strength as an antidote. In fact, they regarded the Jewish religion itself as a feature of Diaspora existence. Secular Zionism was marked by a flight of many Orthodox Jews from religion; but since they accompanied it by the observance of the mitzvah of inhabiting the Land of Israel, instead of being assimilating Jews as in Germany, G-d gave them His blessing.
Of the features of the galut mentality that the founders of Zionism decried, reliance on the non-Jewish host (usually the landowner, the paritz) for protection stands high on the list. Leon Pinsker of blessed memory became a Zionist because of the sight of pogroms in southern Russia, and Herzl of blessed memory likewise, following the words of Karl Lueger, mayor of Vienna, and the Dreyfus Affair in oh-so enlightened France. They became convinced that the Jews needed a state of their own in which to be able to defend themselves, not needing the protection, the favors, of any non-Jewish superior.
So, when looking at things today, it appears that the leaders of the state of Israel, the official heirs of Herzl and Pinsker, are fully intent on undoing their whole enterprise of shedding the galut mentality away. Olmert had a brief bout of the original Secular Zionism in July 2006, when he retaliated to the abduction of the three soldiers (who are still in captivity! That is, if they are alive at all, HaShem guard us) with a full-scale attack on Hizbullah, but backed down in August in the face of world pressure, and consigned the protection of the northern border of Israel to the corrupt, Jew-hating organization known as the United Nations.
I grew up on Secular Zionism, and was brought upon the heritage of shlilat ha-golah, the negation of the Diaspora. More than any other, the Ultra-Orthodox (Charedim), with their black suits and hats, were given to me as the example of galutiyim, exilic people, people who are still in exile. But now I am a Religious Zionist, even though not Ultra-Orthodox, because it has become clear to me that much of Secular Zionism has turned exilic itself, there being today, ironically, many Ultra-Orthodox Jews who are of a more rooted, Eretz Yisrael mentality than the Secular Zionists of today. When people give their children names that are designed to facilitate emigration to other countries, such as Tom (an actual Hebrew word meaning, “simpleness”, “completeness”, derived from “tam”, the same “tam” of the Four Sons of the Passover Haggadah, but let no-one be fooled: it’s for making life easier in an English-speaking country), you know something has gone wrong. When Jews put their trust in treaties with the “cousins”, the Ishmaelites, instead of internalizing that yearly recited lesson of the Holocaust, the train is clearly revealed to have stepped off the track.
The Israeli army, the IDF, is being used for pulling Jews out of their own homes in their own Land of Israel, in the name of honoring treaties. This is a crying shame! A desecration of the IDF, of the state of Israel, of Zionism entirely! This is our one and only land, the one, single land in which we are sovereign, and what do our clueless leaders do? They act as if we are still in the golah! Our leaders are the ones who deserve to be called galutiyim, exilic. What ever did we set up the state of Israel for? What was all the toil, the self-sacrifice of the Zionist settlers, from the late 19th century (when the land was a desolate wasteland, as depicted by the travelers of that period, including Mark Twain) to our day, for, if we seek the protection of the non-Jewish paritz again? We came here to get back into history, and instead, our greedy and ignorant leaders are doing everything to make us the lowly serfs of history, of the nations, once again. That is a scandal.
We await our Messiah. All the sane world, the world that recognizes the gathering storm for what it is, awaits the Messiah. “Where is our Churchill?”, say some. “If only Thatcher were in charge, she’d deal with Iran just like she did with Argentina in 1982”, say the others. The crisis of leadership is one of the gravest, in the whole non-Muslim world in general, and in the Jewish state in particular. All the right-thinking people are lifting their eyes in expectation of salvation, in the hope of being pulled away from this deep and dark pit that is our age. The seventh day of Passover, in short.
There were throwbacks to the exilic mentality in the midst of the Exodus—even right after the giving of the Torah. Our forefathers had all of a sudden forgotten the grueling work in Egypt, and longed to get back there, to the imagined rich and varied menu given there. We are back in our land, after two millennia of being away—praise be to HaShem! But the hardship of our age is causing some to long for the Diaspora again. This is from yetzer ha-ra, from the evil passion that puts men against their Creator. The cure for all our woes is not to go back to the Diaspora, nor to do the things we did in the Diaspora, such as trusting in agreements and negotiations and alliances and treaties. The cure is to believe that all this land is ours, and to defend our right to inhabit it all, no matter what the nations say. If we trust in the nations instead of trusting in HaShem, neither HaShem will help us nor will the nations protect us; if we trust in HaShem and disregard what the nations say, HaShem will lead us to victory, and those among the nations who are G-d-fearing will rally to our cause.
This day we lay aside the leaven of the old mentality, of the unbelieving trust in human movements, and cling to the unleavened, unvarnished truth of being under G-d’s appointment. This is the way out of the Egypt of slavery to the forces of history, and on to eternal freedom.