December 25, 2013

Jewish consciousness does not mean religious consciousness. It means Jewish identity, Jewish faith, cultural values and morals.

The solution to the crisis is not dependent upon a particular leader or political party. It is dependent upon a completely different leadership consciousness. There is only one possible source for the needed moral-spiritual change: Jewish consciousness.

Jewish consciousness does not mean religious consciousness. It means Jewish identity, Jewish faith, cultural values and morals. It means Jewish historical awareness, knowledge of our Jewish roots, Judaism's sources and destiny. Without these we will not find significance and thus will not have the strength for the struggles that our nation still must face. The same applies to all aspects of life in Israel; education, society, culture, economy and more. If we understand that classical Zionism is spent and that Israel needs a new consciousness to continue to develop, the only realistic alternative is classical Jewish consciousness.


I once went into a synagogue in the U.S. to pray the afternoon prayers.

"Where are you from?" the rabbi asked me.

"From Israel, of course," I answered.

"Why 'of course'?" the rabbi asked.

"Because I am a Jew," I answered nonchalantly.

I am not from Israel because I am religious and not because I am a Zionist. I am from Israel like a Frenchman is from France. I am from Israel simply because I am a Jew.

"As a Religious Zionist, how can you work in the Likud?" an Arutz 7 listener once asked me.

"I am not a Zionist and I am not religious," I answered.

"So what are you?" the listener asked.

"A Jew," I answered.

"Fine." the listener said. "That's clear. We are all Jews. But after all, you are not secular and you are also not ultra-Orthodox!"

"Certainly not," I answered.

"Nu? So what is left?"

"I have a question for you," I said to him. Was King David a Zionist? Was he religious? Secular? Or perhaps ultra-Orthodox? What was he?"

The listener thought that I was trying to evade his question. He was not capable of thinking out of his label-covered box. I look like an observant Jew. I have a skullcap on my head, so to him, I am religious.

But in truth, the concept "religious" is borrowed from other cultures -- particularly Christian culture. It does not fit Jewish culture at all. The first person to use this concept was the wicked Haman. "And they do not abide by the religious precepts of the king," Haman said to King Achashverosh in order to justify his "final solution." It was Christianity that separated religion from life. It created the concept "religious" with the Western significance with which we are familiar.

But Judaism is not a religion. Judaism is a culture. It is a nation, a land, the Torah of Israel -- the entire spectrum of life in which observance of commandments is an essential part.

It is difficult for a person born into the concepts of "religious" and "secular" to think in other terms. But to better understand that other options exist, we can just look at cultures that do not rely on the Western/Christian thought pattern. For Sephardi Jews (Jews from Eastern countries) for example, the concepts "religious" and "secular" are not as unequivocal as for their Ashkenazi (Jews from Western countries) counterparts. There are those Jews who observe more commandments, there are those who observe less and it is not always clear who is "religious" and who is "secular." These definitions just don't easily apply to them.

So what are these Jews? Religious or secular? And maybe it is not really fair to ask that question? Maybe it is like asking a person if he is a cat or a rooster.

Israeli society will be forced to march toward a new/old consciousness. Two hundred years of secularization on the one hand and two thousand years of seclusion behind the walls of religion, on the other hand, must come to an end. In the reality being woven before our very eyes, these concepts are already becoming irrelevant.

The Rabbinical Courts should be part of the Justice Ministry, while a self-hating Jew like Tommy Lapid should not be in the Justice Ministry or in any other position of power. The Rabbinical Courts do not have to be "Rabbinical." But they do have to be Jewish. Those people who insist on being religious in some sort of Ministry of Religion -- religious outside of reality and outside of our familiar history -- will eventually disappear. Those people who insist on being secular and forcing lack of significance, lack of rationality and their dreams of assimilation onto Israel's history will also become irrelevant and disappear.

In order to survive, we must establish a Jewish State. To do that, we must go back to being simply Jews. When that happens, the concept of "Israeli-ness" will be redeemed from its current neuter state. Then we will be able to once again be the children of Israel -- authentic Israelis.

Moshe Feiglin

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