Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Thursday, 10 January 2013

Another Example Of A Lack Of Unifying Ideology

As I've noted before, one of the problems with Religious Zionism is a lack of practical religious ideology.  The political is all there but when it comes to levels and types of observance, the Dati Leumi are all over the map.  Chardal'niks and congregants at Shirah Chadasha get lumped in together because of their Zionistic beliefs but the two groups are poles apart when it comes to so many fundamental Jewish issues that it's hard to see them in the same group.
One reminder of this lack of religious ideology came up recently when Rav Shlomo Aviner, a leading figure in the Religious Zionist world, issued guidelines for what he considers modest clothing for women.  for many people who automatically associated Religious Zionism with Modern Orthodoxy (and centre-left Modern Orthodoxy at that) his rulings came as a shock but really they shouldn't have.
Now for some background, Rav Shlomo Aviner is a top notch talmid chacham with an impressive stable of seforim so I have no doubt that his recent release is a product of much study and research.  But reading through the requirements leave one with a simple impression: "This guy is Chareidi".
But how is this possible with his big knitted kippah and his strong allegiance to Rav Kook, ztk"l, and his school of thought?  The answer is simple: Religious Zionism as a political and religious philosophy does not address large areas of halacha and hashkafah.  That's why the LWMO feminist from Shirah Chadashah and the right wing Chardal'nik can both be in the same camp when it comes to relating to the State.  That's why Rav Aviner can be a Dati Leumi leader but still sound completely Chareidi.  When it comese to matters such as tznius he is indeed part of that ideology.  As was, by the way, Rav Kook himself.
One of the problems with this system is that it has led to a fragmentation of the movement.  The Mafdal, once a meaningful player in the Knesset, basically no longer exists.  HaBayit HaYehudi, its inheritor, and its leader Naftali Bennett, are representative of a very specific type of Religious Zionist.  Would Rav Aviner, for example, feel more comfortable in Bennett's home or in the home of a Chareidi colleague in Bene Beraq?
It will be interesting to see how HaBayit HaYehudi does in the coming elections.  If it places well and doesn't turn out to be a flash in the pan (like too many other "great idea" parties) it may change the face of the Religious Zionist community and create something for the Dati Leumi to coalesce around.  Only time will tell but certainly addressing this gap in Religious Zionist ideology is something the movement must eventually do to prevent itself from splintering into irrelevancy.

9 comments:

Adam Zur said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam Zur said...

"Religious Zionist" is two words. Let's take a brief glance at the first one. Religious. First problem,- it is not a nice word. Second problem, in terms of Torah learning, in spite of their attempts to create a reputation of learning, they are mediocre. Including the ones you think are top notch. High school level Talmud.

and the Techumim shaalot and teshvot is a not a work of Torah scholars.

Though it is my bad habit to disparage the charedi Lithuanian yeshivot in Jerusalem, still their level of learning is light years beyond Dati leumi





The next word. Zionist. Even there, they are mediocre. Besides Rav Kook himself the results of their Zionism does not stand out in any way. It was the radical left wing socialists that built the state and defended it. The Zionism of the Religious Zionists is not hot and not cold. Even when it is about expansion it tends to be totally cold about individual Jews. It is like everything has to be about settlements. The one good thing they do is volunteer for the IDF and they are not the only ones that do that. nor are they the best.

Bob Miller said...

It's like a 2-component powder blend (Religious + Zionist). The ratio of one to the other varies because there is no authority to standardize it.

JRKmommy said...

I agree somewhat with your observation, but don't really see why it's a problem.

Yes, many Modern Orthodox are dati leumi and vice versa, but it's not a perfect 1:1 congruence. That's ok. Not everything has to be neatly labelled and fit into a box.

Dati leumi addresses a very particular topic: the religious significance of the establishment of the State of Israel. It's possible for two rabbis to agree on one area of halahca, such as this one, without agreeing on everything else.

Neshama said...

As i see it, Each 'group' is one facet of the greater whole body of Am Yisrael. If only they would come together and respect each other we would then have a Nation of one people, all Jews, a true Jewish Nation. In time the best aspects of each group would become blended into the identity of the whole.

Yakov said...

For those of us who knew Rav Aviner 30 years ago it is surprising. He became much more chareidi. His books are on a very basic level and the fact that he is reconed with underlines the lack of religious leaders in that camp. I think he would feel more comfortable in Benett's house, though. I don't think that there can be or should be one voice in a MO camp. If people are individuals and think independently it can never happen.

Yakov said...

I would vote foe Benett but can't take seriously someone how beleives that the world was created by 10 sfirot or that women cannot be members of the knesset or that Katzav was innocent because one of the judges was an Arab.

chaim b. said...

>>>When it comese to matters such as tznius he is indeed part of that ideology.

One of the things I admire about religious Zionism is that despite the range of halachic viewpoints (and that is what you are speaking about -- halacha, not idealogy) among leaders of various factions, there is a pretty consistent hashkafic unity on many issues. Support for the state as a religious obligation, service in the army, outreach -- is there anyone in the Mizrachi camp that does not identify with these principles? In contrast, looking at the American MO movement, I think that R' Hershel Shachter has far less in common with R' Avi Weiss.

Friar Yid said...

I'm working my way through a biography of R. Yehuda Amital and noticing many of the same points you made, Garnel. It's interesting that a movement that is often thought to be relatively monolithic actually does have a fair amount of diversity (social, political, cultural, etc) within it-- depending on the lens you view it through.