By: Sholom Kesselman
Chabad is in a very complicated relationship with the State of Israel. We are pro Israel but anti Zionism. We support the country and its military and work / pray for its success but don’t sing Hatikavah or hang any Israeli flags in our Shuls. We love Israel but we don’t mark or celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut.
I would like to shed some light on this otherwise complex issue and perhaps suggest an approach which might be helpful to anyone looking for the genuine Chabad ideology vis a vis Israel.
There are three main reasons why the Chabad Rebbes were vehemently anti Zionism.
- The state was being founded by secular- anti religious people with a deliberate anti religious agenda. Many G-d fearing Jews lost or gave up being religious because of Zionism.
- Founding an independent Jewish state before the coming of Moshiach is Halachically problematic.
- The establishment of the state was being considered “Aschalta D’Geulah” – “the beginning of the redemption” and this was seen as almost blasphemous.
Because of these reasons, the Chabad Rebbes fought the Zionist movement and were against the establishment of the State.
It seems though that their position softened somewhat during and after the Holocaust. It became apparent then that we Jews had nowhere to go and we needed a safe haven somewhere. As such the only viable option was Israel and the founding of the state.
Furthermore once the state was established, there was no longer a point to fighting its existence. The fact was that there was a state and it was there to stay. So we accepted the situation and turned our effort instead to helping Israel in any way we could.
The further reality that millions of Jews were settling there meant that the fate of the Jews was tied to the fate of the land and therefore the state had to be supported. So Chabad became pro Israel because we are pro Jews and it was no longer possible to separate the issues. The country had to flourish economically and militarily for the sake of the Jewish people and so Chabad threw all their resources into “Yishuv Ha’aretz” – developing the land.
However we remained anti Zionism.
The nature of the founding of the state in 1948 remains problematic and the anti religiousness of it forever cast it and its founders in a negative and sad light. We can never celebrate that accomplishment or see it as redemption like.
To us Israel is the country given to us by G-d in the Torah, it is a Jewish country that should be filled with holiness and Torah and that is the country we will support and work to establish.
We won’t celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, sing Hatikvah, raise an Israeli flag or say Hallel, in fact quite the contrary. We will forever contemplate what could’ve been and how Jews coming back to Israel could’ve constituted a revival of Torah and Judaism and possibly then had Messianic meaning.
But at the same time we will strongly support the Jews there, the military, the economy and the development of the state. We love Israel and we love Jews and wish only success for our country.
Instead of fighting the secularism of the state, we have made it our mission to spread Torah and Judaism there and reach out with love to all our Jewish brothers and sisters there to help them see the light and beauty of the Torah.
We don’t believe that the founding of the state was the beginning of the redemption but we are at the forefront of the effort to bring Moshiach. We believe that very soon Moshiach will come and then we will see G-d’s presence return to Zion!
p.s We would love to hear your feedback and comments on this article. Please use the comments section to continue this discussion further.