Jewish Leadership Reconsidered


By Prof. Paul Eidelberg


Can there be authentic and effective Jewish leadership in Israel without grateful reference to the God of Israel?


For more than fifty years Israeli Prime Ministers -- all secularists -- have banished God from the domain of statecraft, and with the compliance of the religious parties. May there not be a connection between the absence of G-d from Israeli statecraft and the absence of wisdom, courage, and pride among Israeli politicians?


How is it that Israel, so powerful in war, has been bloodied and humiliated by an Arab thug like Yasser Arafat? Can it be because Israel’s ruling elites are Godless, in contrast to Arafat who never fails to invoke the name of Allah? To be sure, Arafat has deceit and murder in his heart. Nevertheless, because he sanctifies Allah, he is fortified and strikes, while Israeli leaders, who sanctify nothing, vacillate and appease.


The asymmetry is reflected in the relationship between Arafat and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Sharon called Arafat “irrelevant,” while Arafat attacks Israel as if Sharon does not exist. Whereas Arafat arouses hatred of Jews and uses homicide bombers to slaughter them, Sharon anesthetizes Jews with his blather about avoiding Arab “civilian casualties”! Whereas Arafat’s goal is nothing less than Israel’s destruction, Sharon’s goal is a Palestinian State!


Like his predecessors, Sharon has no distinctively Jewish goal which, in the final analysis, can only be to restore Jewish civilization. But how can Israeli governments have such a goal when their leaders are tainted by the meaningless pluralism of this democratic era?


Secularists may scoff at these remarks. But 55 years of secular leadership in Israel has not restored Jewish national pride and purpose. I am not proposing any theocracy, which has no operational significance in Torah jurisprudence. Judaism is not a clerical religion. Indeed, as Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch has said, the term “religion” is the greatest obstacle to understanding Judaism, which is not a religion so much an all-comprehensive system of truth.


Let us not be discouraged by Israel’s religious parties, which use the Torah for politics instead of politics for the Torah. Their supine collaboration with Israel’s secular elites has brought Israel to its present nadir. Israeli politicians can do little more than make ignominious concessions to Israel’s relentless Arab enemies.


If these politicians believed in the God of Israel they would concede nothing. What, indeed, can any Arab despot give Israel? Peace? Arabs can’t even dwell in peace with each other! Why any Jew should expect peace from the autocratic and bellicose Arab-Islamic world when Jew-hatred thrives in peace-loving Europe is a commentary on the imbecility of the contemporary democratic mind.


But we were speaking of Jewish leadership. Jewish leadership is impossible without acknowledging God’s leadership. Of course such thinking in this secular age is not “politically correct.” Even many religionists may say it’s premature to introduce God into the domain of statecraft. In other words, it’s not practical to sanctify God’s Name at this time. God will just have to wait for the right moment. Until then, He may have private but not public or national significance.


Meanwhile, Israel is becoming increasingly helpless. Now is the time to sanctify God’s Name by calling upon the Jewish people to examine the Torah with all the tools of science. What I mean is this. Now is time for a Jewish leadership movement to reveal the Torah as the paradigm of knowledge and of how man should live. To this end authentic Jewish leaders should refute the moral decadence and intellectual shallowness of secular education by means of concepts drawn from the Torah. If they need a text for the purpose, let them study the present author’s Judaic Man. And if they need a critique of democracy in Israel, let them read his book Jewish Statesmanship: Lest Israel Fall.


To facilitate their task, they should enlist the help of scholars who have interfaced Torah with the sciences, including physics, astronomy, genetics, meteorology, etc.


Jewish leadership should avoid the narrowness of certain religious Jews. Jewish leadership should offer the people of Israel an alternative and dignified system of government, an alternative and honest system of economy, an alternative and veridical system of jurisprudence, one that unites law and education. Contrary to secular regimes, and as one scholar has written: “From the Biblical perspective, the judicial and educational realms both stem from the same source -- the authority of the Torah.” Education through law is the secret of Torah statecraft.

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