The Unpublished Writings of a Pioneering Religious Zionist Thinker – Mosaic

Posted By on January 11, 2020

In 1884twelve years before Theodor Herzl published The Jewish State, and thirteen before the First Zionist Congressthe Russian rabbi Shmuel Mohilever joined the secular Jewish physician Leon Pinsker in founding the ibat Tsiyon, an organization dedicated to building a Jewish homeland in Ottoman Palestine. But it was Mohilevers disciple, Rabbi Isaac Jacob Reines, who laid the foundations for religious Zionism as it is known today. Channa Lockshin Bob describes Reiness thought in light of newly discovered unpublished manuscripts:

Rabbi Reines brought together the sacred and the profane in many areas of his life. He founded a yeshiva that combined traditional talmudic study with secular subjects, an innovation at the time. His scholarship combined talmudic virtuosity with broad interests including mathematics, philosophy, and logic. So he was perfectly cut out to initiate close cooperation between traditional Judaism and secular Zionism.

Rabbi Reines first got involved in the Zionist movement in 1899, when he participated and spoke at the Third Zionist Congress in Basel. In the coming years he continued to participate in Zionist Congresses. He met Herzl and corresponded with him until Herzls death in 1904. In 1902 Rabbi Reines founded the Mizrahi movementa religious faction within the Zionist movementwith Herzls support.

Reiness lectures from the years 1908 to 1911 are collected in a manuscript titled Yalkut Arakhim. . . . [One] of these lectures, [delivered on the anniversary of Herzls death], examines the topic of immortality. Surprisingly, Reines presents a fairly [rationalistic] view of life after death: When we see that even after ones death, his achievements are recognized, that is a sign of his immortality. Later in the lecture, he adds that those whose help is recognized even after their death have been made to be like God. The last words of the speech are: All signs of mourning are signs of immortality.

Could it be that Reiness final sentence about signs of mourning is not only a general statement, but also a reference to himself, as he continues to mourn the loss of Herzl even years after his passing?

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The Unpublished Writings of a Pioneering Religious Zionist Thinker - Mosaic

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