Why Political Views on Israel are Part of Morethodoxy, Asher Lopatin

Hello to the millions of viewers of Morethodoxy,

Someone challenged my recent post about my ideas on Israel, saying that it did not belong on a blog about Modern Orthodoxy, or even Morethodoxy.  However, I want to emphasize that even though my fellow bloggers may certainly disagree with me, passionately, having strong views on the security and peace of Israel certainly is part of a Morethodox Hashkafa (viewpoint).  How could it not be?  Orthodoxy should not only shape whether we think it is OK to go to college, or to support women rabbis, or how high a mechitza should be, it should motivate us to be the greatest supporters of the Jewish state there are.  No one should be more passionate about , or have more ideas to help,  the Jewish state than a Morethodox Jew.  Now, it is a question if a Jew in the Diaspora has a right to get involved in internal Israeli affairs.  After all, it is Israelis who send their kids to the army, not us, usually.  This is a point we can disagree on, but we should not disagree that we should be committed to supporting the future of the Jewish state in any way we feel we can.

I just want to add that my family and I are planning aliya in the summer of 2011 to a new town in the Negev, Carmit, and, therefore, I expect that I will serve in the IDF, God willing in the Border Patrol (Mishmar HaGvul) and, unless we get peace fast fast fast – with One State or Two States or something else – I fully expect that my children will have to serve in the IDF – and will serve proudly.

Most  important thing about Morethodoxy: being passionate and unafraid.  Let the discussion continue – passionate and unafraid.

Asher Lopatin

10 Responses to Why Political Views on Israel are Part of Morethodoxy, Asher Lopatin

  1. The problem with Modern Orthodoxy approaching political issues is that it often does so from a political point of view. MO’s support the State of Israel for social, cultural and political reasons. But how often does religion fit into it?
    For example, a Satmar chosid can quote Tanach and Talmud up and down to show up the State of Israel is against halacha and therefore is a sin against God. How many MO’s can do the same from a position of halacha with as much bekius?
    This is a fundamental difference between the Chareidi and MO communities and one that needs to be addressed. Why does the MO community hold certain positions and is there any halachic basis for defending them?

  2. Asher Lopatin says:

    Rav Ahron Soloveichik viewed all issues regarding peace, land, etc. in Israel on the basis of Pikuach Nefesh. So halachically the question should be, Which solution provides a better chance of Israel’s survival with the least amount of people being harmed. But you are right, others – maybe not MO, but still RZs – view the idea of conquest of the land, or milchemet mitzvah, as also important halachic considerations. For me, One State is the best way of protecting lives.


  3. The problem with the One State solution, as I posted elsewhere on this blog, is that you’re the only one who believes in it.
    And again, halachically, is that what a religious Jew should desire? Have we been praying for 2000 years to create a “state for all its citizens” in which we hope to have equal rights? Is there not an obligation of settling the land and implementing halacha over it, which would never happen with a One State solution (for all 5 minutes it exists before become the 24th Arab state and expelling all its Jews)?
    This is exactly my point: One State sounds sensible from a secular liberal point of view. A Jewish point of view is quite different.

  4. Asher Lopatin says:

    We have been praying 2000 years to return to Jerusalem and our Land. The One State is all about Jews being able to return and live everywhere – especially in Jerusalem and the ancient cities of our people. No plan but the One State solution talks about returning Jews to Gaza, where we were living before the riots of 29. When Mashiach returns we can talk about a Sanhedrin. But in the meantime I don’t want a corrupt Rabbanut running the country, or a bunch of other rabbis determining whom I can marry. It has been shown time and time again that freedom of religion is the best environment for a religiously committed population – as in America where people attend church far more frequently than in Europe where the church is state controlled. As state for all its citizens, with strong constitutional protections for people’s rights and for the rights of religious people as well, will be the best thing to ensure that Jews can return not only to the Land but to the tradition as well.


  5. 1) Remember that Islam does not share your view of tolerance. It is unlikely that Jews will be allowed to return to ‘Aza and if they do, they will be harassed until they’re driven out. It is only through force of arms that Jews have access to the Cave of Machpelah or the Tomb of Rachel.
    2) European religion is down in concert with their sense of nationalism. Both were shattered by the trauma of WW2 and have never recovered. Europeans don’t just reject religion, they reject any form of identity other than a vague secular one.
    3) It is difficult to argue for the separation of church and state considering ours is a nationality that doesn’t recognize such a thing.

    • Asher Lopatin says:

      The whole point is that this new One State will be a place which enforces the freedom of Jews and Arabs to live wherever they want. In America as well, blacks were harassed and driven out of some places – but we didn’t give in and say that’s just the way things are. We didn’t tolerate that status quo. And we won’t tolerate it here. That’s why this One State plan is not some wimpy “left wing” plan: we will put the One State army in place just as in America in the 50s and 60s we sent state troops to defend the rights of minorities. Whatever it takes. Yes, if that takes guns and force, so be it. Moreover, the State would have strict laws against “restrictive covenants” and enforce the right of anyone to sell to whomever they wants and not allowing for discrimination in sales of property.

      Regarding separation of church and state: the Jewish system was the first system to do so by limiting the power of the Kohanim vs. the Egyptian priests, and setting up a system of checks and balances between the prophet, the king, the Sanhedrin and the priests. Didn’t always work – as in the case of Saul wiping out the priestly city of Nov, but it was in place. We set the model 3000 years ago, and it’s time to set the model again.


  6. The United States was born out of revolution – the common people rose up against a non-representative government and established independence based on a democratic government at all levels. They created checks and balances along with a constitution that would guarantee important freedoms.
    The Arab states were created on a whim by European mapmakers and their governments were foisted upon them by their colonial masters. They have no concept of the freedoms that Americans take for granted. They treat official state corruption as inevitable and have no idea that fraud is unacceptable.
    Your One State will last only as long as the Jews are a majority. The minute that changes, Arab pressure from the outside will lead to an annuling of your secular, colour-blind laws. They will quickly institute a Muslim-preferred system that will make your proposed ideas a thing of the past, and the world will stand by while they do it.
    Look at the Arab experience to date – Rabin and Peres gave them most of Yehuda, Shomron and ‘Aza along with billions of dollars. Arafat built not one single factory, not one single school. He either spent the money on weapons or put it into his Swiss bank accounts. What makes you think the eventual Arab prime minister of One State would be any different?
    As for your argument regarding the kohanim, this limitation was based on Torah and halacha, not the whim of the State. Under Torah law, the king is just as limited as the lowest regular Joe (or Yoss’l). Unlike the West, the “state in Jewish law is present in all facets of life, including our dietary options and what we choose to do each Saturday.

    • Asher Lopatin says:

      I’m in no rush to bring back a repressive state. I’ll take the US constitution and wait for the real Mashiach before I let the state plan my shabbat or my dinner!


      Shalom and best wishes,

      Rabbi Asher Lopatin

  7. David says:

    Orthodox Judaism demands a lot of beliefs (belief in Torah min HaShamayim, belief in the existence of ta\’am balu\’a, etc.). We shouldn\’t add to those beliefs additional things that are not necessary for Orthodoxy (like the belief that a certain political idea is bad, or the belief that whenever the Jerusalem Post disagrees with the New York Times, the Post is always right etc.). Of course, Orthodox, and non-Orthodox, Jews ought to have passionately held opinions about Israel.

    • Asher Lopatin says:


      Well put. No one should force a political belief on anyone. However, the discussion itself – whether on Israel issues, or social justice issues – is part of a Morethodox attitude. I would say, though, that we do paskin like the Wall Street Journal – except in dinei mamonot.

      Shalom and best wishes,

      Rabbi Asher Lopatin

Leave a Reply to Asher Lopatin Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: