Shabbat Parashat Chayei Sarah| 5763
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l
Address to Hapoel Hamizrachi Conference 5710 (1950) – Part I - Based on Harabanut Hamedinah p. 180-182
[Rav Yisraeli was responding to a previous address at the conference. That speaker espoused an extreme expression of the early-State period tendency to glorify the socialistic approach to social justice and look with disdain on the historic, Diaspora approach to Torah observance. The speaker said that in the Diaspora, Jews were preoccupied with ritual law and that in Israel they must put their focus on mitzvot between man and his fellow man].
I want to discuss the focal point of our religious concept of the proper goals of the State of Israel. From the time the Torah was given, the ideal was that we should be a mamlechet kohanim (a kingdom of priests). When this goal is reached, the fulfillment of the mitzvot is not limited to improving the individual but to creating an entire society, which, by its proper fulfillment of the mitzvot, becomes a "State of Priests” and thereby causes a coronation of the Heavenly kingdom in the world. We have mitzvot between man and G-d and between man and fellow man. It is a mistake to say that Judaism in Israel specializes in the latter while Diaspora Jewry is dedicated to the former. Of course, chesed and all other mitzvot regarding our fellow man have always been kept in the Diaspora. The main difference in the Torah observance in the Diaspora is that its scope is on the personal level, in regard to a person’s own self or family or his surrounding community. In our own country, we have the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvot on a national (mamlachti)level, through governmental and national institutions. Diaspora Judaism did not and does not have the opportunity to carry out these mitzvot on this ultimate level.
It is a sore mistake to think that we created the concept of social justice. If we believe that these concepts were created by modern Israeli society and that these are thefoundation of the building of the State then we could come to the very dangerous misconception that we have a stronger partnership with the secular community in Israel (whose members run the national institutions) than the religious community. The truth is that the concept of social justice is a Torah one which has historically been kept with the limitations of the Diaspora and now enjoys the opportunities which come with self-rule.
The idea of social justice is not just to share “the pieces of the pie” with a broader population. The size of each person’s portion is not the ideal. Rather, the main goal of social justice is to create a world run through justice, which is one of Hashem’s attributes. The main ideal is: “v'heetem kedoshim” (and you [plural] shall be holy). This includes not only mitzvot between man and man but also between man and G-d. By not stressing this fact enough, we find ourselves at the present-day low point.
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