Why no leader
Even before the reign of the Rabin Government [in July 1992], most Jews in Israel deplored the absence of any national leader. Lacking is a statesman capable of uniting this faction-ridden society, of inspiring the Jewish people with national pride and purpose.
Secularists as well as religionists are divided. Neither possesses a charismatic personality who can overcome the partisan or sectarian rivalries of his own camp, let alone of the nation as a whole: strange, in country whose existence is threatened by a hostile Muslim world.
Why is Israel lacking a man of sufficient wisdom, virtue, and grace to win the confidence of the nation, halt its retreat, and restore its ancient glory?
Two places to find a leader
I believe the answer to this question can be found in HaGaon HaRav Chaim Zimmerman’s (z”l) Torah and Existence. Thus, in his commentary on various sources related to Isaiah 60:22 and Sanhedrin 98a, we learn that Israel’s restoration can occur by two different historical processes, which depending on the existential character of the Jewish people.
One is termed Achishena, meaning “ahead of time,” a “hastened” historical process. The other is termed B’Eto, literally, “in its time,” signifying a natural historical process. (The B’Eto process may be called the “political” process in contradistinction to the Achishena process which may be deemed the “metapolitical” process.)
Now, if the Jewish people as a whole do teshuva (return to the Torah), they will merit immediate restoration. Having done teshuva they will be receptive to the leadership of a man of superlative character who will complete Israel’s restoration as a Torah nation.
But even if the Jewish people as a whole do not do teshuva, there is a fixed or determinate time in history when Israel’s restoration as a Torah nation will perforce take place.
The natural process will not stop
Since most of the Jewish people have not done teshuva–most are assimilated, and most are living in the Diaspora–they do not merit immediate restoration as a Torah nation. Instead, Israel’s restoration is enfolding by a natural, developmental process, in stages determined by what may be called the infinite computational system by which God rules history.
Consistent with this B’Eto process of Israel’s restoration, consider the following incomplete stages. First, most Jews are no longer subjected to gentile rule. Second, Jews have regained control of a major part of the Land of Israel. Third, a Jewish Government (admittedly imperfect, whether headed by Labor or the Likud) rules over the land. Fourth, in small and in large numbers, Jews are immigrating to Israel. Fifth, and most significant, not only are more and more Jews doing teshuva, but because of the high birthrate of religious Jews, the proportion of the latter to secular Jews is increasing.
Now, so long as Torah Jews do not exceed the number of secular Jews, the Government of Israel will be fractionated and inept. It will limp from crisis to crisis, reacting to Israel’s enemies. In other words, Israel will have no leader of commanding ability. Lacking such a leader, the Government will be incapable of uniting the Jewish people, of taking the initiative in foreign affairs, of pursuing a national strategy designed to restore Israel’s former grandeur as a Torah nation.
Israel today is in a stage of the B’Eto process of restoration. This stage is dominated by politics, by the egotistical struggle for power. However, as explained in my book Demophrenia: Israel and the Malaise of Democracy, politics, as a method of solving basic human problems, is becoming obsolete. This is especially true in Israel.
Politics in the form of secular Zionism was necessary to reestablish the state. But it is becoming increasingly obvious that secular Zionism is dead…. Obvious to whom? To more and more secularists, many of whom are turning to the Torah for guidance.
Evidence is accumulating that more and more Jews in Israel are becoming aware of the bankruptcy of politics and of secular Zionism. More and more Jews are turning to the Torah. This means that the anti-Torah character of the Government … is contributing to the eventual ascendancy of the Torah in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people.
Eventually, therefore, the Jewish people will merit and be receptive to a leader of sterling character who will galvanize the nation, overawe its enemies, and complete Israel’s restoration as a light unto mankind.*
Note: In June 1997, three years after this article was written, a survey reported in Ha’aretz indicated that, in the previous six years, 200,000 Israelis had become Orthodox while another 130,000, previously self-identified as “secular,” had become “traditional.” It now appears that at least 25% of Israel’s Jewish population is Orthodox, and at least 55% “traditional.”
[If the Members of the Knesset were individually elected by and accountable to the voters in constituency elections, this would be a giant step toward a Torah-inspired Government. The fear of this eventuality is what prompts secularists – Left and Right – to preserve Israel’s present, dysfunctional system of government.]☼
Editor’s note: modern Israel did begin with secular political leaders like Theodor Herzl. (Let us not forget another kind of leader: the dedicated linguist Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. He taught the Jews to speak Hebrew in everyday usage for the first time in two thousand years.)
Today Western, Central, and Eastern European countries expel Jews, if not by law then by malignant neglect: they almost give militant Muslim immigrants passes on murder and mayhem against Jews. In such dire straits, why shouldn’t Jews make real what they speak year after year at seder: “Next year in Jerusalem”? Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and other prophets predicted this. They also predict a leader will arise.