Author Archives: Dr. Aviezer Ravitzky

Dr. Aviezer Ravitzky

About Dr. Aviezer Ravitzky

Dr. Aviezer Ravitzky is the Saul Rosenblum Chair of Jewish Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Jewish Thought at Hebrew University. He is the author of Messianism, Zionism and Jewish Religious Radicalism and History and Faith: Studies in Jewish Philosophy.

Ultra-Orthodox & Anti-Zionist

For the groups discussed below, opposition to the State of Israel is not just academic. They have publicly burned the Israeli flag and  allied themselves with the Palestinian leadership and cause. Neturei Karta’s  website states: “We seek to live in the land of Palestine as anti-Zionist Jews. To reside as loyal and peaceful Palestinian citizens, in peace and harmony with our Muslim Brethren.” The following article discusses the reasons for their anti-Zionism. Reprinted with the permission of The Continuum International Publishing Group from The Encyclopedia of Judaism, edited by Jacob Neusner, Alan Avery-Peck, and William Scott Green.

The anti-Zionist world-view of the ultra-orthodox groups Neturei Karta and Satmar Hasidism perceives Zionism and the estab­lishment of the State of Israel as an anti-messianic act, conceived and born from sin. These groups vigorously deny the very legiti­macy of the collective political return to the Holy Land and to Jewish sovereignty. For them, this is the handiwork of humans, violating the Jewish people’s oath of political quietism.

In the words of the Midrash (as expounded by Rashi), the people were adjured not to return collectively to the Land of Israel by the exertion of physical force, nor to “rebel against the nations of the world,” nor to “hasten the End.” In short, they were required to wait for the heavenly, complete, miraculous, supernatural, and meta-historical redemption that is totally distinct from the realm of human endeavor. This waiting over two millennia manifests the very essence and singularity of the Jewish people, expressing their faith in divine providence, in the assurance of the prophets, and in messianic destiny.

In this understanding, the Jewish people have been removed from the causal laws that govern nature and history and are exclu­sively bound by another set of religio-ethical laws within a causal process of reward and punishment, exile and redemption: “Unless the Lord build the house, its builders labor in vain; unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman keeps vigil in vain” (Psalms 127:1).


Reprinted with permission of The Gale Group from  Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought , edited by Arthur A. Cohen and Paul Mendes-Flohr, Twayne Publishers.

The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, is derived from a root denoting wholeness or completeness, and its frame of reference throughout Jewish literature is bound up with the notion of shelemut, perfection. Its significance is thus not limited to the political domain‑-to the absence of war and enmity‑-or to the social-‑to the absence of quarrel and strife. It ranges over several spheres and can refer in different contexts to bounteous physical conditions, to a moral value, and, ultimately, to a cosmic principle and divine attribute.war and peace quiz

Biblical Usages

In the Bible, the word shalom is most commonly used to refer to a state of affairs, one of well‑being, tranquility, prosperity, and security, circumstances unblemished by any sort of defect. Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace.

In inquiring about the peace of one’s fellow, one inquires as to whether things fare well with him. (In a borrowed sense, we read: “Va‑yish’al Davidli‑shlom ha‑milhamah“; “David asked of him…how the war prospered” [II Samuel 11:7].) The usage of the term is thus not restricted to international, intergroup, or interpersonal relations. It signifies a state of prosperity, of blessed harmony, on several levels, physical and spiritual.

Of course, shalom also denotes the opposite of war, as in “a time for war, and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:8), for the absence of war, too, suggests an orderly, prosperous, and tranquil state of affairs. In several scriptural passages the word peace refers to a value, and is used in the sense of equity, or loyalty (cf. Zechariah 8:16; Malachi 2:6).

Rabbinic Morality

In the rabbinic texts, shalom primarily signifies a value, an ethical category‑‑it denotes the overcoming of strife, quarrel, and social tension, the prevention of enmity and war. It is still, to be sure, depicted as a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace, but in a great many sayings it appears in a normative context: The pursuit of peace is the obligation of the individual and the goal of various social regulations and structures.