Religiöse Kulturen im Europa des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts




Dissertationsprojekt: The Concept of Exile and Its Variations in the Haredi World

The State of Israel, as Jewish state, is in one aspect shaped positively by the ultra-Orthodox society, by its growing Jewish population. Many Ḥaredim or their majority decline the State of Israel (Medinat Yisrael), out of religious (and thus political) considerations. According to their thinking, every Jew (also the Zionists) lives in exile, also on the area of the Eretz HaKodesh (the Holy Land), thus also on Medinat Yisrael. Many of the Ḥaredim do not accept the State of Israel as their homeland. By this and in consequence, as it goes beyond, as just have to been born there, the State of Israel is not a state of or for the Jewish people.

Ḥaredim see Jews as a nation, but they declare that this nation has no right of an own land. At least not as long as God does not grant it to them. God sent the Jews into exile, based on the sins committed by Jews, already after the destruction of the Second Temple and no later than the failed rebellion of Shimon bar Kokhba. The Jews have to wait until God sends the Messiah. Only under the ruling of the Messiah himself a Jewish nation state will be founded. He is the only one who may be seen as a legitimate founder of such a construct.

These are religious claims, but they are perceived and used in the ultra-Orthodox communities as realistic, though they are utopian, political arguments; especially in contrast to the actual (political) reality. The state for Jews was founded by Jews and is man-made. With this knowledge in background, a fortiori, the question pops up: why live many Ḥaredim in the State of Israel? It seems to be a paradox, as long as there is no Messiah and there happened no redemption. Furthermore, the connection of the spheres of religion with politics by the foundation of a Jewish nation state is from the religious perspective strictly prohibited and its right of existence is not granted.

These tensions seem to be at status quo and they are the basis for the dissertation project. In other words, the tensions between the Jewish religion and the Jewish nation and state are high. The more important it is, therefore, to analyze the concept of exile (Hashqapha haGalut) in Ḥaredi thinking.

In the thesis shall be, at first, described the construct of sundry respective concepts of exile in Jewish history. Of course, there shall be paid a special attention to the Ḥaredi thinking in this matter. This shall be followed with an answer to the question of the residing in exile in the Jewish nation state, the State of Israel. The last step shall be a comparative analysis of two ultra-Orthodox groups and their respective concepts of exile. The two groups are, taken as representatives of the ‘right’ spectrum in the ultra-Orthodox world, Satmar Ḥasidim on the one side, and the Ḥabad movement on the other. While, at the beginning, the two groups agreed in their opposition to the proto-state (the Yishuv), their positions developed in opposite directions over the last century (especially since the foundation of the State of Israel). Their respective Hashqaphat HaGalut seem under these developments to be perfect for a comparative analysis in this complicated issue.