The name most synonymous with Zionism is Theodore Herzl. This month on June 30th we will mark 109 years since his passing. An important fact that not many people are aware of is that Israel was only one of the several
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The options were Argentina and Israel (and later on, Uganda). Herzl said that the decision about the location of the Jewish state should be made according to the majority; he believed both Israel and Argentina were suitable options. Argentina had a good climate, and he knew people there would welcome the Jews; but on the other hand, Israel is the Land of the Patriarchs – ארץ האבות.
Today I would like to share with you some of Herzl’s thoughts about the future Jewish state as they appear in his writings. Some people today see Herzl as a modern-day prophet. Israel today, after 65 years of independence, still faces a number of issues that he discussed in his writings. For me, the most important issue concerns the value of tolerance-סוֹבְלָנוּת.
Let’s read what Herzl had to say about tolerance-
“הרשות ביד כל איש להחזיק בדעותיו ובאמונת לבו, כשם שהלאומיות לא תחשב לאיש לחטאה. ואם יבואו בני דתות אחרות, או בני לאומים אחרים, לשבת בתוכנו, נכבדםכבוד גדול ומשפט אחד יהיה להם ולאזרחי הארץ”
“The permission of every man to have an opinion and beliefs, as their nationality, won’t be for any man a sin. And if other people with different religions should come or other nationalities wish to dwell with us, we will respect them with great honor and there will be but one law for them and all the citizens of the land.”
What a beautiful legacy Herzl left for us! All we need to do is to implement it in our lives, both in Israel and around the world.
It’s interesting look at the exact language used to describe the social rights that Herzl believed Jewish State should provide for its citizens. The first was that the work day should only be seven hours per day. Today in Israel we seemed to have strayed a little far from this ideal, since many people in Israel work over 50 hours per week. Herzl believed in free education for all students and that the government should provide insurance for every person against disease and death. He also suggested that pregnant women shouldn’t have to work, and the working man should be able to reasonably buy a house.
109 years later we are still working towards the fulfillment of Herzl’s vision here in the Promised Land. Let’s pray that by the time the State celebrates its 75th birthday, a number of current issues currently plaguing us will find solutions the way Herzl imagined.
Tolerance- Sovlanut- סוֹבְלָנוּת
Photo: The National Jewish Archive-pikiwiki.org.il