Chapter 6

 

 

THE JEWISH UTOPIA

BY

MICHAEL HIGGER, Ph. D.

THE LORD BALTIMORE PRESS 

BALTIMORE, MD.

1932

 



CHAPTER VI

THE HOLY LAND

Simultaneous with the plan of a free, ideally righteous Israel, leading the world to an ideal life wherein the righteous would prosper and the wicked suffer, comes the essential requirement for a spiritual and holy Zion, guiding the other countries of the world in their spiritual development toward the realization of a World Utopia. It is with this view in mind that the rabbis allude often to the restoration of Israel to Palestine. When the Holy one will be about to renew His world, - remarks the Midrash - He will renew it from Zion; - as it says, “That the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the top of the mountains "411 Again, the Holy One said: Zion will become a central meeting place of the whole world, - as it says, “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem ".412 Therefore, when I redeem Zion and its exiled ones in accordance with the principles of justice and righteousness, they will then announce the new era from Zion.413
By stating that “God keeps Israel ",414 we ordinarily understand that the Lord guides Israel, through whom God's guidance will be extended to the rest of the world. Likewise, in saying that the Lord cares for the Holy Land and that “His eyes are always upon it ", 415 we mean that God cares for that land, through which God's care will be extended to all other lands.416 Traditional Jews would, therefore, not disagree with the modem reformed Jews, when the latter state that the “call of the Jew" is supposed to be for the benefit of humanity, and not primarily for themselves. But the view of the reformed Jews that Palestine is not a part

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of the scheme for the universal Utopia of mankind, is at variance with the very structure of the prophetic-rabbinic Utopia, namely, that of the ideal Israel in the ideal land. We should quote in this connection a statement of a modern non-Jewish author, in which he mentions Palestine as a plausible country wherefrom a universal utopian renascence might take place: “It should not surprise us if the foundations of eutopia were established in ruined countries; that is in countries where metropolitan civilization has collapsed and where all its paper prestige is no longer accepted at its proper value. It should not be altogether without precedent if such a eutopian renascence took place in Germany, in Austria, in Russia; and perhaps on another scale in India and China and Palestine; for all these regions are now face to face with realities which the ‘prosperous' paperism of our metropolitan civilization has largely neglected."417
From this viewpoint, one is to understand the saying of R. Levi that in the ideal era Jerusalem will be like Palestine, and Palestine in turn will be like the whole world, and that, on frequent occasions, clouds will bring multitudes of people from the world over to worship in Jerusalem.418 We need not attribute any prophetic qualities to that famous Palestinian Haggadist of the third century to interpret the term "clouds", to mean "aeroplanes", even though his statement is based on the prophecy of Isaiah:  “Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their cotes?" 419 The underlying idea of the main saying is clear.
Palestine will be to the world, what Jerusalem will be to Palestine-a spiritual center of the new ideal world. The moral and spiritual influence of the ideal Israel in the ideal land, will spread in the ideal era to the neighboring countries and thence to the whole world.420 Israel will not insist that the other peoples subscribe to her doctrines, beliefs, or ways of life. The life of Israel, however, will be so ideal, so dignified, and so holy, that the world will not help but spontaneously follow the Jewish way of life.

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What revelation and the giving of the Torah in the past signified for the civilized world, the Holy Land will signify for the ideal world in the era to come. It will signal the ushering in of a reconstructed social order, an order established on the principles of genuine justice and righteousness. In the rabbinic terminology, "the destiny of Zion in the future will be comparable to that of the Torah in the past: just as in the case of the Torah, before Israel received it, the world was a lawless desert and became civilized when Israel received the Torah, so Zion, now a desert, will become in the ideal era the stronghold of the Holy One ".421 This is likewise the force of the rabbinic view concerning Zion, that, in the ideal era, the prophecy of Zecharia will be fulfilled: "For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her."422 Or, when they remark that the Lord Himself will comfort Zion.423 For, only a Zion, in which God's Presence is universally recognized, will become the permanent spiritual center of the new reconstructed world.424 The expression “God's Presence" is, of course, vague, especially when one recalls how the term “God" has, for the last two thousand years, been misused for sinister purposes by emperors, popes, and others.
One thing, however, is clear. In the ideal land of God, there will be no room for the wicked. It will be a country of righteous. The unrighteous will be looked for, but not one of them will be found.425
Thus, in the future era, the Holy One will take hold of the ends of the land, and will shake the wicked with their defilements out of it, just as when one takes hold of a garment and shakes out of it all that it contains.426 Indeed, the test of Zion's claim for spiritual superiority will be the annihilation of injustice and wickedness from the earth. The Lord will dwell in Zion only when unrighteousness and injustice will have disappeared from mankind.427

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Furthermore, Zion will be the world's center of learning, knowledge, and of everlasting material and spiritual bliss.428 It will be a model country of plenty, producing the best fruit, grain, fish, fowls, vines and other necessities, which make life happy and wholesome; no family will have any difficulty in obtaining its sustenance.429 The natural resources of Palestine will be marvelously developed, and the land artistically beautified. In the words of Isaiah, "every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the rugged shall be made level, and the rough places a plain" ; 430 "And there shall be upon every lofty mountain, and upon every high hill, streams and watercourses"; 431 "I will open rivers on the high hills, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water ".432 The boundaries of the land will be enlarged and widened, and its immediate spiritual, ethical, and moral influences on the neighboring countries will be evident and very great.433
The joy and gladness that will prevail in the ideal land, alluded to in the marriage benediction, is fully described in Jeremiah: "Yet again there shall be heard in this place . . . the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that say: 'Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for His mercy endureth for ever '," 434 This will be likewise in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah: "For the Lord hath comforted Zion; he hath comforted all her waste places, and hath made her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody." 435
It is clear that Zion, the ideal country of the world, will be in eternal possession of Israel, the everlasting ideal people.436 These two, Israel and Zion, will go hand in hand, thereby showing the way of eternal bliss and happiness to a suffer-

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ing humanity.437 This will be in keeping with the following prophecies: "And I wiIl set Mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up"; 438 " And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them ".439 Consequently, the Kingdom of God will be established on earth.440
For, as far as Israel will be concerned, Zion will serve a double purpose. It will serve as a refuge for the exiled who will be gathered in by its outstretched arms. God will thus comfort Israel in their new, yet old, homeland.441 Important and significant as that hospitality of Zion will be, it will be only transitory in nature, preparing the way for Israel's permanent and real mission. With the spontaneous aid of all the nations of the earth, the ideal people will establish themselves in that land to lead a divine and godly life; the Divine Presence will then dwell among them.442 The Holy One thus says to Israel: Since My light is your light, and your light is Mine, let us go together and bring light unto Zion.443 Hence, in the future, when the Divine Presence returns to Zion, the Lord will be revealed in His glory to all Israel, as it says: "For they shall see, eye to eye, the Lord returning to Zion." 444 It is for this reason, that the rabbis, in picturing the ideal Palestine for Israel as described in the Utopia of the last chapter of Ezekiel, remind us that the Holy One Himself will do the distributing of the land.445 Whether the rabbinic description and ideology of that Utopian State exactly agree with the picture given in Ezekiel is a different problem. But no one would question the fact that Ezekiel's prophecy concerning the ideal Jerusalem, mentioned in the last verse of that chapter, might be applied as well to the rabbinic dream of an ideal Zion: And the name of the city from that day shall be, "The Lord is there ".446

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