Religious Zionism, Jewish Law, and the Morality of War: How Five Rabbis Confronted One of Modern Judaism's Greatest Challenges

ISBN : 9780190687090

Robert Eisen
320 Pages
165 x 243 mm
Pub date
Oct 2017
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Ever since the state of Israel was established in 1948, it has been plagued by war, and that has presented religious Zionists with an immense challenge. Jewish law prior to 1948 includes little material on war because it developed during centuries when Jews had neither a state nor an army. The leading rabbis of the religious Zionist community have therefore had to create an entire body of laws on this subject where practically none had existed beforehand. These rabbis have responded to the challenge with remarkable energy and ingenuity. Religious Zionist rabbis have produced a corpus of laws on war that is both comprehensive and nuanced, and these laws now serve as a critical source of guidance for Orthodox Israelis serving in their country's military. The present study is a pioneering work on this fascinating chapter in the history of Jewish law, a chapter that, up to now, has received relatively little attention from academic scholars. Robert Eisen examines how five of the most prominent rabbis in the religious Zionist community have dealt with key moral issues in war. The figures include R. Abraham Isaac Kook, R. Isaac Halevi Herzog, R. Eliezer Waldenberg, R. Sha'ul Yisraeli, and R. Shlomo Goren. Eisen also examines how the positions of these rabbis compare with those of international law. These explorations provide critical insight into the worldview of religious Zionism, which in recent years has become increasingly influential in Israeli politics.


Preface; Abbreviations; Chapter One: Introduction; Chapter Two: War in Jewish Law Before Zionism; Chapter Three: R. Abraham Isaac Kook; Chapter Four: R. Isaac Halevi Herzog; Chapter Five: R. Eliezer Yehudah Waldenberg; Chapter Six: R. Sha'ul Yisraeli: The Essay on Kibiyeh; Chapter Seven: R. Sha'ul Yisraeli: The Later Writings; Chapter Eight: R. Shlomo Goren; Chapter Nine: Summary and Conclusions; Works Cited

About the author: 

Professor of Religion and Judaic Studies and Chair of the Department of Religion at George Washington University

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