Jewish Political Studies Review Abstracts
Volume 1, Numbers 1-2 (Spring 5749/1989)
A structural review of Jewish history is undertaken in order
to demonstrate the continued dialectic encounter between the
heavenly (theos) and the earthly (kratos) in Jewish political
conception, which help in understanding the fundamental problems
of the Jewish polity in general, and the Israeli polity in
Three constant trends in Jewish theocracy -- conflict, unity
and priority -- are defined and presented in a historical survey
from Pharaonic Egypt to the present day.
The revolutionism of the various forms of Zionist
philosophies lies not in the revolution of the traditional
encounter between theos and kratos, but in the search for a new
sacred content that accords with individual beliefs. The
traditional approaches to resolving the theocratic dilemma were
extended to the State of israel. Philosophies as diverse as the
theistic syntheses of Buber and Soloveitchik, the dichotomous
approaches of the Canaanites and Leibowitz, and the unified
approaches of Ben-Gurion and U.Z. Greenberg are presented.
The dialectic continuum of Jewish history remains unbroken,
with the aspiration of Judaism as always being to cling to
eternal life without relinquishing the reality of territorial
life. The kingdom of Israel has constantly been faced with the
challenge of realizing kingdom of heaven. History has yet to
prove whether this challenge constitutes the true excuse of
Judaism, or whether it is an obstinate quest for the impossible.
The use of the Hebrew term keter (lit. "crown") to describe
agencies of Jewish autonomous rule is first apparent in
tanna'itic texts, and especially in Mishnah, Avot 4:13. This
article examines the reasons for that innovation, and examines
the categories of rulership to which the term was applied. It is
suggested that keter reflected an identifiable notion of
"sovereignty" and its exercise. In early rabbinic usage, it
became a vehicle which conveyed a unique view of the
constitutionally correct ordering of Jewish political life.
Theology is a source for political ideas and their
implementation since God is described as a ruler and authorizer
of social entities. The public playing out of theology is found
in liturgy which not only describes political concepts but offers
a dramatic means to implement them through the use of public
The Jewish people has a distinct political language and has
engaged in public discourse using that language to inform its
decisions and determine political questions.
Because it is the most public, the Siddur (prayerbook) is
the primary source for political language. This essay suggests a
scheme for discussing political language, analyzing one prayer in
terms of this scheme in order to demonstrate its political
implications and to provide an inventory of political language.
It also translates the political theory found in that prayer into
recognizable political language.
The Aleinu prayer was originally an operational political
declaration describing the destiny of Israel and providing a
sense of purpose that would legitimize its separate political
existence. With the loss of political power and territory, this
declaration was incorporated in the liturgy as a theological
manifestation of a sublimated political hope.
Interpretation of Genesis - Leo Strauss
The argument of this paper is that the Book of Joshua is a
classic of political thought, that can be and should be read as a
coherent whole, in fact, as a major statement of the classic
political world view of the Bible. For political science, it is
the first classic exposition of federal republicanism. While the
themes it emphasizes are derived from the Torah itself, the Torah
combines them with other elements. In Joshua, the federal
republican character of the Israelite edah (lit: congregation or
assembly -- the biblical term for the Israelite polity) under God
is the central theme.
In the largest sense, the Book of Joshua is concerned with
matters far more significant than merely recounting the history
of the conquest of the land of Canaan by the Israelite tribes, or
even the reconstitution of that conquest within the moral
framework of the Prophetic school. It goes beyond both purposes
to become the embodiment of a particular conception of what a
good constitution and a good regime must be, in light of the
moral framework of Prophetic thought. As such, it addresses the
classic issues of constitutional design for Israel as a body
politic. A full understanding of the book requires that it be
studied utilizing the tools of political analysis.
Ben-Gurion's concept of mamlahtiut was at the center of his
political ideology. It entailed not only the vision of an
independent Jewish state, but primarily a set of principles and
modes of operation which he deemed essential for the formation of
the state and considered highly critical for its preservation.
Ben-Gurion's ideological view of the state and statehood
grew out of a critical perception of Jewish history. As such, it
constituted an ideology of transition and transformation from a
prolonged diaspora and communal organization to a sovereign
state, as well as an expanding view of the legitimate functions
and possible capabilities of the modern democratic state. Indeed,
the concept of mamlahtiut acquired its most conclusive, concrete
and controversial significance during the political crises in the
first formative years of the newly born state. The major issues
of controversy between Ben-Gurion and his critics at that time
related to the question of the authority and the functions of the
state versus those of voluntary, primarily labor, associations
and institutions which, in the absence of sovereignty, fulfilled
executive governing roles in the pre-state era.
This article discusses the origins of Ben-Gurion's concept
of mamlahtiut, the principles embedded in it, and his leadership
initiatives to implement them.