Biblical Priests and Zealots

Zealotry, I am arguing, is a paradigmatic religious lethal violence. Brutal zealots play a significant role in Jewish canonic history and exegetical heritage.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran 

The methodic examination of this rich reservoir of authentic materials offers an opportunity to advance our understanding of religious violence, its dynamics and implications. The present article illustrates the scientific potential of the sociological study of sacred texts. At the background of this and related research is the exposure  and rereading of the Jewish religious legacy of violence – often dormant, at other times dominant – alongside a legacy oriented towards peace, moderation and accommodation.

The above two maintain intense dialectical relationship.

While my broader project is to trace the normative, moral and political aspects of zealotry, in this particular paper I am focusing on its cultic aspect, relating it to the issue of collective and bodily boundary management. Furthermore, I draw attention to the homology of the ideal-types of zealotry and priesthood conventionally considered polar opposites in many respects. I usually employ the elaborate corpus of our accumulated knowledge on priesthood as a means to help me solve the riddle of zealotry.

In this article I exploit some insights concerning zealotry to shed light on yet unidentified dimensions of priesthood. Among others, I suggest that priests might be seen as zealots in a golden cage. A positive feedback from Jewish Studies scholars encouraged me to carry-on my Jewish Sociology project.


Prof. Gideon Aran: Place of religious Zionism in Israel

Session Nine: the place of religious Zionism in various areas – the settlement of the country or hearts / Religious Zionism between the Land of Israel to the people of Israel

Chair: Mr. Elyashiv Reichner

Participants: Prof. Gideon Aran , Mr. Pinhas Wallerstein , Dr. Gadi Taub , Rabbi Yaakov Medan

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Where the face of religious Zionism ? Is integration into society or even the leadership ? Or perhaps isolation and seclusion of review now ? The struggle between the trends which have not yet been decided . Involvement and influence of religious Zionism fundamental questions of society and the state are far outweighed by the relative size . Thus the character and Lhcrotih important impact on the future of democracy in Israel.

16-17 June 2013 , held a conference on the subject which showed different trends and their implications , both in terms of principle and practical angle – as reflected in a series of areas of life here and now.


Kookism: The roots of Gush Emunim – Preface Part 2

The Gush-Emunim movement has always been a major factor in forming the ideological foundation of the West-Bank settlements concept and was a key contributor toward achieving this goal:

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran 

gidon aranGush-Emunim helped forge some of the settlement plans along the way, secure the necessary financial resources as well as the support of the Israeli establishment and the Israeli public, organize and represent the settlers in front of the decision makers and even when it came to training the settlers and as well as motivating them – Gush-Emunim was there. However, the people behind Gush-Emunim weren’t the only ones responsible for this ambitious and decisive project.

Apart from Gush-Emunim there were other people and organizations working with or without Gush-Emunim in making the Judea and Samaria settlement dream come true: Among those responsible we ought to mention the Israeli governments that helped the settlers both officially as well as under the radar for many years. In addition, most of the people that were involved obviously followed their own financial or social interests: From building contractors to those looking to improve their quality of life.

The Haredim who settled in Beitar Illit, the Russian immigrants from Ariel or the Middle-East Jewish decedents who settled in some of the Gush Katif towns designated for further development didn’t necessarily possess the same exact political consciousness people from Gush-Emunim had. Moreover, they didn’t necessarily share their ideals and yet the GE block played a key role by providing the spirit and the energy they needed as well as the moral and practical leadership and also by serving as their de-facto representatives in front of the Israeli public and decision makers.

It was long before the GE has exhausted its own resources, and by that I mean their own “home court” settlers who identified with their ideology completely, that they have reached the conclusion according to which their success depends first and foremost on their ability to bestow their legacy upon the politicians, the public and the market forces.


Kookism: The roots of Gush Emunim – Preface Part 1

In the seventies, somewhere during the period of disillusionment and dissatisfaction that followed the Yom-Kippur war, I was a research student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and so I decided to examine a new social phenomenon looming on the Israeli horizon.

Written By Gideon Aran 

Gideon AranI was drawn to it because it seemed exotic and somewhat charismatic, perhaps even a bit somnambulistic, all of which perfectly suited my initial intention of specializing and focusing on quite radical sects.

At first, I thought we are dealing with a temporary phenomenon and therefore I first intended to witness its rise and its decline altogether. However, over the years my object of contemplation turned into a prominent and influential religious-nationalist movement that became known as “Gush Emunim” (From now on will also appear as “GE” – Translated from Hebrew: Bloc [of the] Faithful). What could have been considered a curiosity at first has proved itself to be an historic phenomenon of enormous significance.

The GE has to be grasped and understood as a religious movement

This is in fact one of the main arguments this book is set to prove. In Gush Emunim you can find elements of both religious regeneration and revival. Furthermore, the religious significance of the block competes with its own political significance, and finally the influence it had on Judaism as a whole is not less important than the its political influence on The State of Israel. For example, this book examines the great role Gush-Emunim has had in transforming the Israeli identity in terms of both the Judaization of Zionism as well as the Messianism of Judaism.

I believe that the Messianism of the religious Judaism is necessarily linked with its own  Zionization. The members of Gush-Emunim do not adhere to both Zioniem and the Torah as usual but rather believe that their Religious and Zionist views are one. The faith-based transformation of the Bloc’s supporters can be briefly summarized as a transition from religious Zionism to a Zionist religion. Inspired by Gush-Emunim the Israeli Jewry became of a more Zionist and a lot more Messianic nature. It was only just recently when it seemed that each of these radical orientations is losing its might and potency, and mainly that the combination of the two has lost some of the hegemonic grip it used to have before.



Hamakom (the Place)

This paper (co-authored with Z. Gurevitch) challenges the predominant conception of the place in traditional and modern Judaism. We argue that, not only Diaspora Jews but modern Israelis and their ancient Israelite predecessors were “never in place”.

Written By Gideon Aran

The implications of this documented thesis, buttressed by historical and phenomenological analysis, raise questions relating to the ever changing contours of the State’s borders, the discontents that inhere in the Zionist collective experience, the catch of biblical heritage and the Territories, the ironic side of the relations with the Palestinians, the façade of Jerusalem’s  authenticity and the high-voltage cable that links it with Tel Aviv, the idea of the desert and the sense of  local patriotism, the paradox of Jewish nativism, and the improbability of the Land of Israel as axis mundi. Continue reading Hamakom (the Place)