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Holy War in JudaismThe Fall and Rise of a Controversial Idea$
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Reuven Firestone

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199860302

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860302.001.0001

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From Practicality to a New Messianism

From Practicality to a New Messianism

(p.163) Chapter 10 From Practicality to a New Messianism
Holy War in Judaism

Reuven Firestone

Oxford University Press

By the third decade of the twentieth century secular Labor Zionism dominated the Zionist Movement and actively engaged in redefining Jewish identity in non-religious, secular nationalist terms. At the very same time, an independent thinker and charismatic rabbi named Abraham Isaac Kook became the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of British Mandate Palestine. Kook was not typical of any of the camps, whether pro- or anti-Zionist, but attracted a following of idealistic and mystical Orthodox Jews to his atypical approach to living in and settling the Land of Israel. His obscure and mystical writings became virtually sacred texts among some, and exerted a profound influence on a small cadre of talented religious Zionists. Among his innovative ideas was a modern mystical view that war has a progressive role in the divine scheme. Kook was the first prominent thinker to discuss divinely authorized war outside of the parameters of the traditional rabbinic worldview.

Keywords:   Abraham Isaac Kook, Chief Rabbi, British Mandate, World War, Great War, Palestine, Orot, Holy Land

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