Sharabi, Asaf. “Religion and Modernity. Religious Revival Movement in Israel.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 44.2 (2015): 223-48.
This article discusses the concept of zikui harabim (granting merit to the many) and attempts to show how it motivates and animates the religious renewal movements in Judaism (the teshuvah movements). I argue that zikui harabim is produced by “cycles of teshuva” in which the “repentant” person engages in facilitating the “return” of others to religious practice, even before he or she has undertaken the rigorous observance of religious commandments. I suggest that calculating rationality, often considered one of the hallmarks of modernity, is manifest in the teshuvah movement, as many teshuvah clients and entrepreneurs regard commandments, implicitly and explicitly, as a kind of currency they can amass for their own benefit. By so doing, I demonstrate how zikui harabim embeds a modern-capitalist logic, thereby showing how modernity manifests itself in religious revivalism.