Inbari, Motti. “Messianic Religious Zionism and the Reintroduction of Sacrifice: The Case of the Temple Institute.” In Rethinking the Messianic Idea in Judaism (ed. Michael L. Morgan and Steven Weitzman; Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014): 256-73.
The obscuring of the question of the Temple Mount by early Zionist messianists, both Religious and secular, invited challenges to the Zionist establishment. Scholem wanted the Zionist messianic myth to develop without a yearning for a Third Temple as part of the end of days. Yet Scholem’s conscious denial of the historical desire could not quash the desire. The growing trend of Jewish prayers on the Temple Mount and the vigorous activities of the Temple Institute, discussed above, suggest that the vision of the Third Temple has emerged as a widely accepted component of contemporary Israeli Jewish messianism.
Gershom Scholem, the pioneering historian of Jewish mysticism, was fascinated throughout his career by the mystical sources of nihilism in the Jewish tradition, sources which ultimately produced the antinomian Sabbatian movement of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But in his own political philosophy, he eschewed nihilism for a more moderate religious anarchism, identifying the right-wing Revisionists with the Sabbatians. The relationship between Scholem’s history of the Kabbalah, his anarchistic religious philosophy and his political activism can be traced in his published writings as well as his letters and other private writings.
Gershom Scholem’s 1917 essay “On Lament and Lamentation” portrays the Hebrew lament as the “language of the border,” which suffers an infinite cycle of exile and return. Scholem employs a paradoxical discourse in order to develop these cyclical borderline dynamics on the discursive and performative levels of the text. The idea of lament recurs in Scholems polemic writings between 1917 and 1931, a period marked by his emigration from Berlin to Jerusalem in 1923 and by his constant struggling with questions of Jewish exile and Zionist return. In other words, Scholem transfers his theoretical ideas on lament to the empirical realm of German-Jewish and Zionist history. More specifically, he deems the absence of lament in the language of his contemporaries as symptomatic of a Jewish generation whose wish to “enter history” has dangerously superseded the question of its metaphysical standing. Couched in a combination of modernist Krausian and Jewish apocalyptic vocabulary, Scholems writings caution of a “Wailing Wall of the new Zion” in the form of journalistic prattle and of the revengeful return of sacred Hebrew.
See Table of Contents for further discussion of Scholem’s “On Lament and Lamentation,” including full text.
Hans Kohn, Hugo Bergmann, and Gershom Scholem were among the leaders of Brit Shalom, a small but intriguing Zionist faction that advocated binationalism. This essay contends that their moderation and their consistent opposition to the prevailing Zionist vision of a Jewish state in Palestine issued from a völkisch outlook. Kohn, Bergmann, and Scholem shared a postliberal stance and a youthful Zionism influenced by Martin Buber, and their later binationalism emerged not from a renunciation of their former ideology but rather from its creative adaptation.
On the morning of September 20, 1923, the Jewish Day of Atonement, a small ship was approaching the port town of Jaffa on the shore of Palestine. The ship, which had sailed from Alexandria, carried on its deck two young German-Jewish scholars who were to become—each in his own field—renowned personalities in the history of Jewish Studies in the 20th century. The first, the orientalist Shlomo Dov Goitein, continued sailing with the ship until its next station—the port of Haifa. The second, Gershom Scholem, who was welcomed on shore by his fiancé Escha Burchhardt, disembarked from the ship and arrived for the first time, as a Zionist, at his destination, where he stayed for the rest of his life. In his memoir Scholem describes the process of adaptation and integration in the new land as an easy one from the personal, social, and ideological point of view.1 Nonetheless, on many occasions, he expressed discontentment with the local Jewish life, complaining about the cultural and political situation in Jerusalem.2 The reasons for this discontent varied but they were mainly connected to the political developments in Palestine, to the direction that the Yishuv took, and to the dramatic events in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. This article concentrates on three important moments in the history of Zionism as well as in Scholem’s private life: first, the riots of 1929 and their aftermath; second, the realization of the destruction of European Jewry by the Yishuv in Palestine in 1943; and third, the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Each of these events represents a turning point for the Jewish collective, as well as a turning point for Scholem as a private person on the way in the process of fulfilling his Zionist utopia.
Although Gershom Scholem, one of the leading Judaic studies scholars of modern times, was born and raised in Germany, he consistently represented himself as an un-German Jew. Rejection of Germany and Germanness was a leitmotif of Scholem’s self-presentation, particularly after immigrating to Jerusalem in 1923. Scholem became a central figure in the Jewish intelligentsia of mandate-era Palestine and later the state of Israel, and he helped shape Jewish discourse around the world. However, a re-examination of his unpublished and published correspondence, youthful journals, writings and interviews, and actual actions demonstrates that Scholem must also be seen as a German intellectual whose lifelong intellectual, political, social, and cultural predilections were the products of the German Jewish bourgeoisie and the German intelligentsia at the turn of the twentieth century. Long after emigrating from Germany, Scholem remained marked by Germanness and an ongoing relationship with Germany.