With all the turmoil happening around the world, it makes one wonder when and where the next revolution might take place, and what ideology it will promote, if any. There is a difference between a coup and a revolution. In the first, one leader overthrows another in a struggle for power. In the second, one ideology, one worldview takes the place of another. The latter kind is what interests me, especially when it comes to the Israeli ideology.
By “Israeli ideology,” I am not referring to Zionism, but to the ideology that engendered the Jewish people. It is an ideology that emerged nearly forty centuries ago, adapted its manifestations to the times, and survived nearly twenty centuries until it went into a coma in the first centuries of the Common Era.
The progenitor of this ideology was Abraham, the biblical revolutionary who proposed a conceptual revolution to his Babylonian countryfolk and was expelled from his homeland as a punishment. Abraham discovered that only one force operates all of reality and sought to share his revelation with his people. But just as Galileo, who was forced to renounce his discovery that the Earth circles the Sun and not the other way around, said, E pur si muove (And yet it moves), Abraham insisted on the validity of his revelation that there is only one force. For this, he was exiled.
Unlike Galileo, Abraham was not alone. Thousands of people followed him and set off a movement based on a novel perception of reality. That movement became the Hebrews, the Israelites, and finally the Jews, and their ideology was based on unity as a means to become similar to the singular force. Accordingly, they established their society on the principle of mutual responsibility, and strove to love each other as themselves.
It was not easy to pursue such an unnatural paradigm, but the rewards they reaped when they succeeded were enormous. Alternatively, the torments they suffered when they abandoned their ideology were equally horrendous.
At around the beginning of the Common Era, Abraham’s spiritual heirs had lost touch with their ideology. The basic tenets of mutual responsibility and love of others, through which Abraham had established his society, and whose descendants kept with all their might, had vanished from among the Jews and they dispersed around the world.
There have been countless revolutions since Abraham’s revolution, but none was quite like his: aspiring to bring all of humankind into a state of unity and mutual responsibility through personal transformation of people’s own volition. The revolutions we have seen since then attempted to force people into social structures that they believed were just, but they did not aspire to establish them on free choice, but on forced conversion. Abraham, the man of mercy, only offered his ideas, and those who agreed with him had joined him.
In the middle of the previous century, Baal HaSulam, the great kabbalist and thinker, wrote the following chilling words: “humanity has already thrown itself to the extreme right, as with Germany, or to the extreme left, as with Russia. But not only did they not ease the situation for themselves, they have worsened the malady and agony, and the voices rise up to heaven, as we all know.”
Today, when we are all connected in so many ways, when we infect each other with viruses, deny each other gas, food, computer chips that cripple our economies, it is clear that we need another ideological revolution. As Baal HaSulam wrote, we have tried all the extremes, and they have all failed us. Therefore, I do not think we need a new ideology, but simply to awaken Abraham’s forty-century-old ideology from its coma, and strive to unite as one, in similarity with the one force that operates reality. If we do so, we will find ourselves living in a calm and durable world, without scarcity or misery.
(Image by Zachi Evenor)