Jewish Political Studies Review Abstracts - Volume 1, Numbers 1-2 (Spring 5749/1989)
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Jewish Political Studies Review Abstracts

Volume 1, Numbers 1-2 (Spring 5749/1989)

The Themes of the Jewish Political Studies Review - Daniel J. Elazar

The Jewish People and the Kingdom of Heaven: A Study of Jewish Theocracy - Ella Belfer

A structural review of Jewish history is undertaken in order to demonstrate the continued dialectic encounter between the heavenly (theos) and the earthly (kratos) in Jewish political conception, which help in understanding the fundamental problems of the Jewish polity in general, and the Israeli polity in particular.

Three constant trends in Jewish theocracy -- conflict, unity and priority -- are defined and presented in a historical survey from Pharaonic Egypt to the present day.

The revolutionism of the various forms of Zionist philosophies lies not in the revolution of the traditional encounter between theos and kratos, but in the search for a new sacred content that accords with individual beliefs. The traditional approaches to resolving the theocratic dilemma were extended to the State of israel. Philosophies as diverse as the theistic syntheses of Buber and Soloveitchik, the dichotomous approaches of the Canaanites and Leibowitz, and the unified approaches of Ben-Gurion and U.Z. Greenberg are presented.

The dialectic continuum of Jewish history remains unbroken, with the aspiration of Judaism as always being to cling to eternal life without relinquishing the reality of territorial life. The kingdom of Israel has constantly been faced with the challenge of realizing kingdom of heaven. History has yet to prove whether this challenge constitutes the true excuse of Judaism, or whether it is an obstinate quest for the impossible.

Keter as a Jewish Political Symbol: Origins and Implications - Stuart A. Cohen

The use of the Hebrew term keter (lit. "crown") to describe agencies of Jewish autonomous rule is first apparent in tanna'itic texts, and especially in Mishnah, Avot 4:13. This article examines the reasons for that innovation, and examines the categories of rulership to which the term was applied. It is suggested that keter reflected an identifiable notion of "sovereignty" and its exercise. In early rabbinic usage, it became a vehicle which conveyed a unique view of the constitutionally correct ordering of Jewish political life.

The Language of Jewish Political Discourse - Gordon M. Freeman

Theology is a source for political ideas and their implementation since God is described as a ruler and authorizer of social entities. The public playing out of theology is found in liturgy which not only describes political concepts but offers a dramatic means to implement them through the use of public ritual.

The Jewish people has a distinct political language and has engaged in public discourse using that language to inform its decisions and determine political questions.

Because it is the most public, the Siddur (prayerbook) is the primary source for political language. This essay suggests a scheme for discussing political language, analyzing one prayer in terms of this scheme in order to demonstrate its political implications and to provide an inventory of political language. It also translates the political theory found in that prayer into recognizable political language.

The Aleinu prayer was originally an operational political declaration describing the destiny of Israel and providing a sense of purpose that would legitimize its separate political existence. With the loss of political power and territory, this declaration was incorporated in the liturgy as a theological manifestation of a sublimated political hope.

Interpretation of Genesis - Leo Strauss

The Book of Joshua as a Political Classic - Daniel J. Elazar

The argument of this paper is that the Book of Joshua is a classic of political thought, that can be and should be read as a coherent whole, in fact, as a major statement of the classic political world view of the Bible. For political science, it is the first classic exposition of federal republicanism. While the themes it emphasizes are derived from the Torah itself, the Torah combines them with other elements. In Joshua, the federal republican character of the Israelite edah (lit: congregation or assembly -- the biblical term for the Israelite polity) under God is the central theme.

In the largest sense, the Book of Joshua is concerned with matters far more significant than merely recounting the history of the conquest of the land of Canaan by the Israelite tribes, or even the reconstitution of that conquest within the moral framework of the Prophetic school. It goes beyond both purposes to become the embodiment of a particular conception of what a good constitution and a good regime must be, in light of the moral framework of Prophetic thought. As such, it addresses the classic issues of constitutional design for Israel as a body politic. A full understanding of the book requires that it be studied utilizing the tools of political analysis.

Ben-Gurion's Concept of Mamlahtiut and the Forming Reality of the State of Israel - Nathan Yanai

Ben-Gurion's concept of mamlahtiut was at the center of his political ideology. It entailed not only the vision of an independent Jewish state, but primarily a set of principles and modes of operation which he deemed essential for the formation of the state and considered highly critical for its preservation.

Ben-Gurion's ideological view of the state and statehood grew out of a critical perception of Jewish history. As such, it constituted an ideology of transition and transformation from a prolonged diaspora and communal organization to a sovereign state, as well as an expanding view of the legitimate functions and possible capabilities of the modern democratic state. Indeed, the concept of mamlahtiut acquired its most conclusive, concrete and controversial significance during the political crises in the first formative years of the newly born state. The major issues of controversy between Ben-Gurion and his critics at that time related to the question of the authority and the functions of the state versus those of voluntary, primarily labor, associations and institutions which, in the absence of sovereignty, fulfilled executive governing roles in the pre-state era.

This article discusses the origins of Ben-Gurion's concept of mamlahtiut, the principles embedded in it, and his leadership initiatives to implement them.