The Jewish Utopia, by Michael Higger; compared with Plato's Utopia as described in The Laws

- Peter Myers, January 3, 2004; update December 25, 2017.

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Michael Higger explains that whereas Plato's Republic "is chiefy concerned with what will hold the ideal city together", "The rabbis, on the other hand, are mainly interested in that ideology which would hold the whole world, or the Universal State, together." (p. 5).

Karl Popper, in his book The Open Society and its Enemies, sourced Plato as the inspiration of the Communist movement, and ridiculed Arnold Toynbee for arguing that Marxism was mainly inspired by Judaism: popper-vs-toynbee.html.

Popper, in effect, "writes out" any Jewish contribution to Communism, sourcing it all to elements deriving from Western Civilization itself.

Yet, Plato, in his Republic and the later Laws, makes it clear that he is only thinking of a small community - the Laws envisages a city of 5,040 households as its ideal experimental community (for which Plato is drafting the laws or scheme).

Michael Higger shows that ideas of a world-wide utopian community are central in the Jewish religion.

Higger writes that "A Jewish Utopia begins where Wells leaves off" (p. 6). This is a reference to H. G. Wells' "Open Conspiracy" blueprint for a World State: opensoc.html.

(1) The Jewish Utopia
(2) Plato's Utopia
(3) Playing Ethnic Politics At Ground Zero, by Sam Smith

(1) The Jewish Utopia

{p. i} The Jewish Utopia

by Michael Higger, Ph.D.

The Lord Baltimore Press, Baltimore, MD., 1932

{iii} TO



{p. v} PREFACE

The aim of this work is to present, in a comprehensive way, the traditional Jewish conception of the ideal life for individuals, as well as for nations. The problems taken up in the book are discussed, not from a theological viewpoint, but rather from that of the prophecies of the prophets as interpreted by the rabbis. The doctrines concerning God, Torah, Israel, Messiah, the future world and so forth, are, therefore, referred to, only where they are directly related to the subject of an ideal life in the ideal era to come. For my main problem is to reconstruct an ideal social life on earth as pictured by the rabbis of old.

The Tannaitic literature, the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmudim, and the Midrashim, were utilized as the basis of the work. Allusions are occasionally made to the Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal literature, and to the Jewish prayer book. Since the purpose of the work is to reconstruct, not a purely prophetic, but a prophetic-rabbinic ideal life, only those allusions to the Bible which are quoted in the rabbinic sources are given. With a few minor exceptions, no attempt was made to allude to the Mediaeval Jewish authorities, like Maimonides, Nahmanides, Abravanel, and others, who dealt with some phases of my problem.

It is self-evident that a debatable subject of this nature will invite a number of criticisms. The orthodox and reformed groups alike, it is expected, will disagree with many of the interpretations and conclusions. These groups are advised, however, to consult carefully all the sources given in the notes before they form an opinion about the conclusions herein arrived at.

{p. vi} For the benefit of the prospective critic and of the student of Jewish eschatology, it may be added that the old method of some authorities to differentiate between certain terms which designate the "future world" and the "future era", respectively, was for my purpose, entirely ignored. Every passage was studied carefully for its contents, regardless of the particular expression employed by the rabbis in referring to the "future". If the passages speak, for instance, of poverty, of large families, or, of universal peace, in the future, it is evident that such passages, irrespective of the term used for the "future", allude, not to the future world, or the realm of the sirit, but rather to the ideal era on this earth. If, on the other hand, a statement speaks of a "future" when there will be no eating, no drinking and so forth, it is equally clear that such a statement refers to the world of the spirit - a subject which the present work does not include.

The reader who will hastily pass judgment concerning the book and label it as "radical", is likewise reminded of two important facts. First, that the subject matter is Utopian in nature, and that established institutions of our social structure naturally should not expect any complimentary statements at the hands of a Utopian author. Secondly, nearly all the statements and conclusions set forth in this work are rabbinic, and not my own - even though the style employed, namely, that of paraphrasing the rabbinic passages and statements, may suggest that I express my own personal views.

The Bible translation of the Jewish Publication Society was used for the biblical references. In a few places, parts of, instead of complete, verses are quoted, because they are so quoted in the rabbinic sources.

All the sources are given fully in the notes at the end of the book. When the paraphrased rabbinic quotation con-

{p. vii} tains a biblical reference, the biblical source is mentioned first, in the notes, and the rabbinic sources follow in their regular chronological order.

I wish to express my hearty thanks to Prof. Louis Ginzberg, Prof. Alexander Marx, Prof. Harry A. Wolfson, and to Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, for many helpful suggestions.


New York, May 1932.

{p. 3} CHAPTER I


The non-Jewish world will be surprised to learn of a Jewish Utopia. The great masses of Christians are brought up under the erroneous notion that the Golden Rule, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself", was proclaimed first by Jesus. To inform them that it is already found in the Book of Leviticus, 19, 18, would be for them an additional proof of rabbinic "legalism". To the average Christian theologian, Judaism and Jewish nationalism terminated with the destruction of the Second Temple, and rabbinic writings since that period consist mainly of legal dicta and regulations. The Talmud is thus catalogued under "philology" at some of the otherwise liberal Christian Theological Seminaries. Under such a system of Christian education, which is imbued with the spirit of a trinity of dogmatism, prejudice, and ignorance, no non-Jew would expect a plan for reconstruction of a suffering humanity to come from the Talmud and cognate rabbinic literature.

Let us, therefore, listen to the opinion of a Talmudist of the fourteenth century, concerning the ideal World. R. Menahem ben Aaron ibn Zerah was a Spanish codifier, and thus a "legalist". At the end of his code, Zeda la-Derek, he says: " It is a fact well-known to every one who would admit to the truth . . . that many predictions of the prophets concerning a Utopia for Israel and mankind have not been fulfilled . . . as, for instance: 'And the Lord shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall the Lord be One, and His name one'; 'And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall

{p. 4} not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more'. Nations are producing more swords and ammunition than in any other time in the past; wars of nation against nation are greater and fiercer than ever before . . ."

Charges of a similar nature are found in one of the late Midrashim: " The congregation of Israel says to the Lord: Master o f the Universe, many good prophecies have the prophets of old prophesied, and not even one of them has been fulfilled. Jeremiah said, Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, atld the young men and the old together ; Hosea said, Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea 6; Joel said, And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down sweet wine ff; Amos said, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper 7; Isaiah said, The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the top of the mountains 8; and, finally, it was said, There shall yet old rnen and old women sit in the broad places of Jeru- salem ; and we do not see any one of these predictions realized. 10

The tvvo quotations indicate the key-note to the philosophy underlyirg the rabbinic Utopia. An ideal society among the family of nations, as visualized by the prophets, although not realized as yet, will ultimately be achieved. Nations will come, rations will go. Dogmatic Christianity has come, dogmatic Christianity will be gone. "Isms" have created nations, "isms" will destroy nations. Capitalism has brought happiness and woes to mankind; communism may bring its paradises and hells to mankind. Doctrines have shaped the destinies of peoples, doctrines may bring destruction to peoples. But the millennium will come only when the nations of the earth direct their efforts toward the visions of the prophets, and make function the teachings of Amos, Isaiah,

{p. 5} and Micah. Only then will the day be ushered in, in which the ideal world and our present era will, in the language of a Palestinian Amora, "kiss each other, as a sign of the arrival of the new era, and the departure of the old".

Unlike Plato's Republic, where the ends sought are political rather than spiritual, the motive of a Prophetic-Rabbinic Utopia is the spiritual perfection of human society. In the Republic, to be sure, the supreme virtue in the ideal commonwealth is Justice. But Plato is chiefy concerned with what will hold the ideal city together. The rabbis, on the other hand, are mainly interested in that ideology which would hold the whole world, or the Universal State, together. The ideal behind the Jewish Utopia is spiritual and ethical harmony.

Furthermore, the main purpose of the Republic is to discover the reasons for the merits of Justice over injustice. But to the spiritual leaders in Israel, this was no problem at all. That Justice was superior to injustice, the rabbis knew from common sense, as well as from centuries of sad experiences of Israel.

A similiar contrast may be discerned between modern conceptions of a Utopia and the rabbinic conception. In Bacon's "New Atlantis", science is the key to universal happiness. Campanella's "Civitas Solis" pictures a communistic society. H. G. Wells's Utopia is a world community. It is a single civiiization whose "net of posts, rules of laws and order, are the same in all communities throughout the world". The unit of social life in these schemes varies from, the family, as in More, to the world, as in Wells. The main limitation of these plans, including that of Wells, is that they are one-sided. Their authors do not consider the necessity for spiritual revolution, or for a transvaluation of values. They build their ideal structures on the faulty foundations of the present system.

{p. 6} A Jewish Utopia begins where Wells leaves off. It starts with the world as the basis of the new social life. From that viewpoint, the rabbis picture first a scheme of a transvaluation, of spiritual, intellectual, and material values, and a complete spiritual transformation. Having laid this foundation of the new, ideal order, the Jewish idealists proceed with the rest of their plan, and complete the super-structure of their Utopia. In that part of the structure, there are, to be sure, a few common elements in the rabbinic and the other Utopias; as, the ideals of common interest and mutual helpfulness; cooperation supplanting competition in the new social order; the toil of industry being reduced to a minimum, and thus permitting a higher cultural and intellectual life. Like the other Utopians, the rabbis were aware of the evils of the present conditions, but optimistic as to the potentialities of mankind in the future. They believed mankind to be a progressive organism endowed with marvellous powers and capabilities, with endless capacities for moral, ethical, and intellectual development.

Some modern Jewish thinkers maintain that Judaism developed historically along the same lines as Christianity, in that it was mainly interested in the other world, the world of the soul; Judaism considered this world as a vestibule to the world to come. It was only the period of the modern reform movement that brought a change of attitude toward this world. According to this view, traditional Judaism was not primarily concerned with the worthwhileness of life in this world.

That this theory is absolutely fallacious, one learns from the fact that, alongside the views that this world is a preparation for the next, rabbinic literature contains numerous passages describing the kind of ideal life that nations as well as individuals must lead so that a universal paradise of mankind might be established in this world - with no reference to

{p. 7} the future world whatever.

{just consult any Jehovah's Witness literature to get a similar picture}

In fact, the yearning for an ideal life in this world, as found in rabbinic writings, may be much older than the theory that this world is merely a vestibule to the next world. For that yearning is rooted in the teachings of the Prophets, who were mainly concerned with an ideal life of universal peace and brotherhood in this world.

The following is a striking illustration: R. Simeon ben Eleazor, a Tanna of the fourth generation, states that the wicked are punished and the righteous rewarded, in this world, for, in the next world, "his breath goeth forth, he returned to his dust".There may be some relation between this view of R. Simeon, and another statement quoted somewhere else in his name, namely, that he who is prompted by love to perform ethical and religious acts is greater than he who is prompted to them by fear. At any rate, is not the first statement in direct opposition to the doctrine that this world is merely a vestibule to the world to come?

A picture of a Jewish Utopia on earth is given in a very old source, namely, in the Sibylline Books. The passage describing an ideal city is found in the oldest portion of the Sibylline Books, and is undoubtedly of Jewish origin. Here is an extract of it, in accordance with the version rendered by Charles: "There is a city Camarina down in the land of Ur of the Chaldees, from which comes a race of most righteous men, who ever give themselves up to sound counsel and fair deeds. ... These diligently practise justice and virtue, and not covetousness, which is the source of myriad ills to mortal men, of war and desperate famine. But they have just measures in country and city, nor do they carry out night robberies one against another, nor do they drive off herds of oxen and sheep and goats, nor does a neighbour remove his neighbour's landmarks, nor does a man of much wealth vex his lesser brother, nor does anyone afflict widows but rather assists them, even ready to supply them with corn and wine

{p. 8} and oil. And always the wealthy man among the people sends a portion of his harvest to those who have nothing, but are in want, fulfilling the command of the Mighty God, the ever abiding strain: for Heaven has wrought the earth for all alike."

It is commonly charged against the teachers of religion that all they can do for us is to give us consolation in our present afflictions and lead us to hope for future happiness in the world to come; that all that the church wants is more souls for heaven. These accusations certainly cannot be made against Judaism. From the time of the propllet Amos down to the close of the Mediaeval period, the prollem of improving the material conditions of Israel and of mankind in general, was the main concern of the spiritual leaders in Israel. This is apparent from even a cursory glance at the prophetic and rabbinic writings,

The underlying Jewish attitude is, as Abravanel has pointed out throughout his work, Mashmi'a Yeshu'ah, that the major predictions of the Prophets concerning universal peace and happiness were not realized during the Second Commonwealth; nor have they been fulfilled by Christianity. The basis of the Rabbinic Utopia is, therefore, the millennium pictured by the prophets. The rabbis occasionally give a coloring of their own; but this plant rooted in prophetic soil was watered with the moisture of Israel's age-long experiences since the days of the prophets. What are these roots of the prophetic idea of a paradise on earth, as understood by the rabbis? The answer to this will be the burden of the following chapters.

{p. 11} CHAPTER II


Words stand for certain symbols, or ideas; but some words have so often been misused that they have lost the very ordinary meanings, or symbols, which they were meant to convey. One of these unfortunate terms is the word "righteousness". With the rise of the modern liberal school of preaching, the term "righteousness" has become the by-word of the preacher of every faith. Just as the homilies of the ancient rabbis were saturated with the terms "God", "Israel", and "Torah", so the modern sermon is adorned with "righteousness" in its proposition, body and conclusion. But no attempt is made to analyze the meaning and force of that term. By now it is difficult to convince the world that the word righteousness requires an analysis; that it is possible to specify in concrete terms what constitutes righteousness; that the Jewish Utopia is built upon this very term, or idea, of righteousness; or, that the Kingdom of God in this world will come only when suffering mankind passes through the gate of righteousness.

By a careful study of the rabbinic sayings that picture an ideal world, one gets a clear idea as to what constitutes a Jewish Utopia. Some of the passages, to be sure, do not refer to this life, but rather to the life of the soul in the world to come. Nevertheless, they reflect and register, at the same time, the rabbinic attitude towards the ideal life of the individual, as well as that of the family of nations.

{p. 14} The conception of an ideal Universal State in which only the upright and just prosper, is well described in a Utopia, pictured by the Prophet Elijah, according to a rabbinic version: "Elijah said: I behold ail the wicked of the earth disappeared, and all the righteous in control of the land. The earth, planted with all kinds of good things, lies before the righteous. The tree which God has planted is standing in the midst of the Garden - as it is said, And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow every tree for food, whose leaf shall not wither, neither shall the fruit thereof fail. Ships are coming from En-gedi even unto Eglaim, carrying riches and abundance for the righteous. I behold a beautiful, large city, coming down from heaven. It is the city of Jerusalem, rebuilt, and inhabited by her people. The city is situated arnong three thousands towers. The space between each two of the towers is twenty 'ris'. At the end of each 'ris' there are twenty-five thousand cubits of emeralds and of precious stones and pearls. I behold houses and gates of the righteous with their proper door-frames. The door-posts are of precious stones, and the treasuries of the Temple are open, even unto their doors. And learning and peace prevail among them". ...

{p. 15} Consequently, in the new era, the upright and just will occupy a position next to God. They will be called by the name of God; and they will, therefore, be called "holy". Moses, the ideal of a righteous man, will be praised by multitudes of righteous men, as God was praised by Moses in the presence of the multitudes of Israel.' In the future, the Lord will walk in the Garden of Eden in company with the righteous, considering them His equals."



The question arises: How will that ideal civilization take root? In an era like ours, when each nation thinks and acts only for its own selfish ends, ignoring the common good and welfare of mankind as a whole, is there any hope that the nations on earth will suddenly arise from their lethargy, and start a new Utopian life? The answer is: One nation would have to establish its life on a Utopian foundation, thereby leading the way for the rest of the world to follow its example. A model, ideal state comprising a group of righteous individuals and living an ideal life, will gradually spread its teachings and influence from nation to nation, throughout the world. The Kingdom of God will then become a fact.

Israel is the only nation that is suited for that purpose. The religious experiences of Israel and the ideology of that people as voiced by the prophets, qualify it to lead the world in establishing a universal Utopia. What Tennyson has said of the human race, may well be said of the ideal Israel: " We are the Ancients of the earth, and in the morning of the times." The rabbis had wonderful insight into the history and experiences of Israel and of mankind in general; they viewed them from the point of view of God's purpose and of the spiritual forces in the world, and they have correctly and frequently expressed their opinion that the Kingdom of God will come only through an ideal Israel. Israel, living a life in which God's presence is made to function, will be a living testimony for the nations of the earth of the existence, greatness, and glory of God. "When will this world become a vineyard? When the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise, in the eyes of

{p. 30} mankind, the position of the people of Israel who are degraded in the world."

... Thus, in the language of the rabbis, God says to Isrel, On account of you I bestow goodness upon all creatures in the world. This is the force of the verse: "And I have set you apart from the peoples, that ye should be Mine." An ideal Israel was set apart as a constant reminder

{p. 31} for the nations of the earth that they should change their ways and follow the ways of God.

The Jews thus allude to their moral responsibility in their daily morning prayers: "Thou hast chosen us from all peoples and tongues, and has brought us near unto thy great name for ever in faithfulness, that we might in love give thanks unto thee and proclaim thy unity." ...

Before the nations of the world recognize Israel as the ideal people, Israel will have to undergo a spiritual development. The Jew will have to be prepared to lead the world to righteousness. For, it will be a serious and daring challenge to Israel, a challenge in which the fate of humanity will be involved.

The first step will be the adjustment of Israel's every dayv life to the principles of truth, justice, and righteousness, as understood in the ideology of a living universal God. These principles will not be merely blank and empty phrases as employed by modern professional preachers. They will actually function in the relationships between Jew and Jew.

{what about between Jew and non-Jew?}

{p. 47} CHAPTER IV


In the program of the Jewish Prophets for an ideal life in this world, next to righteousness and justice, comes universal peace. The classical utterings of Isaiah and Micah, "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall the learn war any more", may be adopted with great advantage for mankind as an ideal motto by a twentieth century League of Nations.

In the case of universal peace, as in the case of the snblime principles of justice and of righteousness, the rabbis follow the footsteps of their predecessors, the prophets. In one of the legal controversies concerning the law of the Sabbath, the Tannaim are of the unanimous opinion that the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah regarding universal peace will be realized in the ideal era to come. Even the much quoted, but little understood, statement of the Amora Samuel does not challenge the truth of that prophecy. That statement is to the effect that with the exception of the terminating of the subjection of the exiled, there will be no radical changes in the Messianic period. According to the Talmud, this view is in direct conflict with the view of R. Hiyya bar Abba that the prophecies of the Prophets, including that of universal peace, will be fulfilled, not in the world to come, but in the Messianic period. In other words, according to all, including Samuel, the prophecy of universal peace will come true. Samuel meant only to say that the Messianic period is too soon a time for the realization of that dream, and that that yearning will be realized only after the Messianic period.

{p. 48} It is not surprising, therefore, to find in rabbinic literature the idea of the Messiah closely associated with the concept of universal peace and brotherhood. When the Messiah arrives - say the rabbis - his message will be that of universal peace. The foundation of the Utopia of the righteous will be universal peace. Only those who encourage and love peace will share the enjoyments and happiness of the new social order. The ideal Jerusalem, the capital of the ideal Zion, headed by the ideal house of David, will have her foundations rooted in universal brotherhood. Similarly, the ideal Israel and the returning of the exiled will signify universal peace and genuine brotherhood. This will be in accordance with the utterings of the Psalmist: "For not by their own sword did they get the land in possession"; "For I trust not in my bow, neither can my sword save me". The inner life of the people of Israel, especially the family life, will, likewise, be one of perfect accord and harmony. In the words of Malachi, the heart of the fathers will be turned to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.280 The peaceful life of the people will be intensified and enhanced by widespread education and universal knowledge of God. This will be in keeping with the prophecy of Isaiah: "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord: and great shall be the peace of thy children."

We find mentioned occasionally in rabbinic writings two main causes that lead to wars and thus obstruct the way to universal peace and brotherhood. One is a natural phenomenon, the other - an artificial one. The first is the so-called biological necessity for war, or the animal instinct in man to fight and to devour the weaker creatures. The rabbis, like the prophets, expressed their opinion, therefore, that, in the age to come, a radical change in the instincts of the animal world would take place - animals being ever on the same path of evolution as man is, though most species of them

{p. 49} are far behind most of mankind. The natural instinct to fight, in order to conquer and to destroy, is a disease, which is a remnant of the defects in nature of the past era. In the course of ages, the beasts will be cured of that disease or weakness. Consequently, man, too, will learn to live in peace and harmony. This is the force of the prophecy of Isaiah: "And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . and a little child shall lead them .... And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the basilisk's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." ...

In other words, religion is to be the love of mankind. When wisdom, or the knowledge of the Lord, is uppermost, war will cease. People will have to be so mentally trained as to be able to discriminate between transitory and permanent values. Nations, as well as local organizations, will have to establish brotherhood, in the Universal State based upon the principles of universal peace and love.

{p. 57} Gold will be of secondary importance in the new social and economic order. Eventually, all the friction, jealousy, quarrels, and misunderstandings that exist under the present system, will not be known in the ideal Messianic era. The city of Jerusalem will possess most of the gold and precious stones of the world. That ideal city will be practically full of those metals and stones, so that the people of the world will realize the vanity and absurdity of wasting their lives in accumulating those imaginary valuables. The deprecation of the importance of gold and its like, does not necessarily imply the introduction of the system of common ownership of property. The secndary importance given to gold in the new social order will be due to two main reasons. First, the equal distribution of private property and other necessities of life will automatically depreciate the importance of gold and other luxuries. Under present conditions, money is harmful. Because of bad economic distribution and organization, money is more easily obtained by wicked people than by righteous ones. The second reason is that the people will be trained and educated to differentiate between real, spiritual values and material values.

{p. 63} CHAPTER V


We shall now discuss the problem of the redemption and salvation of Israel, the people that will be instrumental in bringing about the Universal State founded upon genuine justice, righteousness, and universal peace. At the outset, it should be pointed out that the terms, redemption and salvation, have a radically different connotation from that which they have in Christian theology. As Abravanel has convincingly proved, Jewish redemption stands for the physical liberation and freedom of Israel. For, the people of Israel will attain the height of their spiritual functions and potentialities only through their attainment of material freedom and liberty. The problem of their spiritual development goes hand in hand with the problem of their physical safety and protection.

The rabbis, for this reason, frequently picture the future salvation of Israel in terms of the experiences of that people preceding and during the Exodus from Egypt. ...

{p. 64} Looking at the redemption and salvation of Israel from this point of view, one is in a position to understand why the rabbis stress the fact that that event will come only by way of Israel's return to Zion.

{p. 65} The main purpose of the physical redemption of Israel will be to glorify the name of the Lord and thereby to bring about the Kingdom of God. The name of God will be universally sanctified and glorified, and His Kingdom become known, when a reunion of the exiled takes place at Jerusalem. When Israel is redeemed, the heavenly kingdom will be complete. The glory and the light of the Lord will then be upon the people of Israel. ...

Second, the restoration of the ideal people on the ideal land will signify universal peace and brotherhood. Jerusalem will become the center of the free and liberated, universal Israel, because that city of God would be a living example of universal peace and brotherhood. This will be in keeping with the prophecy of Isaiah: "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river."

{p. 68} How will that redemption be brought about? ...

The first essential condition preparing the way for the salvation of the ideal people, is unity in universal Israel. There must be no dissension or lack of unity among the people of God.

{p. 69} Second, the people will have to train themselves in leading a life of justice and righteousness. This will be in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah: "Keep ye justice, and do righteousness; for My salvation is near to come, and My favour to be revealed." ...

Third, the outstanding characteristic of the people of Israel of cultivating the habit of studying and learning for the sake of study - a characteristic not found among other peoples - will have to be encouraged and strengthened. Any one who studies the Torah for its own sake, says R. Levi, hastens the redemption of Israel. ... Another essential feature of the program of Israel's salvation, apparently contradicting the requirement just mentioned, but in reality supplementing it, is the observance of the Torah and its cardinal commandments.

{p. 70} This brings us to the fourth point of the plan of Israel's redempion, and that is faith, or, to be more correct - faithfulness. For, the Hebrew term "emunah", does not connote " faith " in the Christian sense, but rather faithfulness, or trust in God. Furthermore, unlike Christianity, Judaism emphasizes upright living rather than faith as a dogma. ...

Fifth, Israel will have to lead a life of honesty, in the realm of the intellectual life, and thereby remind the world, especially the intelligent and intellectual leaders of the nations, that the lack of that virtue is one of the main causes of the woes and sufferings of mankind. The rabbis express this idea in their own, innocent, but honest, way: Whosoever reports a thing in the name of him that said it brings deliverance into the world." 08 In one rabbinic source, this state-

{p. 71} ment is preceded by a supplementary saying: "Whosoever reports a thing in the name of a scholar who never said it, causes the Divine Presence of God to disappear from Israel." In other words, this kind of dishonesty will not be known in the ideal era, when the Lord will cause His Divine Presence to dwell among all the members of the ideal, righteous people.

Finally, the leaders in Israel will have to change their attitude toward the great masses of the people. They will have to be more sympathetic and less severe in discharging their duties, disregarding personal honor and self interest. Instead of looking for faults in the people, the scholars guiding the nation will have to stress the good qualities of the members of their communities.


Simultaneous with the plan of a free, ideally righteous Israel, leading the world to an ideal life wherein the righteous would prosper and the wicked suffer, comes the essential requirement for a spiritual and holy Zion, guiding the other countries of the world in their spiritual development toward the realization of a World Utopia. It is with this view in mind that the rabbis allude often to the restoration of Israel to Palestine. When the Holy One will be about to renew His world, - remarks the Midrash - He will renew it from Zion; - as it says, "That the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the top of the mountains". Again, the Holy One said: Zion will become a central meeting place of the whole world, - as it says, "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem". Therefore, when I redeem Zion and its exiled ones in accordance with the principles of justice and righteousness, they will then announce the new era from Zion.



We are now in a position to discuss the nature of the ideal city of Jerusalem as pictured in the rabbinic Utopia. The rebuilding of that city is a part of the plan of the ideal country, Zion. Jerusalem will be the capital of Zion. What Zion will mean to the world, Jerusalem will mean to Zion. In Jewish liturgy, therefore, prayers for both, as a rule, follow each other.

If Zion, the spiritual and moral center of the world, is to be built up as a model country of divine and godly living, how much more so should Jerusalem be so built, the city of God and the capital of Zion! The rabbis, therefore, in following the footsteps of the prophets, allude frequently to the new Jerusalem as the everlasting city to be built and comforted by God, the universal Lord; as the seat of the Lord, which is to be recognized as such by all the nations of the earth; as the divine light of the world; as the habitation of the Divine Presence; as the mountain of the Lord's house; and, finally, as the city, the name of which shall be, "The Lord is there", or, "The city of the Lord". Jerusalem is personified as the bride, waiting for the arrival of God, her bridegroom. Thus, by being told that merely the sons and daughters of Israel are returning to her, she would not be entirely happy. Her happiness and gladness will, however, be complete when she is informed of the coming of the King Himself.



Alongside the dream of an ideal Jerusalem in an ideal Zion, we frequently find in rabbinic literature the hope and the yearning for the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem in the ideal era to come. According to one view, the rebuilding of the Temple will take place even before the establishment of the rule of the house of David. A number of sources indicate that many ceremonies that were performed at the First Temple will also be performed at the Temple of the future.

With regard to animal sacrifices proper, in the Temple of the future era, however, we find three distinct views scattered throughout rabbinic literature. First, there is the more conservative view that sacrifices will take place in that Temple just as they were performed in the first two Temples. The Jewish prayer-book, too, contains numerous prayers for the rebuilding of the sanctuary at Jerusalem, so that sacrifices may be offered in the future as they were in the past. Here is one typical prayer of that kind, used for the additional service for New Year: "Lead us with exultation unto Zion thy city, and unto Jerusalem the place of thy sanctuary with everlasting joy; and there we will prepare before thee the offerings that are obligatory for us, as is commanded us in thy Law through the hand of Moses thy servant, from the mouth of thy glory."

Another viewis that all animal sacrifices, with the exception of the thank-offering, will cease. This attitude is probably based on the assumption that, in the ideal era, man will be perfect, and that evil inclinations in man causing him to sin will be no more. ...

{p. 94} The third theory, found in rabbinic literature, concerning animal sacrifices in the Temple of the future, is the radical view that there will be no sacrifices whatever, and that righteousness and justice in action, will take the place of sacrifices. ...

The ideal house of God will likewise symbolize the end of strife and wars in the world, and the establishment of genuine, universal peace: ...

The Temple, furthermore, will signify the rule of the righteous in the world, and the disappearance of the wicked.

{does this mean the rule of the Jews? the disappearance of non-Jews?}

The Temple will also be the seat of genuine justice. The prophecy of Isaiah will thus be realized: " herefore thus

{p. 96} saith the Lord God: Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a costly corner-stone of sure foundation. ... And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plummet."

Similarly, the Lord will recreate the new Israel at the ideal Temple. Israel, the ideal people of justice and right- eousness, will have her spiritual center at the Temple, through which they will promulgate and proclaim the justice and righteousness, the glory and greatness, of the Lord. The ideal Temple in the ideal era wdl consequently be the spiritual light of the whole world, disseminating the glory of God, and the blessings of life, throughout all the nations of the earth.

The magnificent and exquisite structure of the new Temple will be surrounded by lakes and fruitful trees, as pictured in the forty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel.

{p. 97} With regard to the problem of the priests and the priesthood in the ideal Temple, it should be stated that that question resembles the problem of sacrifices of animals in the Temple of the future. There are two distinct tendencies recorded in rabbinic literature, concerning the question of the priesthood. We find, on the one hand, that that institution will be entrusted to the hands of the descendants of Aaron, the High Priest, whose main functions will be to act as custodians of the ceremonial services at the Temple. The Levites, likewise, will, with a few minor changes in the sons and in the musical instruments, continue their duties in accordance with tradition.

A number of rabbinic sources, on the other hand, record protests against the abuses of the priesthood in the past, and picture that institution in the future ideal era, as one of scholarship, learning, moral integrity, cleanliness, and true service of God.

{p. 103} CHAPTER IX


The spiritual life of the people will be greatly enhanced and augmented. In the language of the rabbis, the evil inclinations in man will be eradicated. A new spirit will be infused into man. The prophecy of Ezekiel will then become a fact: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." Suffering, mortality, crime and sensual living will then be greatly reduced, and eventually abolished. ...

Man, with his new, holy spirit, will become a new creature. People, instead of being envious and covetous, will gradually learn to despise the material things which do not belong to them. ...

Furtherlllore, with the evil inclinations in man removed, all the memers of the human race will be in a position to have God's Divine Presence dwell among them. All people will be "taught of the Lord". Knowledge and culture, especially the knowledge of God, will be widespread, universal, and everlasting, so that not much teaching will be required.

{p. 104} The society founded upon this perfect education will inaugurate the era of happiness and of perfection of man. Once real happiness is produced on earth, there will be no fear of the non-attainment of happiness hereafter. Tha aim of education will be to furnish masses of capable and energetic citizens for the new Universal State, able and willing to discharge their proper obligations to their fellow-men and thus help bring about the Kingdom of God. ...

In the absence of war, intellectual pursuits will save men from boredom. The Universal State will have a unified philosophic purpose and a unified system of social values. Education will thus be adopted to the social purpose of the State. Moreover, in the era to come, when man will not be subject any longer to the whims of temptation and evil inclinations, the nations on earth will be in a position to unite for one supreme purpose, namely, to call, in the words of Zephaniah, upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent.

This new state of the nature of man, together with the general disappearance of unrighteousness and wickedness from the social life of mankind, will then prepare the way for the ushering in of the ideal Messianic period. The Word

{p. 105} of God will thus be guiding the destiny of mankind. Genuine wisdom, imbued with the spirit of God, will be studied systematically and universally. It will characterize the general spirit of the new age. The new spirit of learning and teaching, of acquiring and spreading knowledge, will be in direct contrast to the spirit of demoralization, bigotry, and prejudice, that is so characteristic of the present era. The members of the new social order will occupy themselves chiefiy with intellectual and cultural activities.

{p. 105} The rabbis were so optimistic about the future era, that they very often expressed the view that a general radical change would finally take place in the character of man, of the beasts and other creatures, as well as of their natural surroundings. Thus, man, woman, all the animal world, the earth and produce, the deserts, the oceans, the heavenly luminaries, all of them will be cured of their present defects and shortcomings; and their lives will be renewed in keeping with the spirit of the new era of the righteous. This will be accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah: For, behold, create new heavens and a new earth; and the former thin shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." Furth more, just as the Lord will make new heavens and a new earth so will He make a new Israel, the ideal righteous people.

{p. 113} CHAPTER X


We are now in a position to discuss the Jewish conception of the Kingdom of God. The contrast between the Christian dogma and the Jewish doctrine of the Kingdom is evident. The dogmatic doctrine of the Kingdom in the New Testament is not a continuation of the prophetic hope at all. Nothing is mentioned in the New Testament of the spiritual and material glory of Palestine in the day of fulfillment. The Kingdom that Jesus, according to the New Testament account, speaks of, is more mystical, inward, and personal. The New Testament is mainly concerned, not with the earthly, but rather with the heavenly Kingdom of God. We read thus in John 18, 36: "Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But now is my kingdom not from hence." Unlike the prophets, therefore, Jesus thought of the Kingdom as having actually begun with him and his disciples. Compare Mark 1, 15: "And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." For, in the New Testament, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are practically identical. This dogma of a purely spiritual Kingdom, independent of the material, earthly world, was later expounded more fully by the sophisticated argumentation of Paul: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit corruption." In Romans, 14, 17, Paul remarks: "For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink: but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."

{p. 114} The Kingdom of God, as pictured by the Jewish prophets, on the other hand, is an ideal society of nations on earth, living in accordance with universal ethical rules of genuine justice, righteousness, and peace. The ideal Kingdom is a universal idealization of the most important experiences of Israel in the past. The Davidic ruler, to be recognized universally, will be the perfect ethical character. The people who are to constitute the ideal community at the beginning of the ideal future are a remnant. The new people will not be sinless; but it will be ennobled and purified. The exalted moral and spiritual state of the ideal stock will manifest itself by the universal knowledge of God. That knowledge will permeate the life of the individual, as well as the relation between man and man, or the functioning of the new society of the Universal tate. Peace, justice, and righteousness will prevail everywhere. Jerusalem will be a center of rejoicing of the ideal people. All the nations will flow unto God's house in Jerusalem. For, the religion of the new Israel will be the ideal religion, to which all the nations will spontaneously be drawn.

{p. 115} By praying for the kingdom and rule of the house of the ideal David, we simply articulate our hopes that the new era will arrive, in which wickedness will have disappeared from the earth, and righteousness, as symbolized in the Kindom of God, will thenceforth reign among men. The Kingdom of God, in other words, will be realized through the rule of the ideal house of David. It is this ideal and righeous David that will preside at every gathering of the just and the upright.6h Thus, when the everlasting seat of the house of David is established, the whole world of the new era will be happy and acclaim it accordingly. For, that ideal house will signify a world united for one important purpose, namely that, in the words of Zephaniah, they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent. R. Johanan undoubtedly thought of that ideal kindom on earth,

{p. 116} when he said that every one should make an effort to meet a king personally, - be he Jewish or non-Jewish - in the present era, so that when the ideal era arrives, one will be in a position, through recognizing the difference, to appreciate the heads of the new order.

The kingdom of the house of David will thus symbolize the new ideal era of justice and righteousness prevailing throughout the world, the source of its new life and the blessings of which will come from Zion.

{p. 117} The prayers for the Jewish New Year voice admirably the prophetic-rabbinic ideology of the Kingdom on earth: "Then shall the just also see and be glad, and the upright shall exult, and the pious triumphantly rejoice, while iniquity shall close her mouth, and all wickedness shall be wholly consumed like smoke, when thou makest the dominion of arrogance to pass away from the earth. And thou, O Lord, shalt reign, thou alone over all thy works on Mount Zion, the dwelling place of thy glory, and in Jerusalem, thy holy city, as it is written in thy Holy Words, The Lord shall reign for ever, thy God,

{p. 118} O Zion, unto all generations. ... Our God and God of our fathers, reign thou in thy glory over the whole universe, and be exalted above all the earth in thine honour, and shine forth in the splendour and excellence of thy might upon all the inhabitants of thy world, that whatsoever hath been made may know that thou hast made it, and whatsoever hath been created may understand that thou hast created it, and whatsoever hath breath in its nostriles may say, The Lord God of Israel is King, and his dominion ruleth over all."

The same thought is expressed in the Kaddish prayer recited by the mourners at the burial of their relation: "May his great name be magnified and sanctified in the world that is to be created anew, where . . . he will rebuild the city of Jerusalem, and establish his temple in the midst thereof; and will uproot all alien worship from the earth and restore the worship of the true God. O may the Holy One, blessed be he, reign in his sovereignty and glory during your life and during the life of the house of Israel, even speedily and at a near time."


(2) Plato's Utopia



Translated with an Introduction by Trevor J. Saunders

Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1970.


Let's assume we have the convenient number of five thousand and forty farmers and protectors of their holdings, and let the land with its houses be divided up into the same number of parts, so that a man and his holding always go together. Divide the total first by two, then by three: you'll see it can be divided by four and five and every number right up to ten. Everyone who legislates should have sufficient appreclatlon of arithmetic to know what number will be most use in every state, and why. So let's fix on the one which has the largest number of consecutive divisors. Of course, an infinite series of numbers would admit all possible divisions for all possible uses, but our 5040 admits no more than 59 (including 1 to 10 without a break), which will have to suffice for purposes of war and every peacetime activity, all contracts and dealings, and for taxes and grants.


... You'll find the ideal society and state, and the best code of laws, where the old saying 'friends' property is genuinely shared' is put into practice as widely as possible throughout the entire state. Now I don't know whether in fact this situation - a community of wives, children and all property - exists anywhere today, or will ever exist, but at any rate in such a state the notion of 'private property' will have been

{p. 208} by hook or by crook completely eliminated from life. Everything possible will have been done to throw into a sort of common pool even what is by nature 'my own', like eyes and ears and hands, in the sense that to judge by appearances they all see and hear and act in concert. Everybody feels pleasure and pain at the same things, so that they all praise and blame with complete unanimity. To sum up, the laws in force impose the greatest possible unity on the state - and you'll never produce a better or truer criterion of an absolutely perfect law than that. It may be that gods or a number of the children of gods inhabit this kind of state: if so, the life they live there observing these rules, is a happy one indeed. And so men need look no further for their ideal: they should keep this state in view and try to hnd the one that most nearly resembles it. Thls ls what we've put our hand to, and if in some way it could be realized, it would come very near immortality and be second only to the ideal. Later, God willing, we'll describe a third best. But for the moment, what description should we give of this second-best state? What's the method by which a state llke that is produced ?


First of all, the citizens must make a distribution of land and houses; they must not farm in common, which is a practice too demanding for those born and bred and educated as ours are. But the distribution should be made with some such intention as this: each man who receives a portion of land should regard It as the common possession of the entire state. The land is his ancestral home and he must cherish it even more than children cherish their mother; furthermore, Earth is a goddess, and mistress of mortal men. (And the gods and splrlts already established in the locality must be treated with the same respect.)


Additional measures must be taken to make sure that these arrangements are permanent: the number of hearths estab-

{p. 209} lished by the initial distribution must always remain the same; it must neither increase nor decrease. The best way for every state to ensure this will be as follows: the recipient of a holding should always leave from among his children only one heir to inherit his establishment. This will be his favourite son, who will succeed him and give due worship to the ancestors (who rank as gods) of the family and state; these must be taken to include not only those who have already passed on, but also those who are still alive. As for the other children, in cases where there are more than one, the head of the family should marry off the females in accordance with the law we shall establish later; the males he must present for adoption to those citizens who have no children of their own - priority to be given to personal preferences as far as possible. But some people may have no preferences, or other families too may have surplus offspring, male or female; or, to take the opposite problem, they may have too few, because of the onset of sterility. All these cases will be investigated by the highest and most distinguished official we shall appoint. He will decide what is to be done with the surpluses or deficiencies, and will do his best to discover a device to keep the number of households down to 5040. There are many devices available: if too many children are being born, there are measures to check propagation; on the other hand, a high birth-rate can be encouraged and stimulated by conferring marks of distinction or disgrace, and the young can be admonished by words of warning from their elders. This approach should do the trick, and if in the last resort we are in complete despair about variations from our number of 5040 households, and the mutal love of wives and husbands produces an excessive flow of citizens that drives us to distraction, we have that old expedient at hand, which we have often mentioned before. We can send out colonies of people that seem suitable, with mutual goodwill between the emigrants and their mother-city. By contrast, we may be flooded with a wave of diseases or by the ravages of wars, so that bereavements depress the citizens far below the appointed number. In this event we ought not to import citizens who have been

{p. 210} brought up by a bastard education, if we can help it; but not even God, they say, can grapple with necessity.


All these considerations suggest a further law that runs like this: no private person shall be allowed to possess any gold or silver, but only coinage for day-to-day dealings which one can hardly avoid having with workmen and all other indispensable people of that kind (we have to pay wages to slaves and foreigners who work for money). ...

When a man marries or gives in marriage, no dowry whatsoever must be given or received. Money must not be deposited with anybody whom one does not trust. There must be no lending at interest, because it will be quite in order for the borrower to refuse absolutely to return both interest and principal.


(3) Playing Ethnic Politics At Ground Zero, by Sam Smith

MARCH 2003 "Progressive Review"

When Congress debated going to war with Iraq, the pro-Israel lobby stayed in the background - but not out of the fight. Leaders of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee now acknowledge it worked in tandem with the Bush administration to win passage of a resolution authorizing the president to commit U.S. troops to combat. [...]

In a recent Counterpunch article, Kathleen and Bill Christison offer an explication of this phenomenon;

[Jeff Halper] is an Israeli anthropologist, until his retirement a year ago a professor at Ben Gurion University, a transplant 30 years ago from Minnesota, a harsh critic of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and, as founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, one of the leading peace and anti-occupation activists in Israel ...

Zionism, he says, "is a very compelling narrative, but it is totally self-contained, a bubble in which Israelis separate themselves from all others." Israelis regard everyone else as irrelevant. When it is suggested that fear motivates this self-absorption, Halper disagrees. "It's not so much fear," he says; Israelis "just don't give a damn. They make everyone else a non-issue. They see themselves as the victim, and if you're the victim, you're not responsible for anything you do."

Anything goes if you are the victim, he explains: you don't care about the consequences of your actions for other people, you need not take any responsibility for the effect of your policies on others, you don't care about how others feel. Israelis always think they're right, he says. They believe everything they do is right because the Jewish nation is "right," because they are only responding to what others do to them, only retaliating. "If you combine three elements: the idea that we are right, with the notion that we're the victim, and with our great military power," he says, you have a lethal combination. ... Israel can act with brutality, but the responsibility, the fault, lies elsewhere. ...


Temple Mount Faithful and the plan to build the Third Temple: tmf.html.

Marx' Communist millenium drew on both Plato's utopia and the Jewish utopia. Karl Popper was eager to acknowledge the Platonic part, but denied the Jewish part.

Israel Shahak disclosed the derogatory attitude to non-Jews in much contemporary Jewish literature: "non-Jews ... are considered to be, literally, limbs of Satan, and that the few non-satanic individuals among them (that is, those who convert to Judaism) are in reality 'Jewish souls' who got lost ... " shahak1.html.

Both Plato's Utopia and the Jewish utopia are totalitarian. Shahak, in his book Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, repeatedly says that Judaism has a totalitarian streak (pp. 10, 15, 16, 18, 19, 102, and 103).

How was the Bible written, and by who? The Torah (including the Book of Genesis) was produced by Ezra around 458 BC, with the authority of the Persian Emperor (and under the influence of its Zoroastrian religion): bible.html.

David Ben-Gurion on the Bible & its role in re-creating Israel: bengur-bible.html.

David Ben-Gurion offers an atheistic definition of Judaism, arguing that God did not choose them; rather, they chose Him - and themselves: bengur-recollections.html.

S. G. F. Brandon on the derivation of the story of Adam and Eve from the Epic of Gilgamesh: adam-and-eve.html.

The religion of the First Persian Empire (549-330 BC) was Zoroastrianism; it has shaped Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Marxism and Radical Feminism: zoroaster-judaism.html.

The Zoroastrian religion and its progeny: the ancestry of religious fundamentalism, and Marxist millennialism: zoroastrianism.html.

Arnold J. Toynbee on the origins of the Bible: toynbee.html.

The Song of Songs, and other records of a Goddess orientation in Jewish tradition prior to Ezra: jewish-taoist.html.

On the basis of the fictioned history in the Jewish Bible, the Roman Empire divested itself of its temples and values. The Jewish Revolt of 66-70 AD: jewish-revolt.html.

It was on the basis of this fictionalized Jewish history that Christian Europe destroyed the cultures of ancient Egypt, North and South America, and Australia.

The Marxist movement rejects the Jewish religion, yet is in some ways a mutation of it, dismissing all existing civilizations (as worthless) and trying to impose a "universal standard": anti-civ.html.

Thus Mao's Cultural Revolution against the "Four Olds", the attempt to eradicate China's own culture: utopia.html.

Write to me at contact.html.