The Fundamentals of a Misreading

in European Judaism
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  • 1 Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies
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It is perhaps because the greatest unifier of Jews during the past half-century has been the idea that Israel is the Jewish homeland, that one of the least doubted notions is that the State and the land are integrally tied up with Jewishness. Jewish attachment to Israel is based on two themes: the physical need for a country – which is indisputable so will not be discussed here – and a literal reading of Scripture that, although it seems to reflect the plain meaning of the text reasonably enough, may well be a misreading and require careful reconsideration. This paper describes how one early rabbinic author critically analyses the effects of mistaking the ideas associated with Zion and the Holy Land with the places to which the names refer. For him these names refer to internal spaces rather than real locations, and he argues that confusing ideas with geography is profoundly damaging to religious life and no less than idolatrous. This paper outlines his views and their background.

European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe


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