MembersFrom Messianic Hopes to Zionism

Is the modern State of Israel a messianic phenomenon of Judaism? What place does Zionism play in the lead-up to the messianic age?

By Solomon Kirsch | | Topics: Jewish Messianism
Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

The answer to the above questions depends on one’s definition of messianism, and there are plenty of events in the history of pre-state Israel that were definitely messianic.

We must begin by understanding that classic, traditional messianism in Judaism is somewhat complicated. There are all kinds of ideas, texts, opinions, as well as different expectations and beliefs.

There is what we might call the “fantastic,” where the world as we know it changes, and the messianic leader has an almost mythological stature. Others expect a simple human messiah, or reductionist form of messianism, where the Kingdom of Israel is restored under a leader of such exalted qualities that he becomes the de facto messiah. Some believe in apocalyptic and catastrophic occurrences, others that these are not necessary, and that peace and prosperity will ultimately be achieved leading to a natural and humanistic messianic era.

Although there are a wide range of beliefs, for the most part, religious Jews throughout history expected the return to Israel of the Jewish people, catastrophic events, and at the same...

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