Question says it all.

Did his position change? Is it different from his predecessors? What specifically is it, in detail? How does it differ from Rebbe's of other chassidim (like Satmer)?

1 Answer 1


Rabbi Friedman summarised his opinion in a Q&A for teenagers as follows:

The general (admittedly simplified) argument of anti-zionist Chassidim can be traced to the Gemara in Shabbat that states that we cannot go back and have Israel as a country until Moshiach brings us there. They conclude therefore that, because the Zionists went ahead and did it anyway, it is treif, and should be opposed.

The Rebbe differed from other Chassidic Rebbes in that he did not conclude that the Israeli Zionist government is treif. He concluded that what we currently see in Israel is not a true state. Needing permission from America and worrying about world opinion is the proof.

So he may be philosophically opposed to the secularism in the Israeli government, but sees it as salvageable, rather than treif.

Rabbi Friedman was a translator for the Rebbe and knew his positions well. This explanation might be an over simplification though, so I look forward to seeing more answers to this interesting question.

Here is what his predecessors said. It sounds like they were in agreement in principle, but that his statements apply bedi'eved, and theirs l'chatchila. After the fact, turns out the Zionists didn't force any redemption, so the Rebbe maintained a positive attitude towards improving the state of Israel, rather than decrying it.

Once again, I am not an expert, so I look forward to other answers that go into more detail.

The 5th Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Schneersohn, the Rebbe Rashab, joined forces with other leading Ultra Orthodox Rabbonim and penned a letter called Ohr Layesharim, a letter laying out a religious opposition to zionism. He stated p.57:

Even if these men were loyal to Hashem and His Torah, and even if there were a chance that they would achieve their goal, we must not listen to them in this matter, to make our redemption with our own power. Is it not forbidden even to force the end with excessive prayher (Rashi Ketuvot 111a)? All the more so that with power and wordly methods, that is, to leave exile by force, we are not permitted... And this is against our true hope, that Hashem will bring us Moshiach Tzidkeinu soon and our redemption will come through Hashem Himself"

And the 6th Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the Rebbe Rayatz, in Igrot Kodesh 947:

I am against the proposed Jewish state. It would be a calamity for the Jews, and in a short time they will realize what a calamity it is.

and ibid 106:

I do not know the nature and goal of this organization [which I have been asked to join]. If its goal is to strengthen Torah and mitzvot, we already have our ways and methods, the smoothed path we have inherited from our holy teachers, in which we lived and which we will give over to our children. And if its goal is for the building of Eretz Yisrael, as its name indicates - we were once a great nation and kingdom, by the grace of the most high G-d, but because of His anger at our sins, after thousands of prophetic warnings, we were driven from our holy Land. Hashem our G-d but us in exile, and promised us that at a time known only to Him He would redeem us. And it is clear that we will not return to the Land by the power of our hands. G-d, Who placed us in exile - it is He Wh will redeem His holy people, and with His holy arm will He save us, and He will bring us back to Him and to our holy Land, not the organization of "Fund to Build the Land" or any similar organization.

NOTE: I have not got access to these sefarim, so I can't confirm if these translations are correct. I found them on an anti-zionist flier in my shul (nb I don't daven in an anti-zionist shul, I don't know where it came from). The quote from the Rebbe Rashab was correct, so I brought those quotes as well. I will try to locate these sefarim (or if someone else has access, please comment).

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    "Needing permission from America and worrying about world opinion is the proof." אין בין העולם הזה לימות המשיח אלא שעבוד מלכויות בלבד Commented May 14 at 17:15
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    The essential change with the Rebbe, in contrast to the Rashab, is based on the source from Iyov which was at the root of the objections by the Rashab, namely Iyov 11:14. "אִם־אָ֣וֶן בְּ֭יָדְךָ הַרְחִיקֵ֑הוּ וְאַל־תַּשְׁכֵּ֖ן בְּאֹהָלֶ֣יךָ עַוְלָֽה׃ " Still during the lifetime of the Rashab, the perception was that the Zionist movement was "under their their control." It could be stopped. Post-Holocaust, the Rebbe recognized that (via Divine Providence) the reality had changed. The possibility of control was over. Only the option of positive influence remained. Commented May 22 at 14:07
  • @Deuteronomy chabad.org/multimedia/video_cdo/aid/3163192/jewish/… Commented May 22 at 14:22
  • @Deuteronomy אין בין עולם הזה לימות המשיח אלא שעבוד מלכויות בלבד can also mean that the "Malchuyot" becomes benign, instead of always destructive during the first part of the Days of Moshiach. That is specifically how the Rebbe described the government in the United States and what he witnessed with the fall of the Soviet Union and the lighting of the public Hanukkah Menorah in Red Square in 5750. The Rebbe literally cried upon seeing this. Commented May 22 at 14:25
  • @Deuteronomy youtube.com/watch?v=3bri9V0gjRg Commented May 22 at 14:26

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