I have seen in this article that the Bobover Rebbe, Rabbi Shelomo of Bobov, is quoted in ruling halachically that the Bobover Rebbe negates a racial definition of being Jewish;

rather, the yardstick for measuring Jewish identity is Torah observance.

The footnote links to Kedushat Tzion, part II, pp. 60-85. Does anyone know where to find this, since on internet, only volume 1 can be read.

  • 3
    He is not changing the definition of me hu Yehudi but rather making the point that being Jewish entails living a life according to Torah rather than a political ideology. The reality of every Jew is the Jewish soul connected to Hashem not a secular political ideology
    – Dude
    Commented May 24 at 18:01

2 Answers 2


The phrase that Jews are a nation only because of the Torah was first said by Rav Saadia Gaon Sefer Emunos V’dayos 3:7. (אין אומתינו אומה אלא בתורה) but he certainly wasn't the creator of the concept. Judaism is a a religion and the Torah is the core of that religion.


I've seen 3 common answers to this question. They fall into:

  1. The Religious Answer
  2. The Cultural/Ethnic answer
  3. The Persecution Answer

I accept 1, the religious answer. We were not a separate people until we agreed to follow the Torah, and protect it with our lives. New Jews are made by their agreement to follow the Torah and convert to Judaism.

The Cultural Ethnic answer is playing out in Israel right now especially in this conflict. Suddenly I hear other Jews questioning the "Jewishness" of others depending on their opinion of the current Israeli state. Israel as a nation hasn't existed in about 2,500 years, and this current secular state is now the litmus test for Jews? I'm not a fan but this is commong.

The persecution answer is at least partly accepted in Israel. Since the time of Ezra, Rabbinic Jews only consider those born of Jewish mothers to be Jewish (Karaites disagree). So a kid with only a Jewish father or grandfather is 0% Jewish and needs to convert. This was mostly the status quo until the Holocaust, in which Hitler would kill Jews who only had a Jewish father, or Jewish grandfather, etc. Hitler's definition of a Jew went beyond the religious definition, and caused almost all Jews in Europe to be completely wiped out. Because of this, Israel will accept Jews in a much larger degree who only have patrilineal descent because of how Hitler and others persecute Jews.

  • I, ofcourse, also agree to the first notion. Are there explicit sources that say something like this?
    – Shmuel
    Commented May 26 at 20:25
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    "Because of this, Israel will accept Jews in a much larger degree who only have patrilineal descent because of how Hitler and others persecute Jews." It accepts them as immigrants, not as Jews.
    – Yishai
    Commented May 26 at 21:18

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