Expansion of THE  JERUSALEM POST article; BY GOL KALEV, march 25, 2023
The August 2019 Jerusalem Post Magazine: Herzl-2019)

This is a follow-up to the March 25, 2023 Jerusalem Post article: Herzl can help defuse today’s strategic issues

The book of Exodus ends with a dramatic scene: The Tabernacle is built and Godly presence enters.The ending verses of the book of Exodus set an overlooked core principle of faith: “And whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward, throughout all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and there was fire therein by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”

The common interpretation of those concluding verses is that the pillar of cloud guides the nation of Israel in their journeys – a Godly “Waze” that would navigate the nation through 40 yeats in the desert.

But a slower, more careful read of those verses, overlayed with the inners of Herzl’s words, can lead to a different conclusion: When there is Godly presence, we stay, but when that Godly presence is gone, we are obliged to venture on a journey to seek it. 

From Mount Sinai to the Tabernacle

To underscore just how dramatic and suspenseful those last verses of Exodus are, we have to delve into the mental state of the Hebrews – then and there at the footsteps of Mount Sinai.

The last known sense of Godly presence they had was reported generations earlier at the end of the book of Exodus, as Joseph explains to his brothers that their unfortunate presence in Egypt is Godly planning, and assures them that God will redeem them. Indeed, God himself makes that assurance to Jacob, right before descending into Egypt.

And so, for generations a central ethos of Hebrew life in Egypt was likely the sense that “one day” they will be redeemed by God. In addition, it seems that both the form of redemption and the way Godly presence will be revealed was unknown. This is evident from Moses’ inaugural conversation with God, and his quest to get more specificity on the God’s name so he can communicate it to the presumably skeptical nation. God dismiss this request: “I will be what I will be”, he tells Moses and more-so doubles-down on this abstractness as he instructs  Moses to tell the nation: “I will be sent me to you”

The unclarity about the form, process and nature of Gody redemption comes to an end upon arrival in Sinai: The cloud, the smoke, the voice of the Shofar, the lighting, God’s words, as well as Moses’ two tenures up the mountains in the presence of God, makes clear that Godly presence is on Mount Sinai.  

But then in those very last verses of the book of Exodus, the pillar apparently leaves Mount Sinai! While we are not explicitly told that, it is implied since the cloud is now on the Tabernacle.

A new Golden Calf or a new stage of Judaism?

The transition from Exodus to Leviticus is one of the most suspenseful moments in the bible. The Tabernacle is built, Moses gives his blessing, Godly presence enters. But now what?

Could the end of Godly presence on Mount Sinai – the destination of the Hebrews’ journey of worship as explained to Pharoah; the only place where there was a nation-wide revelation – lead the Hebrews to worry that this is the end of prophecy? Is this the end of God’s communication with Moses which after-all was so visible on Mount Sinai?

If the book of Exodus ends with this possible existential fear, the book of Leviticus begins with a nation-wide sigh of relief: Indeed, Gd calls Moses from the Tabernacle!

The transition of the point-of-orientation of Godly presence from Mount Sinai to the Tabernacle was successful! Indeed for the rest of the book of Leviticus, Moses’ conversations with God seem to be channeled through the Tabernacle.

The nation would stay for two and half months at the footsteps of (now dishollyed?) Mount Sinai, in the presence of God and with Moses communicating with God through thge Tabernacle – Utopia!

But then…..

…One day, as anticipated, Godly presence was no longer on the Tabernacle, and the defining principle instilled at the end of the book of Exodus was triggered: When there is Godly presence, we are obliged to stay, but when that presence is gone, we are obliged to go on a journey to seek it.

Indeed, for the next 40 years, the Hebrews stayed-put when there was Godly presence on the Tabernacle, but once that presence was gone, they traveled to seek it, following the pillar of cloud in the next stop. Eventually, once at home in the promised land, Godly presence arrived at the permanent Tabernacle – now the Temple, and stayed there – with an apparent interruption – for centuries.

But then,….

“Once again there was an Egypt ”

In a “dejavu” to Israel’s descent to Egypt, Godly presence that left the now destroyed Temple in Judea, became latent once the nation was in exile. Yet, like Moses, who shepherded the Hebrews from the Egypt of latent Godly presence, into sensing that presence again through Mount Sinai and then through the Tabernacle, Herzl designed in Zionism a vehicle for the Jews’ “return to Judaism, even before the return to the land of the Jews”.   

He wrote in his diaries: “God would not have kept us alive so long if there was not a role left for us to play in the history of mankind.”  He even suggested in his novel Altneuland that the Passover Seder which marks the exodus from Egypt, would be amended to include the modern story of the Exodus from Europe: “Once again there was an Egypt”.

But then in the spring of 1904, at the young age of 44, Herzl’s health failed him. Who will shepherd the nation into this contemporary “return to Judaism”? Is there a risk that just like in the case of the Golden Calf, once “Herzl the man who ascended us from Europe” is gone, many would misunderstand Zionism?

Could people misperceive Herzl’s Zionism to be merely a vehicle for the return to the Land of the Jews – that geography that “every schoolchild knows where to find”, just like after Moses was gone, some possibly misperceived his efforts as merely a vehicle for the return to that same land of the Jews, and once there “each man does what is right in his eyes.”?

In that spirit, Herzl wrote one last article in his final days: “Journey’s Blessings”.  In it, Herzl reiterated that Zionism, that abstract Tabernacle, will continue being a dynamic “infinite ideal”, even after we are home – because Zionism is “not just the aspiration to the Promised Land…but also the aspiration to moral and spiritual completion.”

More on: Parasha and Herzl

Disclaimer: This is an unedited draft – not yet published, nor reviewed by Rabbis or religious scholars. The author’s observation are based on his own read of the Pshat (textual), as oppose to of biblical interpreters. “Zionism, that abstract Tabernacle” is the author’s terminology, not Herzl’s.


Related articles by Gol Kalev:

Passover as Jewish particularity (Jerusalem Post)

Herzl created a new anchor for Judaism, having concluded that the primary malaise of 2,000 years of exile was not the persecution, but rather the lack of unified Jewish political leadership

The essence of the exodus from Egypt and from Europe (Jerusalem Post)

The exodus from Egypt and the one from Europe 3,000 years later are so similar that biblical critics in the far future might argue that they were on and the same

Zionism as the anchor of Judaism (Jerusalem Post Special Magazine)

Whether one likes it or not, Zionism is becoming the organizing principle of the Jewish nation-religion. It is the primary conduit through which both Jews and non-Jews relate to Judaism, whether positively or negatively. It is the one aspect of Judaism that evokes emotions, passion, anger, pride and engagement.

Related video:

Gol Kalev at the Jerusalem Leaders Leaders Summit: Judaism 3.0 as a paradigm shift in the battle against anti-Zionism

Judaism 3.0 – Judaism’s Tranformation to Zionism (Mazo Publishers, 2022)

The October 14, 2022 cover of the Jerusaelm Post Magazine – exploring the thesis of Gol Kalev’s new book, Judaism 3.0 – Judaism’s Transformation to Zionism – over the background of the Jerusalem Post on May 16, 1948

The following is a Jeruslaem Post series about the implications of Judaism 3.0:

This generation’s existential threat to Judaism

Applying Herzl’s thinking to counter Israel-bashing

 Occuptionalism: The new form of Colonialism is hijacking the Palestinian cause   

Occupationalism is enabled by the Jerusalem-based “Conflict Industry,” known for its lavish parties, insularity, high turnover and its own social hierarchy

European blood libels continue, but now there is a solution

Recognizing that we are in Judaism 3.0 would address existential threats to Judaism, but it would also provide Jewish clarity that would advance humanity

Judaism 3.0: Turning threats to Judaism into enablers of its survival

Like antisemitism in Herzl’s time, today’s Israel-bashing and assimilation of American Jewry also have hidden assets in them

Passover to Shavuot and the American-European divide

How the transition affects today’s geopolitics, the flaws of democracies and the emerging rift: Americanism vs. Europeanism

Threat to Judaism through friends, influenced by Israel-bashing movement

Applying Herzl’s thinking, the threat to Judaism might come through our friends. Such Israel-bashing-light was showcased in the Basel Zionism celebrations in 2022

Paving path to peace

A broad recognition of Judaism 3.0 would release the Arabs of the Middle-east from debilitating European dogmas that have occupied their true character for the last 100 years

See in Link: Applying Judaism 3.0 to the countering Israel-Bashing

See also The Jerusaelm Report 2022 New Year Magazine: Judaism’s transformation to Zionism – Countering the Israel-bashing movement

Recognizing that Judaism has transformed would rob the Israel-bashers of their starting point: The premise that Judaism is merely a religion.

Summary of above articles:

Gol Kalev shows how Israel-bashing is today’s existential threat to Judaism, having both a populous dogmatic retail component – Occupationalism, and institutional destruction mechanisms that deploy modern-day blood-libels. In such circumstances, Hasbara (Israeli PR) is futile. Yet, a broad global recognition that Judaism has transformed to Judaism 3.0, and Zionism is now its anchor, would dramatically mitigate the threat.

Taking it a step deeper, Gol then explores the depth of the existential threat by showing how the break from centuries old system of Divine-right-monarchy, created a bifurcation: Divine-right-republic in the United States and non-Divine neo-monarchy in Europe. Deploying Herzl’s political philosophy and his view of the inseparability of corruption from parliamentary Democracy, Gol demonstrates the imbedded danger of a system of “following laws” as opposed to doing so alongside an ideological Divine conscienceless: Passover to Shavuot and the American-European Divide

Gol then shows how Israel-bashers must stay in Judaism 2.0. A broad global recognition that Zionism is now the anchor of Judaism would rob Israel-bashers of their starting point, and would emancipate Palestinians and other Middle-Eastern Arabs from the debilitating European Occupation of their true character, which in turn would lead to peace: Paving the path to peace

For more of Gol’s geopolitical articles: Europe and Jerusalem


Europe should benefit from Herzl’s vision

Europeanism vs. Americanism – a new global philosophical divide?

Judaism 3.0 as a cornerstone of the Biden administration’s efforts to counter antisemitism

GOL’S BOOK is NOW AVAILABLE oN AMAZON AND in stores in israel and the united states

Watch recap and video-clips from the book’s launch party: A revolutionary approach to countering Israel-bashing

Judaism 3.0: Judaism’s Transformation to Zionism – Launched March 7, 2022

Gol Kalev discusses his thoughts from participating in the 125th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress – clip from Episode 3 of the Brazil Jewish Academy course – Applying Herzl.
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The battle for Europe

The resurfacing of European Colonialism

Hijacking the Palestinian cause

European opposition to the Jewish state

Time for a new European peace conference

Europe should benefit from Herzl’s vision

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Watch Gol discuss his new book in an i24 interview