Much has been written about the theological, cultural, and social foundations of the Zionist movement and its historical development. While scholars have discussed the immigration of the first Hasidim to the Land of Israel in the late eighteenth century, little attention has been paid to the Hasidic leaders who were active in Mandatory Palestine between the two World Wars, some of whom had a positive attitude toward Zionism. My article addresses this scholarly gap and focuses on one figure: the Rebbe painter (Admor ha-Tsayar) Avraham Yaakov Shapira (1886–1962) of the Drohobych dynasty. In this first academic study examining his sermon book Netivot Shalom, I will show how he coherently used the Hasidic homiletic style, as well as textual and oral traditions, to reinforce a commitment to the settlement of Zion and cultivate a positive attitude toward the Jewish people, including the secular settlers. Following in his father’s footsteps, he fervently taught that the way to the hearts of secular settlers was not through rebuke, but through peace, shared mission, and unity. He viewed the activists’ approach to settling Zion as an act of divine action revealing the “new Torah”, and saw their success as a miracle manifested through nature.
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© 2023 by the author.
- Jewish Arab conflict in Palestine
- homiletical writings
- land of Israel
- natural revelation