A prominent Jewish messianist has called for religious Jews to disengage from the State of Israel due to the evacuation of Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip last summer.
In a new book entitled "Between Light and Darkness," Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, a leader of the Chabad Chassidic sect that believes its chief rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson is the messiah, says religious Jews should view the secular government as an "administrative body, like the British government who controlled Israel before the country’s establishment.
Wolpe also says, "The religious Zionist public should prove that the State is unholy, and cannot serve as a means for achieving salvation. It must not pray for the country's wellbeing. We are now in exile and are waiting for the kingdom of the house of David."
Wolpe's call represents a sharp change from traditional Chabad-Lubavich thinking and match similar calls by some segments of the national-religious community to disengage from the State in reaction to the Gaza disengagement. While Chabad, like most ultra-orthodox groups, has always been reticent about secular Zionism, group members serve in the army and have rejected insular approach of other orthodox groups in favor of engaging the secular world in order to encourage Jews to observe the mitzvoth, or commandments
Sharon a 'false Messiah'
The cover of "Between Light and Darkness" carries a picture of the lit Temple's Menorah, and underneath it a darkened picture of the Knesset's building.
In the book itself, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is referred to as a "false Messiah" and as Haman, the historic nemesis of the Jewish people.
The bulk of the book is dedicated to the disengagement plan and to the uncertainties it spurred within the religious Zionist public.
"So many prayers were said from the bottom of the heart in the last year, in a bid to prevent the eviction and destruction," Wolpe writes. "The heart must wonder, why did God do this to this land? How is it possible that such a wicked man like the prime minister was able to jump over so many political hurdles, until he achieved his goal, the crime of the withdrawal" he asks, and answers:
"It is we that gave him the power. We determined that him, his state and his government are the beginning of our salvation. We blessed him before an open bible every Saturday. With such powers, it is no wonder that the false messiah storms forward without stopping, while taking his devotees and the rest of the Israeli people down to the abyss with him."
‘Replace Israel with true Kingdom of David’
According to Wolpe, the pullout was a sign from God that there is no relation between the existence of the democratic state and salvation, and that the religious public should therefore cease to believe in the holiness of the State and its institutions.
Referring to the religious Zionist teens who forcefully attempted to prevent the disengagement, Wolpe writes that "the Orange youth prays only for one thing: That the current rule, which is called 'the State of Israel' is abolished and replaced with the true Kingdom of David."
In the post-pullout period, Wolpe's ideas are not a rare sight among the rightist public. In a conference held in Jerusalem a few days ago, the participants wholeheartedly supported the principles expressed in the book, and thousands danced to the words of the song, "we do not believe in the rule of the heretics, and disregard their laws."