Monday, October 17, 2011

Ask Chaviva Anything!: Zionism and Non-Orthodox Jews

So many interesting questions keep pouring in, so I'm just going to keep on rolling through them. The variety is amazing, and the thought put into the question is impressive. You guys never cease to amaze me!
What do you think of Zionism? Are you a Zionist?
What do I think of Zionism? Well, I think that it was/is a powerful movement that was/is necessary for the establishment/maintenance of the State of Israel. Zionism itself was always a political movement meant to secure a national homeland for Jews of all stripes, and that homeland happens to be the biblical and modern Israel. So I think it's awesome, necessary, and without it, I think there would be fewer self-identified Jews in the world because there wouldn't be something binding us all in a physical manner.

As for whether I'm a Zionist, that's a good question, and the answer is yes. I think that a lot of the original understandings of Zionism and the reasoning and necessity for a Jewish homeland have been lost throughout the years, and sometimes I wonder if we're in a post-Zionist world, but then I'm reminded daily of the hatred of Jews that still exists and how important a homeland truly is. I do, however, think that sometimes the terminology is abused in order to validate actions by both Jews and the government of Israel.
What's you're beef with non Orthodox Jews?
My beef? I wasn't aware that I had a beef with non-Orthodox Jews. After all, more of this blog's history is probably devoted to me as a non-Orthodox Jew than an Orthodox Jew. My stance has always been that everyone's on a journey and everyone needs to travel at their own pace. As long as it's up, we're all in a good place. If you want to clarify, add a comment or re-ask your question, and feel free to cite specific instances that gave you the impression I wasn't down with my non-Orthodox folks.
What is your definition of Tzniut?
I hate to simply copy and paste, but I wrote back in my response to The Tzniut Project the following. (Also, you can read more about my take on tzniut here.)

For me, the first thing I think of is, "Where does it come from? What does it mean? Why do we do it?" I suppose it's only natural that I'm plagued with questions from square one. It's easy for me to explain to people why we cover our hair (the sotah portion) and why we cover as much or as little as we do. But when it comes to clothing and speech and thought, it's a lot harder. As many others have said, it's a type of lifestyle, but lifestyle sounds too much like choice to me, and for me, yes I choose to do it, but the outline of what's to be done is less of a choice. Tzniut means more than modesty, it means living your life in a way that others wish to emulate. Making your modest clothes look beautiful, to emanate inner beauty, to carry yourself in thought and speech in a way that others say "Wow, if that's what tzniut is, then count me in." It's being a light, really, unto all people. It's being humbled before haShem and all that's been provided us.

From Micah 6:8:
הגיד לך אדם מה טוב ומה יי דורש ממך כי אם עשות משפט ואהבת חסד והצנע לכת עם יי 
HaShem told you what is good and what is required of you: do justly, love mercy (loving-kindness), and walk humbly (modestly) with HaShem.

The word used -- הצנע (ha'tznea) -- is the same word/root for tzniut. So, basically HaShem is saying "Walk this way."