Israeli Values Religious Voices

Letter 49 - Rabbi Eitan Zur

To the State of Israel and all its inhabitants,

In the place where I grew up, it meant a lot to call someone an ideologist. I also wanted to receive such a compliment. 

What is the point of ideology without a dialogue? These are two completing concepts. Ideology is the cohesive end of every thought and worldview, that same set of ideas which dictates a person's lifestyle. Dialogue is the reviving source and the ability to win new values that come out of an encounter with the world, with people and with texts. Ideology without a dialogue, will collapse into itself, while a dialogue without ideology will hover in space without reality. It is good to hold both opposites, which in the power of affinity and the tension between them can be fruitful and create balance between preservation and renewal, flexibility and rigidity in the encounter between me and you.

These days we are at the peak of disintegrating polarity, sometimes it seems that there is no turning back from it. The current situation emphasizes how much we are invested in the ideology. The dialogue, with all its qualities, is distinctively lacking. Dani Lassari, founder of the Dialogue Academy, teaches that our two eyes, due to their different location in space, create slightly different “pictures”. When the brain approaches to solve this contradiction, it does not create an average between these two points of view nor do you apply them both to some blurry image as would have happened perhaps if we had simply placed the two pictures on top of each other. It merges the two of them in order to create a three-dimensional space, a matter that not only conveys information about distances but constitutes a new quality of vision. The different perspectives of our eyes are like the different perspectives between us. May we succeed to turn the encounter with a person in front of us, whatever their opinion may be, whether we agree or not, to such an encounter, that will  give us a new quality of vision and a new quality of understanding the reality in which we live and work. 

In order to create a possibility for such reality, it is worth remembering that discourse and prayer are two words with deep affinity to one another - “Isaac went out to the field one evening to meditate” (Genesis 24, 63). It would be good if we also attributed to the discourse between us a little of the holiness reserved for prayer and meditation. In addition, in the spirit of the words of Rabbi Yosef Isaac Shneerson, Messiah is also a euphemism for discourse (in Hebrew), discourse that  arises from the innermost point in a person’s soul.

May we choose an intentional discourse, dialogue alongside ideology. It is possible and it allows the very much needed repair. I wish all of us to recognise the potential of creating change through discourse and dialogue. Extracting and discovering the same depth and a new quality of vision that has the power to crack barriers of alienation, to renew affinity and to expand the boundaries of our own identity


Rabbi Eitan Zur

Rabbi Eitan Zur is a secular humanist Rabbi, ordained by the “Tmura” Institute.

Married, a father of three, he lives in Kibbutz Gaash. Rabbi Tzur works in the fields of education, culture and community. He is the Founder and leader of the Forum for Shared Society. 

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