GALUT (Golah ) (Heb. גָּלוּת, גּוֹלָה), exile.
The Hebrew term galut expresses the Jewish conception of the condition and feelings of a nation uprooted from its homeland and subject to alien rule. The term is essentially applied to the history and the historical consciousness of the Jewish people from the destruction of the Second Temple to the creation of the State of Israel. The residence of a great number of members of a nation, even the majority, outside their homeland is not definable as galut so long as the homeland remains in that nation's possession.
Only the loss of a political-ethnic center and the feeling of uprootedness turns Diaspora (Dispersion) into galut (Exile). The feeling of exile does not always necessarily accompany the condition of exile. It is unique to the history of the Jewish people that this feeling has powerfully colored the emotions of the individual as well as the national consciousness. The sense of exile was expressed by the feeling of alienation in the countries of Diaspora, the yearning for the national and political past, and persistent questioning of the causes, meaning, and purpose of the exile. Jewish mystics perceived a defect in the Divine Order which they connected with alienation in this world – "the exile of the Divine Presence."
The Diaspora Pattern
The process of Jewish dispersion in various countries during different periods was due to the combination of national catastrophes, military defeats, destructions, persecutions, and expulsions, as well as to normal social and economic processes – migration to new places of settlement and transition to new means of livelihood. The expression "Egyptian Exile" for the period before the Exodus is merely a homiletic conception of later date; but there is no doubt that Jewish dispersion had already begun in a normal way a long time before the concept of exile developed. The conquests of the Arabs between 632 and 719 changed the pattern of the Diaspora by uniting large parts of the Jewry of the Roman Empire with that of the Persian Kingdom. The Muslim armies extirpated the Jews from the Arabian peninsula, with the exception of those in Yemen and Wadi al-Qara, but created favorable conditions of development for the exiles in the remainder of the lands of Islam. In the Christian world, this period is marked by the progress of the Jewish dispersion in Gaul and later in Germany and Britain. From the 11th century, the Jewry of the West (see *Germany) managed to maintain itself under increasingly difficult conditions and even spread to central Germany. The changes in the territorial supremacies of Christianity and Islam as a result of the Crusades and the Reconquest in Spain, as well as the *expulsions in the Christian countries, brought changes in the configuration of the Jewish Diaspora from one period to another.
By processes of both expulsion and attraction, the Jews penetrated the expanses of Poland-Lithuania during the 15th century. The migration eastward was halted by the total prohibition imposed on the admission of Jews by the grand duchy of Moscow (see *Russia). After 1497 there were no professing Jews (except for the underground of forced converts –*anusim) left in all of the lands bordering the Atlantic, including England. During the 17th century, however, the Jews returned and penetrated to the Netherlands and England. The Jewish population in the Ottoman Empire had increased in numbers after the Spanish Expulsion. The largest Jewish concentrations during the 16th to 18th centuries were to be found in the Ottoman Empire and the kingdom of Poland-Lithuania. The persecutions of 1648–49 (see Bogdan *Chmielnicki) started off the migration of Jews in Eastern Europe toward the West, a process which continued and intensified throughout the modern era.
At the close of the 18th century, the partitions of Poland as well as the French Revolution led to a Jewish expansion toward the western provinces of Russia, the northeastern provinces of Austria, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the French territories. Economic, social, cultural, and political developments made Ashkenazi European Jewry the most important in the Diaspora, both numerically and in dynamism, throughout the 19th century and the first 30 years of the 20th. As formerly, liberalist or restrictive trends in this period also determined the pattern of Jewish dispersion in the world. It was only in 1917 that the revolution in Russia abolished the *Pale of Settlement and removed the last barriers to the settlement of Jews throughout the territory of the great Eurasian power.
In America individual Sephardi Jews had already begun to arrive during the 16th century. However, the emigration of considerable groups of Jews there was only to begin during the mid-19th century when many left Germany; the transfer of masses of Jews from Eastern Europe to the new world, especially the United States, only began during the last quarter of the 19th century. The flow of mass imigration to the United States and later also to Canada and the South American countries, coupled with the impetus of Zionism and trends of modern nationalism, have contributed to the shift to new centers of gravity. The catastrophe of the persecutions in Germany from 1933, the conquests of the Nazis until 1939, and the decimation of European Jewry in the Holocaust from 1939 until 1945, created a situation in the 1970s such that the numerical majority in the Jewish Diaspora was to be found on the American continent, while Ereẓ Israel had the third largest Jewish concentration in the world (Soviet Russia was the second). In the early 21st century, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the exodus of over one million Jews, the largest Diaspora communities were the United States and France. In Ereẓ Israel, the independent Jewish politico-national center has been revived. As in the Second Temple era, through the State of Israel, the Jewish nation has regained the basic pattern of a Diaspora with a state as its center (see *Diaspora).
Second Temple and Mishnah Period
It can be assumed that the severe persecutions in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes and the success of the ensuing rebellion contributed to the Jews' feeling of being out of place in the Diaspora and their yearning for Judea. Despite this, the growth of the Diaspora was more pronounced in the hellenistic kingdoms and in the Roman Empire. Prophecies and poems of pietists gave expression to the tragedy of the galut combined with the feeling of the inevitability and continuity of the Diaspora. In the second half of the second century b.c.e. the sibyls explain to their nation, "it is thy fate to leave thine holy soil" (Or. Sibyll. 3:267), a fate described as encompassing the whole world and causing hatred toward those who are dispersed because of their way of life (ibid. 3:271–2). In the second half of the first century it was stated that, "among every nation are the dispersed of Israel according to the word of God" (Ps. of Sol. 9:2); the conquests of Pompey were also seen as a cause of the galut (ibid. 17:13–14, 18). Even prior to the destruction of the Temple were sensed the dangers which stemmed from the general dispersion, as foretold in the biblical warnings (Test. Patr., Ash. 7:2–7). On the other hand there were groups who expressed the feelings of the people in their own cultural terms and wrote favorably of the Diaspora and their neighbors, tending to regard the dispersion as a normal and even desirable situation (Philo, De Legatione ad Gaium, 281; Jos., Ant., 4:115–6).
After the destruction of the Temple the question of the galut as existence under foreign rule without a Temple and without a spiritual center was discussed. In the spirit and the style of the Bible, it was said that "behold we are yet this day in captivity, where Thou hast scattered us, for a reproach and a curse and a punishment" (i Bar. 3:8); but thought was directed mainly to the possibility of existing in a land of gentiles and under their rule (ibid. 1:12, 4:6). The question of the meaning and the justification of the exile begins to be asked in all earnestness: the evil nations dwell in prosperity and the chosen people suffer; the author of iv Ezra (3:32–34; 6:59) argues with his Creator, asking: "Have the deeds of Babylon been better than those of Zion? Has any other nation known Thee besides Zion?… If the world has indeed been created for our sakes, why do we not enter into possession of our world? – How long shall this endure?" He is bitter about the fact of "the reproach of the nations" and the profaning of God's name which occurs in the galut (ibid. 4:23–25), but he lays no stress on the physical suffering entailed. Accepting neither the cosmic explanation of the exile, nor the mysteriousness of the ways of the Lord, nor the world to come, which nullify the valuation of the events in this world (ibid. 4:9–10), he seeks to explain the exile as a road of suffering which must be traveled in order to reach the good (ibid. 7:3–16). He is comforted in the exile by the vision of the lion – the Messiah – who will destroy the eagle – Rome (ibid. ch. 12).
The author of ii Baruch (10:9–16) almost despairs of all life, from the survival of the people to cultivating the land, a mood which is also found in the "ascetics who multiplied" (bb 60b) after the destruction of the Temple. The essence of the tragedy of the exile seems to him, too, to be a diminution of the honor of God in the eyes of the gentiles and the degradation of the Jewish people (ii Bar. 67:2–8). The deep spiritual shock which followed in the wake of the dispersion is expressed in this book: there were Jews who despaired of the possibility of spiritual leadership of the people after the destruction of the Temple and the cessation of the sacrifices and the priesthood (ibid. 77:13–14). In the spirit of Jabneh and from the power of the Torah, which exists even in the galut, the author answers their despondency: "Shepherds and lamps and fountains come from the law…if therefore ye have respect to ponder on the law and are intent upon wisdom the spiritual leadership will not be lacking" (ibid. 77:15–16).
Thus the problems of the galut, its meaning, and its essence were considered in great depth and with considerable apprehension during the first two generations after the destruction of the Temple. It is true that the ideas voiced in the Apocrypha were not heard by the people in general and their influence was not noticeable, but they reflect a feeling and emotional state which are similar to those expressed in the Mishnah, the Talmud, and the Midrashim.
The thinking of the tannaim and amoraim on the galut and its meaning is extensive and varied, developing in the light of the changes which took place from the days of the Second Temple until about the fifth century c.e. In general the patterns of thought and the imagery of the Bible prevail, together with those of many apocryphal works. However, they express their feelings with greater and more penetrating detail, arising from the depths of their degradation and the suffering occasioned by the rise of Christianity, when they passed from subjugation to alien pagans to subjugation to the rule of a Jewish heresy.
Apprehension of the pain of the destruction was so severe that "the ascetics in Israel who refused to eat meat and to drink wine increased"; this recourse to complete abstinence, whose intention was self-annihilation of the nation ("it is fitting that we should decree upon ourselves not to marry nor beget children") was not accepted, and the moderate path of limited mourning and remembering the destruction of the Temple was followed instead (bb 60b). Yet from the beginning the galut was a phenomenon which demanded an explanation: even the gentiles asked: "And His people, what did they do to Him that He exiled them from their land?" (arn2 1, 4). The sages could not be satisfied with a general answer about the sins of the people, and they gave their opinion about the specific causes of the destruction of the Second Temple. Unlike the first exile, which resulted from idol worship, incest, and the shedding of innocent blood, the second destruction was caused by baseless hatred and the love of money (Yoma 9b). Alongside these realistic types of explanation, there is a widespread tendency to connect the galut with the past and to find in it links for the future. Abraham had to decide whether to choose for his children either "Gehinnom or foreign kings," and some say that Abraham chose Gehinnom for himself and God chose the foreign kings for him (Gen. R. 44:21). Even the ram struggling among the thorns was a symbol for Abraham that "thy children will be trapped by iniquities and be entangled by troubles … and by foreign kings" (tj, Ta'an. 2:4, 65d; Gen. R. 56:9; Mid. Ḥag. to Gen. 22:13). When the tribes in the desert "wept without cause," "from that hour it was determined that the Temple would be destroyed in order that Israel would be exiled among the nations" and there would then be a reason for their weeping (Num. R. 16:20; Ta'an. 29a). R. Abbahu, at the end of the third century, compares the expulsions of the people and their banishment as punishment for violating the covenant with the expulsion and banishment of Adam from the Garden of Eden after he had transgressed the commandment of the Lord (pdrk 119b). The exile from "country to country" was considered one of the ten decrees proclaimed against Adam (arn2 42, 116). The sages give varied interpretations to the dispersion and its temporary nature, regarding as a specially severe decree the fact that the Jews were not concentrated in one place, but scattered among the nations "as a man scatters grain with a winnowing shovel and not one grain sticks to another" (Sifra 6:6). Everywhere the Jews are only "temporary" (i.e., wanderers) and the "dwellers" (the permanent population) are the children of Esau (Deut. R. 1, 22). The suffering of the exile is equal to all other suffering combined (Sif. Deut. 43); it is "like death and the abyss" (Mid. Ps. to 71:4). In the galut Israel is a mendicant (ibid. to 9:15), deprived of its pride, which has been given to the gentiles (Ḥag. 5b). There is no way for the exiled nation to defend itself since "Israel is among the 70 mighty nations; what can [Israel] do?" (pr 9:32a).
The very soul of the Jew is affected in the galut, which renders him "unclean with iniquities" (Song R. 8:14). Nor is the individual soul alone affected: the galut detracts from the completeness of the Kingdom of Heaven (Mid. Ps. to 97:1). The Shekhinah"moans like a dove" and the "Holy One blessed be He roars like a lion" over the destruction of the Temple and over the children of Israel … "Whom I have exiled among the nations" (Ber. 3a; cf. Ḥag. 5b). From the time of R. Akiva it became accepted belief that "in every place where Israel was exiled the Shekhinah was exiled with them" (Mekh., Pisḥa 14; Meg. 29a; tj, Ta'an. 1:1, 64a; etc.). This idea connected the exile of Israel with the fate of the world as a whole and became a source of encouragement and faith.
Despite the feeling of suffering and the oppression of the exile, the rabbis at all times firmly believed that the galut would not mean total destruction. God had made the nations of the world swear that "they would not subjugate Israel overmuch"; the great sufferings in the galut constituted a violation of this oath, and this would hasten the advent of the Messiah (Ket. 111a; Song R. 2:7).
The rabbis saw a cause for satisfaction even in the negative aspects of the galut. The suffering emphasizes the faithfulness of Israel and gives it an opportunity to say to God "How many religious persecutions and harsh edicts have they decreed against us in order to nullify Thy sovereignty over us, but we have not done so" (Mid. Ps. to 5:6). The sages saw the dispersion as a prerequisite for the redemption: in the settlement of Jews throughout the whole Roman Empire ("if one of you is exiled to Barbary and another to Sarmatia") they saw (in the second half of the second century) a fulfillment of this condition (Song R. 2:8; pdrk 47a–48a; pr 15:71b). Nevertheless, according to the opinion of Rav: "When Israel merits it, the majority of them will be in the land of Israel and a minority in Babylonia, but when they are unworthy of it, the majority will be in Babylonia and the minority in Ereẓ Israel" (Gen. R. 98:9).
The increase in the number of converts in the Roman Empire gave added meaning to the dispersion. At the beginning of the third century the amoraim R. Johanan and R. Eleazar gave the interpretation that "the Lord did not exile Israel among the nations except in order that there should be added to them converts" (Pes. 87b). In the eyes of the homilists who expressed similar sentiments, the people of Israel was like a "flask of perfume," which emits its scent only when it is shaken, and to Abraham, who made converts, it was said, as a sign for his descendants, "Wander about in the world, and your name will become great in my world" (Song R. 1:4). This evaluation of the Diaspora is similar to that of Philo and Josephus, and it is possible that the amoraim are only repeating views which were widespread for a long time before them, when the conversion movement was at its height. With the adoption of Christianity by the Roman Empire and with the decrease in conversion, the dispersion took on an additional aspect of national security. When a Christian sectarian boasted, "We are better than you," for "when you were given permission to destroy Rome, you left none in it except a pregnant woman" and "you have been with us many years and we do not do anything to you," R. Oshaiah answered that it is not the mercy of the rulers which assured survival in exile, but the political situation. Their wide dispersion saves the Jewish people from total destruction and thus "the Lord did a righteous thing to Israel in scattering them among the nations" (Pes. 87b; cf. ser 11:54). As a favor to His exiled people the Lord sees to it that no one kingdom dominates the world: "He divided His world into two nations, into two kingdoms … in order to preserve Israel" (ibid. 20:11, 4). In the ancient promise to the patriarchs that their children would be "as the dust of the earth," the rabbis found a symbol of the galut; "As the dust of the earth is scattered from one end of the world to the other, thus your children will be scattered from one end of the world to the other, as the dust of the earth causes even metal vessels to wear out but exists forever, so Israel is eternal but the nations of the world will become nought … as the dust of the earth is threshed, so thy children will be threshed by the nations …" (Gen. R. 41:9).
Like Ezekiel, and in the same language and spirit, the sages deal with the problem of religious observance in the Diaspora. The absence of sacrifices and of the Temple was liable to undermine the foundations of the religion. Some maintained that from a religious point of view the Jewish people in exile could be compared to a slave who had been sold and the laws obtaining in his former master's house did not apply to him: "When we were in His city and in His house and in His Temple we served him; now that we have been exiled among the nations – let us act as they do" (ser 29:159; Sifra, Be-Ḥukkotai 8:4). An echo of the fear expressed by the author of i Baruch is heard in the saying of the sages that in the exile "knowledge has been taken from them … they will be lacking in the study of the Torah" (Mekh., Ba-Ḥodesh, 1). These were, however, the effects of the first shock. The people overcame them, finding solace in the teaching of the sages. The commandments assumed new value in the galut and the Torah was studied. When the national organism sought means of defense and survival for its separate life as a community in an alien environment, it was realized that in exile the nation had lost all signs of social-national unity; "for what has remained to them … all the boons which had been given to them have been taken from them; and were it not for the Torah which remained to them, they would be no different from the nations of the world" (Sifra, Be-Hukkotai 8:10). In the galut the Torah was both the anchor and the protective wall for survival, preserving unity; this had already been symbolized in the promise of the "dust of the earth": "As the dust of the earth is not blessed except with water, so Thy children are not blessed except by the virtue of the Torah" (Gen. R. 41:9). Even God wondered at the way they maintained their religious-national status in the long exile: "My child I am full of wonder, how did you wait for Me all these years? – and Israel answered … were it not for the Sefer Torah which Thou hast written for us the nations of the world would already have made us lost to Thee" (pdrk). The Torah is the marriage contract which was given to the faithful wife.
To the sages, the social and psychological battle of the people as a whole and of each individual to resist the blandishments of *assimilation in the exile gave meaning to the trouble and sufferings which resulted from it. From their knowledge of the conditions of life in the exile they understood that "had they found a refuge, they would not have returned" (Gen. R. 33:6). In interpreting the ideas expressed by Ezekiel, they saw the social disabilities and the physical suffering of the exile as a means of annulling the desire to abandon the Torah: "Without your consent, against your will, I imposed My sovereignty upon you … for they immediately humble their heart in repentance" (Sifra, Be-Ḥukkotai 8:4–5). It is stated even more emphatically, perhaps as a result of the increase in their troubles and persecutions: "When your bones are crushed and your eyes are put out and the blood of your mouths spill to the ground, you cause His kingdom to reign over you" (ser 29:159). The sufferings on their part add a special reward and meaning to the observance of the Torah and its study: "The later generations are better than the former; although there is subjugation to foreign kings, there is study of Torah" (Yoma 9b).
The spiritual struggle to explain and justify the exile became intensified from the time that Judaism was obliged, from the fourth century onward, to contend with Christianity, which saw in the exile of Israel a witness and a sign that the divine favor had been taken from Israel and given to the church and its adherents. This polemic tone is particularly noticeable in the words of the paytanim and in late Midrashim (see *Apologetics).
As the duration of the exile extended, fears grew: when they saw that oppression increased "with taxes… and with poll taxes … Jacob became afraid … would it last forever?" The people found their consolation in Messianic promises which were bound up with the liquidation of the galut and the ingathering of the exiles – "from Babylonia … from Gaul and from Spain" (pdrk 151a–b). When despair grew until they even went as far as to complain, "Is there any remedy for a servant whose master creates evils and troubles for him?" – the remedy for this weakness of spirit was found in the doctrine that the troubles themselves were a sign of the true election of Israel (Ḥag. 5a).
The concept of exile and the description of the feelings it inspired which occur in the Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrashim reveal a community battling against adverse conditions and finding a rationale for accepting its sufferings and looking forward to the end of the galut. Through this concept the essence of the phenomenon, the reason for the dispersion among the nations, the religious, social, and national qualities of the nation for whom there remained only the Torah were considered; and in it expression was also given to the struggle against the religion which sought to find in the condition of the exile itself support for its claim that Judaism had come to an end, and that it could claim to be its heir.
Ideology in the Medieval World
During the Middle Ages both the reality of galut and its image acquired new intensity. Changes were wrought by the power and violence of events, the strength and fervor of continuous religious *disputations with the surrounding nations, and the soul searchings among Jews on the implications of galut, which appeared as a central element of both faith and world destiny. Every change in the fate of the exiles of "Edom" (as Christendom was termed) or "Ishmael" (Islam), in their legal position, and in their spiritual confrontation with Christianity and Islam, required fresh adaptation of the concept of galut to the new challenges.
In fact the position of the Jews and their status differed with time, place, and the attitude adopted in principle and practice toward them by Christian and Muslim rulers and peoples (see *History;*Blood Libel; Jewish *Badge;Covenant of *Omar;*Dhimmi).
Despite these distinctions, however, a fundamental conception of galut remained. Basically, throughout the Middle Ages exile was for the Jews everywhere a political and social condition characterized by alienation, humiliation, and servitude, and regarded as such by both non-Jews and Jews. Danger to life and limb and the actuality of expulsion were its permanent accompaniments. It was this situation which gave rise to ideas and imagery concerning the exile and its meaning in the minds of the dispersed and downtrodden nation.
The challenge of exile induced in response a system of thought which viewed galut as a course of suffering which uplifted the spirit, a penance for sins in this world, and a preparation for redemption. As an outcome both of medieval thinking in general and of the Jewish spiritual legacy in particular, Jewish thinkers emerged who, while they viewed exile against all its horrors, showed the majesty of God's purpose, and the greatness of the Jewish heritage, and who reinforced the faith of fellow Jews and countered the arguments of gentiles. The attitude of the Jews to exile during the Middle Ages can be measured by the extent of the response made by different generations to the appearance of pseudo-messiahs and *messianic movements, which were a direct and spontaneous expression of the desire to abolish the exile. The condition of alienation in the Diaspora also found perpetual expression in tradition, customs of mourning for Jerusalem, and the symbols perpetuating the memory of the destruction of the Temple. The immediate preparedness of individuals or groups of Jews to return and settle in Ereẓ Israel, the support given by the Diaspora for the immigrants, and the calls for aid and immigration from those in the Holy Land and their emissaries continued in all periods. The stories current in Jewish tradition concerning the *Ten Lost Tribes criticize under the veil of utopian legend Israel's lack of kingship and sovereignty and express the desire for their restoration. In conjunction with these popular expressions of the condition of galut, in which ideas concerning the exile and redemption are interwoven, Jewish thinkers advanced their views on the meaning of the sufferings and purpose of galut, and developed the ideology a stage further.
During the seventh century, with the rise of Islam and its victories over Christianity, it appeared to the Jews that contemporary events constituted a retribution on Israel's enemies and that it was the intent of Providence to ease the yoke of the exile (see *Nistarot de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai). During the eighth century, *Anan b. David confirmed the custom of preserving strict mourning for Zion, and prohibited the eating of meat and drinking of wine. During the tenth century, after a number of messianic movements had failed, rationalist and skeptical outlooks increased within the community and a kind of Judaism that did not anticipate redemption was conceived (Saadiah Gaon, Beliefs and Opinions, treatise 8). The ideas of the Karaite *Al-Kirkisānī testify that a similar attitude was emerging among certain Karaites (L. Nemoy, in huca, 7 (1930), 395; J. Mann, in jqr, 12 (1921/22), 283). However, the majority of the people did not agree with such extremes.
With time, the constant humiliation to which Jews in the Islamic Empire were subjected was felt more intensely, and in the period of unrest, when the Abbasid caliphate was in process of disintegration, the misfortunes of exile multiplied. Exile under Islam appeared a terrible fate to those living in it. Saadiah Gaon expressed the sentiments of those who remained among the faithful despite all adversities: "the servitude has been drawn out and the yoke of the [alien] kingdoms has been prolonged, behold every day we are increasingly impoverished and our numbers are reduced as time advances" (prayer for period of misfortune, to be found in Siddur Rav Sa'adyah Ga'on (1963), 77–78, see also 350–1).
Out of this conception of the harshness of the exile, systematic arguments were advanced to prove that the galut was only temporary, and explanations were given on the meaning of the sufferings it entailed and the methods to be followed to bring about its termination. The Karaite "Mourners of Zion" (*Avelei Zion) gathered in Jerusalem, where they mortified themselves and prayed for the end of the exile, proclaiming their emotions in words saturated with the feeling of the misery of exile and expressing in their poetry the pain for the condition "of our poor mother," "whom we lifted up our eyes to see and could not recognize as a result of her ill appearance" (Koveẓ le-Divrei Sifrut … (1941), 141–2). They considered that "Karaism is the path toward redemption, while the Rabbanite prolongs the exile" (J. Mann, in jqr, 12 (1921/22), 283).
Saadiah Gaon developed a theory of his own to explain the meaning of the exile: he considered that its imposition as a temporary punishment had substantial internal sense. Exile had befallen the nation "partly as punishment and partly as a test" (Beliefs and Opinions, treatise 8, 291), while this trial also had a purifying value: "to refine our dross … and to terminate our impurities … He has exiled us and scattered us among the nations, so that we have swum in the roaring waves of the kingdoms, and, as the smelting of silver in the furnace, in their fires … we have been purified (Siddur Rav Sa'adyah Ga'on (1963), 78). Because of these principles "we patiently await" (Beliefs and Opinions, treatise 8, 292).
According to this conception, the endurance of the nation is a result of its historical experience and religious faith, and cannot be conceived by one "who has not experienced what we have experienced nor believed as we have believed" (ibid., 293). Saadiah Gaon points to the certainty of the justice of God as perceived by the believer, and the strength which he has revealed in his struggle against the severity of the exile as manifested in the present time, to prove that there must be meaning and end to galut: it is inconceivable "that He is not aware of our situation or that He does not deal fairly with us or that He is not compassionate … nor … that he has forsaken us and cast us off" (ibid., 294). In the exile "some of us are being subject to punishment and others to trials." This is the correct religious manner of explaining "every universal catastrophe … such as famine, war, and pestilence" (ibid., 295). In this respect, galut is not to be distinguished from other natural and historical calamities which do not differentiate between the righteous and the wicked.
An explanation advanced by an anonymous profound thinker in some fragments extant from the tenth century gives the meaning of the exile as a mark of Israel's election, as a divine gift and the "blessing of Abraham" (huca, 12–13 (1937–38), 435ff). In his opinion, as far as can be discerned from the fragments, the purpose of the dispersion among the nations is that Israel should assume the function of the priest of the world, who atones for the sins of the nations and guides them by means of the yoke of the sufferings which he bears on his back and by the arguments which he constantly voices in their ears. The anonymous author is firmly convinced that "just as the dispersion has come about and materialized, so will the ingathering come about and be realized without delay" (ibid.).
From the beginning of the 11th century the academies of Babylonia were in a state of continuous decline, while Islam not only failed to disintegrate but also received additional strength by the accession of the Turks. The political situation with which Jews were faced was that of a hostile Islamic and Christian world composed of fragmented states. This situation called forth *Hai b. Sherira Gaon's description of the nation as "a threshold over which every passerby tramples" (Ḥ. Brody, Mivḥar ha-Shirah ha-Ivrit, ed. by A.M. Habermann (1946), 59). Protests emerged against God that the nation is "like Job … forgotten … in judgment and not remembered in mercy … the King has rejected me … He has seen me slaughtered and devoured and has not rebuked those who consumed me" (ibid. 59–60).
From the beginning of the tenth century, plentiful evidence is available concerning the feelings of exile among the Jews of Christian Europe. In Germany, Simeon b. Isaac (Simeon the Great) described the state and feeling of exile during the period. Next to the fact of material suffering, he places especial stress on the spiritual danger which faced Jews in the Christian arguments that the exile is a proof of the Jews' responsibility for the sin of the crucifixion and their punishment for it, so that the exile can only be ended by their conversion to Christianity (Piyyutei R. Shimon ha-Gadol, ed. by A.M. Habermann (1938), 40–41). *Gershom b. Judah also felt the pressure of missionary arguments based on galut during the 10th to 11th centuries: "the enemy urges … your yoke to remove … to accept a despised idol as a god" (Ḥ. Brody, op. cit., 69–71).
Conditions deteriorated after the massacres of the First Crusade (1096) and the numerous cases of martyrdom (see *Kiddush ha-Shem) that accompanied it (see *Crusades). A thousand years had elapsed since the destruction of the Temple and the beginning of the exile, and pertinence was thus added to the claim of the Christians that an exile of over one thousand years was a proof that God had abandoned the nation. The Reconquest in Spain transferred many Jews under Islamic rule to Christian dominance. Rashi was a witness of this change for the worse. He explains the hatred of the Christians for Jews because Israel does not "pursue after their lie in order to accept their erroneous belief" (on Ps. 69:5). He felt strongly the degradation of Israel and the mocking that their mourning evoked (on Isa. 52:14; Ps. 69:11; 88:9). The root of the evil was that the nation "is exiled … from Ereẓ Israel" (on Isa. 53:8). With a vivid plasticity of expression his commentaries (particularly to Isa. 53) convey the feeling of calamity experienced by the generation which underwent the persecutions of 1096. The sufferings related of the "servant of God" by the prophet are understood by Rashi in terms of the tragedy which befell his nation in Germany. There is a special religious justification for the acceptance of these sufferings in the concept of sanctification of the Holy Name: "His soul [of the martyr] is given over and sacrificed for My holiness, to return it to me as a trespass offering for all that he has transgressed … this is an indemnity [Old French: amende] which a man gives to the one whom he has sinned against." Even so, Rashi is unable to reconcile himself to the flourishing state of the cruel nations, which weakens the hands of the God-fearing from His service as well as undermining their trust in Him (on Ps. 69:7; 88:11). On the subject of the sufferings of the righteous in the exile, Rashi follows the doctrine of Saadiah Gaon. In the climate of perpetual controversy with Christianity, Rashi conceives that the cause for the cruel persecution of the Jews originates in the jealousy of the nations of the Divine election of Israel, a fact which – despite everything – still applies (e.g., on Ps. 102:11). This explanation came to be generally accepted by Jews.
During the 12th century, *Eliezer of Beaugency, in France, advanced in his commentaries the idea that the perseverance of Jews in their faith in the Christian environment is the outcome of divine decree: "I will not put it in your heart to worship wood and stone, so that you become one nation with them and they do you no further evil; but I will harden your hearts against their faith … and they will hate you so that among them you will fall by the sword, by fire, by captivity, and by plunder" (on Ezek. 20:32–33). Jews long to die "in battle," but their endurance of the life of exile is also an exposure to mortal danger. Ezekiel's vision of the "valley of the dry bones" is interpreted by Eliezer as referring to the House of Israel which had died in exile, to be "a great comfort to all those who have died for the unity of His Name, and even if they have not been done to death, since all their lives they have endured disgrace and shame and have been smitten and struck because they do not believe in their idol – and with this they have also died" (on Ezek. 37:9–15; cf. Sefer Ḥasidim, no. 263).
Of the tosafists (see *Tosafot) *Eliezer b. Samuel of Metz, the disciple of Jacob b. Meir *Tam, emphasizes the bane of the exile from its spiritual aspect and attributes it to lack of political independence: "… our intelligence is confused, because we are in captivity without a king or country, and people who are not settled have neither heart nor knowledge" (Sefer Yere'im ha-Shalem, ed. by A.A. Schiff (1892), 72, nos. 31–32). *Moses b. Jacob of Coucy ascribes to the exile an ecumenical significance and purpose for drawing proselytes by serving as an example of moral conduct: "now that the exile has been prolonged more than necessary, Israel must abstain from the vanities of the world and take up the seal of God, which is truth, so as not to lie either to Israel or to the nations and not to lead them into error in any matter, and [Israel] must sanctify themselves even in that which is permitted … and when God shall come to deliver them, the nations will say: He has done justly, because they are honest men and their Law is sincerely observed by them. But if they behave toward the Gentiles with deceit, they will say: see what the Lord has done, that He has chosen as His portion thieves and swindlers … God sows Israel in the lands so that proselytes may be added to them, and so long as they deal deceitfully, who will join them?…" (Semag, Assayin 74).
The conception of exile of the *Ḥasidei Ashkenaz is dominated by the phenomenon of Kiddush ha-Shem, which permeates all their thoughts on life. A description of the rigor of exile in 12th-century France was put into the mouth of the Jew in the disputation composed by Peter *Abelard (cf. Baer, in Zion, 6 (1934), 152–3). Spanish Jewry from the 11th century envisioned exile as an element in specific ideological-mystical configurations. In his Megillat ha-Megalleh, *Abraham b. Ḥiyya ha-Nasi considers that history was immanent in the Creation; thus even "this harsh exile in which we find ourselves today was decreed by the King in the six days of Creation"; the sins of the nation, which were its direct cause, were also foreseen in this primordial decree. Thus predestinational-astrological conception moves exile away from the notion of punishment, facilitating the discussion of the subject with Christians and especially with the mystics among them.
Powerful expression of the inner dilemma arising from the search for the reason for the exile is given by *Judah Halevi in his poetry and thought. His Kuzari was written "to defend the humiliated religion," and its dominant motif is the knowledge that the Christian and Muslim worlds "despise us for our degradation and poverty" (Judah Halevi, The Kuzari, tr. by H. Hirschfeld (1964), pt. 1 no. 113). To meet the arguments of the oppressors who claim that the degradation of the Jews in the exile shows that "their degree in the next world [will be] according to their station in this world" (ibid. no. 112), he advances his theory on the ethnic election of the Jewish people. Israel suffers for the sins of the nations which are by nature inferior to itself; "Israel among the nations is like the heart amid the organs of the body," and the diseases with which it is afflicted – its degradation – are a sign of its central position in human history and the nobility of its character (pt. 2 nos. 29–44). The Jewish nation is entitled to be proud of its affliction in the exile, as all monotheistic religions glory in martyrdom. However, only a minority of Jews willingly and lovingly accept the yoke of the exile, while for the remainder the affliction is enforced, a fact which explains the length of the exile. Every Jew who suffers in the exile nevertheless has great merit, whether he bears the yoke of exile by compulsion or out of free choice "for whoever wishes to do so can become the friend and equal of his oppressor by uttering one word, and without any difficulty" (pt. 1 nos. 112–5). Judah Halevi did not relinquish his optimistic faith in final victory. He enlarges upon the ancient simile that the nation in exile is to be compared to "the seed which falls into the ground": to the person who observes the external condition of the seed, its sowing signifies its destruction; but to the one who has real knowledge, the sowing "transforms earth and water into its own substance, carries it from one stage to another until it refines the elements and transfers them into something like itself" (pt. 4 no. 23). Judah Halevi admits that for some Jews the acceptance of the yoke of exile is no more than merely passive agreement (pt. 2 nos. 23–24). The survival of the sick and dispersed nation which resembles "a body without a head … scattered limbs …" in this lengthy exile is in itself a proof that "He who keeps us … in dispersion and exile" is "the living God" (ibid. nos. 29–32). The sorrows of exile continue: "we are burdened by them, whilst the whole world enjoys rest and prosperity. The trials which meet us are meant to prove our faith, to cleanse us completely, and to remove all taint from us" (no. 44). With realistic insight into the sensation of exile, Judah Halevi promises the one who accepts these consolations with sincerity the peace of mind required to lead a human existence in the exile, because "he who bears the exile unwillingly loses his first and his last rewards" (pt. 3 no. 12).
During the second half of the 12th century, despair also seized the exiles of the Islamic world. In about 1160, *Maimon b. Joseph addressed to his brothers in Arabic the Iggeret ha-Neḥamah ("Letter of Consolation"), when he himself had left his place of residence from fear of the Muslim *Almohads. He particularly stresses the constant terror and anguish of a life where security is absent. To fortify the souls which find themselves in this distress, Maimon formulated his meditation on exile in metaphor. The Torah is a lifeline which is thrown to one who is drowning in the sea of exile, "and whoever seizes it has some hope." The exile is only lengthy viewed in human dimensions. From the terrifying description of the storms of the sea and the weakness of the man caught up in them, he evokes a picture of consolation: "it so happens … that while the current overthrows walls and hurls up rocks, the frail thing remains standing. Thus with the exile … the Holy One, blessed be He, will save the frail nation.…"
His son, *Maimonides, considered the exile of his time to be part of the continuous attempts through history to turn the Jewish people from its religion. Some have attempted this by force and others by persuasion; Christianity has merely introduced the innovation "that for its purpose it combined the two, that is coercion and arguments … because it realized that this was more effective for achieving the effacement of the nation and the Torah" (Iggeret Teiman). Islam learned this combined method from Christianity. However, the attitude of Islam is the hardest and most degrading: "there has never risen against Israel a worse nation" than Ishmael (ibid.). When Maimonides imputes responsibility for "the loss of our kingdom and the destruction of our Temple" to "our ancestors … who did not study the art of war and the conquest of lands" because they believed in the foolishness of astrology (from his responsa to the rabbis of Marseilles), this realistpolitical explanation is only considered by him a description of the natural punishment which had resulted from having sunk into one of many sins. Born into a generation which had been tried by forced *conversions, and having witnessed religious coercion and escaped from it, he conceived the exile as a furnace whose purpose is to purify and test "until religion is retained only … by the pious of the offspring of Jacob … who are pure and clean, who fear God" (Iggeret Teiman). The exile and the sufferings of the people "and all that will befall them is as a holocaust upon the altar" (ibid.); these words are accompanied by an enumeration of the sacrifices actually demanded of his contemporaries.
The feeling of exile as experienced in Spain during the Reconquest period, with the changes in political situations and conjunctions where the plight of the Jew remained unaffected, was expressed by David *Kimḥi in his simile of the animals which were ensnared within a circle in the forest and which, in turn, the lion encircled with his tail; "thus, we in the exile are as within the circle, we cannot leave it without falling into the hands of the carnivores: for if we can extract ourselves from the rule of the Ishmaelites, we fall under the dominion of the uncircumcised … we therefore withdraw our hands and feet for fear of them" (commentary to Ps. 22:17); Jewish adherence to faith in persecution and suffering is stressed (on Isa. 26:13; Ps. 44:21).
During the middle of the 13th century, a period bringing an upsurge of mystical thought and an intensification of rationalistic tendencies among Jews, Moses b. Nahman (*Naḥmanides) attributed a most profound and penetrating religious significance to exile, and his thought was to exercise tremendous influence within Judaism in coming generations. Naḥ-manides visualized exile as a crisis in Divinity itself. He explains the sayings of the rabbis on the special bond with which the inhabitants of Ereẓ Israel are linked to God as an allusion to the distinction between "the venerable God, blessed be He, the God of gods when abroad" and the "God of Ereẓ Israel, which is the possession of God" (on Lev. 18–25); there is "additional" power in God as lord of His own estate compared with the power which He has in the remainder of His world; exile is the disruption of the link with this special "emanation" of the Divinity. This divine crisis is followed by a religious crisis, "because the precepts are essentially intended for those living in the land of God" (ibid.). Ereẓ Israel, the earthly Temple, and the condition of exile in the lower world become symbols of the situation and the events in the celestial world (ibid.; also on Deut. 4:28; 11:18). It is not only the property of prophecy which is impaired as the result of the exile, but the nature of faith, world, and God. Another aspect of Nahmanides' approach is his theory – based on the passage of Sifra, Be-Hukkotai 10:5, and Rashi (on Lev. 26:32) and his own historical experience – that the desolation of Ereẓ Israel is a sign that though the alliance between God and the Jews has been broken in some of its elements, the alliance of the "Owner of the estate" has not been established with any other nation. The estate will not be cultivated and the Owner will not be worshiped in this aspect of His Divinity until His children return to His land (on Lev. 26:16). Naḥmanides' profound recognition of the religious aspect of the tragedy of exile did not overshadow his realistic appraisal of the actual situation in the 13th century. He recognizes the potentials of the physical and spiritual existence of the remainder of the nation and the possibility of preservation to a certain degree of the link with God (on Deut. 4:27; and in other words in Sefer ha-Ge'ullah, 4). Nahmanides minimizes the extent of the economic decadence in the exile, no doubt influenced by the flourishing condition of the Jews in Spain in his time (on Deut. 28:42). Like *Baḥya b. Joseph ibn Paquda (Ḥovot ha-Levavot, "Sha'ar ha-Beḥinnah," 5), who had preceded him during the prosperous days under Islamic rule, Nahmanides concludes that "as a result of our exile in the lands of our enemies, our affairs have not fared for the worse… for in these lands we are as the other nations living there, or even better than them" (on Deut. 28:42). Menahem b. Solomon *Meiri, in the generation which followed Nahmanides, criticized Christian persecution of the Jews since they pray for the peace of the monarchy, "and our prayer is pure and sincere, unlike their thoughts; if only our prayers for them would be fulfilled in our own persons" (on Ps. 35). This lends a new note to the feeling of exile – the bitterness over suffering even while the Jews demonstrate sincere loyalty to Christian rule.
The conception of Nahmanides that the world and the Divinity had become impaired as a result of the exile assumed a more practical and concrete meaning for the generations which followed the expulsion from Spain, Portugal, and Sicily (1492, 1497). Exile presented itself from the viewpoint of Kabbalah as the misery arising from a cosmos fractured internally, as the terror of a world in which a struggle was taking place between light and darkness, purity and impurity; a world situation in which Israel, the nation of light, is delivered into the hands of the children of darkness, that is the children of Edom, who in this array of symbols are subjected to a double measure of hatred. A dynamic mystic-universal meaning was attributed to efforts to amend the world by deeds, knowledge, and example (a meaning taken up by the kabbalists of *Safed, and the *Shabbateans).
An explanation of the negative phenomena of the exile and the manifestations of continuing survival in it were given 15th-century realities and concepts by Isaac *Arama. Its torments and persecutions are attributed to being in close relation to gentiles by residence "in their towns and settlements." Yet in its state of semi-serfdom and semi-protection, and to a large measure thanks to this enslavement and protection by the crown, the nation has been able to survive exile. Isaac Arama also places the forced converts within his tableau of the exile: "even though they have become assimilated within the nations … their feet have not found complete rest; because they [the nations] constantly insult and despise them and contrive against them … libels … and they always consider them as reverting to Judaism" (Akedat Yiẓḥak, Deut., sha'ar 98). The underground life of the anusim is depicted as exile accompanied by even heightened terrors. To the question of the length of the exile, of the shining of the Divine countenance on the Christian world and its success, which had already been asked in former generations and disturbed the generation of the Expulsion with even greater urgency (ibid., Lev., she'arim 70 and 60), Isaac Arama attempted to offer several answers. Jewish history until this exile "was merely to be considered as a betrothal …"; the marriage had not yet taken place. There is therefore no reason to speak of a divorce (ibid., Ex., sha'ar 50). Moreover, even according to Christian thinking, the Law was only revealed thousands of years after the Creation, while Jesus came to redeem souls from the original sin long after this revelation. By comparison Israel's wait for redemption is not long, even if anguished (ibid., Deut., sha'ar 88). Purification from sins and removal of the evil inclination from the heart are also advanced as reasons for the intensification of the sufferings and their prolongation (ibid., Gen., sha'ar 14).
Isaac *Abrabanel vividly contrasts the kind fate accorded to the gentile nations and the evil which had befallen Israel in the exile (introduction to Ma'yenei ha-Yeshu'ah).
He distinguishes between the cause of the hatred by the Christians – the crucifixion of Jesus – and that of the hatred by the Ishmaelites – the rejection of the Koran (on Hinneh Yaskil Avdi). Exile is also characterized for him by the fact that "the exiles … will not become tillers of the land … but will engage to a limited extent in the commerce of goods …" (Yeshu'ot Meshiḥo, iyyun no. 2 ch. 1), but he considers this laudable, because the acquisition of land abroad would reduce the yearning for redemption (ibid., iyyun no. 1 ch. 1). The steadfastness of Israel as manifested in endurance of suffering, in holding fast to the faith in disputations and in maintaining purity of religion and worship, Abrabanel regards as a threefold gain from the galut (on Hinneh Yaskil Avdi). The steadfastness of the faithful stands out in contrast to the conduct of the anusim, who silenced their voices and hid their faith; he stresses the merit of those who gave up their homes and belongings and went into exile with pride in order to practice Judaism openly. Even during those evil days Abrabanel believed that by its spiritual strength the nation would yet succeed in its desire to "bring the Gentiles under the wings of the Divine Presence,… by its knowledge and wisdom … it would remove them from their false beliefs"; Israel will act kindly toward its tormentors and will instruct its torturers (ibid.).
The words of these scholars preserve the strength and originality of men who observed the condition of a physically stricken but spiritually intact and healthy nation, of thinkers who drew from the sources of tradition and who perceived the past in the light of the present and the present in the light of the past. However, the words of Solomon *Ibn Verga, written about 30 years after the Expulsion, reveal the mood of a man who has lost contact with the social framework against which he should direct the sharpness of his rebuke. His thought is abstract and presented in the form of analogies detached from concrete situations. The subsidiary reason for the exile advanced by Maimonides – that the Jews were defeated because they did not study the art of war and relied upon astrology – becomes a recurrent argument of Ibn Verga, that "at first, when the Jews found favor in the eyes of God, He fought their wars … they did therefore not study … war … and when they sinned … they were not familiar with the instruments of war, and God was not with them … and they fell as a flock without a shepherd" (Shevet Yehudah). The condition of exile caused the Jews to forfeit their wisdom: "our mind is in exile, being enslaved to the exile, to the search for means of livelihood, to the taxes and decrees of the state; how can it preoccupy itself with wisdom?" (ibid.). Analysis of the situation, accompanied by wishful inclination, leads Ibn Verga to conclude that it is the Christian masses who hate the Jews, while "the kings in general … the princes, the wise, and all the notables of the land loved them"; even the pope "loves the Jews" because he authorizes them to live in his country and trade there. Ibn Verga, however, realizes that the fury of mass passions is an overwhelming power "and if the king safeguard us and the populace rise against us, how can we be secure?" (ibid.).
Ibn Verga is preoccupied with searching for "the reason for the great hatred felt by the Christians against the Jews." This he finds in a combination of religious and natural factors: on the one hand, religious fanaticism which paves the way to belief in fantastic libels against the Jews, on the other, the desire for loot and the fact that every community "seeks to absorb its neighbor and to integrate it within itself"; the Gentiles therefore hate the Jews who refuse to assimilate into them. He also echoes the steadfast pride of the exile who declares to the "Master of the world: You go to great lengths that I should abandon my religion … despite the dwellers of heaven, I am a Jew … and will remain as such" (ibid.). This divine persecution is explained through the ancient and powerful answer of the prophet: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore, I will visit upon you all your iniquities" (Amos 3:2). But concomitantly, exile continues naturally because of religious hatred, "the jealousy of women, the envy of money," and the accusations brought against the totality of Jewry because of the sins of individuals "who have sought to dominate the nations."
The thought of *Judah Loew b. Bezalel (the Maharal of Prague) on the exile at the beginning of the 17th century bears the imprint of the situation which followed the Spanish Expulsion on the one hand and the relative prosperity in his country, Bohemia-Moravia, in his time; it is based upon both the fundamentals of Kabbalah and the rabbinical systems of halakhah and homiletics current during the 16th to 17th centuries. The mainstream of his thought is expressed in Neẓaḥ Yisrael, and marginally in Gur Aryeh, Or Ḥadash, and Be'er ha-Golah. The Maharal divides the "night of exile" into three "watches": the first is one of painful slavery, the second of massacres and forced conversions, while the third – that in which he is living and which appears to him the last before dawn – consists essentially of consecutive expulsions. Like Ibn Verga, he too preferred the order of the king's peace and protection according to God's will against the popular frenzy and violence which did not spare the weak. The Maharal analyzed the religious-spiritual-social nature of the exile in terms which anticipate the theories of organic nationalism of the 19th century: "Exile is a change and a departure from order: for God has situated every nation in the place which is appropriate to it … According to the natural order the suitable place for them [the Jews] is Ereẓ Israel where they are to live in independence.… As with every natural existing object, they are not to be divided into two … since the Jewish people is one nation, more indivisible and inseparable than all the other nations … dispersion is unnatural to them…; moreover, according to the natural order, it is improper that one nation be enslaved by another… because God has created every nation for itself.… It is therefore unbecoming that in the order of nature Israel should be under the dominion of others." In several aspects, exile is thus an anomaly in the eternal natural order, every deviation from which cannot be but casual and temporary.
This combination of natural factors is the guarantee for the redemption from the unnaturalness of exile. For "all things which are removed from their natural place are unable to survive in a place which is not natural to them … because if they subsisted … the unnatural would become natural and this is impossible … therefore, from the exile, we can perceive the redemption." In the meantime, however, the exile continues by the express will of God (because "that which … departs from the limits of reality requires excessive supervision and reinforcement in order to survive"), and it is by Him also that assimilation in the exile is prevented. So long as this anomaly is maintained, it has its own legitimacy and roots to feed on by the laws of nature: the rule of Edom over the world becomes the defective condition of this world. There is an essential spiritual contrast, even if the depths of its profundity cannot be perceived, between Edom and Jacob: as between "water and fire, although not endowed with intelligence or will, are opposed to each other by nature." The struggle between the two is for the totality of the creation, because "each desires the possession of all that exists, which is this world … and the world to come, and thus repels his opponent." In the present stage of this struggle "Esau has gained for himself out of the quarrel a world of shame and disgrace … to which he is related; Jacob is removed from it, because impurity is foreign to him and he was born the last"; it is impossible that Jacob and Esau should possess both worlds together, because, if so, there would be two extremes in one subject. With pride he sees the exile as an expansion into far-flung regions where the dispersed Jews await the era of perfection of the world, which they will rule.
In opposition to the physical dispersion of the material reality, there are spiritual factors which unite the nation. This is unity created and symbolically expressed both by consciousness of national solidarity and by Torah study and prayer. Engaged in the latter the nation is in a state resembling redemption. To the question: "If … the Divine Presence is indeed with Israel in exile … why does Israel spend most of its days in this world undergoing oppression and expulsions?" the Maharal replies that "this world is not the portion of Israel"; hence, it is to the advantage of the Jews to be removed from its benefits. The Maharal developed a theory against censorship of thought and literature and religious coercion which regarded these as the exercise of tyranny, and the struggle against them as the true and full expression of the free divine spirit in man.
The galut feeling in Poland-Lithuania, an exile which appeared relatively easy during the 16th to 17th centuries, is reflected in the commentaries of Samuel Eliezer b. Judah ha-Levi *Edels (the Maharsha) on the aggadot of the Talmud. He was grateful to the Turks for the refuge which the exiles had found in their country, and he considered the "Kings of Ishmael" "merciful kings" (Ḥiddushei Aggadot, on bb 74b), while "Esau and his offspring … have tormented us in every generation more than all the other nations …" (ibid. on Meg. 11a). With their persecutions, the Christians are intent on placing obstacles in the path of the Jewish people toward perfection (ibid. on Bek. 8a).
Edels accepted the viewpoint of the author of Shevet Yehudah concerning the difference of attitude toward the Jews on the part of the various classes: "It is obvious that by the king and the princes they will be not humiliated and despised also when in exile, but only by the populace and the masses of the nations" (on Ta'an. 20a). On the other hand, the hatred of the populace saves the Jews from being appointed officials in "most contemptible crafts" (ibid.). Of special interest is the discussion of Edels with the Christians on the subject of the destruction of the Temple, the cessation of its existence, the revelation of the Divine Presence within its walls, and the length of the exile as evidence of the departure of the Holy Spirit from Israel. The Jew insists that the Divine Presence is not really bound up fully with one location only; partially at least the Jews can carry on the divine task even in dispersion and exile (ibid. on Bek. 8a and Ar. 10b).
*Ephraim Solomon b. Aaron of Luntschitz (Leczyca) regarded the exile as a social problem, part of the problem of justice in the world. He arranges a kind of double confrontation, between the wealthy of Israel and the condition of their nation and between the nations of the world and the distribution of material bounty among them; as result of this comparison "the superiority of victory is always upon my lips to reply to the nations who adduce a proof for their religion from their success … to refute their opinion and to overthrow their towers: because in every generation … our eyes witness that God has handed over all the benefit of temporary success to those who are unworthy of it, and this forms part of His profound and wonderful counsel – in order that the axe should not become proud against him that hews therewith, and that the nations should not say our hand is powerful; because they [i.e., the Gentiles] also agree that there are among them wicked people that are unworthy of success and even so they see their houses filled with wealth, while according to their evil ways [i.e., the Christian faith] they do not deserve that God should bestow of his abundance on them." However, the goods of this world, which are putrid flesh and stale bread, are thrown to the dogs of this world (Olelot Efrayim, 1 (1883), 3 nos. 5–6). He warns the "blind in the camp of the Hebrews" not to rely on their prosperity and to remember the communities which have been destroyed.
Once Italian Jewry had established itself in a renewed structure in the towns and states of the post-Renaissance period, it became imperative to explain the exile to the urban dwellers whose minds were inclined toward rationalistic reasoning and commercial considerations. In 1638 Simone (Simhah) *Luzzatto completed his Discorso circa il stato de gl'hebrei … ("Discourse on the State of the Hebrews …"), in which he attempted to shed light on the exile in a manner most acceptable to the rulers in Venice – by the exploitation of humanist trends of thought and mercantile considerations. This apologetic tractate, which was intended to convince despots governed by cold political considerations and commercial-utilitarian motivations of the usefulness of the Jews, also reflects the self-criticism resulting from feelings of inferiority induced by the contrast with gentile existence. Many ideas which had formerly been expressed within the Jewish framework of the concept of exile were now brought out to the non-Jewish world and illumined with the cold and harsh light of realistic calculation.
In the 17th century *Manasseh Ben Israel also addressed himself to Gentiles in order to overcome objections to the return of Jews to England by the members of the Protestant sects who were prejudiced by religious fervor in addition to their economic considerations. Manasseh Ben Israel expressed not only the desire for survival of the galut but also its tendency toward extension with the expansion of the known world and the discoveries of new territorial and social horizons. Much of his reasoning is drawn from the arguments of Luzzatto, but, voiced by Manasseh, they assume a more religious content and a less submissive tone. He is not deterred from declaring to the nations in their own language, in the manner of the early medieval debators, that the sufferings of the "Servant of God" had befallen the Nation of God, and that the nations in their various countries "have slaine them, not for wickednesses, which they did not commit, but for their riches which they had" (The Hope of Israel, sec. 29). Even the expulsions serve the process of the expansion of the exile, because when one ruler expels them, the second accepts them with affability and grants them a "thousand priviledges" (ibid., sec. 33). Commerce enables the Jews to live in wealth and with the acquisition of properties, as a result of which they "not only become gracious to their Princes and Lords" but also causes "that they should be invited by others to come and dwell in their Lands," because "wheresoever they go to dwell, there presently the Traficq begins to florish" (A Declaration to the Common-wealth of England, fol. 1–2). The central theory of Manasseh on the continuation of the exile and its extension is that so long as the prophecy of Daniel remains unfulfilled and the exiles have not yet been scattered to the extremities of the world, the redemption will not come.
Ideology in Modern Times
The feeling that there was room for expansion and progress for the Jews in general society, the apologetic trend of appeal to the non-Jewish world, and the awareness of new attitudes intensified with the changes in society and opinions of 18th-century Europe. In the modern era the nature of the debate on the exile assumed a different character as a result of social experiments made by Jews and non-Jews to abolish the exile. From the 18th century, ideas on and explanations of the exile were channeled to new methods of expression, both through organized movements which attempted to remold the character of Judaism and through individual thinkers (see *Emancipation; *Reform; *Haskalah; *Assimilation; *Ḥasidism; *Ḥibbat Zion; *Zionism; *Agudat Israel; M. *Mendelssohn; S.R. *Hirsch; J.L. *Pinsker; *Aḥad Ha-Am; S. *Dubnow; M.J. *Berdyczewski (bin Gorion); J.Ḥ. *Brenner; J. *Klatzkin; A.D. *Gordon; A.I. *Kook; F. *Rosenzweig; S. *Rawidowicz). The conception of the exile of these movements and personalities cannot be separated from their essential standpoints and lines of thought and should be considered within their specific contexts. Even those whose thinking followed ancient paths ascribed their views to innovations brought about by these movements in the modern era. Until the second half of the 19th century, it appeared that supremacy was being achieved both in reality and in ideology by the trends which sought to abolish the exile through integration within the surrounding nations or through continuing a respected existence within their midst by finding a meaning in this situation either as a divine punishment or as part of a sublime religious purpose. However, from the second half of the 19th century, this reality deteriorated in the emergent world of nationalism. Jews increasingly viewed the exile in terms of anger and despair, which even though presented in modern idioms, resembled in content the ancient conception of the exile expressed by former generations. Numerous efforts were made toward finding a means of preserving the distinctiveness and historic continuity of the nation within new and changing circumstances.
By the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st, the two fundamental conceptions in Jewish ideology of the modern era on the subject of the exile have resumed their struggle with renewed intensity. One line of thinking points to the Holocaust in Europe, the brutality of its perpetrators, and the apathy manifested by the majority of the nations of the world during the years 1939–45. It was argued that hatred of the Jews has not disappeared even after the atrocities of Hitler, while the Jews are subject to powerful forces of assimilation in places where they have free social interchange. There is the reality of the establishment of the State of Israel in contrast to the difficulties of maintaining the unity of world Jewry and the ties between the nation in its country and the minorities abroad. All these phenomena are interpreted as signaling the degeneration of the Jewish position and the danger attached to the continuation of the exile, and are put forward as decisive proofs for the necessity of its liquidation.
Adherents of the other line of thinking point to the political freedom and equality of rights legally granted to individual Jews in all the countries of the world and the authorization accorded in most states to Jewish organizations to pursue their cultural and social activities. They stress the organizational, spiritual, literary, and philanthropic achievements of the Diaspora communities; the political and material strength which is added to the State of Israel by the support of Diaspora Jewry; and the role of the Diaspora as exemplified in the Second Temple era. The success that the Germans achieved in modern times in uniting their dispersed nation around their country is noted. These believe – in common with the Jews in the days of *Philo and *Josephus, the geonic period, and the 19th century – that the Diaspora has a reason, and a right of existence; that there is national utility in the maintenance of the Diaspora according to its potentialities in its diffusion throughout the world. In fact, many who approve the existence of the exile are inclined to consider the state as a more favorable form of Jewish survival and sympathize with the principle of the "ingathering of the exiles." On the other hand, the majority of those who condemn the exile recognize that there is no possibility in sight of terminating the Diaspora. The Six-Day War (1967) and its aftermath strengthened both the consciousness of identity and feelings of interdependence between Israel and the Diaspora for the majority of Jews. However, a radical and vocal minority expresses strong disapproval of this tie. The link with Israel has become a touchstone and testing furnace for the existence of Jews in present-day Communist-ruled countries.
Down through its history the feeling of galut has been one of the most permanent and prolific incentives in Jewish thought. It has expressed the desire for redemption and preservation as a nation even in the most difficult days. The discussion between Jews and adherents of other monotheistic religions on this subject, the spiritual pride and religious feeling it engendered, resulted in the formulation of new patterns of explanation of the exile from generation to generation which enabled the Jew to bear his suffering without losing his humanity or his faith in God and justice. The spirit of Jacob has been saved out of the tragedy of the exile because the feeling of exile has been one of the principal factors creating the particular sensitivity to questions of divine and social justice among most Jews. As the result of a specific situation, according to Judah Loew b. Bezalel, the Jewish nation has become different from the other nations of the world through its experience of suffering and humiliation and detachment from the rest of society for generation after generation, and through alert and proud reaction to this trial.
S. Dubnow, Mikhtavim al ha-Yahadut (1937), 96–103; Aḥad Ha-Am, Parting of the Ways … (1905); em, 2 (1965), 496–506; J.M. Guttmann, Mafte'aḥ ha-Talmud, 3 pt. 2 (1930), s.v.Ereẓ Yisrael, Malkhuyyot; G. Rosen, Juden und Phoenizier (19262); A. Posnanski, Schiloh (Ger., 1904); Y. Kaufman, Golah ve-Nekhar, 2 vols. (1954–61); Galut: Le-Verur Mashma'ut ha-Galut ba-Mikra u-ve-Sifrut ha-Dorot (1959); J. Klatzkin, Galut ve-Ereẓ (1920); Soẓyologyah shel Toledot ha-Golah ha-Yehudit le-Or ha-Marxism (1951): S. Rawidowicz, Bavel vi-Yrushalayim (1957); M. Kamrat (ed.), Mashma'utah shel Galut ba-Amerikah … (1964); H.H. Ben-Sasson, Ha-Yehudim mulha-Reformaẓyah (1969); N. Rotenstreich, Jewish Philosophy in Modern Times (1968); Y. Baer, Galut (Eng., 1947); idem, in: Zion, 5 (1933), 61–77; 6 (1934), 149–71; B. Dinur, Israel and the Diaspora (1969); L. Baeck, This People Israel (1965); J.B. Agus et al., in: Midstream, 9 (1963), 3–45; D. Polish, Eternal Dissent (1961), 147–61; Baron, Social2, index; Scholem, Mysticism, index, s.v.Exile, Tikkun; idem, Ra'yon ha-Ge'ullah ba-Kabbalah (1946).
[Haim Hillel Ben-Sasson]
"Galut." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 27, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/galut
"Galut." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved June 27, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/galut
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