I used to write about interesting topics like technology or science fiction. As with now, the intent was to relate these interesting topics to the Torah. But at some time point all these nice and interesting topics seemed to lack luster. And primarily based on reader feedback, I’ve attempted to engage more in tikkun olam, endeavoring to fix reality instead of talk about it.
The transition began when I started writing articles after the passing of internet activist Aaron Swartz close to two years ago. At that time I began to think of writing as a form of activism, what I called then “content activism.” It took another close to three months to internalize these thoughts further with a piece called, “The Mystical Meanings of the Anonymous Hacking Attacks.” It was an uncomfortable piece to write… a piece which intended to deride and discredit Anonymous while encouraging those noble-spirited within the group to leave. But it was also my most popular article at the time.
But this present article is about more than writing the uncomfortable. As I’ve discussed recently, while this is a prerequisite when writing essay-style pieces, the focus now is on the result; on effecting real change. I began to realize that what I originally called “content activism” is better named “Torah activism.”
Torah activism means going beyond the theory and building a practical system that can be implemented. For instance, I don’t know if anyone picked up on this, but the underlying message behind the Anonymous article was that the best way to counter the April 7th OpIsrael campaign was to invest ourselves in our own holy “OpIsrael.” As mentioned in the article, April 7th that year corresponded to 28 Nissan in the Hebrew calendar, the day when 22 years previously the Lubavitcher Rebbe had put the responsibility of bringing the Redemption into our hands.
Malchut Yisrael – Jewish Leadership
In synagogue on Shabbat a friend was talking to someone about a concept called Malchut Yisrael, establishing true Jewish leadership in Israel. He kept on emphasizing that beyond theory and debate, the most fundamental activity that we all need to occupy ourselves with is action—to do something today to establish a true Torah-based leadership. He quoted from Maimonides in the Laws of Kings and Wars section of Mishneh Torah that: “In the future, the Messianic king will arise and renew the Davidic dynasty, restoring it to its initial sovereignty. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel.”
Initially we might think that we need to wait. Wait until Mashiach comes and let him do all these things. But the sages teach us that there is no king without a people. Right now we need to concern ourselves with doing all we can do to begin the process. This is what my friend was explaining. That Malchut Yisrael, building a Torah-based Jewish leadership begins from our actions today; specifically, the actions and campaigns that we initiate according to the holy Torah.
According to the calculations of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi and other Torah sages, the appointed time for the Redemption is 5775, the year that we are presently in. While the sages warn against making calculations, nonetheless, many great sages throughout Jewish history have occupied themselves with this. And while we don’t rely on these calculations, from the fact that a calculation of the final date of redemption exists for this year, this should arouse us to make every deed we do count.
With this is mind we can now suggest something most profound, something which also accords with my synagogue encounter. If the Redemption is imminent, this also means that we need to change the way we approach Torah learning. Instead of viewing Torah study as explorations of thought, Torah writings, discourses and discussions should now be considered actions. That today making reality a dwelling place for God means approaching Torah study as activism.