Historical and theological context
in No masters but God
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This chapter begins by situating the development of World War I chronologically and geographically: the nineteenth century in the Russian Pale of Settlement. It is argued that antisemitic persecution disappointed hopes for Jewish integration into European society such that former Enlightenment assimilationists returned to the Jewish fold. This is said to have influenced both the rise of Jewish nationalism and Jewish anarchism, both of which intersected in the Hibbat Zion movement as centered in the Valozyn Yeshiva (seminary). Narodnik influence is discussed at length and used to compare World War I to the Bund on the one hand and to ultra-orthodox isolationism on the other. The theological background of World War I is then examined on five fronts: the idea of man as made in the image of God; the mandate to neighborly love; the legal and moral status of the ancient Hebrew monarchy; the prophetic tradition as a voice of justice; and messianic traditions involving the eventual abrogation of Jewish law.