Yehudah-Leyb Don-Yahiya (1869–1941)
in No masters but God
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This chapter discusses the nexus of Tolstoyan anarcho-pacifism and Jewish tradition in the life and thought of R. Yehuda-Leyb Don-Yahiya. Beginning with a discussion of his biography and role in the foundation of Mizrahi, the religious branch of the Zionist movement, it proceeds to discuss his belief that the value of non-violence constitutes the core and essence of Judaism and of Jewish identity. The centrality of faith both as a mode for articulating human fraternity, and also for supplying it with firm existential foundations, is then examined. Don-Yahiya’s sympathy with the revolutionary cause and his insistence that this much came about via a revolution of the heart is then addressed. The chapter closes with analysis of Don-Yahiya’s efforts to ground the Tolstoyan prescription for social and political change through passive resistance in Jewish sources.