The previously unexplored legacy of religious anarchism in traditional Jewish theology is examined for the first time in this book. Probing the life and thought of figures whose writings have gone largely unread since they were first published, Hayyim Rothman makes, in the first place, a case for the existence of this heritage. He shows that there existed, from the late nineteenth though the mid-twentieth century, a loosely connected group of rabbis and traditionalist thinkers who explicitly appealed to anarchist ideas in articulating the meaning of the Torah, of traditional practice, of Jewish life, and the mission of modern Jewry. Supported by close readings of the Yiddish and Hebrew writings of Yaakov Meir Zalkind, Yitshak Nahman Steinberg, Yehuda Leyb Don-Yahiya, Avraham Yehudah Hen, Natah Hofshi, Shmuel Alexandrov, and Yehudah Ashlag this book traces a complicated story about the intersection, not only of religion and anarchism, but also of pacifism and Zionism, prophetic anti-authoritarianism, and mystical antinomianism. Bringing to light, not merely fresh source material, but uncovering a train of modern Jewish political thought that has scarcely been imagined, much less studied, No masters but God is a groundbreaking contribution.
must imagine one like it. If not exactly their revolutionary sermons, others like them. In short, we must trace for ourselves a hermeneutic and historical path leading from the anarchist edge of the tehum back to the proverbial ‘four cubits of Jewish law (Berakhot 8a)’ — back into Jewish tradition. The skepticism with which R. Singer was assailed is not merely a pious gesture, it also represents the prevailing scholarly orthodoxy according to which Jewish radicalism generally, and Jewish anarchism in particular, stood at the farthest
members of Hibbat Zion held that it depends on the abolition of the state and the creation of a system of self-governing agrarian communes — obshchina , or the more familiar Hebrew term, kibuzim (Frankel 1984 , 33). Jewish attraction to anarcho-narodnik thought and practice had causes beyond the simple fact of cultural transmission. While many early anarchist thinkers like Proudhon and Bakunin were unabashedly antisemitic (Krier 2009 , 179–233; Wolff 2013 ; Wolf and Mümken 2014 ), the ones who exerted the most influence over Jewish anarchism
prime point of access to the Yiddish-speaking anarchist public, translating their works in installments for publication in the Fraynd . Zalkind's theoretical contributions, so far as they appear in that organ, fall under four general headings: determining anarchist principles and methods; defining the role of religion and spirituality; distinguishing Jewish anarchism; and articulating an anarchist comportment toward Zionism. 6 Anarchist principles Early in his
) At the outset, I indicated the growing body of research in the field of Jewish anarchism. Paul Avrich's groundbreaking work placed Jews at the center of anarchist activity in Russia (Avrich 2015 , 15–18, 44) and in the United States (Avrich 2005, 1990 ). Other historians followed, notably more recent book-length publications like Kenyon Zimmer's ( 2015 ) Immigrants Against the State: Yiddish and Italian Anarchism in America . These studies and others like them operate largely on the macro-scale, are historically oriented, and are mainly