Do Not Provoke Providence: Orthodoxy in the Grip of Nationalism

Do Not Provoke Providence: Orthodoxy in the Grip of Nationalism

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Yosef Salmon
Translated by Joel A. Linsider

Series: Judaism and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781936235629 (hardcover)
Pages: 450 pp.
Publication Date: December 2013

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Do Not Provoke Providence: Orthodoxy in the Grip of Nationalism deals with the whole complex of relations between the Land of Israel, the Jewish Torah and the People of Israel from the Pre-Zionist Period until the Establishment of the State of Israel. The book examines the dynamics of those relations through the modernization of Jewish society, and the problem of Jewish Identity vis-a-vis modernity. The discussion follows historical events in both philosophy and everyday life. It explores the anti-Zionist sphere and also discusses the attitudes towards the conflict of Religion and Nationalism in the world of Religious Zionism. The dispute between advocates of a religious concept of the community and proponents of a secular nation revolved primarily around perceptions of the ideal relationship between the religious and national entities. One group sought to make religion a tool of the nation; the other sought to make the nation a tool of religion.


Yosef Salmon is professor emeritus of Jewish Modern History at Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva, and has been a visiting professor at Columbia University, Jewish Theological Seminary, Harvard University and Yale University. His publications include “Shivat-Zion” (Modern Judaism 22:2) and Religion and Zionism: First Encounters (Magnes Press, 2002).


The religious movement within the Zionist project has been the subject of widespread research, particularly in the field of religious philosophy. This book lays a foundation for research that is primarily historical. Lately, Jewish nationalism as a historical phenomenon has faced criticism, on both the ideological and academic levels. Not only is this now a topic of academic research, it is also a subject of public debate in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. For this reason, this book should occupy a central place on the bookshelf of all who are involved with issues related to Jewish nationalism and the relationship between religion and nationalism.
— Yitzhak Conforti, Bar-Ilan University, on the original Hebrew edition, in AJS Review 32 (2), 2008
Coming out shortly after the famous Pew report on American Jewry, this book is particularly relevant in its analysis of some of the ways Orthodox Judaism dealt with modernism. It is an effective antidote to any simple analysis that is based on stereotypical views of orthodox—or of its variegated opponents. Building on a deep familiarity with the subgroups in all of the camps and the many ways in which Jewish tradition could be interpreted, he introduces the English-speaking reader to a world that was built on premises far removed from those of contemporary Western society. Salmon elucidates and explains these assumptions. It is important to be familiar with them because we live with their consequences and they influence the future. This is a book that is eye-opening about the past of the Jews—but is no less significant for an understanding of the present.
— Shaul Stampfer, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem