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“Facing the Days Ahead”

Translated by Alex Harris, 2021

[1]With a perplexed heart, I open our conversation in our first meeting here in order to face our future. The moment has come for us to look forward. The shackles have fallen. Gone are the lives of paralysis, the lives of shame, the lives of fright. Ruin and destruction, which for all of these years have hovered over the living enterprise of two generations of redemptive and tormented work - these too are gone. As great flashes of lightning break forth through the darkness of the world, we go out again to see the light of life. Why then, does this confused heart yet pulse? What is this pain that clamors? Perhaps, is it only the confusion of joy and tears of liberation and relief? No, it is not only this. The joy of our home is not yet complete. The ebullient pain arising from the reality that only a portion of our people have returned home.[2] Still, the expanse of hope has not opened before us. Still, our creative lives have not yet begun. Still, life has not been enriched in the new pioneer camps. And still, the heart is wrapped in its own grief, and not only from its remembrance of the past. And so our fear has arrived. We, the few, have diminished. Our small number of forces, locked together with hopes and pain over the years - have been separated. And now, with our arrival, after all that has happened to us, we are destined for our future. Yet, we are still lacking much of our forces, most of our minyan in both quality and quantity. We are lacking the elder of our group[3]: the pained and the comforted one, the plaintiff and the reprover, the thinker and the watchman, whose existence among us, whose life with us was comparable to a rising soul.[4] We don’t have important friends who are locked in Turkish prisons[5], exiled to the edges of the earth.[6]

We do not have our honored group: our team for defense and protection. And who knows where they are and what is happening to them at this moment.[7] We don’t have dear colleagues who were the most responsible guards of our movement. Nor the group imbued with initiative, sensitivity, will, and action: Degania, Kinneret, Tel Adashim, Merchavia.[8] We don’t have the workers who, alone, first ascended the steep path and paved the way for women's work. We don’t have the Galilee![9] Our hearts ache from the pain of knowing that this meeting is only a few of us in our own home. And know this well, you will feel it wherever you turn and in all the work that stands to be completed. Not only tonight you will feel their absence. And for what?!

When will the day come in which all brothers will be reunited as they once were? In which we will cry and play together and we will be united again toward all-encompassing life and toward the new strength that will be born into the movement of our lives?

To clarify our paths for the coming days - that is our current duty, a special duty, the greatest duty. The present moment, perhaps the most decisive moment in the lives of the people in the Zionist-political sense, will also have great power in determining the internal direction of the national creation.

As the wide gates[10] are opening for the future Hebrew society[11], we discover before us a divergence of different paths, separated and moving away from one another. No one is permitted to absent himself from choosing the path. Lack of decision is still a decision, whether one is aware of it or not. Yet does everyone within Zionism have the same moral right, the same mental preparedness to participate in choosing the path? Is it not the right of the people who actually chose their own life path, the same group of people for whom questions about the future are asked through their work, through their creation of the future? This is the right and the great duty of the worker.

The worker himself is intertwined with the work of redemption[12] in a special way.[13] The teaching of life[14] and the burden of the soul are with him throughout the endeavors of his life. His labor, his past, his experiences, and even his failures are the steps upon which he climbs and rises, and from them, he glimpses the future - his future, and the future of the people. Labor was a source for his needs, thoughts, and values. The social will grows through the activity of everyday work. And the social will is revealed in daily labor, in working for and strengthening one’s livelihood.

We have not forgotten and we will not forget what is required of us. The personal, pioneering, practical, and active action that is needed to realize Zionism every day of our lives in order to create a free Hebrew society that lives from its own labor - and so our fate has fallen. And this is the fate that we have chosen for our lives, it is a fate given even to the most helpless.[15] It is our guide for our will and our actions. It strengthens our hands and our thoughts. It gives us faith in our enterprise and intensifies our ideas.

From the beginning, from the time of his arrival, the worker was alone in the Land. Alone in his work, in his life. In his physical duress, in the pains of his soul, in his troubles, his diseases, in his life, and in his death. Many saw in him a danger to their livelihood, to their ‘brazen’ lethargy and laziness, to their ‘honor.’ They received him with derision and mockery, with bans[16] and persecution.

Even the good and faithful[17] from the previous generation[18], the visionaries of rebirth in the Land of Israel and outside the Land, who should have seen their spiritual inheritance in him, did not understand him and opposed the worker. For this worker was a man of a different generation, a student of different standing. Would he, indeed, be the pioneer of the nation, the fulfiller of the dreams of generations? Barefoot and wearing a tattered shirt? No. No. That was unacceptable. His strange rhetoric, the language of his generation and the resounding voice of youth, the uncompromising bitterness of revolution[19], and the desire to erase everything and to start anew - all of these things horrified them.

Everything - everything in society, the economic system, the social relationships - everything blocked the worker on his path. However, the inner devil[20] inside of him was too stubborn and tenacious for all of that. He needed to overcome the education, the inheritance of generations: their laxity and impotence. He needed to create qualities within himself, powers, and wills, which did not yet exist in him, which his forefathers and their forefathers before them did not know.[21]

And here over the years, the worker was able, to a degree, to occupy his position in life. However, We are not hiding the bitter truth from ourselves. The private standing of the worker is still distant, far from being established. His material situation is still pressing and straining. The question of the existence of a worker’s family is not yet present, not even at the beginning of its completion. In sum, it is difficult to think that the current situation of the worker will likely be solved. Yes, the beach is still far away. Yet - Hebrew labor is a fact. It exists.

This victory, the first, is the beginning. It is the blueprint for future victories: internal and external. The economic standing of the worker is dependent not only on him and on his internal strengths, but it is also dependent on the economic authority of the land and the level of local agriculture. More changes and corrections are still required as well as more strength[22]. Indeed, the worker must create his standing in labor, society, and as a citizen.

Hebrew labor already exists and it is not possible to be destroyed in any way. It will pour new blood into the arteries of the existing yishuv.[23] The yishuv’s economic creations; the cultural and national; various forms of joint labor, the worker’s groups, the moshavim, education and agricultural experiment, women’s work, defense and protection, a worker’s press, institutions and labor federations, and all of the living and bubbling civic environment which is created by his hand - all of these are living seeds, which within them are contained the nucleus of the future. The internal strength that took shape in these creations, in his actions, and in his life also gave the worker his external strength as well as his value in and influence on the life of the yishuv.

What will be the value of labor in the coming days?

The external victory of Zionism lends itself to internal victories. As it is written, “a rich man has many friends”[24] The consent of the mighty of the world, which acts as the shofar of redemption[25] has enriched and will certainly continue to enrich Zionism with the many new in agreement among us, including our own ‘mighty ones.’[26] There is no need and no basis to diminish the value of these victories. We see the waves of the national movement rising in our future. However, the question simmers: these victories are not measured by their political and propagandic value or by the reinforcement of strength, but by their internal value. What are these values? What does their future bring into our living labor?

We all knew the old conventional Zionism[27] that was attacked by enemies, admirers, and even by ourselves, her wicked and rebellious sons.[28] Certainly, it was far from what it needed to be. And we demanded and required more than what it was able to give, what it could understand. So, we made our own. In the stubbornness of loneliness, we became embittered. We endured a difficult sentence[29], yet with all of this, we always knew what came before us. The image was clear. The first generation of workers was faithful to their beginnings. The generation of Lewinskis[30] and Chelenovs[31] grew and sprouted together with the movement. They connected their lives to the life of the movement. Their movements in Russia and Germany already had disciples in whom a healthy national tradition, loyalty, and practical radicalism mixed and began to be a significant development. Perhaps we did not expect great things from them. But we trusted their faithfulness. Their steps were measured. But they did not stand still. Through their complete national will, they needed to recognize the value of Hebrew labor however slowly. The slowness of the preceding years, the slowness of labor, the group’s weakness were a matter of final reckoning from the preceding years. But what of the camp of new escorts that now rallied to the flag of the movement? Where did they turn, and to where did they say to direct the movement? They were absorbed into the Zionist movement and were blended in with it. Would they receive its foundation and its richness with loyalty or with coercion?

Soon the “Zionist Committee”[32] will come to the land. Their arrival will be welcomed. It was their fate to be able to bring the necessary certificates which Herzl did not receive.[33] At the onset, we are sure of their good Zionist intentions. Nevertheless, the heart hesitates. For us, at this crossroads, which is revealed before us, deep understanding is necessary not only for what is and exists but also for what is beginning to be formed. The main creations, the main strengths for the fulfillment of our hopes are not yet in a state of tangible existence. Will those who are coming bring with them the necessary understanding, the ‘future-sense?’[34] Will they not be strangers to the lives that are beginning to be, just as our best leaders were in the beginning? And as the horizons broaden, so too do the dangers: the danger that is inherent in every mistake, in everything strange and new, in every procrastination and inhibition of forces. And if in the previous period the limited strength of pioneer labor was sufficient in order to influence the impoverished life even minimally, what hope does it hold for the future when confronted with the abundance of new rising forces? Will it succeed in raising up its position, in realizing its hopes, in broadening its path; will it multiply its strength in kind?

These are the fears that accompany our hopes for the coming days. And the only answer to these fears is our faith in our position. The main decisive force in our work in the land, the faith in it, is within us. It is in the creative forces that are contained inside of us and in the work that we do. We will turn our forces inwards, to the clarification of thought and to work in order to enhance them. Every external occupation is the fruit of our internal victory through our work. The doctrine of practical agriculture teaches us the “Law of the Minimum.”[35] It is not the abundant materials spread out in the ground, but rather the material that is found in small amounts that determines the blessing of the jubilee,[36] according to its quality. According to its quantity - that is what will dictate the utilization of the abundant material. And the same goes for the lives of the society, everything goes with the minority, the active minority, which carries the future within it. This minority needs to be the worker of the land of Israel. We will act and we will believe so that this will be the case.

In the coming days the life-will of the worker needs to be revealed in the concentration of all the forces. The forces of the soul and of the mind are the new power which will be felt in the historical balance of the nation - which is the worker. The social essence of the worker, his practical actions, needs, hopes, and wishes need to be revealed in all their power and resilience. They must direct the life of the people.

These days our hearts reflect and think of Herzl. When he first appeared he encountered the redemption that would be brought by prophets and not diplomats.[37] See how the classic words of Ahad Ha’am[38], in their simple justice, resonated in the hearts of the young Hebrews. Where was the injustice - in Herzl’s inability to see the prophet of truth standing before us; to see that even diplomacy flows from the wellspring of salvation[39] and is but a passing form of a vision, our contemporary vision. The people in all its dominions: the young and the old, heard and wanted. They wanted to believe, to follow him like a child lacking in strength.[40]

These are difficult things, things that are difficult to hear. Perhaps, they are impossible to be heard. However, they are not always able to be restrained and imprisoned. These are things that burst out and are said. As they are now.

There is a feeling that lives in my heart, that the vision is not blocked from the people, that the hope of the revealing of the shechina[41] has not left us. At the beginning of the revelation of Zionism, even before it came into being, and became a ‘movement,’ we discovered in it the fragile sparks of the people’s vision. Before dawn, they flickered brightly. The breezes of redemption, are viewed and portend - and still, I have faith in my heart, that in the prophet of truth[42] I will be saved.

Please, remember the position of the First Congress. Was the Basel program not like forcing a mountain into a pail?[43] Please leaf through the old pages and read the many arguments of “Felkerlich-Rechtlich.״[44] How strange was it. How unthinkable it was. Could our minds understand it? Could our minds and our Jewish hearts have been ready to grasp these things in their simplicity, their being? Were the elite’s belittling words that surrounded not just, not logical? From what depths, from what heights did these ideas come?

The merit of the “Declaration”[45] is also great in the fact that it will cultivate within us the living faith in the genius of Herzl and moreover in the genius of the people and in the prophets of truth. And so desperately we need this faith in all the lives of human beings. Faith works, merits, and binds an amount of strength and power to our future lives.

Our legs stand on the edge of the future. The hour for the culmination of the ancient dream is approaching. What is the plan?

The Hebrew people obtained an entry ticket to return to their land and to do the work that awaited them. It will receive its true value in what follows the declaration, in the aliyah[46] of the people, and the return to Zion.[47] What then will be the content of the national-social life of the return to Zion in our days, the content of the lives that will be made here?

This question lives in our hearts today. It was only a few years ago, for most of the masses, only material for singing songs about the coming future.[48] What Jew would cut corners on the promises of the prophets, complain about the destiny of choice and redemption? What Jew’s innards would not rest for the idea of “from Zion comes the Torah.”[49] Who would not return to us, when we gave the world the ideal for justice and honesty?[50] To be a lowland country like the Balkan nations would be a historic bankruptcy.[51] Not for this did we bare our souls over the years. It is on us to be a light upon the nations.[52] These expressions have already been prepared, but are just waiting for an opportunity. It was not in vain that there lived the great rabble rousers Isaiah, Micah, and Jeremiah. They finally endowed us with enough verses to season the conversation and the meals of a decent man in Israel.

As well it was not in vain that the rebels lived: Hess,[53] Marx[54], and Lasalle,[55] whose bones have not yet found rest in their graves today. It is not in vain that their grandchildren sit on the thrones of Russia, Ukraine, and in the republics. It is not in vain that every day many Jewish souls, members of the chosen people, go to hear a moral lesson in the houses of study of “Forverts”[56] in New York and its society, the warriors of truth and justice.[57] Does this not all testify to the greatness of our race, of “you have chosen us”[58] and to strengthen our faith in our great future? Does it not?

“Do not use God’s name in vain”[59] - who has a need for these old words, which were said in different days, to different people, to the people who stood at Mount Sinai. As the “name of God,” itself has already been empty for a long time, what matters if it is desecrated? Let everyone who desires come and wipe up their hands.

Indeed. The line “and You have chosen us [from among all the nations],” together with all of these other claims, has already become for an old and shabby top hat, crowning the head of the “esteemed gentleman,” Herzl, as he “descends” to partake for an hour in the joy of doing what has been commanded.[60] The blood that has been spilled from Zechariah[61] to the last laborer serves as a chain for national adages, and the prophets of truth and justice are now called upon to cover up the true character of the people's lives, to cover up the regime of slavery in the land.

And is there no escape? To where will you flee not from pain and anger, but from this tediousness, the tediousness of folklife?

Where, where is the ancient “you have chosen us”, the living, the burning hot, the heart-filled, the commandment that acquits and accuses?[62] Where is the ancient national “you have chosen us” of the declaration of “Zion shall be plowed as a field”?[63] Has our vigor abated?[64]

“Here come the evil people,”[65] the rabble rousers, the ones who make us lose sleep. They are not satisfied with good intentions and sweet nothings. They ask stubborn questions and want answers of substance: what are the necessary conditions to rule over the land so that the door will not get smaller for us like the head of a needle? What are the questions that the people need to create for themselves, in order to live, in order to not atrophy, in order to multiply our forces, in order not to bend our backs, in order to create suitable and desirable human lives? “Is there a need to continue to create a yishuv whose nation and its forces are opposed to the interests of its future and the hope of its establishment?”

The good Zionist, the important landlord, the master of desirable intentions, teaches us patience and gradation[66]: why do you grasp so much? Why do you poke and prod? Why do you stir question in question? Let us solve the first question and everything will come in its time and its place in peace.

It is good and comfortable for them to say these things, those for whom the question of the Second Aliyah was not their question, those whose senses were shut from the catastrophe that dominates the world. Life’s questions can reasonably be separated and sorted into a variety of rubrics, but what should we do in life itself? In the process of life, these questions do not want to be separated. What should we do for ourselves, if in our lives we too are like two questions which cannot be separated at all? If the people want to redeem their land and to make it holy with its dreams, its means, its sons and daughters, there is no intent to raise typhoid infected people and proletariat pawns who are slaves to agriculture. What is the vision that attracts the heart? Is it indeed that of a doormat for landowners who out of the “good of their hearts” would gather the Hebrew workers under their tutelage together with other foreigners and oppressed people? Indeed, is it better to be a worker torn from the Land of Israel, who plays with trickster supervisors and capricious leaders, tools filled with resentment, humiliation, and sorrow; to be a broken worker, and in the best of situations - to be as an artisan laboring on the land, dispersed by the wind with one’s children cut off, homeless and without a space of ‘4 cubits’[67] to call their own?

The workers who ‘settle for less’ demand ‘purpose’: a reward in this life. The forward-looking pioneer also demands his reward: the satisfaction of the soul, the recognition that he does not work for a slave-regime, that he is not of the generation of poor batraks[68] who are making a miserable redemption, that he is a man who prepares the path for himself, his sons and his people.

The tangible national aspiration, which is revealed in life cannot be neutral, devoid of social content. The inner living content, the social, is compelled to be revealed. In our time there is no concrete national movement that can avoid dealing with the known questions of work and social life.

The days have already passed when it was possible to be naive and to speak of a national movement that is not directed toward the interests of a living, wide, and complete people. Living nationalism cannot deal with abstract, formulated properties that are found outside the matters of life. Zionism was built from the outset on the activity of the people and on the will to create the activity of the people. Can this movement be realized without coalescing around the interests of the people in their multitude? What can the Zionist perspectives be without popular content, without popular aliyah, without the human conditions and broad society that will give the aliyah her magic, the grace of redemption?

Indeed, when the people invest their strength into building a national home, in which the landlords will rule, which under “national freedom” economic slavery will rule, in which gold will buy everything, in which the worker will pass under the rod of the oppressor[69], and in the rotting of the existing culture - that is the deprivation of the life of the worker, the slavery of man - will the people flower and flourish?

The land of Israel - after all the agreements[70] - will not be built without a mass camp of Hebrew pioneers. And are those who are coming to the land preparing a house of bondage[71] for their sons and others? Indeed, is there no possibility and no hope, that thousands and tens of thousands of fresh forces, who are to be readied for the work of the people - and without them there is no home for all of our building -that we will not find among them the spiritual strength to build the Hebrew society on healthier, freer, and fertile foundations? Our national movement is a child of her generation[72], reflecting its characters and copies of their subjects. Did it not consolidate the aspiration to national redemption and the freedom of the worker in the heart of the pioneer into a single yearning of the soul?

Zionism stands again at a crossroads.[73] However, this time there is no question: East or West, state or settlement. The question of the future for Zionism is this: will it reveal and develop popular, human, wide, and deep contents, those hidden in it from the beginning of its existence? Will it find the key to the heart of the people in order to create a craving and excitement for Zionism? Will Zionism be realized through a vision of complete redemption, a vision of freedom and humanistic Jewish sovereignty, of an all-encompassing life? Or will it remain insignificant and depleted, passing over everything and fluttering between hints of the future and the tediousness of the present?

It seems to me that the voice of historical providence is already replying: the forces of the young people, the aspirers, the pioneers are coming. They will come and they will bring their lives and will save the spirit of the movement. The living social content in the heart of those for whom the fulfillment of Zionism was the content of their personal lives, will give Zionism the character of liberation. Indeed, I know that in the eyes of many of our faith this is the role of the daydreamers. It is known that official Zionism is very far from our thoughts and most of its themes are completely foreign. However, our confidence is great, that the builders of the land will fill Zionism with the contents of life. Their meditation, the army of workers who inspire this campaign, will adorn and provide the movement with spirit and human material. The leadership of the movement is far from our dreams. Only if they would be faithful to themselves, to their duties, and would want to listen and to balance their spirit with the forces of the life of the workers in the nation. Only if they would not be able to give up on the workers, would not want to burn the bridges between it and between the pioneer camps, and would see the essential need to make its work suitable for the needs and forces which are understandable to the worker. A small example was provided by the Zionist Federation in the past few years. Do not make a mistake and think Arthur Ruppin[74] was a socialist dreamer. In any case, it is not a coincidence that the creation of Degania, the first socialist experiment in our yishuv and the starting point of our peaceful revolution, encountered in him a positive reception and willingness to help. The ״new man״[75] free from the concepts of the environment and from its surroundings, weighs and examines the various forces in reality, in order to share his findings with the national cause. It was impossible for him not to feel that here the loyal creative forces are working, breaking forth, paving paths for themselves and others. The duty of the Zionist leadership is to not divert them from their paths, not to prevent, to discuss, to fight, and to stifle. They should know, value, and aid. This relationship is not accidental, it comes from internal logic. It will be revealed in its entirety and will create within Zionism the attention and understanding for the emerging forces, for their creations and their perils despite the obstacles and pitfalls, which will not be lacking.

The recognition of the inner connection between Zionism and the social revolution is an idea that is still foreign to our society. Although all of the workers-movement in the land is the true expression of this idea, its buds are scattered a little here and a little there in the hidden corners of Hebrew thoughts. I am not talking about the legitimacy of being a kosher Jew who finds his place in the shade of this or that social theory, but about the unity of the Socialist-Zionist aspiration, on the full human content of the Zionist aspiration in its entirety. Indeed, this idea is not complete. The deepest thinkers of national thoughts from its birth had aimed at it. Moshe Hess carried in his soul the deep and universal content of the rebirth of Jerusalem. Theodor Herzl didn’t find satisfaction in the existing human society and was not comforted by a secure social life. rather he sensed and understood that the Jewish society needed to be not only new but “better”. And this was the inner seed that was contained in all the layers of “Altneuland.”[76] And in this great historical moment, the moment of the foundation of the Jewish National Fund (JNF)[77], national providence did not betray us, and her hand guided the hand of the legislator, which engraved this goal on the tablets: Redemption of the land from international control to the people.

Remember the good of one man whose fire was not extinguished. A conscious man, the master of the great national feeling who had a deep sense of the future, who always stayed faithful through these explorations and meanderings from the first days - Nachman Syrkin.[78] There was a time when Socialist Zionism began to overflow onto the people when it was called the inheritance of the people. However, it couldn’t find a foothold. Fresh and faithful forces have become caught up in the sling without becoming rooted. The charm of earthliness called them into the expanse and left them moaning in the desert of exile. The national idea which did not find expression in work and in fertile life atrophied. This thought was submissive and bowed its head in the blowing winds. The fresh forces were wasted. The creation sank and declined.

Only in aliyah to the Land of Israel did the national Jewish socialists find the land of acceptance and growth. Here he is faithful to himself, lives his own life, works his own work, and creates the future society: the society of Hebrew workers. Different directions meet in the workers’ movement: single and many, national and worker, past and future, the burden of the soul and tangible creation, individual and societal activity.

Not through books and accepted opinions will the Hebrew worker say his words. Through his life, his work, through his aspiring soul and through filling his needs and realizing his desires in their fullness, and weaving the fabric of the generations, and sewing the tapestry of the future.

The worker is still making his first steps. The conclusion is still far away. However, a spirit lives in him and enlivens his actions: the aspiration for freed work and to free others. And the point of its support - the JNF.

The national fund is not, in the eyes of the worker, only one of the institutions of the yishuv, but rather the JNF is for the Jewish people, the revelation of the national ‘divine spirit,’[79] a symbol of the idea of complete redemption. It is the genius creation of the people, the plan to build the type of Hebrew society for the future, the holy of holies[80] of Zionism. We inundate the JNF with feelings of love and admiration and we must see to it that her brilliance does not dull. Regarding the creation of the workers’ settlement, we need to combine the individual and the collective. The individual must invest in it his private initiative, his vitality, his energy, his work, and the hopes of his life. And the collective - the public initiative, the national norms, the land and the credit of the yishuv. The nation must give the land to the worker. It must not give it to him as a gift and not as a complete loan sale - instead, the worker must use it every day of his work as well as his sons and those after him. This work needs to be done by the JNF for Israel. This is a historical mission, whose resurrecting visionaries see its foundation in the holy wind[81], today it is not yet close to its completion. A new era will soon arrive for the JNF, when its path will be clear in front of it: not to waste money on small things, not on loans, not on building houses and the like, not on a tin can for all kinds of tzedakah, not settlement brokerage, as is the situation today, but rather the redemption of the ground and the delivery of it to the authority of the worker. And when this era comes to the JNF, it will also bring on its wing a new era of cooperation between the people and the JNF. The people will feel and will know of the work the national fund does in the land. All of our actions have a “bat kol.”[82] The current “bat kol” tells of foreign work, the lack of work for Jews, and the disappointing hopes and the environment of neglecting “Boaz-es.”[83] Another “bat kol” will tell of the national work of the yishuv, which is done by the people, with the necessary intention. It is the “bat kol” of the working yishuv. This “bat kol” will find its own direction, it will extend from sea to sea rattling the hidden vessels in the heart of our dispersed and torn nation, as well as in the hidden treasures of mankind. It will reveal and maybe even create constructive forces that we couldn’t have even hoped for.

Zionism created, on the one hand, the JNF and on the other hand tries to turn it into an all-inclusive tzedakah box,[84] for any trouble that may come. The genius of the JNF, at its core, remains foreign. It has not yet been absorbed under the auspices of Zionist understanding. More than once they entertained suggestions from great businessmen, to end the policy of ״interfering with the development of the institution”[85] and opposed the possibility of “healthy” settlement work. Practical healthy understanding requires the JNF to turn from Odessa’s “redemption”[86] into a “parceling” company and the purchasing of land. It is possible that the danger of the regulation changes, of the assassination of the future of the people, has already become global. We must demand that the use of the JNF funds for a number of side goals will end. This is not meant to denigrate the importance of different, and at times, intrinsically valuable things that were achieved with the help of the JNF funds. But it was not created for these things. Necessary means must be created for various purposes. However, they must not cause the deprivation of the redemption of the land. All negligence of the expenditure of JNF funds for this goal and all their use for other goals - they are a sin not only against written regulations, but a sin against the soul of the institution, for its aim, for the future of the people, a sin for which there is no atonement.[87]

The great hour, the hour of the reception of “the charter”, also needs to be the great hour for the JNF. The return of the people of Israel to the Land of Israel and the creation of the possibility of quick popular, large aliyah - this is the activity of all-encompassing life, which needs to accompany the declaration. The value of the charter will be great only if it is accompanied by our fervent passion. Only if all available land in this country will be placed under the auspices of the Jewish people for perpetuity so that no one is able to erase the people’s everlasting inheritance.[88]

Indeed, it is not enough to announce the value of the JNF. The redemption of the land in itself is not sufficient for the creation of the workers’ settlement. The JNF needs to complete and to fill a system of settlement aid enterprise for the workers. Here we do not have solutions to technical questions. This work will be done over the course of the coming years by the forces of work and science, united in the creation of a new yishuv. Indeed, here we are indicating only the general points, more correctly, we are hinting at them. With the integration of the people, the JNF also needs to create national credit for the creation of the workers’ settlement on the land of the people.

We already recognize the necessity of an agrarian bank.[89] An institution like this would be sufficient for an honest orchard owner whose debts have not already risen beyond the value of his holdings. Indeed, the worker and those who see in him the foundation of the yishuv and the future need to approach this question with greater alacrity. The agrarian bank, built on ordinary foundations, will not solve the question of popular settlement. The regular banking concepts of credit and trust will not endanger the creation of the new land settlement. The greatest holders who are always secure, without considering if his work is harmful, endangers the people, and society. The pioneering settler in the first years was always far from wages and close to losses. And if we want to work within these boundaries we will not go far. The agrarian credit which will be created needs to be particularly suited for the associated lands of the JNF. The faithful to the land must not be the property owners, but rather the society of workers, responsible for one another. And the land must also be given in small amounts so that the young agriculture will be able to bear it.

A special shareholder’s company for popular construction can solve one of the needs for agrarian credit. The lack of construction is profoundly felt throughout the land and especially in the new yishuv.[90] The regular funds invested in settlement are not sufficient for the most pressing needs. The most radical stinginess is maintained with respect to human lodging, which perpetually waits to be “expanded”, and which in the meantime somehow gets by. In every place, there is a situation of terrible overcrowding: in the national and private farms and in the young moshavot without even mentioning the lands acquired by the conquest of labor.[91] 

The lack of lodging exerts a strong influence on life in this country, on the body and the spirit. It lowers and degrades the sanitary conditions and occasionally brings to naught all of the good intentions and efforts to organize one’s life. There is no need to elaborate on the sorrow and difficulty that this situation causes in the lives of the workers. This lack of construction is also the cause of shocking speculation that we were witnesses to in the past few years before the crisis, of terrifying prices for the residences and the moshavot, prices that are only appropriate for large volumes from outside the land and from the same non-sanitary and ugly construction which glorifies the courtyards of our moshavot.[92] This problem will not be solved if there are not enough national assets to come to its aid. Construction always lags behind the growth of the population. The private assets that are invested will not diminish the speculation; it will increase it. And only a national society large and rich for construction, like various societies in Western countries (this work is also being completed by the Jewish Colonization Association[93] in the Jewish centers in the diaspora), will be able to help in the existing moshavot and also to receive construction work in the new yishuv and make to make the sanitary and social places suitable. These are the needs that are required for a healthy yishuv.

Who knows, when the days in which the JCA will return its funds to the people. And if this is not done in a peaceful way by the administration itself, which will finally realize its duty to the living people by way of negotiation with the Zionist labor union, then the time will also come when we must declare war against wasting property. This will be the spark that will truly light the Hebrew masses. I do not doubt which side will finally triumph.

The possibility of mass aliyah must be sought in all ways. Without entering into the specifics we must take into account the creation of an agricultural industry, fed from the land, which processes the materials from the land and allows the agricultural development of the yishuv. It is an industry that will be one of the natural links and as a result the forefather of the new yishuv.

Within the agricultural industry, there needs to be an increase in the creation of urban agriculture.[94] The opening of agricultural sectors must be created in the city and its surrounding areas as well as the creation of urban agriculture, the economic recovery of the cities, and the main creation of new living cities around agriculture and the fruits of agriculture. All of this needs to be directed toward broadening the ports of entrance and developing the means for mass existence in the land.

In our party, many people are eagerly awaiting the beginning of the new yishuv work: to found workers farmsteads, private or shared. We have many among us who have undergone the various forms of a life of labor in the country and were not able to come to terms with the current conditions of work and existence - not as a salaried worker and not as an exploitationist farmer - yet they advance. Will we too make the mistake of thinking the work of settlement that stands before us begins with the new workers’ moshavim?

If we are truly ready for the next yishuv, the workers’ settlement, then we will prepare the foundations for a healthy existence, and we will not forget that changing its name does not guarantee a change in luck. And no matter how important the forces of the soul and the will that are invested in this yishuv - even these are still far from being enough - still hope and success are far from us.

The progress of the social settlement needs to be based on the agricultural, technical, and scientific process that it will promote. And this point, I think it is permissible to say, is completely lacking from the book of life of the yishuv.

Before we approach the creation of a yishuv that exists on labor we need to promote training programs and the creation of the conditions which will allow for its existence, its success, and its development.

Ostensibly, we have a law in Zionism: “preparation of the conditions precedes settlement”. Perhaps the truth needs to be said: that this law is not useful for the action of widening our steps. The combination of coincidence, profane ideas, amateurish reasoning and poverty-level criteria of profit and cost dominated. A high level of Zionist political wisdom for the creation of the conditions for the yishuv were reached in the recognition of the need for the agrarian bank, but no more than that.

We know that we must demand that the worker should live by his work. We know that we must visit the farmsteads laden with deficiencies for the sake of instruction and proof and in order to indicate properly which farmers or farmstead kibbutzim have succeeded. And they do not understand that these successes are dependent on miracles, and our yishuv, all as it is, has not yet succeeded in an economic-settlement sense. It has not yet stood on its legs. It has not yet found the possibility of its existence. We still do not divide between the original speculative revenue and the natural revenue of the farmstead. At our current state, the farmstead which is secure in its existence and in its natural revenue has not arrived.

Even in a country whose land has been worked from generation to generation, which has traditional rules and practices, and whose workers are not new-comers, there too there is still a situation of the worker that is not strong, but every government, even the most underdeveloped, knows its obligation to come to his aid in unceasing scientific investigation, in training, in the invention of seed materials, working tools, medicine, in experimental stations and in agricultural knowledge - in addition to extending government credit. And in our land, in our yishuv, in which everything from its foundations to its rafters, from the work itself to the worker and the manager, in which everything must be built from scratch, where was aid offered to the worker so that his labor will not be carried off by the wind? Who offered direction to the new worker, to the Yemenite, to the woman laborer, who bothered to clear the many stumbling blocks from their paths? Where were the agricultural aid institutions which the people needed for its pioneering building? Where did the farmer turn when disease struck him? Where did the greengrocer turn when harm came to his produce? Where did the market turn when the nibbling mice came to the harvest of his fields?

In countries in which most of the people do not know how to read or write, the regional agronomist, the wandering guide, knocks on the door of the farmer and deceives and tells him how to assemble the fruits of his investigation and new agriculture. The Hebrew worker who knocks on all of the gates, will he find one who can solve the question that disturbs his peace, not the eternal questions, but those that arise through labor and his concern to save the communal economy?

Here a new profession has been opened in our agriculture. The fruits of the labor of the new worker - the vegetable grower. For a few years, we have been dealing with these with known success and hopes. Every year we look again for seeds to be found, in the Arab grocer’s shop, markets in Damascus, from a delivery from a vendor abroad, from the farmer that ‘tries’ to grow his own seeds; and for years we have been planting dunams of cabbage and cauliflower, beets and radishes in neat and perfect rows and with a wide investment of forces of ‘modern’ work. They have brought us ‘flowers’ but no fruit and the heart is pained by this lack of fruitfulness and by this waste of one’s money and the money of the community. And again you continue your miserable existence, half-hungry, full of embarrassment and shame, lacking faith and honor for yourself and your work. And you return to invest yourself in your extortionist fruit, which knows no rest, full of doubts and burdens without a trace of satisfaction or expansion of knowledge. Is there a need for someone to worry that the worker from Ein Ganim[95], the Yemenite from Mahane Yehuda[96], that the women’s workers’ commune will have good seeds from a compatible species? No matter. The yishuv goes on its path doing what it does, while the worker beats his head against the rock; his portion being deficits and bitterness as he shall be held responsible for the lack of success.

And the Galilean farmer[97], who for all of the years was bent under the weight of hard labor, rotting from his misery and his poverty, through difficulty he was able to find his bread, not from the land which scarcely provided - did anyone help him him sow fine, examined, and selected wheat and barley? Did anyone teach him how to rotate seeds correctly? Did he have a place to obtain appropriate working tools, a milking cow, a good beast of burden? Did he have help and direction other than from the neighboring peasant?

In every corner of the yishuv in which you turn, you will find the lonely worker, scrabbling and searching for ways to elevate his work and his fruit. One attempts to acclimate a new type of plant. One evaluates or makes new tools suitable. One grows different species for examination and testing. One experiments with a type of work or communal category that has not been tried before. Everyone has a special spirit which lives in him, and a special “madness” that surges in him. Everyone is not only a worker trying to fill his workday and to worry - and how to worry-for his sustenance because he is also a researcher and an examiner, an encyclopedia, a steward, and a student. Yet he examines the wall without finding a handhold. What was all of this mental and soul energy supposed to bring? “And now - “How parched the lot, and blasted how the portion, Wherein such grain could moulder and decay!”[98] What is the fate of this “new matmid”?[99]

“Cheap labor.” Not only does the private economy of our winegrowers and owners of our orchards not have any other economic base, but the creation of the yishuv itself was built on it: on reduction and cheap labor. Our new yishuv, of Hovevei Zion, of the Zionists, and even the “charitable,” - aspires to be practical. And in its practicality, it does not know of agricultural aid, scientific training, research, and experimentation. All of these are permissible for it, a luxury, a non-productive expenditure, which lies in the way of development of public property. And from this, of course, one must flee as from the archer whose bow is already drawn. Our colonies are only busy with a real thing: the position on the ground. The rest will come later; private property - it will do wonders, it will create a healthy, successful, and profitable economy. The very concept of an agronomist in the land is the material of mockery and jokes. Is there a possibility for the existence of an agronomist in the land without officials and economic managers? The yishuv without a need for scientific workers, would know to offer the young agronomist who had come to Israel, without any experience and practical training (expert agronomists would not come and would not be brought) only a manager or an overseer, and make him despised in the eyes of the society and happy for his misfortune.

This is how the wise and intelligent people[100] understand the building of the yishuv. Will it continue this way? Will labor continue to be displayed as a target for these arrows of nature, to damages and tribulations, lacking knowledge and culture?

The level of agriculture is for the agricultural worker, for his existence, his future, a matter of life no less than the creation of a social order. Without the progression of agriculture at a radical level there is no progress for the worker. The demand to share science in the yishuv and in the community at large, the creation of institutions and enterprises, to raise agriculture and to disseminate agricultural knowledge needs to be an integral part of the workers’ demands.

At the beginning of the systematic workers’ settlement a system of factories needs to be created that will expand and branch out in width and depth with the growth of the yishuv:

Climate stations for planting, vegetables and crops, central nurseries, sufficient healthy and secure trees, a center for the production of seeds and their examination, entomological institutions for fighting pests, agricultural laboratories, invention of compost and their evaluation, experiment stations, fields and gardens for examination in different regions from the Nile to Lebanon, dairy farms for the raising of milk goats and beasts of burden, veterinarian aid, experimental institutions for a canning industry of fruit and vegetables, building experiments for the needs of the yishuv, request of working tools and their testing, agriculture courses, wandering guides, and so on.

Through the creation of these enterprises a team of great scientific forces will enter the land. Their actions will be recognized in all of the branches of settlement work, which will introduce a flow of knowledge, energy and initiative. There is no contradiction of the union of these forces. Through a generous hand scientific agriculture and individual talent will be sown in the land, lest our work will be empty.

But is it agricultural aid alone that we are lacking? Are the successes of the farmsteads only lacking the elementary conditions for man, for himself, for his life, for his health, for protection from the face of annihilations and degeneration? Is this worry thought of as one of the foundational duties of the yishuv?

It is difficult to speak about this matter. This is one of the most depressing deficiencies of our yishuv. Our yishuv has sinned, even the new one, to its pioneers, until today. And even the reduction of the forces does not atone for the poverty of ideas, which has been revealed in all of its depths.

Through a poor economy and lack of scope we measured each step of our sanitary work. And the results? The yishuv paid for this national stinginess at great expense. Who from us will not count the accidental deaths of people close to us, who only lacked minimal medicinal aid in the land which caused it? And how many are disabled from the lack of suitable treatment? Weren’t people in the lower Galilee afflicted with malaria, epidemics and open to attack over many years without a physician?[101] We brought Yemenites to the country in order to give them life, to raise them up and make them healthy and we abandoned them to die of illness. Do we need to recall the unnecessary victims among the watchmen who waited for days, and who at times died, as they waited for the tardy help to arrive? Is it necessary here, among us, to explain the sanitary conditions of the worker, of the Yemenite (even with the help of our sick fund[102], that indeed demonstrated in times of crisis the extent to which every organized and dedicated act of labor, in the poorest of conditions, helps save life)? For even our hospitals are a miracle insofar as they are shut under lock and key most of the days of the year, and we cannot even speak of their quality. For we are thankful for the little there is and are aware of the conditions of their existence. And this is in a land of many diseases, in which acclimation uses up so much of our strength, and in which the development of bad land arouses bouts of malaria. .

And what about in the cities, the focus of Hebrew philanthropy from around the world? When you walk through the open squares of Jerusalem, Tzfat, Tiberia and see the children, the poor children of the land of Israel, who have never seen a drop of milk with pale faces, their slackness and the thinness of their bones. And you are unable to help or to change it, and you wonder above everything: what is our “nationalism” and the glory? Where is the national feeling? Where are the connections, the human connections, between national integration, democracy, and between the masses? Are there not two estranged people before you? Where, of late, is the Jewish compassion?

Regarding medical help in the land and its situation, on the level of the forces and the conditions of their development, on the poverty of the medical atmosphere, on its delays and the trailing there is more to say, however it would be better if those who were more familiar with it talked about it.

We must, all of us, be concerned that the concepts and their value discussed in this conversation will be completely changed.

For a people such as ours, who suffered notoriously from horrid conditions of existence coming from all directions for hundreds of years, and for whom pioneering and acclimation required every effort while illness and the difficult conditions dissipated the best of our abilities - matters of health ought not to be at the end of the list. Perhaps now with what can be learned from the World War, the time has come for every person to worry about the present generation and the future generation's health in place of systematic destruction and loss and in place of the systematic selection of superior abilities to be sacrificed. Instead of the process of human demise and stultification and instead of ministries of war, there should now arise organized labor and ministries of national health to strengthen and heal the worker. Has the time not yet come? In any event, among us, if we care for the little strength we have in this country, if we care for the small group in the cities and agricultural towns that have already cost us so much, if we do not wish to waste the forces entering the country, if we desire a fruitful life and labor - then concern for sanitation must come first. First class powers of science must enter the country. Scientific centers of research, health care, modern hospitals, centers for recuperation, birthing centers, institutions for the nutrition of infants, for milk pasteurization and public baths must be developed. We need institutions and forces which will supply the necessary aid to heal the country and to support serious atmosphere of scientific endeavor

The central Zionist bureau must accompany it to all the new places that it will go and its work needs to be done with the same responsibility that the workers’ population does with its work. This obligation, maybe the first of the obligations, against all of these we await.

One more point about the work in the land, a completely depressing point, that causes insult and requires correction: That is the work of popular culture. Until today cultural work in the land means - school. We have not transcended this concept.

(Parenthetically: It is also possible that the worker has something to say, something he must say in this realm as well, in the “formal” culture, of teachers and educational functionaries. The worker is no longer a wandering bachelor. The question of educating his children already concerns, alarms and disturbs him.

What our schools in the moshavot are and for what purpose are they educating, and what is the connection between them and the life of the worker and his future - this is the bitter question, which has already been asked, deafly, in our tents, and necessarily will return. But this is a separate matter.)

What will we do to ease the re-acquisition of Hebrew? This was the idea of individuals, the Zealots,[103] of the volunteers. And upon some of us, the workers, fate fell, the fate of honor, to spread the language in folk circles, yet we were deprived of knowledge. And the pain which follows the lack of knowledge, the constriction of life, the embitterment of the heart, and the estrangement and internal pain - is felt in our camp. Many of us know personally or know of a close relative who had great pain in their hearts. The pain of a man who came to the land and did not have the language. The pain of the soul of the man who wanted to speak with a Hebrew girl, but his tongue stuttered. The soul of a fledgling man who over the years in the thin moments of his rest catches the crumbs of the language without a teacher, without a school, without help.

And what will happen when the flow of expected immigrants[104] come? Are they intended to perish in their grief and in ignorance? Indeed, will the historic process of the unification of the people and its economic and cultural resurrection be delayed by the narrowing of horizons and ideas, by the lack of a popular feeling, by the lack of faithful, highly intelligent people and workers of the cultural work of the people?

And also, in a country whose language controls all branches of life, would we know how to give an immigrant the required aid for learning the language?

And us?

Hovevei Zion already knew years ago to produce a notebook for learning Hebrew. Where is the first book for learning spoken Hebrew, which an immigrant would take with him on his ship? Where is the learning book for adults, the tools which would help them instill the knowledge of the language without the knowledge of a master?

Again, this is a luxury, one of the “precious” luxuries, as an agricultural aid as a political aid.

The knowledge of the nation is not, obviously, a question of language alone. It is enough to remember the depressing situation of the libraries in the land local library in the moshav to the “Faithful House”[105], to observe the situation of knowledge of the young generation of graduates, who remained without learning or development. There is no longer talk about the situation of our literature and the adjustment to the need for a culture of reading, the aspiration for knowledge.

Do we need to accept the situation that peasantry and illiteracy are synonymous? No and no. Hebrew peasantry will not be built on illiteracy, neither will the Israeli assembly, nor will the workers assembly. “And all your children shall be disciples of the Lord”[106] - it is a blessing that we have become estranged from. And do not be embarrassed by it and do not falter. Popular cultural work, wide and deep, needs to accompany our settlement work. Great means, and great human forces, forces of love and ethics must come to the aid of the Hebrew language, to the making of a national inheritance that dwells in its homeland. Knowledge must be created for the worker and the education of the young generation and after they leave school. In our eyes, no measure will be too great for the distribution of Hebrew to those who come. The creation of literature for the nation, a good educator, a national art museum, a popular university will fill the needs of education in the land, and the cultural level of the work in the land of Israel.

In the Hebrew society, which is being built, there is no place for two cultures: for a culture of the upper class and the culture of the humble (low tide of spirit). The cultural creation in its entirety needs to come from the creation of the life of the people, fed from it and feeding it. The cultural, scientific, artistic, and philosophical property needs to be the inheritance of the people. Do not say that these things are distant.

[1] Hebrew [לקראת הימים הבאים] Given at the Seventh Conference of the Judean Workers’ Union in Rehovot, 1918

[2] The original Hebrew is much more terse: תוֹסס הכּאב של “אֶפס קצהוּ. Katznelson is referring to the “ebullient pain” of אפס קצהו, a reference to Numbers 23:13, “Then Balak said to him [Balaam], “Come with me to another place from which you can see them—you will see only a portion of them [אפס קצהו]; you will not see all of them—and damn them for me from there.” In this Biblical narrative, the Moabite King Balak asks the non-Jewish prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites. However, Balaam is unable to, as God puts words of praise into his mouth. Balak reasons that Balaam is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the Israelite camp and moves him to a place higher on the mountain from which only a portion (אפס קצהו) of the Israelites can be seen. The underlying message Katznelson is trying to convey is that other nations see in the Israelites/Jews a vulnerability when only a small portion of them reside in the Land of Israel.

[3]A.D. Gordon (1856-1922) was the spiritual and intellectual guide behind labor Zionism. According to Amos Perlmutter, A. D. Gordon was a Utopian mystic whose personal ethical system became the philosophical mainstay of the early pioneer movement in Palestine. He personified socialist-Zionism, that pragmatic synthesis of Judaism, socialism, humanitarianism and naturalism from which the dominant nationalist ideology of the modern state of Israel evolved.” Perlmutter, Amos. “A. D. Gordon: A Transcendental Zionist.” Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, 1971, pp. 81–87.

[4] At this point in his life, A.D. Gordon had retired to Degania before dying a few years later in 1922.

[5] In 1916 the Turks arrested several Zionist leaders and imprisoned them in Damascus. Several others were deported including David Ben Gurion and Yitzhak Ben Tzvi. 

[6] Possibly an allusion to Psalms 48:11, “The praise of You, God, like Your name, reaches to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is filled with beneficence.”

[7] A reference to HaShomer “The Watchman” an early Zionist defense group and precursor to the Haganah.

[8] The first socialist Zionist kibbutzim/moshavim, agricultural cooperatives, founded during the Second Aliyah. Degania (1909), Kinneret (1913), Tel Adashim (1913), Merchavia (1911).

[9] Katznelson’s speech was given at the 7th Judean Workers Congress. It is reasonable to suspect that there were no (at least official) representatives from the Galilean communities.

[10] Gates are a central motif in Jewish tradition, often referencing the gates of Jerusalem. Gates are also locations of deliberation and judiciaries. See Psalms 87:2, 118:19, Jeremiah 1:15, 17:21, Zechariah 8:16

[11]Jewish immigration increased rapidly after WWI. According to YIVO, ‘The first sizable wave of post–World War I Jewish international migration from Eastern Europe occurred in 1918–1921, when more than 200,000 Jews emigrated from Soviet Russia to different European countries, mostly through neighboring Poland and Romania; they settled chiefly in Germany, and later in France.”

Tolts, Mark “Population and Migration,” YIVO Encyclopedia.

[12] This is a dual reference to the national redemption of the Jewish people and the Biblical agricultural-economic redemption of land. See Westbrook, Raymond. “Redemption of Land.” Israel Law Review, vol. 6, no. 3, 1971, pp. 367–375.

[13] This notion comes out of A.D. Gordon’s idea of the relationship between man, labor, and land. Only through labor can man heal himself from the ills of an industrial society.

“The concept of work must now be our central wish; upon labour we must base all our work, that is the national task. Only if we will make work our ideal, will we discover the ideal of labour. When we unite with nature, which was torn away from us, only then will we be cured of our illness [lack of labour]. Work is a great human ideal, the ideal of the future, the ideal which will cure us of our historical parasitism. [He is referring to the small Jewish profiteer and peddler.]'”

Perlmutter, Amos. “A. D. Gordon: A Transcendental Zionist.” Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, 1971, pp. 81–87.

[14] Torat Hayyim [תורת חיים] is a concept that the Torah, teaching, is a living enterprise. This refers both to the Torah as the wellspring of life ״​​She is a tree of life to those who grasp her, And whoever holds on to her is happy.״ (Proverbs 3:18) and the dynamism of Torah as a way of life (halakha) - ״The instruction of a wise man is a fountain of life״ (Proverbs 13:14) see also the final blessing of the Shacharit Amidah (שים שלום). All translations of Biblical and Rabbinic verses are from

[15]“He [God] gives strength to the weary, Fresh vigor to the spent [אין אונים].” (Isaiah 42:9)

[16] Literally excommunication [חרם]. See Lilley, J.P.U “Understanding the Herem.”

[17] This is a subversion of Rabbi Yosi’s comment in TB Berakhot 16b: “One does not eulogize slaves and maidservants. Rabbi Yosei says: If he was a virtuous servant, one recites over him a eulogy of sorts: Alas, a good and faithful man who enjoyed the fruits of his hard labor. They said to him: If so, what praise have you left for virtuous Jews? A Jewish person would be proud to be eulogized in that manner.”

[18] Referring to the First Aliyah, primarily composed of traditional Eastern European and Yemenite Jews who were not skilled in agriculture. Of the 6,000 who emigrated, only approximately 2% remained.

[19] In the aftermath of WWI a wave of revolution swept over much of the world. Revolutions occurred in at least 23 countries. It was particularly fierce in Russia (1917), Germany (1918), and Hungary (1918). Revolutions also occurred in the period leading up to WWI: China (1911), Russia (1905), Portugal (1910), Ottoman Empire/Turkey (1908).

[20] Literally “the Satan” [השטן]. The notion of Satan in Judaism is different from that of Christianity. Satan is an angel of God used as an accuser in theological literature. See Job 1:6.

[21] “He will invade the richest of provinces unawares, and will do what his father and forefathers never did, lavishing on them spoil, booty, and wealth; he will have designs upon strongholds, but only for a time.” (Daniel 11:24)

[22] This is a difficult word to translate. In Hebrew it is koach, [כוח] which means power, force, strength. It is likely a reference to “manpower” [כוח אדם].

[23] Yishuv refers to the Jewish settlement in mandatory Palestine. Literally “settlement” or “population” [ישוב]

[24] “A pauper is despised even by his peers, But a rich man has many friends.” (Proverbs 14:20)

[25] Shofar [שופר] or ram’s horn is a symbol of annunciation in Judaism. It is referenced numerous times in the Torah and serves as a “wake up call” for the Jewish people. It is the sound that heralds the ingathering of the exiles, “And in that day, a great ram’s horn shall be sounded; and the strayed who are in the land of Assyria and the expelled who are in the land of Egypt shall come and worship the LORD on the holy mount, in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 27:13)

[26] Referring to major Zionist leaders and continual debate within the Zionist movent over its directions. See Brenner, Michael. In Search of Israel. Princeton University Press, 2018.

[27] This is focused on Herzl’s political Zionism which was focused on diplomacy and international recognition rather than the support of Jewish land and labor. See Troy, Gil “Pioneers: Political Zionism” The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland—Then, Now, Tomorrow. University of Nebraska Press, 2018

[28] Refers to the Biblical concept of the wicked and rebellious son who is sentenced to death. Katznelson subverts the negative Biblical connotations, praising the son’s rebelliousness. See Deuteronomy 21:20 and TB Sanhedrin 68b.

[29] Usually in reference to a divine decree. See TB Rosh Hashanah 16b.

[30]Elhanan Leib Lewinski (1857–1910), hebrew writer and early Zionist figure. Lewinski joined Hovevei Tzion, BILU, and emigrated to Palestine. Upon returning to Russia he was heavily engaged with Hibbat Tzion, establishing numerous chapters throughout Eastern Europe. He was a fierce advocate of Hebrew literature and penned polemics against Sholem Aleicheim and others attempts to revitalize Yiddish. See Hotzman, Avner “Lewinsky, Elhanan Leib,” YIVO Encyclopedia

[31] Yehiel Chlenov (1864-1918), Russian Zionist leader and major “Zion-Zionist” opposed to the Uganda plan. As well, Chlenov helped bring about the Balfour Declaration.

[32] The Zionist Committee was a delegation of Zionist leaders sent to Palestine after the issuance of the Balfour Declaration under the auspices of the British government. The aim was to set the foundations for a Jewish national home in the Land of Israel. The head of the Committee was Chaim Weizman with William Ormsby-Gore as the representative of the British government.

[33] Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) was an Austrian journalist and founder of political Zionism. In 1896 he wrote “The Jewish State” and mapped out his vision for an internationally recognized national Jewish home. He organized the first Zionist Congress in 1897 and became the first preseident of the World Zionist Organization. Herzl’s political Zionism was the foundation for the establishment of the Jewish Agency under the auspices of the British government as detailed in the Balfour Declaration (see note ) and the eventual State of Israel.

[34] Unclear translation. Original Hebrew [חוש העתיד] lit. the sense of the future. Likely refers to a clear vision and direction for the Zionist movement.

[35] ?Justus von Liebig's Law of the Minimum states that yield is proportional to the amount of the most limiting nutrient, whichever nutrient it may be.? Barak, Phillip “Essential Elements for Plant Growth” University of Wisconsin, 2000.

[36] Referring to the Jubilee year [יובל] in which the land lies fallow and land is returned to its original owners. See Leviticus 25:10

[37] See Ahad Ha’am’s At the Crossroads (1895)

[38] Ahad Ha’am, Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg (1856-1927) was a writer and early leader of cultural Zionism which envisaged not a Jewish nation-state, but a spiritual center for the Jewish people. In Ahad Ha’am’s words, “a Jewish state and not merely a state of Jews.” Ha’am, Ahad “The Jewish State and Jewish ProblemEssential Texts of Zionism. trans. Leon Simon. Jewish Publication Society of America, c. 1912.

[39] “Joyfully shall you draw water from the fountains of triumph [wellspring of salvation]” (Isaiah 12:3).

[40] This is a criticism of Herzelian political Zionism which neglected the cultural and spiritual content that is necessary for its function.

[41] Shechina [שכינה] is the Divine Presence of God which rests amongst righteousness. It is a Rabbinic concept that is often read back into Biblical texts. See TB Bava Batra 10a, TB Berakhot 6a, TB Shabbat 30a, Numbers Rabbah 13:2, Tagum Onkelos cf. Exodus 34:9. When transgressions occur the Shechina departs. See TB Sota 3b, introduction to Eicha Rabbah.

[42] See Maimonides’ 13 Principles, VI: “I believe by complete faith that all the words of the prophets are true.”

[43] “The Basel Program was the manifesto of the Zionist movement. It was formulated by Max Nordau and ratified in the First Zionist Congress, held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. The program’s key objective was presented in its opening line: "Zionism aims at establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Eretz Yisrael…"

“For the attainment of this purpose, four means were set: The promotion of settling Eretz Yisrael with Jewish agriculturists, artisans, and tradesmen; the gathering of all Jews into effective groups of action, local or general, in accordance with the laws of the various countries; the strengthening of the Jewish-national feeling and consciousness; and taking preparatory steps for the acceptance of worldwide recognition necessary for the achievement of the Zionist purpose.”

Basel ProgramThe Knesset.

[44] Unclear translation. Yiddish felker - people, lich - relating to, recht - law/jurisprudence.

[45] In 1917, British Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour wrote a letter to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, indicating the British government’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

The Balfour Declaration was a culminating moment for political Zionists who had pushed the British government for recognition of the Jewish national aspirations. In effect, the Balfour Declaration was seen as a green light for proceeding with the Zionist project under the proction of a world power.

[46] Aliyah lit. “going up” [עליה] denotes the waves of immigration to the Land of Israel. Katznelson was a member of the Second Aliyah (1904-1914). This speech took place at the onset of the Third Aliyah (1919-1923)

[47] In the Biblical narrative the return to Zion [שיבת ציון] refers to both the return after the destruction of the First Temple under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah and the future return to the land. See Psalms 126.

[48] For example, “Hatikvah” written by Naftali Herz Imber in 1877 and became popular at the 5th and 6th Zionist Congresses in 1901 and 1903.

[49] “And the many peoples shall go and say: ‘Come, Let us go up to the Mount of the LORD, To the House of the God of Jacob; That He may instruct us in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.’ For instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the LORD from Jerusalem.? (Isaiah 2:3)

[50] “The Rock!—His deeds are perfect, Yea, all His ways are just; A faithful God, never false, True and upright is He.? (Deuteronomy 32:4)

[51] See Brenner, Michael “A State Like Any Other State or a Light Unto the Nations?” Israel Studies, vol. 23, no. 3, 2018, pp. 3–10.

[52] See note 41 and “I the LORD, in My grace, have summoned you, And I have grasped you by the hand. I created you, and appointed you A covenant people, a light of nations—? (Isaiah 42:6)

[53] Moshe Hess (1812-1875) was a Jewish philosopher and socialist. He was a contemporary of Karl Marx, but often disagreed with him over a purely economic view of world history. Hess was the founder of labor Zionism.

See Troy, Gil. “Pioneers: Labor Zionism.” The Zionist Ideas: Visions for the Jewish Homeland—Then, Now, Tomorrow, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 2018, pp. 35–62. and Avineri, Shlomo Moshe Hess: Prophet of Zionism and Communism. New York: New York University Press, 1985

[54] Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a German philosopher and economist. Marx is most known for his critical theories as elaborated in The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867-1883) in which he described the progress of world history as subsequent class struggles. Marx heavily criticized the capitalist system in which the means of production and labor were controlled by a ruling class. In response, Marx advocated for communism in which the worker was responsible for his own labor and means of production. Marx promoted a “proletarian revolution” to overthrow capitalist systems. His ideas were central to the socialist Zionist movement and their emphasis on the worker.

[55] Ferdinand Lasalle (1825-1864) was a German writer and philosopher and the creator of social democratic movement in Germany.

[56] The Forward was founded in 1897 as a Yiddish socialist daily. Still currently in publication.

[57] “Truth springs up from the earth; justice looks down from heaven.” (Psalms 85:12)

[58] Amidah prayer for the Festivals, “You have chosen us from all the Nations. You loved us and Desired us. You raised us from among all Languages and sanctified us with your mitzvot. You brought us closer to you, our King. To serve your great and holy Name you called us.”

[59] From the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

[60] In this section, Katznelson mocks and berates the Zionists who surround themselves with verses of redemption without putting in the work to realize the powerful vision of the Hebrew prophets. The visceral prophecies of Isaiah, Micah, and Jeremiah have become emptied of their emotional content. Katznelson’s rhetoric calls for a renewed vigor and realization of these prophecies.

[61] According to Rabbinic tradition (TB Sanhedrin 96b) the blood of Zechariah continuously boiled in the Temple after he had been murdered there.

[62] This is a reference to the judicial process as described in Mishna Sanhedrin 5:5.

[63] "Assuredly, because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field, And Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, And the Temple Mount A shrine in the woods.” (Micah 3:12)

[64] Refers to Moses who was vigorous until the day he died. “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated.” (Deuteronomy 34:7)

[65] Possibly a reference to Jeremiah 31:31 or Amos 9:13, the former referring to a renewed covenant and the latter to a coming famine.

[66] Katznelson criticizes the previous generation of Zionists who were content with pursuing diplomatic support for Zionism rather than engaging in radical labor-based endeavors.

[67] A small area about 36 sq ft. Refers to TB Berakhot 8a.

[69] “You have magnified that nation, Have given it great joy; They have rejoiced before You As they rejoice at reaping time, As they exult When dividing spoil.

For the yoke that they bore And the stick on their back— The rod of their taskmaster— You have broken as on the day of Midian.” (Isaiah 9:2-3)

[70] Diplomatic agreements eg. Balfour Declaration.

[71] “I the LORD am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2).

[72] See notes 13, 43-45.

[73] See note 29, Ahad Ha’am, At the Crossroads.

[74] Arthur Ruppin (1876-1943) was a Zionist leader who contributed to building many pre-state institutions. He was instrumental in the building of Tel Aviv and numerous kibbutzim (Degania, Merchavia, Kinneret). See Bloom, Etan “Arthur Ruppin and the Production of Pre-Israeli Culture” Studies in Jewish History and Culture.

[75] Part of Gordon’s Zionist philosophy was the creation of the “New Jew” who had shed the weakness of diaspora life. The image of this character is the muscular, tanned sabra. See Apel, Dora. War Culture and the Contest of Images. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2012 and Perlmutter, Amos. “A. D. Gordon: A Transcendental Zionist.” Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, 1971, pp. 81–87.

[76] In 1902 Herzl published his novella “Altneuland” the “Old New Land” in which he described a modern, European Jewish state.

[77] The Jewish National Fund was created in 1901 to purchase land for the nascent Zionist movement. See “Our History.”

[78] Nahman Syrkin (1884-1951) was a writer and Socialist Zionist leader. He supported Hebrew as the offical language of the Zionist movement and the creation of the Jewish National Fund. Syrkin was an American Jewish delegate at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919. “Nahman Syrkin,” Jewish Virtual Library.

[79] See note 32.

[80] Refers to the Holy of Holies in the Temple.

[81] Refers to the holy wind/spirit. It appears in Biblical literature (Psalm 51) and more prominently in Rabbinic literature as a moment of divine inspiration. See TB Megillah 14a, Yoma 9b, Mishna Sotah 9:6.

[82] Refers to a Divine voice. See Ethics of Our Fathers 6:2 and TB Bava Metzia 59b.

[83] Refers to the Biblical Boaz, a landowner of a large barley crop. Ruth 2:1

[84] Many Jewish families and synagogues had tzedekah (charity) boxes called pushkes to donate to the JNF. Also known as “Blue Boxes.” See “The Blue

[85] Referring to the prohibition on the JNF to purchase land enacted by the British.

[86] “Redemption” גאולה, founded 1904, was a company for purchasing acreage in mandate Palestine and selling them to Zionist pioneers.

[87] According to Jewish tradition, certain transgressions can be cleansed via repentance, charity, good deeds, and/or animal sacrifices. However, others cannot be atoned for. See Numbers 35:33.

[88] “I assign the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding [inheritance]. I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8)

[89] In 1916, Katznelson founded HaMashbir, an agrarian collective designed to provide low-cost food during shortages.

[90] This idea eventually became Solel Boneh, “the Pioneer Builds,” a construction company created by the socialist workers’ union (Histadrut).

[91] The conquest of labor [כיבוש עבודה] was a motto for the Second Aliyah pioneers. The focus was put on Hebrew/Jewish workers in order to create an independent community. See “Kibbush Ha’avoda,” Zionist and Israel Encyclopedic Dictionrary.

[92] A moshav is a type of communal settlement. Whereas a kibbutz is completely cooperative, there are degrees of private ownership in moshavim.

[93] The Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), founded 1891 by Baron Hirsch, was a company that provided funding for Jewish immigration to mandatory Palestine.

[94] See Alon Mozes, Tal & Amdur, Liron & Gianquinto, Giorgio & Orsini, F. “Urban Agriculture in Israel: Between Civic Agriculture and Personal Empowerment,” International Conference on Landscape and Urban Horticulture, 2010.

[95] First Moshav in Ottoman Palestine (1908).

[96] Neighborhood in Jerusalem founded in 1887.

[97] The area around the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) was one of the most difficult frontiers. See Near, Henry. “Experiment and Survival: The Beginnings of the Kibbutz.” Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 20, no. 1, 1985, pp. 177–197.

[98] Translation to English by Helena Frank.

[99] This refers to the influential Hebrew poet Hayyim Nahman Bialik’s 1893 poem “the Matmid” [המתמיד] (“the Talmud Student” in English) which details a profile of a diligent Lithuanian yeshiva student. The poem is historical and is based on Bialik’s own encounter with such a character during his time in yeshiva in his youth. This poem, published in the Hebrew journal Ha-Shiloah, established Bialik’s fame. Katznelson draws upon this imagery of a diligent, exacting yeshiva student and compares him with his labor counterpart. Katznelson utilizes the listener’s familiarity with Bialik’s poem to elicit a sympathetic portrayal of the worker. In “HaMatmid,” Bialik laments the dilapidation of the yeshiva students' lives. Committed to Torah study, they live in abject poverty. Bialik describes,

 “Sometimes the student wonders at himself,

Disgusted at his toil and seized with anger.

In winter, when the cold and tempest reign,

When heaven is like a smoke and earth is dull,

When faint, dark clouds trail weeping o'er the sky,

"Oh, that the sun would but light up her face

One little moment, if she would but make

A slender offering of pallid light! "

Bialik describes the cold, brutal winter weather of Lithuania and the hardship endured by its students who yearn for an ounce of sunlight. Similarly, Katznelson relates his “lonely worker” who toils under an oppressive sun to the frozen student.

Yet despite an abundance of affection for the yeshiva, Bialik ultimately chooses to leave this world,

(“My fate hath not so willed that I with you...And still I think of you, each one, each one! Your forms are with me, clinging to my heart”). Bialik chooses to leave this world of difficulty in exchange for a world of possibility. In the end, whatever love Bialik has for his community, it is not enough to offset the acute hunger, pain, and chill that world entails.

Bialik concludes with the line quoted by Katznelson above, “How parched the lot, and blasted how the portion, Wherein such grain could moulder and decay!” In Katznelson’s words, the lonely worker has become the unfortunate heir of Bialik’s “matmid” struggling against difficulty and sustained by ideological vigor.

Hayyim Nahman Bialik, “HaMatidThe Ben Yehuda Project.

[100] “Observe them faithfully, for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, “Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people.” (Deuteronomy 4:6)

[101] Schwartz E, Bar-El D, Schur N. “The history of cholera epidemics in Israel,” Harefuah. 2005 May;144(5):363-70, 381. Hebrew. and O'Connor, F. W. “Epidemiology and Control of Malaria in Palestine.” The Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 21, no. 3, 1931, pp. 333–337.

[102] The Sick Fund [קופת חולים] was established in 1911 to provide medical assistance, in particularly against malaria. See Shvarts, Shifra: The Workers' Health Fund in Eretz Israel: Kupat Holim, 1911–1937.

[103] The Zealots [קנאים] were a group of 1st Century rebels in Judea that sought to incite the population to revolt against the Romans.

[104] In Hebrew olim [עולים].

[105] “The Faithful House” [הבית הנאמן] was one of the first names for the National Library in Jerusalem.

[106] Isaiah 54:13.