Settlers were scuffling with police in Ofakim, and the situation was beginning to spiral out of control. Columns of disengagement opponents were rushing the human wall of soldiers and police, and more were coming. The activists, in their last-ditch effort to thwart the pullout, were determined to break through the blockade and reach the sealed-off Gush Katif settlement bloc where they hoped to physically prevent the disengagement.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, unnoticed with his modest orange-decorated bag slung over his shoulder, climbed onto the roof of a nearby car. As fisticuffs began to break out, Aviner grabbed a megaphone and, in his high-pitched, French-accented intonation, managed to distract the crowd. Before long, he had calmed the tense atmosphere.
Yet in the weeks following the disengagement, Aviner has not been honored as a peacemaker. Instead, he has been labeled a traitor by a group of right-wing Religious Zionist rabbis who consider Aviner's call to soldiers and police to obey orders to evacuate the Gaza Strip and north Samaria an unforgivable crime. Perhaps most significantly, Aviner's stand on insubordination was a direct contradiction of the halachic opinion of former Ashkenazi chief rabbi Avraham Shapira, who had declared participation in the withdrawal a sin.
"How dare [Aviner] have the hubris to issue a halachic decision that is opposed to our teacher and master, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, this generation's most respected halachic opinion?" said Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba. "Not every person who has a long or a short beard should call himself a rabbi and venture to believe he can issue halachic rulings in such important matters."
Aviner, head of the Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva in Jerusalem's Old City, is not considered as much of a halachic authority as Shapira is, but he is respected enough by mainstream Religious Zionists on ideological matters to undermine Shapira's unequivocal stand on insubordination.
"A religious soldier faced with following evacuation orders could point to Aviner and say, 'Here is a rabbi that opposes insubordination,'" said a senior yeshiva student at Yeshivat Beit El.
"Aviner caused the biggest desecration of God by creating a situation in which soldiers with kippot took part in the expulsion of Jews from Gaza. Religious soldiers, relying on Aviner, took part in this horrible crime. So how can you expect anything more from secular soldiers?"
It isn't only Aviner's call not to disobey orders that has brought open and biting criticism down upon him of late, either: The charismatic yeshiva head is embroiled in a controversy over his halachic rigor in the laws of family purity.
Months ago, Aviner was approached by a young married man. The yeshiva student showed Aviner a bloodstained cloth which other rabbis had already ruled as indicating that his wife was menstruating, and therefore physical contact was forbidden. As Aviner's opponents expected, though, Aviner ruled that the couple could engage in sexual relations.
Since then, a number of rabbis, headed by former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, have launched an attack on Aviner, demanding he stop issuing halachic opinions on issues of family purity. The campaign hit a peak two weeks ago, when Eliahu and Shapira the leading halachic authorities of the Religious Zionist movement published a decree on posters and notice boards in several Jerusalem neighborhoods forbidding Aviner to continue ruling on issues of family purity.
In response, Rabbis Zvi Tau and Amiel Shternberg, heads of Jerusalem's Har Hamor yeshiva, which broke off several years ago from Shapira's Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, placed a dissenting newspaper ad in Makor Rishon calling what had been done to Aviner "a desecration of the Torah."
There is no connection between family purity and disobeying orders in the army. But by publicly and repeatedly opposing Shapira, Aviner opened himself to attack by the far-Right elements of Religious Zionism, further dividing an already divided movement.
Religious Zionism, spiritually founded by Rabbi Yitzhak Ya'acov Reines and Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook at the turn of the previous century, has always been an ideologically divided movement. Currently, however, interfactional struggles are amplified in light of one of the most divisive events ever in Israeli society disengagement.
THE ATTACK on Aviner reflects a much deeper rift between opposing camps within Religious Zionism. The dissent is not just over insubordination or disengagement or even territorial compromise: It is about the religious camp's continued cooperation with secular Zionists, the relationship with the secular state of Israel, and the role of Religious Zionism in the 21st century.
Historically the movement is divided into two main camps: Reines's approach is pragmatic in the sense that the Jewish state is a political body that serves Jewish interests, making his Zionism no different from Herzl's Zionism. What makes it "religious" is his belief that it is possible for religious Jews to cooperate with secular Zionists in the building of the state. This was novel for his time: Haredi Jews had previously shunned any cooperation with secular Jews.
Kook's approach is revolutionary in the sense that he saw religious significance in a Jewish state. The state contains inherent holiness and is a tool for the bringing of redemption. (See box.)
Generally speaking, different camps within contemporary religious Zionism, whether they are aware are not, identify with one of these two basic approaches to the Jewish state. The main difference between Mizrahi religious Zionists and their more mystical, messianic brothers is the way they cope with the era of post-disengagement.
Religious Zionists who identify with Reines's traditional Mizrahi Zionism tend to see cooperation with secular and state institutions in rational, functional terms. In many ways contemporary haredi political parties have adopted this approach.
The traditional Mizrahi approach is not necessarily more accepting of disengagement. Some hesder rabbis who have a very practical, instrumental view of the Jewish state told their students to refuse orders to aid in disengagement. They did so because they felt evacuating Gaza undermines Israel's geopolitical status.
Religious Zionists with a Kookian outlook view disengagement as a setback from a theological perspective. Disengagement, like the Yom Kippur War and Yamit, seems to contradict the belief that we are in the era of the beginning of redemption. In contrast, for traditional Mizrahi-style religious Zionists, disengagement may be unfortunate, but it has no direct religious significance.
Most rabbis who adhere to Kook's thought, who make up the mainstream of religious Zionism, feel the need to comfort their students and congregants. They explain in theological terms how disengagement could be explained without undermining the belief that this is the beginning of the redemption of the Jewish people. Some liken disengagement to the sun temporarily covered by clouds. Others prove that the spiritual and physical energies invested in Gaza are not wasted, but are "stored away" to be used at some later date.
There are those who argue that the disengagement unleashed religious Zionism's latent energies, its beauty and spiritual strength, its selfless, stubborn willingness to fight nonviolently for an ideal. These energies should be tapped for future building and progress.
For mainstream Religious Zionist rabbis such as Aviner and Rabbi David Stav, and additionally for Tzohar rabbis, hesder yeshiva rabbis and heads of mechinot (military training academies) such as Rabbi Eli Sadan from Eli and Rabbi Rafi Peretz from Azmona, although disengagement was undoubtedly a traumatic, negative experience, it did not change their basic outlook. They continue to believe in cooperation with secular Jews in the building of the state. They continue to have a fundamentally optimistic approach to the contemporary Zionist state. Overwhelmingly, they opposed or were ambiguous regarding insubordination.
In contrast, settlement rabbis such as Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba, Zalman Melamed of Beit El, Elyakim Levanon of Elon Moreh, David Dudkevitch of Yitzhar and others believe the Israeli reality of the 21st century is fundamentally different from the reality experienced by Rabbi Avraham Kook.
These rabbis often quote from a letter which Kook wrote to a German Jewish newspaper publisher in the 1920s (Igrot 144), to describe the time's spiritual predicament. In the letter Kook foresees a situation in which secular Zionism metamorphoses into a monstrous instrument of destruction. (Translations of Kook's Hebrew writings are difficult due to Kook's style. He often wrote out of spiritual inspiration in prose that approaches poetry.)
"If we squander the ripe hour of the beginning of the development of the settlement [in the Land of Israel] and the faithful of the Israeli nation will experience physical and spiritual weakness... the inside [of secular Israelis] is devoid of anything Jewish, about to become an instrument of destruction and a monster, and in the end a hater of Israel and the Land of Israel..."
Kook's prophecy has come true, say Lior, Dudkevitch, Levanon and others. It is not just the disengagement. It is the Supreme Court which disregards everything Jewish in its decisions. It is the communications media which invent doomsday scenarios such the bombing of the Aksa Mosque or civil war in order to sully the settlers' name. It is the rampant political corruption which has become a norm. The rabbis preach, "We cannot rely any longer on the secular Zionists as partners in redemption process. We must change our strategy and we must change them."
THE CURRENT descendants of Kook's philosophy are divided into three main camps, which are at odds with one another, and with themselves: Shapira and his followers, including the "settler rabbis"; Aviner and his followers, such as the Tzohar rabbis and heads of mechinot, who make up the largest group; and Tau, who fully embraces Kook's belief that the Jewish state is holy, and is opposed to secular study.
Like haredim who tend to focus on one revered rabbinic figure, many right-wing Religious Zionists view Shapira's halachic opinions as the normative Jewish practice that should not be questioned. When Shapira supports insubordination during disengagement, that opinion becomes binding.
For settlement rabbis and even a few rabbis living inside the Green Line such as David Haim Hacohen of Bat Yam, Aviner and others who shared his opinion on insubordination rebelled against the Torah.
"In the name of unity and solidarity in the IDF and the state, rabbis told their students to transgress God's commandments," said Hacohen. "They do not understand that the state and the IDF receive their legitimacy from the Torah."
Shapira's camp still adheres to the belief in the inherent holiness of the state. But something went wrong with secular Zionism and cooperation is being reconsidered. For these rabbis, territorial compromise is a transgression of the Torah. Obeying orders to evacuate is tantamount to Shabbat desecration.
However, for many other Religious Zionists there is no single rabbi who can be considered the greatest halachic opinion of the generation (gadol hador). Also, argue these Religious Zionists who reject a monolithic approach to Halacha, the nature of the issue of insubordination or the more fundamental question of territorial compromise involve many considerations outside the bounds of Halacha such as geopolitics, demographics, and the ramifications of mass army defection.
Aviner's camp sees the state as a tool for bringing redemption, but cooperation with secular Zionists is still important. Nobody ever thought the process of redemption would be easy. Disobeying orders is prohibited because is destroys unity. Settling the land is a commandment that must be accepted by the majority.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Aviner pointed out that he was not the only rabbi to oppose insubordination. Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, who served as Sephardi chief rabbi when Shapira was Ashkenazi chief rabbi, is considered by many to be Shapira's equal. Eliahu never made an unequivocal call to disobey orders. Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, another highly respected halachic authority, who is head of the Gush Etzion Yeshiva in Alon Shvut, also opposed insubordination.
Nevertheless, Aviner's call for obedience, more than that of any other rabbi's, splintered the Religious Zionist camp. Aviner is respected not only as a halachic authority: He is considered an insider, an important disciple of the deceased Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook (the founding father of the settlement movement Gush Emunim and the son of Israel's first chief rabbi, Avraham Yitzhak Kook). He is a prolific writer and a talented speaker. For all these reasons, his challenge to Shapira was considered so threatening to far-Right Religious Zionists. Religious soldiers listened to him.
Shapira and the settler rabbis
On September 22, a rally in Jerusalem titled "Rejuvenation and Renewal" and sponsored by "Halev Hayehudi" (The Jewish Heart), an organization that encouraged soldiers and police to refuse evacuation orders, brought together all the leading Religious Zionist rabbis, calling to radically revamp Religious Zionism.
The highlight of the evening was the arrival of Rabbi Shapira, a tiny white-bearded man dressed in a black frock coat, with blazing and penetrating blue eyes. The crowd broke out in song as Shapira shuffled on to the stage with the help of his close aide Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes.
"The government sinned, but the state belongs to the Jewish People," said Shapira in a thick Ashkenazi accent. "It is not anybody's personal property." Shapira called on the faithful to strengthen Torah learning, shouting: "The cause of all our problems is a lack of respect for the Torah."
Shapira's basically optimistic speech called on Religious Zionism to strengthen its influence on the state and its institutions. Unlike the speakers who followed, Shapira expressed no misgivings over the past, nor did the former chief rabbi say anything about the need for Religious Zionism to change its relationship with the state. In fact it is unclear to what extent Shapira identifies with the more radical settler rabbis calling for a reexamination of cooperation with secular Zionism.
Nevertheless, Shapira's prestige as an important halachic authority is being used by these rabbis to lead the Religious Zionists in a more extremist direction.
Rabbi Yehuda Shreiber, formerly rabbi of the evacuated Kfar Darom, was greeted by the crowd of about 2,000 men (women sat in a separate room with a huge video link-up) with a the song "God will not abandon His people, nor will He forsake His land," which expressed the crowd's hope that the Jewish people will eventually return to Gaza.
Shreiber said disengagement was God's way of telling the Jewish nation they must strive harder to settle the Land of Israel, even if the government opposes the settlement movement. Quoting from Rabbi Yonatan Eibshitz, a leading 17th-century scholar, Shreiber said that when a Jew is punished in a specific area, God is essentially sending him a message to improve in that area. In this case the punishment related to settlements. So settlements must be expanded.
Shreiber also brought halachic proof that Religious Zionists must stand firmly for their principles, even if it means ruling out relations with secular Israelis.
Another "settler rabbi," Elyakim Levanon of Elon Moreh, enjoys using the relationship between a husband and wife as a metaphor for expressing the relationship between Religious Zionists and secular Israelis. Presently the seculars are like an abusive husband while the Religious Zionists are the subservient wife, says Levanon. But ideally, the Religious Zionists should be the husband who sets the rules in the home, while the secular state should be the faithful wife.
"It is interesting that when a woman's husband begins to take a dominant role in the home she actually enjoys it," says Levanon. "That's because the husband is fulfilling his proper role. We have to start serving our role in Israel as the ones who set the rules."
In a rare interview, Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba told the Post that disengagement is only one element of a much larger witch-hunt orchestrated by the secular Zionists against their former comrades in arms the Religious Zionists. Lior brings as an example the recent dismantling of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
"They originally spoke of getting rid of several ministries," Lior said. "But in the end the only ministry that was dismantled was religion. This government fights against anything religious, because it feels ideologically threatened by our youth who do not go to discotheques but spend their time settling the land."
But while Lior speaks of cutting off ties with the state, he admits he is against violence and civil war. During the evacuation of the northern Samaria settlement of Sa-Nur, the short and stout white-bearded rabbi stood on the rooftop together with the activists calming them when he thought they needed to be calmed and inciting them when he thought they needed to be incited.
Following the evacuation, police and IDF officers credited Lior, the same rabbi who adamantly called for a refusal of orders, with the calm and fairly peaceful pullout from what was expected to be one of the more extremist settlements.
Years ago, Lior says, the Religious Zionists had lots in common with their secular counterparts and shared mutual ideals of settling the Land of Israel and establishing a Jewish state. But today, he says, he has nothing in common with most of the secular Israelis whose representatives in the Knesset form the Shinui and Yahad parties. In short, Lior says, he feels alienated and threatened by secular Israelis.
Exemplifying this feeling of alienation, some Religious Zionist synagogues have altered the wording in the prayer for the state recited every Shabbat and have taken out the request that God send his "light and truth to the state's leaders, ministers and advisers" and have replaced it with a request that God should install "God-fearing brave men as our leaders."
"We cannot support the ministers, since they are at a low spiritual level and want us to become like all the other nations," asserted Rabbi Yishai Babad, secretary of the settlement rabbinic council. "This is how the pullout happened, since now the word messianism is considered vulgar.
Rabbi Zalman Melamed's message both at the "Rejuvenation and Renewal" rally and in articles appearing on the Internet is one of unforgivingness. "When we can't influence the state-established frameworks from within, then we need to influence from outside," he wrote in a recent article.
"We cannot continue as if nothing has happened," asserted Melamed, head of Yeshivat Beit El, at the recent conference. "A terrible sin was perpetrated. Every individual who followed expulsion orders, even those who hugged soldiers during those horrible days, gave legitimacy to this act."
'Mainstream' Religious Zionism
The hugging that took place during the evacuation is a sore spot for many settlers. It symbolizes more than anything the fundamental difference between rabbis like Melamed and rabbis like Aviner.
For Melamed, evacuating Gaza and north Samaria was a horrible crime diametrically opposed to Jewish law, like the desecration of Shabbat. Hugging soldiers gave the impression that they the huggers condoned the act. A clear message must be expressed, that the evacuation was wrong, terribly and unforgivably wrong.
In contrast, Aviner did a lot of hugging during disengagement. Solidarity and love for a fellow Jew was his message: Despite everything we are all in this together.
In the months that led up to disengagement, Aviner warned that insubordination is dangerous. It undermines Israeli society's moral fabric which holds together the army and the police. Following orders is an integral part of the army. Without it you might as well close down the army.
"We cannot fly a flag of insubordination. It would be the demise of the army," said Aviner in an interview with the Post. "If a soldier cannot follow orders on an individual level, that is something else. But mass defection is out of the question."
Aviner also had an answer for rabbis who claim he favors liberal democracy over the Torah.
From a halachic standpoint, explained Aviner, ruling over all parts of the Land of Israel is a commandment that must by upheld by the majority. Like building the third Temple, it is a general commandment directed at all Jews as a group.
If the majority decides to relinquish their hold on parts of the Land of Israel, they may be committing a sin, but their decision changes the halachic reality. The individual has no obligation to control all parts of Israel. His responsibility is limited to settling somewhere in the Land of Israel. Only the majority is commanded to rule over all parts of the Land of Israel.
"That's why Lebanon is not considered part of the Land of Israel," said Aviner. "King David conquered it without the support of the people."
Although Aviner is probably the most outspoken and well-known among mainstream Religious Zionist rabbis, he also represents the majority of Religious Zionist rabbis in hesder yeshivot and pre-military academies.
Tau and his followers
An influential educator who shares many aspects of Aviner's outlook is Rabbi Rafi Peretz. When the evacuating forces arrived at the Gaza settlement of Atzmona, Peretz had already gathered his students inside the Beit Midrash of his elite religious pre-military academy. As the forces approached, Peretz referred to by his students as Rav Rafi ordered his students to slowly dance with them and quietly sing "Hatikva." Later they boarded buses in a humble and orderly fashion.
"Peretz embodies perfectly Rabbi Kook's theology that the state has inherent holiness," explained Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun, head of the religious Kibbutz Movement's yeshiva on Ein Tzurim. "He demonstrates what real Religious Zionism is meant to be."
Peretz's pre-military academy and others such as the one headed by Rabbi Eli Sadan in Eli, a settlement in Samaria, have imbued their students with a love for the land after all the academies were located in the heart of the territories. But the students also gained a strong sense of loyalty to the state with students moving on to serve in the IDF's most elite units.
The father of 12, Peretz is a reservist air force pilot. He embraced religion as a young man and studied at Merkaz Harav the Religious Zionists' central yeshiva under former chief rabbi Avraham Shapira. In 1996 however, Peretz followed Tau when he split off from Merkaz Harav and established Har Hamor. Peretz and Sadan are considered Tau's closest students.
Tau split with Merkaz Harav after Shapira decided to open a teachers' training college in Merkaz Harav. Tau argued that Judaism could only be taught from holy, not foreign, sources.
Tau's attitude to secular knowledge smacks of religious extremism. But he has maintained what appears to be an open, liberal approach to the state and secular Israelis.
However, the source of Tau's loyalty to the state is based on the theology of Rabbi Kook, not on western liberalism. Tau adheres to Kook's claim that "the State of Israel is the foundation for God's seat in this world."
According to Rabbi David Stav of Yeshivat Petah Tikva, the difference between the Tau-ist approach and the mainstream Religious Zionism of people like Aviner, Peretz and Sadan is the attitude toward secular culture.
"Rabbi Tau is waging a war against what he perceives as morally corrupt Israeli culture," Stav says.
The real challenge of Religious Zionism is to somehow keep in the fold someone like Shai Binyamini, a 35-year-old engineer and one of the founders of the Realistic Religious Zionist Movement.
The Realistic Religious Zionist Movement was established by Binyamini and a group of other young Religious Zionist men and women who got together to stop the deterioration of their camp. They believed their movement was dwindling as it placed its full focus on the strengthening of settlements in the territories while ignoring other social problems that arose within Israeli society.
At a conference of radical Right-wing rabbis at a Jerusalem hotel before disengagement, Binyamini and his fellow activists stood outside waving signs and calling on the participants of the conference, including Rabbi Shapira, to withdraw from their radical views and work to reunite the split camp.
Binyamini, who opposed insubordination, says there is more to Religious Zionism than settling the Land of Israel.
"Settling the hills of Judea and Samaria is not the only value we should be preaching," Binyamini says. "We should also focus on social issues like education, poverty and settling the Negev.
"Religious Zionism does not have proper leadership," he says. "We have suffered from an excessive emphasis on settling the land."
The single most important rabbi of the Reines camp is Aharon Lichtenstein, head of the Gush Etzion Yeshiva. With a doctorate in English literature from Harvard University, Lichtenstein contrasts sharply with Tau's suspicion of secular knowledge.
Lichtenstein is removed from classic Kookian theology. In an interview printed in a Shabbat pamphlet published by the Realistic Religious Zionist Movement, Lichtenstein referred to "the era of the beginning of redemption" as an ambiguous term.
For Lichtenstein and his followers, such as Rabbi Yuval Cherlow of Yeshivat Petah Tikva and others, while disengagement was painful and difficult it, does not and should not lead to a rift within the Religious Zionist camp.
In contrast to Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook who believed the Jewish state contained inherent holiness, the Gush Etzion camp takes a more practical and pragmatic approach similar to that of the founder of Religious Zionism, Rabbi Reines.
However, unlike some haredi rabbis who saw no halachic meaning in the Jewish state, Lichtenstein believes to a certain extent that the state represents the Jewish people in a halachic sense.
"I do not feel as though we are about to enter the messianic days," he said. "I would like to believe that the Jewish people's return to Zion that incredible turning point in history is not just a geopolitical development.
"But I do not see that at every stage of the state's development we are moving towards redemption. We may have witnessed tremendous economic and political growth and I do not discount it. But when I open the Bible, the first thing described is burgeoning spirituality. I do not live with the feeling that any minute redemption is on the way."
In a recent deferential letter to Shapira, Lichtenstein questioned the legitimacy of insubordination, wondering if it might undermine the state and the army.
Cherlow, a student of Lichtenstein, is also an adamant opponent of disobeying IDF orders. During the anti-disengagement demonstrations at Kfar Maimon, Cherlow helped prevent clashes between demonstrators and security forces. In some cases he physically grabbed and shoved people to move them away from the security forces, so God forbid, he said, violence would not erupt.
In an article entitled "We Will Be There" that was published a week before the pullout, Cherlow wrote: "We do not want to disengage from the Israeli nation or from the State of Israel."
The Religious Zionist camp, Cherlow wrote, needs to remain part of Israel.
A look to the future
The ideological and theological differences between the various camps within Religious Zionism may seem significant. But for hundreds of thousands of crocheted kippa-wearing Israelis the lines of demarcation are often hard to draw. Although the issue of insubordination forced Religious Zionists to choose sides, in day-to-day life the nuances of Rabbi Kook's theology are not always of pressing importance.
The Kibbutz Movement's Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun says he is afraid the rift within the Religious Zionist camp has crossed the point of no return. The gray-bearded student of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda, who tends toward apocalyptic prophesies, warns of an "unprecedented rift" within the Religious Zionist camp, particularly among youth associated with the Bnei Akiva movement.
"What is called Religious Zionism is no longer the same as we once knew it," Bin-Nun says. "For Bnei Akiva this will be devastating since the movement's leaders are still trying to stabilize themselves, but without unity, all could be lost."
Bin-Nun says that the rift did not begin with disengagement or with Oslo, but already in the '70s when Zvi Yehuda Kook's students began projecting different views on the character of the religious Jew's relationship with the modern world. On a political level the rift between the religious and the secular began with the Jewish Underground in the '80s, continued throughout the Oslo years, hit its peak with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 and has so far culminated with the disengagement.
Bin-Nun says he ripped his shirt in line with religious mourning laws after he heard what had happened to Aviner. It wasn't the fact that Aviner could no longer issue halachic rulings, he says, but what the "attack" symbolized a growing and clear split among the rabbinic leadership.
For now, Bin-Nun says he and other moderate rabbis from the Gush Etzion camp are out on the streets "picking up the pieces" and trying to reunite the little of the true Religious Zionists who are left and offer them a new ideological order. While disengagement was bad, it wasn't the worst thing that could happen, and it is necessary to gear up for future tests the religious camp will encounter in the future.
What will happen? The process is long, Bin-Nun claims, but in the end the Hardal will became more haredi and the apathetic Religious Zionists will become even more apathetic. The public, which now feels alienated, he says, needs to be reassured that there is nothing wrong with reconnecting with the entire Israeli people, even the secular sector.
Nevertheless, Tau and Aviner and other mainstream rabbis such as Stav share the belief that the redemption process is a long, hard road. Obstacles on the way to final salvation come with the territory.
As Aviner put it: "God never promised us redemption without crisis. No one ever said this was going to be easy. The Exodus from Egypt was undeniably redemption. But it was full of crises. The entire Torah is full of crises."