Exemplification of the Movement’s [Tnua] essential values, based on Jewish sources
By: Sergio Edelstein
«Darkeinu» [“Our Way”], our educational path, allows us to clarify the educational foundations and the ideals of Hanoar Hatzioni. It contains between its lines the worldview, the foundations and vision of the Movement [Tnua], consolidated since its inception by thousands of bogrim who saw and see in the Zionist, Jewish, and humanist educational ideal the center of their educational dedication. “Darkeinu” expounds to us these central values that characterize our Movement [Tnua], which together with hundreds of constituent writings provide us with a wide image towards which we aspire to educate. Postman clearly defines the concept of “Vision”, helping
us frame the values to be analyzed by us within a wide perspective: “by vision I refer to a people’s (the Tnua?) history in time, providing meaning to its past, explaining its own present, and serving as a guide to its future… if the culture lacks a vision, a dream, a story to tell, education is also missing an important aim”.
¿What are those values and their foundations held up by the history and culture of Hanoar Hatzioni?
Undoubtedly, the millennial wealth of culture, traditions, and religion of the Jewish people provides us with a guide. In an organic network, we should add those universal documents and thinkers who contribute in a large measure to the consolidation of the said worldview. In this text we will focus on sources of the rich
and ancestral Jewish culture. The Judaism that represents it is the common denominator of the values to be presented by us.
Let us define firstly the concept of “value”. There are indeed many tendencies, and we will present here some of them as examples:
«Postulates on which society’s normative system is based».Hebrew Encyclopedia.
«The scope of the meaning or importance of a thing or action, word or phrase».Salvat
«It signifies the intentional aim of a judgment about the meaning of the latter».Nietzsche.
«In general, they are things, qualities that human beings endow with great relevancy and importance and by which they wish to be characterized».Aloni.
The values presented below are deduced and explicitly included in “Darkeinu”, and jointly with the great ideas and ideals that group them together, they provide shape and contents to their materialization as palpable and educational ideals. We can express the great ideas and ideals through:
- Zionism (based on its main aims)
- Scouting [Tzofiut] (as an idea)
The classification of the following values forms a network whose links are intertwined, weaving a strong fabric that organically joins all the ideals together. The values deduced from “Darkeinu”, among others and by way of example:
- Respect for the human person
- Immanency of the human life
- Solidarity and mutual responsibility (arbut hadadit)
- Liberty (chofesh and cherut)
- Right to doubt and critical conscience
- Friendship and comradeship
These values, forming a network, are those that uphold the ideals that are bases of our Tnua and are rooted in our sources and in the great modern universal ideological currents. We present below a series of sources that exemplify the inherent relationship between themselves and the ideals of the Hanoar Hatzioni. We do this
interweaving directly the ideals and ideas and their inherent values, both implicit and explicit.
Zionism. Solidarity, mutual responsibility (arbut hadadit), liberty, justice, and shalom.
The culmination of Yom Kippur brings to us two eloquent Zionist interpretations. While the Shofar is heard, tradition indicates that all attendants must say in a loud voice and with fervor:
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This emphatic wish is imperative for us. For over two thousand years the Jews longed to fulfill it. And since the end of the XIX century, this longing began to become a reality in mass, until the materialization of the dream in the Declaration of Independence of Israel, on 5 (Hei) Y’ar -14 May 1948: «And on the basis of our natural and historic right and the Resolution of the United Nations, we declare the creation of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel [Eretz Israel], the State of Israel”.
The second source that links us to Zionism is again the Shofar, in anotherinterpretation, that with its sound it was destined to join again the slaves with their families (in Biblical times) and the lands with their owners, in the jubilee (every 50 years). In our time, we remember this tradition with its meaning of hope that all the Diasporas of Israel will be united in a big family in their land, the Eretz Israel (Lau,1998).
These two examples of Yom Kippur show us the central place of Israel and the dream and hope of “Ingathering of Exiles” [“Kibbutz Galuyot”] (melting pot of Diasporas). In general, Chazal (our wise men) set an amendment that was adopted by all the currents in Zionism, from the most religious in its bosom, to the traditionalists or laic, who saw in our sources the strength of the achievement, also separated from religion:
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The significance of this amendment bears considerable weight on all the environments and acts of the Jew and is the ideological nourishment of Zionism, as a thought beyond the political or national movement. It reflects an action, an accomplishment that goes beyond time or political circumstances (of the last one hundred years).
Let us now tackle the link between the ideals and the values. What are the meaning, contents, and values of Zionism?
In the first Zionist Congress, when determining the foundations and contents of the Zionist dream, a central and impeccable aim was set: «to provide every Jew in the world with the possibility of living a full, decent, and normal Jewish life in the State of Israel». The medium that the Zionist movement deemed necessary is the physical creation of a state in the Eretz Israel, and the Aliyah into it. The aim and the main means to achieve it were set.
The contents of the State of Israel, guiding us in Hanoar Hatzioni, derive from many Jewish sources of thought. Israel as state in solidarity and with mutual responsibility; Leviticus (chapter 19) and Deuteronomy (chapter 34) -????? )??? ?»?( ?????? )??? ?»?) –
describe detailed laws that uphold these values. We must be in solidarity with he/she who does not have or cannot obtain, because this represents the strength of the Jewish people and this vital characteristic is part of our idiosyncrasy. Out of these verses we
spread into all fields of life and they shall guide us in that which is personal, or in Israel’s public and political agenda, as well as in the Diaspora communities.
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Love your neighbor as yourself …- Leviticus chapter 19 verse 18
It lifted us during centuries and identified us among the peoples. The Jewish community always took care of its members. The Zionist “community” reflected in. Israel has the same goal and we shall toil with actions to make this be, because it is its essence, without which the legitimacy of the Zionist deed can be doubted.
This characteristic of solidarity and mutual responsibility has to be parallel to and in a network with three central values reflected in the declaration of independence of the State of Israel:
«The State of Israel will remain open for Jewish immigration and the ingathering of the Diasporas; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on the principles of freedom, justice, and peace, in light of the teachings of the prophets of Israel».
In summary, Zionism has a vision that goes beyond a national and political movement of liberation. It is Jewish and humanist – universal – contents. It is the highest essence of the Jewish people and its millenary heritage.
Humanism, Pluralism. Democracy, imminency of human life, justice, equality, liberty, truth.
Since inception, Hanoar Hatzioni saw the essence of man in its centrality. The chaver in the Tnua as the center of attention and commitment. Two drawings show this in an eloquent manner; man as the center of a kind of atom, and in the second one a man in the center of a concentric structure moving towards a light, a goal. Both drawings served as “Darkeinu’s” flags in 1963 and 1966 respectively, and attempted to represent in a special graphic manner the roots of a characteristic humanist concept. The consistency and coherence of the ideal reach beyond time or the changing circumstances of the world or the Jewish people.
We consider pluralism as “the perception that supports (upholds) the right of the
individuals or groups in society to express their positions and to act on them. This
worldview is founded on mutual respect and the right to be different”. This concept
does not mean that every position is in agreement with the values of the Tnua, or that it may be imposed on the others.
We understand the concept of democracy more profoundly than the general sense
referring to the free election of governments. Democracy as a basic perception of the
relationship between persons “who interrelate as subjects” (Buber). This relationship
is based on dialogue and mutual convincing. On respect and tolerance. Justice and
liberty in front of the law (not only the written law, but the full conviction of natural
respect of a man towards another). And of course, this relationship must be based on truthfulness of thought and intent.
As is well expressed in Darkeinu, the foundations of interpersonal relations were set
in Mount Sinai, under Moshe’s [Moses] leadership, and together with the Prophets of Israel, they raised the concept of justice to a central place in Judaism, from which the whole of our democratic perception derives. The said prophets (Shmuel [Samuel], Nathan, Amos, Ishaiahu [Isaiah], Nahum, Ezekiel, among others) combine Moshe’s rich heritage with the wisdom of centuries.
Eloquent examples of this wisdom:
«Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead the widow»Isaiah (1:17)
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To summarize, Pirkei Avot bequeath us with one of the most notable phrases in this topic:
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Liberalism. Kvutza. Ken. Education, the right to doubt and critical conscience,
tolerance. Friendship, mutual help.
Iechezkel Marton, who contributed to the ideological consolidation of the Tnua,
«Although there is no abundance of Jews among the precursors of liberalism – we
have already mentioned Ricardo – the liberal perception is much akin to Jewish
nationalism and humanism…
To tell the truth, liberalism was precisely that which created the conditions in the XIX
century leading to the emancipation of the Jews, and in the XX century opening the
doors for their progress and prosperity in all fields of spiritual and economic
In an important sense, political Zionism is the spiritual result of the liberal thought.
It was liberalism that proclaimed to the world the right of self-determination of the
peoples and Hertzl was also inspired by it when writing ‘The Jewish State’.
The history of the Zionist movement, its organizational structure, and its democratic
nature denote its profound impregnation with liberal values. Hence the remarkable
and natural liberal roots of the young State of Israel”.
Beside these clear thoughts, Yehuda Shaari states:
«…Therefore, social liberalism demands that liberalism be not neutral regarding
social problems but that it toil and act for social rights ensuring a minimum existence
for all and social security.
Only a person enjoying social security can be free. To reach this aim, there is need
for a limited interference by the state who must take on social responsibility».
Hanoar Hatzioni does not make “liberalism” its flag, but only a specific, human,
Within the rich wealth of Jewish traditionalist sources, I can point out to three
interesting thoughts that make me identify with Hanoar Hatzioni’s educational
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It is the essence itself of the educational deed of the Tnua. Self-education par
excellence. Active, constant, dynamic, and democratic participation in the
It is exactly the interpretation given by our sources to the main tradition of Succoth,
refering to the “Arba’at HaMinim” (the four species of Succoth), citron [Etrog], palm
branch [Lulav], myrtle [Hadas], and willow [Arava], that exemplifies in a clear,
wholesome, and educational manner the concept of “Group” [Kvutza] and hence its
One of the main messages about the “Arba’at HaMinim” is told by Rabbi Lau:
«The union of the four species, each so unique, symbolizes Judaism’s worldview: the
aspiration to educate everybody, all types of people, about the Precepts [Mitzvot], and to grant us a feeling of unity and solidarity in interpersonal relations and in society…».
And what better illustration that the grouping together of the Kvutza in the Succah,
under one single roof, our Nest [Ken], roof of the movement’s group, of the
chanichim of our educational activity. In the same manner that the Succah strives to
transmit the message of home, of tolerance and mutual help, of friendship and
equality, values that we want to transmit in the Nest [Ken] of our movement. The
nest in which the apprentice’s formation develops and combines with the friendship of his/her chaverim in the Kvutza. We refer to all the apprentices, without exceptions,
with each person’s diversity and richness. And as expressed in Proverbs – ????
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Scouting [Tzofiut] (ecology in general). Friendship. Tolerance, Solidarity, Respect, Mutual help, Trust.
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This proverb has a meaning that is much deeper than solidarity (which is important by itself!) between the members of the people. Its meaning bifurcates and penetrates into the most intimate relationships between persons.
A while ago I wrote some thoughts about the “Camp” [“Machane”] as an educational
element in the Movement [Tnua], which express the exemplification of the contents of this chapter in the methodology and contents of the Movement [Tnua]:
«The essence of the “Machane” lies in the basic values that it contains. The Camp is
not a simple physical framework that we can clothe with various methodologies or
contents. The Machane is the methodology; the Machane is the contents. A
methodology truly allowing us to experience and live special moments, in the
framework of the group of peers, in juvenile groups; the essence itself of the Tnua.
Living by ourselves; sharing not only given moments but the whole daily life.
Contents reflecting the most profound values of the human being and that are a flag in our education: personal achievement, mutual help, comradeship, team work, value of the earth and Nature, the experience of juvenile leadership, support, enjoyment of moments among youngsters, etc.
The possibilities that life in the open air offers in this respect are really extraordinary.
The youngster, put in contact with Nature, faces problems and situations that lead
him/her to develop his/her capacity for invention and creativity, arouse his/her
curiosity for things in the surroundings, help him/her to find a practical application for
many theoretical things, bringing the youngster to the understanding of the absolute
necessity he/she has of counting on the others and of his/her comrades counting on
him/her in order to achieve the common goals.
The activities in the Camp Machane compel the execution of a series of manual works (raising the tent, cooking, etc.) and the learning and use of certain techniques
(observation, orientation, etc.). This arises in the youngsters a great confidence in the capacities and possibilities proper to each of them, while they carry out by themselves a series of very important things in their daily life together.
Generally, daily life in the city causes man to waste a series of faculties. When these
arise in light of the demands imposed by the natural environment, and when taught to use them in self-service and that of the comrades, the youngster begins to trust his/her own forces and to feel self-confidence».
The “Majané” shapes the most truthful values of the movement’s educational
expression. The deepest identification between the chaverim in a Kvutza that is reflected in mutual help, the knowledge among peers of a daily manner, solidarity,
tolerance, and respect for the place of each one.
In turn, [it is] the highest expression of our vision of the integration between the
chaver in the Tnua and his/her physical environment. His/her predisposition to live in
an unknown and challenging environment, different from the daily one, with his/her
chaverim, grants our education a very important specific weight.