PATRIOTISM (Hebrew, , from = "patriot"):

Love for and devotion to one's country. The word is not used in the Hebrew Scriptures; but the virtue of patriotism is extolled alike in ancient, medieval, and modern Jewish lore. References to one's native land are found in Ps. cxxii. 6, cxxiv. 1-2, cxxvi. 1, cxxxvii. 5, and in another connection in Gen. xxxi. 3; Ex. iv. 18-19; I Kings xi. 21-22; Neh. ii. 5.

Particular stress is laid upon love of an adopted country in Jer. xxix. 7 (Hebr.): "Seek the welfare of the city whither I have banished you, and pray in its behalf unto the Lord; for in its welfare shall ye fare well"; also ib. xl. 9: "Have no fear to serve the Chaldeans; remain in the land and serve the King of Babylon, and it shall be well with you." Admonition to serve the king and the government is implied in I Sam, xii. 14-15. Respect for the authority of rulers is enjoined in Ex. xxii. 27; Eccl. viii. 2, x. 20; and Prov. xxiv. 21; and rulers themselves are cautioned to act righteously in Prov. xvi. 10, 12, 13, 14; xx. 28; xxix. 14; xxxi. 4; II Chron. xix. 5-7. Cursing God and cursing the king are both made punishable by death (I Kings xxi. 13).

In the Talmud.

In the Diaspora patriotism was enjoined as an essential virtue. R. Samuel laid down the principle "Dina di-malkuta dina" = "The law of the country is the law" (Giṭ. 10b; B. Ḳ. 113a). So R. Jose also states: "The laws of the country, even if wrong, must be obeyed" (Ket. 111a; comp. Yalḳ., Eccl. ii. 7). "He who rebels against his sovereign deserves death" (Sanh. 49a). The rule of kings is likened to that of Heaven (Ber. 58a). "Pray for the welfare of the kingdom; for, were it not for that, men would swallow each other alive" (Ab. iii. 2). The right to impose taxes is conceded (Sanh. 20b); and the payment of taxes is compulsory (B. Ḳ. 113a). Honor to rulers is commended (Zeb. 102a), as rebellion against government is decried (Ber. Rabba, § 94), and all acts for the public welfare are lauded (Lev. R. on vii. 7). Furthermore, a benediction was to be uttered on seeing a king (Ber. 58a). Tanḥuma (Noaḥ) relates a legend representing the Almighty as making the Israelites swear that they would not be disloyal to the governments under which they lived (comp. Ket. 111a; Cant. R. on iii. 5). One is allowed to break the Sabbath to defend one's country (I Macc. ii. 39-41; comp. 'Er. 45a). The whole trend of Talmudic thought on this subject is indicated in such passages as: "Let the interests of the place in which you dwell be your own" (Zeb. 102a);and, "Pray for the happiness of the king, to the end that anarchy be not established" (Ab. iii. 2).

In Medieval and Modern Times.

Biblical and Talmudic precepts would have done their work well even if the Jew had not been a patriot de facto. Israel's wars, from Joshua's conquest till the sixth century of the present era, engendered the most devoted patriotism, and were responsible for thousands of martyrs—men and women. Scattered abroad, with no country of his own, Israel became a patriot in whatever land he dwelt, giving his life and substance for the good of the state; and this in countries that persecuted him equally with those that granted him rights and liberties. Given civil and military employment in the early centuries in Rome, often selected as ambassador to Europe by the emperors of the East, placed in positions of financial and political trust by the Italian republics, by the kings of Spain and Portugal, and by the popes, serving France and many other countries in all honorable capacities, the Jew has proved that patriotism is ingrained in his nature (G. Ben Levi, "Les Matinées du Samedi," trans. A. Abrahams, p. 171, London, 1846). On the military patriotism of the Jew see Army.

Good citizenship has been emphasized as a part of the Israelite's duty by many Jewish synods and assemblies, notably Napoleon's Sanhedrin (1806) and the synod of Leipsic (1869). The standpoint of Judaism in this regard is succinctly put in Moritz Lazarus' "Ethics of Judaism," p. 304: "Judaism commands the conscientious observance of the laws of the state, respect for and obedience to the government. It therefore forbids rebellion against governmental ordinances and evasion of the law. Judaism commands the promotion of the welfare of one's fellow men, the service of individuals and communities in accordance with one's ability."

  • Simon Wolf, The American Jew as Patriot, Soldier, and Citizen, Washington, 1895;
  • Madison Peters, Justice to the Jew, New York, 1902;
  • H. Adler, Can Jews Be Patriots? in The Nineteenth Century, April, 1878.
S. H. C.
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