A thought-provoking article about historical Judaism being connected to liberty appeared on LewRockwell.com yesterday, and I think it is well worth your time to peruse it. It was written by Mordy Oberstein, an Operations Officer for a NYC Property Management company. He has a formal background in Talmudic Law and Judaic Philosophy.
The Abrahamic Legacy: The Jewish Ideal of Freedom
At first glance it may sound a bit peculiar to assert the strong ties between Judaism and libertarianism. After all, it is hard in the modern world to distinguish and disassociate Judaism from modern day Zionism, though the two to a large extent could not be more ideationally apart. To set the record straight Judaism is not modern day Zionism. While modern day Zionism wishes to advance certain political and social goals via the deification of the state, Judaism simply wishes to observe the world and understand its nature and mechanics. Judaism is a science and philosophy more than it is a religion or movement. It is from here, from the honest understanding of the world which Jewish philosophy seeks, that Judaism meets and grabs tightly to ideals paralleling libertarianism.
So how does Judaism as a philosophy respond to government intervention and the ideal of freedom? Well perhaps we should begin a bit historically. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik in his work ” The Emergence of Ethical Man,” describes Abraham as anarchic. The divine imperative to Abraham of “leave from your land” (Genesis 12:1), according to Rabbi Soloveitchik, was meant as a removal from a conforming society, society that adores institution for the sake of adoring institutions. The real ethical and charismatic man according to Judaism is the freethinking, unimpressed, non-coerced individual. Abraham left structured society to become a nomad and what he left in secure asylum he gained in free and meaningful inquiry. It could not be stated any better than how Rabbi Soloveitchik himself says it, “The charismatic personality is a political and social anarchist…he is not an ethical conformist who just subjects himself to an external authority, which over powers and enslaves him” (Emergence of Ethical Man pg. 156).