Religions. Mythology. Rationalism
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AbstractReligious texts in the Jewish tradition uphold a notion of work as an existential need. It follows that work is of no religious significance in itself. Torah study has traditionally put it at the top of the hierarchy of Jewish values. The approach most clearly discernible throughout Jewish history has seen work as a prerequisite to be satisfied in order for the real essentials of life to be addressed; this approach became dominant almost to the exclusion of any other. Nota bene: seen in this way, work is a must, but not a religious value in itself. R. Yitzhak Yaakov Reines (1839–1915), one of the greatest Torah1 scholars of Lithuania, founded the Mizrachi religious Zionist movement in 1902.2 The movement upheld the notion of work as a religious value, not only as an existential need. Bnei Akiva, the youth movement associated with the Mizrachi, emblazoned the motto of “Torah and Labor” upon its banner. The present article sets out to trace R. Reines’ thought and the idea of labor in his theological teaching. His thought continues to have a significant impact on religious Zionists in the State of Israel and throughout the world.