Religious Leader as a Political Leader: Rabbi Meir Berlin (Bar-Ilan) the Religious-Zionism Leader in the First Half of the 20th Century
The topic of leadership has been studied in various contexts and theoretical models of leadership have been proposed. Scholars distinguish between certain styles or patterns of leadership, e.g. transformational, rewarding and authoritative and so on. Two prominent types of leadership are the religious and the political, which clearly differ in many aspects. The modern era and subsequent process of secularization have sometimes led to tension and clashes between religious leaders and political ones. The entrance of religious figures into the realm of politics may be considered an attempt to regain their lost position and influence. Many sociologists assert that certain religious elements served as vital components in the growth of the new secular nationalism. Various major religions coped in diverse ways with the rise of secularism. In traditional Judaism two different movements emerged: modern orthodoxy, which accepted progress and adopted it selectively, and ultra-orthodoxy which strongly clung to the ancient lifestyle. The "Mizrahi", a Religious-Zionist movement founded in 1902, is an example of the former one, and its undisputed leader in the first half of the 20th century was Rabbi Meir Berlin. The purpose of the present paper is to illustrate, by actual historical examples, how his religious faith and beliefs shaped and influenced his public political positions and actions. This is done by analyzing and discussing six relevant political issues in which he was involved during the crucial period of the British Mandate in Palestine (1917-1948).
Index Terms— Berlin Meir, British Mandate Palestine, Mizrahi, Partition Plans, Religious Leadership, Zionism.