“If you will walk in my statutes . . . you will eat enough and dwell in your land safely.” Leviticus 26

The promise is significantly simple. Hebrews are not offered riches or dominance but rather food and safety. People who are ethical in the biblical sense will not gain all the pleasures the world offers, but they can live comfortable lives. In order to get everything, people chase opportunities and exploit others’ weaknesses; that strategy is properly called the pursuit of happiness. It might bring great rewards in the end, but it is not comfortable along the way. Judaism and religion in general are not suitable strategies for maximizing benefits. Judaism’s detailed ethical regulations oppose chasing maximum pleasure.

Taken to the extreme, every doctrine turns into its opposite. An unhindered pursuit of happiness becomes a life of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. People continuously see new attractions and run after them without enjoying the basic pleasures they already have. They are always on the march: great spoils, like a carrot before donkey, lure them, but perpetual camp life is terrible. Religious people do not join the quest for spoils and spend comfortable lives with their families in their communities, while others chase jackpot rewards.

A second Jewish state, Judea, would be religious and necessarily restrict some freedoms. Just what freedoms we would miss? The freedom to buy drugs, as they do in Tel Aviv? Freedom to be gay? In all honesty, what parents could remain indifferent if their – not someone else’s – son is gay? Do we prefer homosexuals and drugs to the Torah? Do we want a society where we fear for our children: by day in schools that brainwash them, of drugs in the evening, of Muslim criminals by night? Do we want freedom for our spouses to cheat or our wives to perform abortions? Do we miss an imaginary Hollywood blonde so much that we cheat on our wives? Or would we rather abandon the televised dreams that make us ever hungry for lust and live comfortable family lives?

Extreme enjoyment is harmful like any other extreme. It is a plague to seek the best, the most. Why don’t we live content with some limitations in return for great spiritual and practical comfort? When killing an animal, don’t take its life to the last drop – leave the blood. It doesn’t matter whether blood really equals life or symbolizes it. By abstaining from blood, we show the last respect to the killed. By pouring off its blood, we bury the animal. Do we miss a blood-soaked sausage so much that we refuse symbolic burial to the animal that died so we might live?

If we don’t like our children to watch pornography, why watch it ourselves? Is there anything particularly pleasant in pints of sperm spread all over the TV screen? Ostensibly rational people call abhorrence of menstruation and sex scenes superstitious. Equally rational, the communists were certain they could explain and correct societies. Human societies are too complex for straightforward explanations; ethics developed over millennia and are rational even though we don’t see their roots. Beside, we do see the reason behind the repugnance of blood and sperm: the fundamental sacredness of life. Both substances are firmly associated with life, and their loss is instinctively disgusting. Back to pornography, Judea would zone it; residents would need only drive to Israel or Lebanon to enjoy the abomination.

People do not exist in a vacuum; their non-violent acts offend others. A freedom should not insult. One cannot scream Niggers! in Manhattan, nor should one publicly violate the Sabbath in Judea. The extent of liberties depends on the tastes of the overwhelming majority. There is a place for dissent: private, tactful advocacy or relocation to a more permissive locale. A county-sized country could be religious without damaging others.

Judea won’t execute for religious violations. The Torah prescribes caret, expulsion from the offended community. A state that reveres religion might not be ultra-liberal, but it will be decent and safe.

How odd is it to bar Arabs from Judea? No odder than refusing entry to any other country to people without visas. No one likes to live with strangers. White Americans don’t like their children strolling through black neighborhoods; Jews prohibit their children from walking through Muslim crowds. Private communities check applicants before selling them houses, and many apartment houses refuse to rent to welfare recipients. No protestants live in the Vatican, and no Christians in Mecca. Judea is not xenophobic. We enjoy friends, but live with families.

Judea would be exotic. People live on legends. Westerners will support Judea more than secular Israel. They support exotic African countries more than the next-door neighbors. Funny, determined Jews with hairlocks would be more popular than familiar but out-of-place Israel. Modern Westerners dislike colonialism, and Israel fits the cognitive profile of a colonizer. Judeans will fit the profile of missionaries, pioneers, perhaps crusaders.

People differentiate themselves to a degree. Jews associate with any odd movement, from the political left to religious experimentation. If Judea were a promising enterprise, many non-observant Jews would join her. A respectable state under the nuclear umbrella.