Jews have known many exterminations. Eight out of the twelve tribes perished, and the two Samaritan tribes are almost extinguished. European Jews were almost annihilated during the crusades, the black plague, and on, and on. If the divine logic exists, we fail to understand it: the observant, religiously zealous Jewish communities were murdered for no apparent reason. They did not lapse into paganism so as to deserve punishment. The opposite is true: the annihilated Jewish communities in Germany in Rashi’s time, and in Ukraine in the seventeenth century, developed an immense infrastructure of Jewish learning. The only explanation that I can imagine is that God destroyed those devoted Jews to prevent the growth of rabbinical Judaism. Rashi was almost the only surviving religious authority of that time, and still rabbinical Judaism grew into the superstitious Shulhan Aruch religion. The extinct German yeshivas would have produced a tsunami of halacha, and the extinct Ukrainian yeshivas may have been all the difference between Jewish Chassidism and a Jewish-tinted Ukrainian paganism. I don’t know if God is that cruel.

So the Holocaust is not unique in Jewish history. European Jewry knew worse destructions than that. Several times like a lamb it was led to slaughter. Zechariah prophesied that two thirds will perish, and so one-third of the world’s Jewry died in the Holocaust and another third assimilated in America, while the remnant was refined in Israel as silver and tried as gold. How is silver refined? The mixed elements are melted. How is gold tried? With acid or pressure. And so it was in Israel: she drew the Jews from the Diaspora communities and melted them, and tried them with the acid of leftism and with the pressure of Christian friends and Arab enemies. Here is the critical difference of Zechariah’s twentieth-century catastrophe from the other tragedies: there are no Jews left elsewhere.

Israel drained the Diaspora. Earlier Jewish presence from Denmark to Iran made the nation resilient to persecutions. Globalization allowed the anti-Semitic forces the global projection of force; Jews were annihilated all across Europe and in some Muslim countries, a hitherto impossible scale of massacre. The state of Israel finished off the ancient Jewish communities abroad, and made world Jewry extremely vulnerable. Jews are already reduced to insignificance relative to rest of the world’s population. The famous Jewish riches, an important source and manifestation of our strength, faded in the era of oil wealth and public stock corporations. That’s besides the rich Jews being the first ones to assimilate. A major Arab attack on Israel, not even nuclear, could wipe out the only sustainable Jewish community in the world in a matter of days.

In the globalized secular world, Jews cannot survive outside of Israel. Jews do not even exist in many countries where their communities flourished for millennia. Jews are extremely vulnerable in Israel. Such a situation cannot continue for long.

One possibility is the messianic development of a strong, respectable Israel where a previously secular majority pushes for a redefined Judaism. In a state of our own, the excesses of the “wall around the wall” are no longer necessary. Jews can return to the sensibly lean Judaism of the Torah, or perhaps to Talmudic Judaism, or Sadducean Temple-focused religion. Another possibility is catastrophe; I don’t believe in the world continuing without Jews.