While ignoring Rambam on myriad other issues, rabbis embraced his (and Buddhist) teaching of the middle way. They ignore that Rambam was speaking of it not as a scholar of theology or ethicist but mental healthcare professional; he was a doctor. Faced with greedy and profligate, depressed and hyperactive patients, he naturally called for the middle ground.

Rambam’s approach is mistakenly thought to be rooted in the biblical proverb, “Give me neither poverty nor riches that I would ask in my pride, Who is God? or would be forced steal and desecrate his name.” The author, King Solomon, spoke about material things, which indeed drive people away from transcendental values. But he longed for a girl in the Song of Songs, and King David extolled his own zealousness for God in the psalm. Nietzsche was correct that zealous feeling is a great, possibly the best thing: who in his right mind can denounce love, the most zealous thing of all?

The government, however, does not welcome zealousness and cultivates submissive moderation. In a telling example, Eichmann’s trial so much shook the society that the government moved promptly to quell the public zeal. It abandoned the search for another prized German, Mengele, and even refused its extradition offered by Paraguay.

Rabbis opted for controlled mediocrity. Rabbi Akiva’s zeal in supporting Bar Kochba’s insurrection became outdated. Josephus described Jews as exceedingly zealous: they confronted Romans on religious issues and the Diaspora Jews routinely marched to aid their Judean compatriots burning pagan towns en route. Centuries of persecutions made modern Jews hysterical, which is the closest thing to zealousness. Jews gave their lives and efforts to any suitable idea, from communism to anti-apartheid. Qumran scrolls indicate that messianic expectations were strong among Jews at all times; persecutions made us longing for messiah even more.

Jews so far apart as yeshiva dropout hooligans, God-fearing rabbis, and leftist do-gooders can join hands in some zealous enterprise, provided that it is actionable. Cleansing the Land of Israel from our enemies is one such example.