Rabbi Shimon Or, was born in 1965, married+7. Raised in Bnei Brak, he studied in Ma'alot school and later in Midrashiyat Noam in Pardes Chana. Rav Shimon served in the IDF (1983-1986) as a combat soldier in the Golani Brigade. After his army service, He entered intensive studies in Yeshivat Merkaz Harav and Yeshivat Ateret Kohanim. After thirteen years of studying, went to the Golan Heights to participate in the establishment of the "community Bet Midras".
In the year 2000 he established the "Torah Manhiga" (Torah Leadership) movement. Four years later the movement opened its Garin (community group) in Kiryat Yovel, Jerusalem.
Rav Shimon lives there today with his family.
During his years in Yeshivot, Rabbi Shimon Or realized the tremendous differences between the Torah's philosophy and ways and the basic morality that is present today. He came to the conclusion that these differences are as a result from the fact that when the Great Temple existed the presence of G-d was very prevalent, way beyond what we are used to today. In other words, with G-d being ever-present in our life, this leads to different perspectives on life itself. What does all this mean? How can we understand this in the laws and narrative of the Torah? Rabbi Shimon Or predicts the next stage.
G-d's past involvement in the Nation of Israel 's life, created amazing results on all aspects of life.
Life had much more meaning. The people of our Nation had much more strength and more abilities.
Eventually, people used these "G-dly abilities" in improper ways, and therefore they had to be taken away from us (hence the destruction of the Holy Temple and resulting exile). During this process the holy sages had to hurry for their last chance and they wrote this great life into the books. The amazing lifestyle was "hidden" into the books of laws. They even bothered to describe the thoughts and principles of that "G-dly" world that once existed in the Talmud. This was all done due to the belief of the sages that in the future, when time comes, the books will provide a guide and tools to rebuild this "lost world" before the exile. The laws and its description will be the way back to recreate this "lost world". The sages of Jewish law, for the sake of the future, required generations to preserve the Mitzvot and laws in very detailed and intimate ways. These laws truly are a glorious and powerful reality. The connection to the deep meaning to all the laws was only kept as a fulfillment of the admonition to "keep and preserve the signs" (Jeremiah 31, 20). Surprisingly, this dull connection to the deep meanings of the Torah managed to survive as simple commandments.
From being Passive, To being Active, "Believing" and Leading
Due to all this Rav Shimon takes an active mode in learning Torah. Learning Torah should not be satisfying just by learning the details and facts of the Torah (just to know what to do) but rather as a first step for bringing back the great reality of the Torah. The highest goal of the learner should be noticing the differences between the Torah's way of thinking and our modern ways of thinking today. After identifying the differences, the learner should define the structure of the "Torah Reality" and the meanings that are part of it. The final goal should be in recreating and acting to bring the meanings back to reality. Rabbi Shimon Or defines the goal of the Torah learner as an "artist" who is supposed to use his tools to create life. The tools should be built through the learning.
Up to this day, the effort and thought put into the details of Torah studies was mostly used to find the actual deeds and acts that needs to be done. Today, the great effort and thought put into the details should be the first step and a "window" in revealing the deep meanings that stand behind the contents.
Untill the present times, the Torah seemed to be a simple book of laws, where the person learning it is supposed to achieve a spiritual inspirement. The emphasis today should be to touch the deep principles standing “behind” the laws, which gives us the option to define the principles and forces in the Torah, that should be adopted by us. Not just spiritual inspiration by learning or keeping the laws, but rather touching the actual forces of life that are hidden in the different contents of the Torah and bringing it back to reality.
These changes are meant to create a complete change in the Torah learners' personality. No longer will his personality be subdued. By touching the basic principles, meanings, and forces of the Torah, the Torah then reflects back to create an “activist personality”. The more we are able to pull out the meanings of the Torah, the more we can carry out the purposes and goals of the Torah. This development in the personality of the person studying the Torah automatically puts the responsibility on his shoulders. No longer does the system work by itself (and we are just a passive part of it), but rather we are in charge of carrying everything out. Our mission at this point is to change the Torah form being only a “religion” (in the books) to becoming a harmony system of life.
In the Public Field
Rabbi Shimon Or’s public career is an accurate reflection of his method. Due to the fact that the Torah contents rely on our future, the tension between the Torah’s insights and our present lifestyle comes up constantly . An amazing step was done by Rav Kook who related Zionism with “klal Yisrael” in his books. Zionism together with building a country became holy causes. This connection gave us the option to continue on to find inside te details of the Torah for a complete lifestyle.
We must understand that the state of Israel was never and never will be a “Medinat Halacha" (state governed by religious law). The free will and freedom is a basic aspect in the Torah. Therefore the only relevant way is to reconstruct the Torah from words and laws to a lifestyle that people will choose for.
Rabbi Shimon Or has been claiming for over twenty years that the secular Zionism that built the state of Israel is incapable of bringing the State of Israel to its next stage. The next stage of the state is based on the detailed aspects of the Torah. We should not complain to the leaders of the state who are retreating during the past thirty years from the Zionist status quo. They are incapable of recreating this new reality. The basic theory was published in article called “From Salvation to the Next Step”. This article was published back during the Oslo Agreements and was later republished during Netanyahu’s first term around the time of the Wye Agreement.
According to Rabbi Shimon Or, the only body responsible for leading this cause is the Religious Zionist community who considers both sides of the issue. To accomplish such a goal we must be aware of the uniquness of the Torah world and take part of bringing the Torah back to life.
Rabbi Shimon Or suggests two actions which should be held simultaneously.
1. The Idealogical Field- Making the effort to 'translate' the contents of the Torah and its laws to principles of modern life. Principles that have been lost in the exile. This should be done by spreading this idealogy among Torah scholars and the wide public.
2. The second- The Political Field- Striving for leadership of the state today.
This is to form a base and have a practical effect on the state. This aiming for leadership cannot be by built on “partnership” that were used to for decades. Running for leadership forces us to run independently. In many articles Rav Shimon warns that running independently will automatically be harder in the midway stages of loneliness (i.e., by sitting in the opposition). There are no shortcuts or any ways to avoid such a situation.
It should be mentioned, that the Rabbinic and political leaders of the Religious Zionists still see the “partnership” path as the main way that should be taken while the wide population is starting to believe in complete religious leadership.
During these days, Rabbi Shimon Or is working on an initiative called “Yisrael Yeudit” ( Israel of Destiny). It’s first goal is to sign in over thirty thousand people supporting the idea of upgrading the existing religious Zionist parties to the establishment of a new party as a leadership party from day one. This is according to the perception that was presented above. This initiative should lead to establishing this new party with all the requirements of an established party- country wide elections with all its members. This will be an alternative leadership party from the day it is established and it’s head will be presented as a candidate for the prime minister of the state of Israel.
“The Will For Life”
“From Salvation To The Next Step”
“Back To The Lost Land”
"Independence From The Month Of Iyar”
“The Golan Heights- The Activism Of G-dly Behavior”