Rabbi Benzion Uziel delivered the opening address at a gathering
in Jerusalem of the rabbis of the land of Israel (spring
1919). In describing the rebirth of the Jewish nation in Israel,
he pointed out the many challenges facing the emerging Jewish communities
and settlements. He urged the rabbis to be active participants
in this historic process. It would be unacceptable and dangerous if religious
Jews were to say: "Let us stand in a corner as though looking at
the events from a distance. Let us say to ourselves: we and our families
will serve the Lord." He felt that this isolationist attitude was contrary
to the vision upon which our religion is based. Rabbi Uziel exhorted
his colleagues to go among the people, to work with the people, to participate
in every aspect of the nation-building process. In this way, they
could bring the eternal teachings of Torah into the real world. 
This theme was to dominate much of the thought and work of
Rabbi Uziel, who proclaimed that Judaism is not a narrow, confined
doctrine limited only to a select few individuals; rather, the Torah is the
guide for the ideal way of life for the entire Jewish people, and also carries
a message for humanity at large. Jewish religious expression must
not be confined to a parochial, sectarian mold. Rather, it must thrive
with a grand vision, always looking outward.
Rabbi Uziel's philosophy of Judaism flowed from various sources.
Born in Jerusalem to an illustrious Sephardic rabbinical family, his father
was the Av Bet Din of the Sephardic community of Jerusalem and presi-
dent of the community council. His mother was part of the Hazan
rabbinical family, which had produced fist-rate rabbinic leaders for generations.
As a youth, Rabbi Uziel studied with the Sephardic sages of
Jerusalem, but also with Ashkenazic rabbis. He became one of those
unique individuals who was well steeped in the halakhic methods and literature
of both the Sephardim and Ashkenazim.
In 1911, Rabbi Uziel was appointed Chief Rabbi of Yafo and its district, where he worked with Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the Ashkenazic spiritual leader of Yafo. Although
Rabbi Kook was older, Rabbi Uziel was appointed Chief Rabbi (Haham Bashi) by the authority
of the Turkish Government. Officially, the office of Chief Rabbi was
open only to individuals born in the Ottoman Empire, whose families
had been living there for several generations, and who knew the language
of the land, as well as French and Arabic. Rabbi Uziel had all
these qualifications, while Rabbi Kook did not. Rabbis Uziel and Kook
developed a good working relationship and held each other in high
esteem. In 1921, Rabbi Uziel became the Chief Rabbi of the famous
Sephardic community of Salonika, returning to be Chief Rabbi of Tel
Aviv in 1923. In 1939, he was elected Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rishon le-
Rabbi Uziel was a leading posek, thinker, teacher, communal leader
and political activist, one of the unique figures of 20th century Jewish
life. Rabbi Uziel saw God's hand in the development of Jewish life in
Erets Yisrael. He felt that he was participating in the early stages of the
final redemption of Israel. His writings are characterized by the calm
wisdom of a genuine scholar and at the same time by an overwhelming
sense of urgency. Depending on the quality of religious leadership, he
said, everything could be won or lost.
Rabbi Uziel believed that the Jewish people, especially those living
in a revitalized Erets Yisrael, could be living models of the excellence
inspired by the Torah. Through their moral and ethical accomplishments,
the Jews would succeed in making the rest of the world aware of
the great standards set by the Torah for all of humanity. 
He felt strongly that Jews must be aware of their own national
charter. Through this self knowledge, they would be able to conduct
their lives according to the ideals set forth in the Torah tradition. This
would lead to their own happiness, as well as to a positive influence on
the world in general. Rabbi Uziel criticized those false ideologies which
distracted the Jewish people from their authentic national charter. He
rejected the assimilationists, since their strategy would ultimately undermine
the true message of Judaism. He also chastised those who would
restrict Judaism to the narrow confines of their homes, synagogues and
study halls. This strategy would bury Judaism in a small inner world,
cutting off its impact on society as a whole. It was necessary to steer a
middle course between assimilationist tendencies on the left and isolationist
tendencies on the right. Rabbi Uziel cited the verse in Mishlei
(4:25) as a guide: "Let your eyes look right on and let your eyelids look
straight before you. Make plain the path of your foot and let all your
ways be established. Turn not to the right nor to the left. Remove your
foot from evil."
Only by focusing on the specific charter of the Jewish people--to
create a righteous nation based on the laws of Torah tradition--could
the Jewish people fulfill its mission. Through our creating a model
Torah society, we would be seen by the entire world to be the representatives
of God. Our Torah teaches us to live life in its fullness. It teaches
us how to apply the highest moral and ethical standards to all human
situations. Judaism is not a cult, but a world religion with a world message.
"Our holiness will not be complete if we separate ourselves from
human life, from human phenomena, pleasures and charms, but (only if
we are) nourished by all the new developments in the world, by all the
wondrous discoveries, by all the philosophical and scientific ideas which
flourish and multiply in our world. We are enriched and nourished by
sharing in the knowledge of the world; at the same time, though, this
knowledge does not change our essence, which is composed of holiness
and appreciation of God's exaltedness." The national charter of the
Jewish people is "to live, to work, to build and to be built, to improve
our world and our life, to raise ourselves and to raise others to the highest
summit of human perfection and accomplishment. (This is accom-
plished by following) the path of peace and love, and being sanctified
with the holiness of God in thought and deed."
In his address accepting the appointment as Chief Rabbi of Yafo
(6 Heshvan 5672), Rabbi Uziel stated that a leader must have two
seemingly opposite qualities: strength of character and humility (gevura
nafshit and anava). In truth, these two qualities are not in opposition
but must go together. True humility cannot be found except in one
who has spiritual strength. Indeed, humility without such strength is
not humility at all: it is weakness stemming from fear and doubt.
In his address to the rabbis of Erets Yisrael in 1919, he reminded
his colleagues that while humility in itself is praiseworthy, it becomes repulsive
if it leads to shying away from the needs of the hour. Rabbis
who hide in the mantle of humility abdicate their responsibility to the
community. Leadership requires strength of character. 
Rabbi Uziel saw the rabbis' influence deriving from the force of
their own righteousness, devotion and erudition. Since the hallmark of
Torah is peace, coercion and threats are not the proper ways to gain
adherence to Torah. Rather, rabbis (and religious people in general)
must win the hearts of their fellow Jews through deeds of love and
kindness.  One cannot demand respect; one must earn it.
Rabbi Uziel was among those who believed that the time had
arrived for the reestablishment of a Sanhedrin. Through such a structure,
rabbinic authority would once again be centralized. The public
would know where to turn for Torah guidance. A properly constituted
Sanhedrin would have profound influence on Jewish communities
throughout the world and would be a harbinger of the ultimate redemption. 
Rabbi Uziel was troubled by a schism among the Jews in Israel.
One group stressed the study of Torah to the exclusion of building the
land and organizing the people, while the other group emphasized
action while negating the need to study Torah. Both groups were
wrong. "Action without study--even action is lacking, since it is a
branch without roots. And study without action is a root without a
According to the Torah, work is obligatory. It is forbidden for a
person to be supported by the labor of others without providing his
own productive labor. A parent is obligated to teach his child Torah and
an occupation. A child who does not learn how to support himself
through his own labor is compared to a thief who steals the labor of
others without exerting any effort of his own. Each individual must be
engaged in productive labor to support himself, to share in the building
of the world and the advancement of humanity. Labor is not only an
obligatory commandment, but also gives the individual a sense of
honor and dignity. The laws of the Torah go hand in hand with productive
forms of labor and business. By working, one learns not only the
knowledge of one's profession, but also compassion, love and responsibility
for others. These spiritual and moral qualities are learned by
engaging in productive labor, not merely by abstract study.
During the War of Independence in 1948, a number of yeshiva
students came to Rabbi Uziel to obtain exemptions from military service.
He rejected their requests and said that if he were not already an
old man himself, he would be holding a gun and hand grenade, fighting
to defend the Old City of Jerusalem where he was born and raised.
This was a battle of life and death for the people of Israel. How could
anyone want to be exempted from fighting this great battle? On the
contrary, each person should rise to the occasion and give strength to
his fellow soldiers. He told the yeshiva students that it was a mitsvah for
them to join in the defense of their people, to risk their lives alongside
their brothers, to defend the Jewish people and the Jewish land. 
In Rabbi Uziel's view, religious leadership entailed a total commitment
to participate in all aspects of the life of the nation. Religious people
were not to live on hand-outs or to seek exemptions. Only by a
thoroughgoing involvement in all aspects of national life could the religious
community bring its values and ideals to all the people of Israel.
To retreat into self-enclosed religious enclaves was to surrender Torah
leadership. It was to reduce Judaism to a small, self-contained cult. This
position was absolutely untenable to Rabbi Uziel, who viewed Judaism
as a grand way of life which must shape the entire society, serving as a
model for the world.
Rabbi Uziel believed that Torah study and observance should
make the religious Jew into a model human being. But exactly what
are we to study and do in order to attain the highest standards of Torah
ideals? Obviously, we must study and observe Torah in as thorough and
profound a way as possible. In Rabbi Uziel’s view, the Torah is not simply
a book of laws and commandments; it encompasses all knowledge.
"It is impossible to understand it--certainly to plumb its depths--without
a profound and broad knowledge of all worldly wisdoms and sciences"
which are hidden in the depths of creation.  The Torah itself is
interested in cosmology, philosophy, theology, human history. To be
well-versed in Torah involves knowledge of astronomy and mathematics
in order to set the calendar. Torah law includes comprehensive knowledge
of weights and measures. It entails agronomical and zoological
knowledge in order to observe properly the laws of mixed species
(kilayim). Likewise, the laws of terefòt demand a thorough knowledge
of animal anatomy. Jewish law requires a knowledge of human psychology,
so that the judge can determine whether or not a witness is
attempting to deceive him. Halakha includes political and economic
principles, as well as laws governing the relationships between different
peoples. In short, Torah--being a total way of life--necessitates understanding
life in its fullness.
The Torah tradition teaches Jews to be engaged in the development
of society (yishuvo shel olam) in the broadest sense of the term.
This entails not only populating and settling the world, but studying
the ways of nature (science) in order to advance human civilization.
Yishuvo shel olam involves knowledge of how to establish a system of
justice and how to develop a harmonious and ethical society. Involve-
ment in yishuvo shel olam is a necessary condition to fulfilling our specific
Jewish way of life. The settlement and building of society increases
knowledge, widens our intellectual and scientific horizons. This very
process awakens within us a more profound appreciation of the wonders
of God, His creative powers and His providence. 
Rabbi Uziel did not see Torah and mada as conflicting. He believed,
rather, that in order to be a Torah personality with full Torah
knowledge, one must study worldly wisdom. But when one studies
such subjects as philosophy, science, psychology, history and literature,
one does not do so for the sake of academic knowledge, but rather as a
means through which one gains a deeper understanding of God's ways.
"Talmud Torah" is a general term referring to the attainment of wisdom;
it includes Torah study as well as all the studies and sciences
which deepen our understanding.  It is Talmud Torah in this broad
sense which raises a person from ignorance to wisdom. Secular knowledge
by itself provides knowledge, but only within the context of Talmud
Torah does secular knowledge have ultimate meaning, leading the
student closer to God.
In his address upon assuming the position of Chief Rabbi of
Salonika (9 Adar, 5681), Rabbi Uziel stated: "It is true that scientific
knowledge (mada) raises a person, gives him wings to soar to great
heights, enlightens his eyes to discover the secrets of nature and to uti-
1ize its powers, to make life more pleasant and to increase longevity;
general knowledge also endows a person with spiritual powers. But all
the acquisitions of general knowledge are vessels which help one to
live--and are not life itself. . . . The goal (of life) is . . . to know the
God of the universe, to walk in His ways and to cling to Him. [I7]
Rabbi Uziel saw Maimonides as the classic example of the Jewish
ideal. In the Mishne Torah, Maimonides presents the spiritual inheritance
of the people of Israel from Moses to his own time. In addition,
he draws on the best of worldly knowledge. Rabbi Uziel believed that
Jewish sages were well aware of the philosophical, scientific and theological
insights propounded by non-Jewish sages. Indeed, Jewish sages
had to have knowledge of the world in order to fully understand the
Torah itself. After all, the Torah, Talmud and rabbinic literature include
references to all branches of human knowledge. Maimonides advocated
the principle: receive the truth from whoever states it. Maimonides
studied philosophy and science, gathering the best of what he found; in
this way he enriched his own thoughts in depth and breadth. 
In his book on the laws of guardianship (apotropos), Rabbi Uziel
noted that our sages were fully cognizant of the legal thought and prac-
tice of the non-Jewish nations with whom they had contact. Our rabbis
of all generations "did not limit themselves to their four cubits and to the
walls of the study hall. Rather, they learned and knew al which transpired
in the world of science and justice." They did not hesitate to admit the
truth of the words of non-Jewish sages when the truth was with them. 
In a letter he wrote to the leadership of the Alliance Israelite Universelle,
Rabbi Uziel recognized the importance of Jewish students
learning both religious subjects and general studies. He stressed the
need to learn Hebrew and said that Jewish students in the diaspora
should learn the language of the land in which they lived as well as at
least one European language. But the goal of Jewish education should
be clear: to raise children faithful to their people and to their Torah,
people who would be useful to their families, their people, and society.
Rabbi Uziel insisted that general subjects be taught by religious teachers.
Otherwise, a spirit of secularism would enter the children's hearts,
leading them away from the very goals for which Jewish schools stood.
In every generation, he said, the Jewish people have produced learned
doctors, authors, and business people. We have not lacked giants in science
and worldly wisdom. And we have been able to attain this while
retaining total loyalty to the Torah tradition. If modern-day Jews think
that their children can achieve success only by receiving an exclusively
secular education, they are in fact sacrificing their children's spiritual
lives. There is no necessity to do so, since one can attain worldly success
while remaining deeply steeped in Torah tradition. The ideal can be
attained only when general studies are taught within the context of the
Jewish religious tradition. 
Jews throughout history have not allowed themselves to be cut off
from the intellectual currents of the world. Rather, they have been at
the forefront in all areas of human knowledge and scientific advancement.
In spite of the attempts by anti-Semites to confine Jews to ghettos
and to limit their educational opportunities, Jews have made
remarkable contributions to human knowledge. As active and knowledgeable
participants in world civilization, our goal is to lead humanity
in the paths of proper ethics and social harmony.
Rabbi Uziel saw Abraham, our forefather, as his model for outreach
to general society. Abraham's teachings brought people closer to
a proper understanding of God; indeed, he was successful in converting
many to his beliefs. By lovingly guiding people in the ways of God, he
set a pattern for his descendants to emulate. A basic responsibility of the
Jewish people is to teach monotheism and ethical behavior to the peoples
of the world. 
Unlike some other religions, Judaism does not claim a monopoly
on the world to come. All people--Jewish or not--have access to God,
and will be rewarded for a life of righteousness. 
Judaism teaches responsibility towards each human being and
every nation. The ultimate redemption of Israel is not the success of
one people, but rather the redemption of all humanity. The entire
world will become free of war, rid of false beliefs and ideologies; it will
be free of political, military and religious coercion. A cornerstone of
Jewish religiosity is the recognition of the "image of God" found in all
human beings. This insight leads to the love of individuals and to the
love of humanity. 
Since all human beings are created in the "image of God," all are
entitled to loving concern and respect. Rabbi Uziel’s commitment to
this principle is evident in a halakhic controversy which erupted concerning
autopsies. Already in the early 1930's in Erets Yisrael, the issue of
autopsies arose in connection with training Jewish doctors in emerging
Jewish medical schools. Medical training necessitated performing autopsies,
but how could this take place under halakhically correct conditions?
Rabbi Kook ruled in 1931 that it was not permissible to perform autopsies
on Jewish bodies for the sake of medical education. He recommended
that non-Jewish bodies be purchased for the sake of scientific
research. In sharp contrast, Rabbi Uziel theorized (le-halakha ve-lo lema'ase)
that autopsies could be permitted according to Jewish law if
conducted with proper respect. "In a situation of great benefit to everyone,
where there is an issue of saving lives, we have not found any reason
to prohibit (autopsies), and on the contrary, there are proofs to permit
them." In considering whether it would be preferable to obtain non-
Jewish bodies for autopsies, Rabbi Uziel’s response was unequivocal:
"Certainly this should not even be said, and more certainly should not
be written, since the prohibition of nivul stems from the humiliation
caused to all humans. That is to say, it is a humiliation to cause the body
of a human being--created in the image of God and graced with knowledge
and understanding to master and rule over all creation--to be left
disgraced and rotting in public." According to Rabbi Uziel, if one were
to prohibit autopsies, then no autopsies could be performed on anyone,
Jewish or non-Jewish. The result of this policy would be that no doctors
could be trained. 
Rabbi Uziel’s appreciation of the “image of God" in everyone was
manifested in his abhorrence of discrimination based on religion or race.
In the early days of British rule over Erets Yisrael, Rabbi Uziel was
already imagining how halakha would be implemented in a new Jewish
state. He posed the theoretical question: may the testimony of non-Jews
be accepted in Jewish courts according to the rules of the Torah? "It is
impossible to answer this question negatively, because it would not be
civil justice to disqualify as witnesses those who live among us and deal
with us honestly and fairly. Weren't we ourselves embittered when the
lands of our exile invalidated us as witnesses? If in the entire enlightened
world the law has been accepted to receive the testimony of every person
without consideration of religion or race, how then may we make such a
separation?" He then went on to write a comprehensive responsum in
which he demonstrated the propriety of establishing a regulation allowing
testimony from non-Jews.  This responsum demonstrates Rabbi Uziel's
concern for creating ajust Jewish society which respected the rights and needs
of the non-Jewish population.
In his speech to the rabbis of Erets Yisrael (1919), he stated that
the Jewish nation was a people of peace, never wanting to advance itself
by causing destruction to others. Non-Jews should not feel threatened
by the emergence of a Jewish state, since a Jewish government would be
a source of peace and blessing. In his address at his installation as Chief
Rabbi of Israel (1939), Rabbi Uziel stressed the need to forge links of
peace and fellowship among all segments of society in Erets Yisrael.  In
his radio address in honor of his installation as Chief Rabbi, he made a
special appeal to the non-Jewish population in the land of Israel: "We
stretch out to you a hand of peace, true and trustworthy. We say to you:
The land is spread out before us and we will work it with joined hands.
We will uncover its treasures and will live in it as brothers together." 
Rabbi Uziel, who spoke Arabic fluently, felt it was vital for Jews to
establish good relations with their Arab neighbors. He strenuously criti-
cized those individuals who, in the name of Judaism, fomented anti-
Arab attitudes. This was a perversion of Judaism. "The Torah of Israel,
all of whose paths are ways of peace, calls for the peace and love of its
people and all who are created in the image ofGod." It was up to rabbis
to decry negative attitudes towards the Arabs. In 1927, Rabbi Uziel
visited Baghdad and spoke to the Jewish community there, inspiring
them with his message from Zion. In his speech, which he delivered
both in Hebrew and Arabic, he called on the Jews of Baghdad to share
in the religious Zionist ideals, to settle in Israel, to maintain their religious
traditions in the land of Israel. The Arabic newspapers of Baghdad
praised Rabbi Uziel’s speech, and lauded his call for peace and
friendship between the two great nations (Jews and Arabs), both peoples
being descendants of our forefather Abraham.
In 1921, a battle erupted between Jews and Arabs in the outskirts
of Tel Aviv. When Rabbi Uziel learned that both sides were shooting at
each other, he went out to the battleground in his rabbinical garb. Fearlessly,
he walked between the two camps. The gunfire stopped. Rabbi
Uziel spoke to the Arabs with emotion. He reminded them that Jews
and Arabs are cousins, descendants of Abraham. "We say to you that
the land can bear all of us, can sustain all of us. Let us stop the battles
among ourselves, for we are brothers."
Rabbi Uziel fully believed that peace and harmony were achievable
if goodwill could prevail. He was faithful to this vision throughout his
life, even though it was rejected by political and religious leadership on
When Rabbi Uziel died in 1953, hundreds of thousands of people
mourned his passing. All the people of Israel, Sephardim and Ashkenazim,
Jews and non-Jews, had lost a religious leader of the highest
stature. The motto of his life had been the words of the prophet Zekharya:
"Love truth and peace." The grandeur of his life and his religious
vision were an inspiration to his generation, and will stand as a
lasting monument for generations to come.
 R. Benzion Uziel, Mikhmanei Uziel, Tel Aviv, 5699, p.328.
 For more on the life and career and Rabbi Uziel, see Shabbetai Don Yahye,
HaRav Benzion Meir Hai Uziel: Hayav uMishnato, Jerusalem, 5715. See
also Yaacov Hadani, "HaRav Benzion Uziel keManhig Medini,” Hamidrashia,
Vol.. 20-21, 1987, pp. 239-266. [See also Marc D. Angel, Loving Truth and Peace: The Grand Religious Worldview of Rabbi Benzion Uziel, Jason Aronson, Northvale, 1999.]
 R. Benzion Uziel, Hegyonei Uziel, VoL. 1, Jerusalem, 5713, p. 99; and
Hegyonei Uziel, Vol. 2, Jerusalem) 5714, p. 120.
 Hegyonei Uziel, VoL. 2, pp. 121-125. See also, Mikhmanei Uziel, p.460.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p.324.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p.331.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, pp. 364-365.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p.391; Mishpetei Uziel, Yore De'a 3, Vol. 2 Addendum
No.3; Sha'arei Uziel, Jerusalem, 5751, p.l0. See also Marc D. Angel, Rhythms
of Jewish Living, New York, 1986, pp. 70-72; and Marc D. Angel,
Voices in Exile, Hoboken, 1991, pp. 194-196.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p. 557.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, pp. 456 and 458.
 Quoted in Shabbetai Don Yahye, pp. 227-228.
 Hegyonei Uziel, Vol. 2, pp. 96-97.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p. 405.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, pp. 406-407.
 Hegyonei Uziel, Vol. 2, p. 98.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, pp. 552-553.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p. 345.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, pp. 382-383; 393.
 Sha'arei Uziel, introduction, pp. 35 and 37.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, pp. 516-517.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p. 120.
 Hegyonei Uziel, Vol. 1, pp. 98-99.
 Hegyonei Uziel, Vol. 1, p. 176.
 Hegyonei Uziel, Vol. 2, pp. 146-147.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p. 344.
 For Rabbi Kook's opinion, see Da’at Cohen, Jerusalem, 5745, No. 199.
Rabbi Uziel's opinion is found in Piskei Uziel, Jerusalem, 5737, No. 32, especially
pp. 178-179. See also my article, "A Discussion of the Nature of
Jewishness in the Teachings of Rabbi Kook and Rabbi Uziel," in Seeking Good, Speaking Peace,
edited by Hayyim J. Angel, Hoboken, 1994, pp.112-123.
 For a discussion of Rabbi Uziel’s position, see Rabbi Haim David Halevy,
"The Love of Israel as a Factor in Halakhic Decision Making in the Works
of Rabbi Benzion Uziel," Tradition, Vol. 24, Spring 1989, pp. 17-19.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p. 330.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p. 424.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p. 429.
 Mikhmanei Uziel, p. 523.
 Shabbetai Don Yahye, pp. 107-108.
 Shabbetai Don Yahye, p. 77.