J.R.R. Tolkien’s Jewish Dwarves and Their Yearning for Zion https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/arts-culture/2016/08/j-r-r-tolkiens-jewish-dwarves-and-their-yearning-for-zion/

August 22, 2016 | Meir Soloveichik
About the author: Meir Soloveichik is the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel and the director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University. His website, containing all of his media appearances, podcasts, and writing, can be found at meirsoloveichik.com.

By J.R.R. Tolkien’s own admission, the dwarves are the group in his novels most similar to Jews, and in constructing their language he even drew upon Semitic models. Meir Soloveichik explores Tolkien’s attitudes toward Jews, his friendship with the Jewish historian Cecil Roth, the story of The Hobbit’s translation into Hebrew, and what, if anything, these “short, bearded beings exiled from their homeland, who have dreamed forever of returning” can teach actual Jews about their own experience:

According to the Bible, [Moses told the Israelites], “Not because of your size did God love you, for ye are the smallest of the nations.” We are, you might say, dwarfed by other peoples. And we are, until this day, chosen by God.

At the end of The Hobbit, the dwarves have returned to their mountain, the throne of the dwarf kingdom has been reestablished, and [the wizard] Gandalf tells Bilbo, [the unlikely hero who aids the dwarves in their quest to regain their homeland], of the glory that now surrounds the miraculous mountaintop. Bilbo replies: “Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!” . . .

Tolkien was rather instructive here. For the story of the Jews is about a little people who today, and throughout time, have helped bring prophecy about. Yet, all too often, they doubt [prophecy] all the more, refusing to accept that to be a Jew means to be a part of the most miraculous story that could ever be told, a story that is not yet over.

Read more on Commentary: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/the-secret-jews-of-the-hobbit/