The Mystery of the So-Called “New Moses” Endures

We should appreciate Theodor Herzl’s lightning-storm emergence, even if we’ll never really know what caused it.

Theodor Herzl at his desk in Vienna around 1900. Imagno/Getty Images.

Theodor Herzl at his desk in Vienna around 1900. Imagno/Getty Images.

Last Word
Jan. 27 2021
About the author

Rick Richman is a resident scholar at American Jewish University and a frequent contributor to Mosaic. He is the author of Racing Against History: The 1940 Campaign for a Jewish Army to Fight Hitler (Encounter Books, 2018).

I am grateful to Mosaic for providing this forum on the seminal figure of modern Jewish history, on the 125th anniversary of the publication of The Jewish State. I appreciate as well the three responses to my essay: Derek Penslar’s psychological speculation, Daniel Polisar’s masterful analysis of why Herzl succeeded where Leon Pinsker failed, and Anita Shapira’s elegant summary of Herzl’s Zionist career. I will address each of them in order.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Theodor Herzl