Below is an excerpt from a letter that Rav Shmuel Mohilever, one of the founders of Religious Zionism wrote.
The letter was read out at the First Zionist Congress in 1897, when Rav Mohilever was unable to attend due to ill health.
Even after so long, Rav Mohilever’s words are still as inspirational as they were then:
I lift up my voice to my brethren:
Behold, it is now two thousand years that we await our Messiah, to redeem us from our bitter exile and to gather our scattered brethren from all corners of the earth to our own land, where each shall dwell in security, under his vine and under his fig tree. This faith, strong within us, has been our sole comfort in the untold days of our misery and degradation.
And even though in the last century some have arisen in our midst who have denied this belief, tearing it our of their hearts and even erasing it from their prayers, the masses of our people hold fast to this hope, for the fulfillment of which they pray morning, noon and night, and in which they find balm for their suffering.
Of late certain orthodox rabbis have arisen in western Europe, among whom one has even declared that the promises of future bliss and consolation made by our seers were in the form of symbols and parables. The coming of the Messiah, they say, will not be to bring Israel back to the Land of its Fathers and put an end to its long dispersion and many sorrows, but will be to establish the Kingdom of Heaven for all mankind, while Israel continued in exile as a light to the gentiles. Others of these rabbis assert, without qualification, that nationalism is contrary to our belief in the advent of the Messiah.
I am therefore constrained to declare publicly that all this is not true. Our hope and faith has ever been and still is, that our Messiah will come and gather in all the scattered of Israel, and instead of our being wanderers upon the face of the earth, ever moving from place to place, we shall dwell in our own country as a nation, in the fullest sense of the word.
Instead of being the contempt and mockery of the nations, we shall be honored and respected by all peoples of the earth. This is our faith and hope, as derived from the words of our prophets and seers of blessed memory and to this our people clings!