Aaron David Gordon

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Aaron Douglass Gordon (better known as A.D.) was born in 1857 to a wealthy Jewish family in Russia. He studied Bible and Talmud as a child, never worked a day, got married to a nice Jewish girl, and settled down to spend most of his time teaching his younger colleagues. Suddenly, at the age of 48, Gordon realized something as the heat of Zionism was catching people's attention. He said, "We Jews have developed an attitude of looking down on physical labor, but labor is the only force which binds a man to the soil." His theory on the Jews returning to Palestine, their homeland, was that they were separated from the land too much, made into parasites by galut, knowing nothing of the place. They were used to living off of someone else's land, someone else's hard labor, and had lost all knowledge of what truly makes a people.

It was this reasoning that made him move to Eretz Yisrael to work the land for himself. Although he had nothing against Arabs personally, he felt they did not deserve the land they resided on because they had let it stay wilderness and had not developed or farmed it. In relationship to other Zionists, Gordon specifically criticized Ahad Haam for not doing enough. Gordon said that unlike Haam's ideas of getting back to Judaism and the land with your heart and mind, you must use your hands to work it and become closer to it. A.D. Gordon felt that the problem facing the Jewish people in this time period was that they had become too separated from their homeland and his solution was for the Jews to return to Palestine and work the land, becoming closer to it and themselves as a result.