Can Israel Do It Alone?

Rabbi Reuven Mann

It is difficult to calculate the ultimate cost of the current round of conflict with Israel’s adversaries. The physical price of the war with Hamas/Amalek is large and still growing. The assault on the terrorists has just begun, and we have no idea what the casualty count will be after the ground invasion of Gaza. The Hamas fighters are entrenched in their home turf as they hunker down in the maze of tunnels dug deep beneath street level. We can only pray that Israel’s tactics will be effective and that our troops will destroy the enemy at a relatively minimal price.

When I say that “we can only pray” I do not intend it in the rhetorical sense. Among the many lessons we need to learn from recent events is a very significant theological one. We need prayer because in spite of all of Israel’s technological sophistication it cannot, by itself, defeat its enemies and attain a state of true peace and tranquility.

This is not to say that Israel lacks friends and supporters. Amazingly, it is regarded as a significant ally and military partner of the mightiest nation in history, the United States of America. Most of the important politicians who have been interviewed refer to the Jewish state as America’s most significant ally. Amazingly, Nikki Haley, a significant contender for the Republican Presidential nomination, is fond of saying that the US needs Israel more than the reverse. This puts Israel in a very unique position in which she is privy to the most advanced military systems and sophisticated technologies available today.

But while US assistance is a vital benefit, it can only go so far. America strongly supports Israel and wants her to win, but there is just so much she can do. Washington diplomacy over the years has focused a great deal of attention on the imperative of establishing peace in the Mideast. But this goal has proved to be elusive. Or maybe simply unattainable.

That is not to say that no progress has been made. Israel’s diplomatic position has improved with time, especially as a result of peace deals that have been brokered by U.S. Presidents. Most notable were the treaties that were arranged under the auspices of Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. The most recent political breakthrough, which still holds great promise, was the “Abraham Accords” a brilliant diplomatic maneuver engineered by President Trump and his creative team.

But at the same time that some reason and goodwill began to grace the Mideast scene, the primitive forces of extreme religious zealotry have combined to produce an explosion of anti-Jewish barbarianism such as we have not witnessed since the Holocaust.

So where do we go from here? What is the teaching that we must take with us from the midst of all this suffering? The entire Torah testifies to the fact that the Jewish people consists of two components, its individual members and their Creator. In the words of our Rabbis. “Yisrael VeOraita, VeKidsha Baruch Hu, Chad Hu” (“Israel and the Torah and the Holy One blessed is He are One”). What are the Rabbis trying to tell us?

I believe what they are saying is that the Jewish People is a unique entity consisting of a partnership between the Creator and His nation. You can’t have a Jewish People without any of its constituent elements. It is not considered the Jewish Nation if it consists only of the people without Hashem. If we remove Hashem from the picture, then we are a people like any other.[Actually inferior to any other]

The Rabbis further told us that the relationship between the “partners” is achieved through the Torah. Our task is to study Hashem’s Revelation and implement its ideals in all areas of life, and as a result of that Hashem will lead and guide us. It is only through Torah that we can become G-d’s people. But when we reject or distort the Torah or accept it when it’s agreeable but reject it when it offends our sense of values and instead seek to live in accordance with our own perception of right and wrong we no longer retain our special relationship with Hashem.

And then we are vulnerable to all the destructive forces that seek to undo the Jews, and  are unable to prosper. A simple review of our history amply illustrates this point. We have been victims of an endless onslaught of defamation, persecution, vilification physical torture and annihilation.

At a certain point in recent history, a movement called  Zionism emerged, which claimed that what the Jews were missing to be a genuine and healthy people was independent statehood. If only we could be an “Am Chofshi BeArtzenu (free nation in our land)” then all would be well. But in spite of all the impressive achievements of modern Israel, we are unable to attain a state of peace and security. The Holocaust which we confidently asserted was part of our past and (thanks to statehood) had been relegated to the realm of “Never Again” has tragically reared its ugly head in the very land Hashem gave us.

It must be painfully clear that the fundamental principle of Zionism has been disproved. That is because political freedom and independence, however important, is not the solution to our problems. How could the horrible slaughter and degradation of women, children and the elderly take place in the land of Israel? “Is it not because my G-d is not in my midst that these evils have come upon me?” However, when we partner with Hashem, we become simply invincible. No harm can befall us when He is together with us. It is time for the Jews to realize that Hashem and only Hashem is the solution to our problems.

At this moment of great suffering and darkness, let the light of truth shine through. Let us resolve to fulfill the dictum of our Rabbis that “Yisrael and Torah and the Holy One Blessed is He are One.” And may we merit a new era of true spiritual greatness, which will illuminate the world.

Shabbat Shalom.