Various Zionist organizations in Israel and abroad are concerned about making Israel safe as well as strong. These organizations have performed an important service. They have exposed the duplicitous and deadly nature of the peace process. They have shown with compelling evidence that the Israel-PLO accords have armed Israel’s enemies, have brought not peace but a war of attrition that has truncated the one and only homeland of the Jewish people.
And now, with a virtual enemy in the American White House, I wonder whether emphasis on a “safe” or “strong” Israel borders on foolishness, indeed, counterproductive, since such emphasis obscures the one thing needed to make Israel safe and strong. The mere fact that Zionist organizations have failed to have any discernible impact on the land-for-peace policy of Israeli governments from Begin to Netanyahu suggests that they need to think more deeply about what is most lacking and needed in Israel.
Toward a Godly Israel
To advocate a safe or a strong Israel is certainly meritorious, so long as it does not obscure the dire need of Jews to advocate, above all, a Godly Israel, for only a Godly Israel can be truly safe and truly strong. Thus we read in the prophet Zechariah: “Not by armed might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord of Hosts” (4:5). Let us try to understand this verse by means of Israel’s most sacred symbol, the Menorah.
The light of the Menorah symbolizes knowledge, more precisely spiritual enlightenment. The source of spiritual enlightenment is of course God. This enlightenment is manifested in the words of the Torah. As King David has written: “The Word of God is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). Or as King Solomon has written: “For the Commandment is a lamp and the Teaching a light” (Proverbs 6:23).
Israel will be safe and strong only if its Prime Ministers are men of Torah; if not, they will endanger Israel—as should be obvious to any intelligent and upright Jew since Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed a covenant of death with the PLO in 1993. Only if these prime ministers imbue every heart and home with the light of the Torah will Israel enjoy peace. “For instruction shall go forth from Me, and I will create a quiet abode for My [people], so that it may shine upon the nations” (Isaiah 51:4). “O House of Jacob, come let us walk in the light of God” (Isaiah 2:5). When Israel suffers murder and misery, it is because “they rebel against the light,[and] do not recognize the ways of God and never seek serenity [or peace] in His paths” (Job 24:13).
As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch points out, Scripture uses the words “lamp” and “light” as metaphors for the source of growth and life, of undisturbed progress and happiness. Hence the spirit of God mentioned in Zechariah denotes not only the means for attaining perception, but also the motivation for action.
The tree of life
It should be noted that the Menorah resembles a tree with a central shaft generating three branches from one side and three branches from the other side. The central shaft symbolizes the spirit of God. From Isaiah (11:2) we learn that whereas the three branches of one side of the Menorah symbolize wisdom, counsel, and knowledge, the three branches from the other side symbolize understanding, strength, and fear of God. Imbued with the spirit of God, Israel will unite theory and practice, perception and accomplishment.
Unless they stem from the spirit of God, what is called “wisdom,” “counsel,” “knowledge,” “understanding,” and “strength” will be futile. “I am the Lord … that turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44:24-25). As for the fear (really awe) of God, this, says King David, is “the beginning of wisdom” (Psalms 111:10). Indeed, if Israel’s leaders possessed intellectual integrity and feared God, as referred to in Isaiah 28:15, they would not have succumbed to folly and falsehood by making a covenant of death with the villains of the PLO.
However, merely to expose the suicidal fatuity and mendacity of Israeli prime ministers will have no impact on their behavior if such criticism is not bolstered by the spirit of God articulated by His prophets. This is why Isaiah says that God “fulfills the counsel of His messengers” (44:26). This means that it is not enough for critics to expose the lies and lethal nature of the “peace process.” Their words must be motivated by the desire to sanctify the Name of God. God’s Name must be in their hearts and on their lips; theirs must be words of truth.
Hence we read in Isaiah 44:24-25: “I am the Lord, Who has made everything;… that frustrates the signs of imposters, and makes rulers mad …”
Are not Israel’s rulers “mad”?
All honor, therefore, to those who want Israel to be safe and strong. But do they also want Israel to be a Godly Israel? If not, perhaps this is why Israel is so insecure and spiritually emasculated.◙
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