Today I am going to construct a dialogue between two Jews, Jerry and Joshua. The telling of this may be a bit awkward but nonetheless informative.
Jerry: I can’t understand you Israeli Jews! Impending doom hangs over you by Iran and you do nothing, despite your formidable military establishment.
Joshua: What would you have us do, bomb Iran, the expel the Arabs from Judea and Samaria, and then tell the rest of the world to go to hell?
Jerry: Better than waiting to be slaughtered. Instead, you engage in a charade with a villain like Mahmoud Abbas, who you pretend is privately serious about peace, but compelled to make bellicose statements for domestic Arab consumption.
Joshua: Of course Abbas is a bloody liar. Only idiots take him seriously.
Jerry: You have an awful lot of them in Israel. A psychologist would say Jews suffer from a victimization-type syndrome. Jews seem to feel morally superior by being victims rather than victors. I remember Golda Meir saying: “When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.” To me this is sickness unto death.
Joshua: Well, as you know, Golda was a secular humanist, which is equivalent to Christianity without the Christian god. Nietzsche said this humanism is based on a slave mentality, the mentality of those who derive their moral superiority from meekness and passivity. But this mentality is not at all Jewish, even though it infects many Jews.
Jerry: Religious Jews seem to be suffering from the same malaise. Look, it came as no surprise when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran threatened to wipe Israel of the map, and that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program with the obvious intention of annihilating you. So what does your government do? It attacks Hamas, Iran’s paltry client in Gaza, without finishing the job. Meanwhile, many of your academics and journalists behave as if they were living in Sweden, which erased its national language in the name of “Multiculturalism”! As for your rabbis, they’re more concerned about the issue of conversion than about Jewish survival.
Joshua: You’re right about the politicians and intellectuals, but I don’t think you understand serious religious Jews – and heaven knows many religious Jews are not really serious. Let me explain with the help of Abraham Kook, the first chief rabbi of mandate Palestine. Although Jews abhor war, Jews who know history know that wars have positive as well as negative consequences. The Napoleonic wars following the French Revolution hastened the growth of nationalism, which not only liberated Europe from Christianity, but also made Jewish nationalism or Zionism acceptable. Also, consider World War I, which produced the Balfour Declaration as well as the end of Turkish control of Palestine.
Jerry: Are you going to say the Holocaust of World War II produced the State of Israel?
Joshua: Do you have a more pleasant or plausible explanation? Look, Barack Obama aside, no one wants to correlate the horrible death of six million Jews and the re-establishment of the State of Israel, which has provided a haven for millions of Jews and produced a renascence of Torah studies. Rabbi Kook said in all humility that “the death of the righteous granted the Jewish people new life” by virtue of Israel’s rebirth. And remember, religious Jews believe that the souls of the six million exist in a better world.
Jerry: Is this why you appear stoical in the face of an impending war with nuclear armed Iran?
The Master of history
Joshua: Stoicism is not the right word. No decent person can be indifferent to the horrible death produced by weapons of mass destruction. Nevertheless, because we Jews believe that God is the Master of history, hence of war, we believe that all history is a process whose ultimate end will be the perfection of the Jewish People and of Mankind. Indeed, contrary to your fears, there is reason to believe that the weapons of mass destruction now available to Israel’s enemies may actually hasten Israel’s and Mankind’s spiritual redemption!
Jerry: That’s quite a paradox. Please explain yourself.
Joshua: Well, I’m merely speculating on the basis of Jewish history and even of recent events. Consider the plagues associated with the Exodus. Those plagues occurred in Egypt, a country most advanced in science and technology. Since the plagues didn’t kill the Jews, this was a violation of the laws of nature, which the Egyptians foolishly believed they controlled, and did control to some extent. Now, contrary to modern science, Torah Jews reject the idea that nature is autonomous, for we hold that God is the Master of nature. Hence nature, like history, must somehow serve the ultimate redemption of the Jewish People.
Jerry: But what has all this to do with the war of annihilation now threatening Israel?
Joshua: That’s exactly the point! You see, the miracles that occurred during the Exodus were reported throughout much of the world. These miracles revealed that God is the God of nature – whose numerical value or Gematria, by the way is 86 – same as the numerical value of Elokim, one of the names of God. (Please don’t press me on this, Jerry, because I point this out only to suggest that Biblical Hebrew is the only designed language.)
Anyway, according to the Sages of the Talmud, the miracles that will take place at Israel’s final redemption will excel those that occurred during the Exodus. Now I ask: What kind of miracles would be appropriate in our own time? I answer: miracles that will demonstrate to all mankind that nature, contrary to contemporary science, is not governed by unalterable laws, but by Almighty God.
Jerry: I don’t understand. How will these miracles be manifested?
Joshua: First recall that 39 Scud missiles struck Israel during the first Persian Gulf War, and only one person – and he was not a believer – was killed. We have non-religious generals who studied the great destruction wrought by those missiles and concluded that the death of only one person had to be the result of many miracles.
Jerry: But surely these so-called miracles pale in significance to those associated with the Exodus.
Joshua: Quite right, and few people were cognizant of those Gulf War miracles. But you mentioned the impending doom produced by nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Three distinct sciences of nature have each produced weapons of mass destruction. Now, suppose these weapons were launched against Israel. I ask you to project the miracles that would follow given what I have said about nature and Israel’s redemption. And ponder the impact on mankind if these weapons killed not a single a Jew but annihilated Israel’s enemies, like the drowning of the Egyptians with parting of the Red Sea.
Jerry: Well, you can speculate as far as you want, but shouldn’t you offer some tangible evidence to indicate at least the possibility of your Alice-in-Wonderland scenario?
Joshua: Perhaps you’re right, Jerry, but no one at the time of the Exodus could have foreseen its miracles, and probably no one would have believed in their possibility. That’s why miracles are miracles, and not mere coincidences.
A scenario “for such a time as this”
Jerry: You have to do better than this Joshua. Give me at least a clue as to what may possibly happen in the present juncture of human affairs.
Joshua: Okay. According to Judaism, whatever Israel does for its salvation occurs by virtue of the cooperation of God. That’s why we say Israel was created in the image of God: we are partners. Remember, the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea required Moses to extend his hand over the Sea, which means the miracle required some human act.
Now, you know that Israel today is far advanced in nanotechnology, surpassing even the United States. You know that the Allies in World War II could not have been victorious were it not for science, in which Jews excelled – and I’m thinking not only of Albert Einstein. Consider the Jews involved in the Manhattan Project: Robert Oppenheimer, Otto Frisch, Felix Block, Max Borne, and perhaps I should add Enrico Fermi, who was married to a Jewish woman.
Jerry: Come on Josh, with due respect to the scientists you have in Israel today, they don’t compare to the giants of yesterday.
Joshua: Okay, but suppose Israel, by virtue of its supreme nanotechnology, modulated the guidance system of Iranian missiles aimed at Israel and returned them to their point of origin. Surely such a phenomenon will be perceived by mankind as a miracle, and would thus have world-historical significance comparable to that of the parting of the Red Sea.
Of course, I am only speculating, constructing a scenario more or less consistent with the Book of Esther.☼
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