We Jews think we’re smart. We believe we can use facts to defend ourselves. We think facts will protect us. The more accurate the fact, we believe, the better off we will be.
But we’re wrong. Facts do not protect Jews. Facts kill.
Think about your world: when anti-Zionists declare, ‘For world peace, destroy Israel,’ do you think that a reply of, ‘the League of Nations made us legal!’ will make them change their tune? When a Jew-hater shows you a map of a new ‘Palestine’ in place of Israel, do you think they’ll destroy that map when you point out, ‘that map is factually wrong’?
Of course not. If anything, your ‘facts’ will probably just enrage them.
Facts have never been kind to Jews. Remember Eve? How was she seduced? With 'facts'.
We should have learned something from her story. But we didn’t. We’re stupid. After we had been redeemed from slavery in Egypt, how did we show our gratitude? We cried to G-d that He had taken us out of Egypt to let us die in the desert. What facts did we give Him? Cucumbers. That’s right—cucumbers. Look it up. G-d redeemed us and we complained we no longer had cucumbers to eat.
Obviously, there’s more to this story. But the fact is (pardon the pun) our ancestors missed their veggies They complained. They collected their facts like stones and used those stones against G-d.
How did the Biblical spies get us into trouble with G-d? Facts (aliyah into Israel was too difficult).
Our Sages teach that G-d had wanted the return to Israel during the time of Ezra to be the Final Redemption, but that didn’t work out. Why? Facts (living in Babylonia was easier; the Torah there was better than in Israel).
Ze’ev Jabotinsky practically begged Jews in Eastern Europe--before World War Two began—to come to Israel because, as he put it, there were super-pogroms coming. He failed. Why? Facts (our world is stable; no one harms us).
Jewish history is littered with dead Jews because we love fact. We live our lives being analytical—which means, of course, we are so obsessed with the tree, we ignore what’s happening to the forest. For us, only the tree counts.
The Arab, on the other hand, doesn’t believe in trees—or facts. He understands that facts will get him nowhere in his quest to replace Israel with ‘Palestine’. So how did he come so close at the UN to pulling off his request for statehood? He ignored fact; and by doing that, he almost succeeded (and he isn’t finished trying).
Look at it this way: Yishmael the Arab is our cousin. He has received great merit because of that relationship. Indeed, the land of Israel is so precious to G-d, He will reward greatly anyone who desires this land with a passion. Right now, Yishmael desires this land with that passion. Right now, Yishmael wants this land more then we—and he certainly wants it more than the anti-religious and ultra-religious among us. Perhaps because of that passion Yishmael’s star—not ours-- rises before the nations.
G-d tells us repeatedly that He loves the land of Israel. Read, Eretz Yisrael in the Parasha, Moshe D. Lichtman, Devorah publishing, Jerusalem, 2006. Our texts teach that G-d loves Israel and the children of Israel; but mostly, He loves the children of Israel in the land of Israel, obeying His Torah. It’s a package deal, like (in some cases) buying a factory-installed GPS system for your new car: you can’t get the GPS unless you order leather seats. You cannot split up the GPS-seats package just as you cannot split up the Torah observance-land package. But in their own ways, both the anti-religious and the ultra-religious may be rejecting their G-d by rejecting all or part of that package.
Torah is not optional; neither is the land. Free will might mean we have the option to choose as we please. But it does not mean we are right whatever we choose. When Jews make a wrong decision, we do not become introspective. We do not question our decision. Instead, we work extremely hard to collect facts to prove we are right. This is why Jews listened to the Biblical spies--and why they did not listen to Jabotinsky: their precious facts.
Today, we know they were wrong to replace faith with fact.
We must also know that we continue their mistake because we continue to use fact to justify turning against G-d. We use ‘fact’ to avoid aliyah [Torah-learning in Israel is poor]; and ‘fact’ to reject religion [religion will destroy our democracy]. Unfortunately, our life is not about fact. Our survival is not about fact. It’s about belief—in G-d and the land.
Yishmael knows that. That may be why he’s so strong.