Thursday, September 04, 2014

Iron Dome or Open Areas

By Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh
"When you go out to war with your enemy, your G-d will place him in your hands" [Devarim 21:10]. We are promised that we will be victorious, but the question is just how this will be accomplished. At different times we have seen different types of behavior. For example, Yehoshua was told to set an ambush for the city of Ai, and he did so using thirty thousand soldiers, thus winning the battle.
On the other hand, Gideon came to fight against Midyan with thirty-two thousand soldiers. G-d told him, "The number of people is too large for Me to hand over Midyan in their hands, for in that case Yisrael will exaggerate their power over mine, and say, my own hands helped me" [Shoftim 7:2]. He therefore told Gideon to release some of the forces. But even after twenty thousand men returned home, He told Gideon, "There are still too many" [7:4]. He was told to bring them to the water's edge, and that those who drink directly with their tongues should be kept, while those who kneeled down would be sent home. In the end only three hundred men were left, less than one percent of the original number. Gideon won the battle using only these men.
What, then does the Holy One, Blessed be He, want? Does He want us to win our battles in a natural way, or would He prefer miraculous behavior, as is written, "G-d will fight for you, and you shall be silent" [Shemot 14:14]? According to Rav Kook, the answer to this depends on the period involved and the moral status of the nation. When the nation was first formed, including the people who left Egypt and then travelled in the desert, there was a need for miracles in order to inculcate within them the foundations of faith. But in Eretz Yisrael, the demand in general is for us to take positive action, as long as we remember that "G-d is the One who gives you the strength to gather riches" [Devarim 8:18]. But we are the ones who perform the action. And that is the way things should be.
"Some come in chariots, others come on horses, but we make mention of the name of G-d" [Tehillim 20:8]. Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook explained that this does not mean that our enemies will fight using tanks and airplanes while we sit and recite Tehillim. We also have tanks and airplanes, but we mention G-d's name in connection with our tanks and remember that G-d is the source of all our might.
After the victory of the Six Day War, the Defense Minister declared that we helped the Holy One, Blessed be He, in His victory. Many people were very upset by this statement, which implies the concept that "my power and my strength made this wealth for me" [Devarim 8:17]. But Rav Tzvi Yehuda was happy. He said that this is really the way things happen, that we support Him. "In the future a voice will come out from heaven, saying, whoever acted together with G-d is invited to come and receive his reward." [Tanchuma 22:6].
In the time of Yehoshua there was a low probability that the people would take the exclusive credit for their victories, and they were therefore able to operate by a natural process. But in the generation of Gideon, when the people worshipped idols, there was a definite possibility that they would take credit for any victories, and it was therefore necessary to perform miracles at the time.
"... for Yisrael is a youth, and I love him" [Hoshayahu 11:1]. A young child likes to be fed with a spoon. When he gets older he wants to eat on his own, and when he reaches maturity he wants to gather his own food. When we were children we were fed through miracles, but in Eretz Yisrael we have become adults and we want to do the work by ourselves. If our generation was like that of Yehoshua we could have won the war by using only the Iron Dome defense system and nobody would have brought up the possibility that this "Protective Dome" could be credited to us alone. Everybody would have known that the Holy One, Blessed be He, gave the military personnel and the scientists the wisdom with which they built the system. If, however, we would be living in the generation of Gideon, the victory would have been a result of all the enemy rockets falling in open spaces, and it would have been perfectly clear to all that the hand of G-d was directly involved in the war. However, since we are in the generation of "ikvetah d'meshicha" – the footsteps of the Mashiach" – we are like young children who must be spoon-fed, not yet mature enough to provide our own food. Therefore we have the Iron Dome system, but we also have the miracle of many enemy rockets hitting open areas. In summary, we can all see that Eretz Yisrael is a land which is openly protected by G-d (see Devarim 11:12].

No comments: