by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir
Our Sages, when they set out to explain to us who are Israel’s enemies and what is their goal, they compare them to wild animals:
“A man was once walking along and a wolf attacked him, but the man survived. Henceforth he would recount what happened with the wolf. A lion attacked him and he survived, and henceforth he would tell the story of the lion. A snake attacked him and he survived, and this made him forget the first two stories. Henceforth he would tell the story of the snake. It is the same with Israel. More recent troubles make us forget earlier troubles.” (Berachot 13)
The Maharsha explains that the Egyptian exile is compared to a wolf, the Babylonian exile to a lion and the War of Gog and Magog to a snake.
And why are Israel’s enemies of the last generation compared to a snake? Rav Kook explains that the nations’ opposition down through history has brought them personal benefit, whether, G-d forbid, by their becoming wealthy through Israel’s ruin, or by their jealousy, or in terms of their fearing lest their own power be weakened through Israel’s spiritual might.
Yet the War of Gog and Magog will be fought only out of a wish to do evil and to destroy. At the time of that war, Israel will already be sitting in their land, seeking peace with all their neighbors. Only the wish to do evil and the jealousy over G-d’s majesty being increased through Israel in their land will give them the desire to fight us. Thus, they will be like the snake that bites without deriving any pleasure from it. They will not be like the lion or wolf which attack to attain food. An attack like that of the snake is very dangerous, but precisely from there will spring forth Israel’s salvation, with G-d’s great and holy name being magnified and sanctified.
Today, Israel’s enemies who are fighting against us are acting like that snake. Their whole goal is to do harm to Israel, without gaining any benefit of their own. Their destiny will be like that of the serpent in the Garden of Eden: “Cursed are you more than all the livestock and all the wild beasts” (Genesis 3:14). Well know is the saying, “Even with the best of snakes, crush its head!” Amen! So may it be.
Looking forward to complete salvation,