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Terror vs. Torah

Friday, 16 November, 2012 - 5:24 pm

Hundreds of missiles have rained down on Israel in the last few days, wounding many and causing thousands to go into shock. Yesterday a terrorist rocket killed three people in a Chabad neighborhood in Kiryat Malachi. Operation Pillar of Defense is quickly widening. Rockets have landed close to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – for the very first time.

The condemnation of Israel has already begun from the usual suspects. In Israel, a united country braces for what lies ahead. The government of Israel has approved calling up 75,000 reservists.

As we pray and hope for peace in the Holy Land, many are wondering what Israel’s response should look like. In Operation Cast Lead, Israel succeeded to some degree, but suffered some media fallout. Should Israel invade Gaza? Should Israel topple Hamas?


In this week’s Prasha of Toldot, we read about twin brothers Yaakov (Jacob) and Eisav (Esau). Yaakov is the Torah scholar and Esau the hunter. Their father, Yitzchak, was concerned about his demise and wished to bless the older son Eisav. Yaakov tricked his father, who suffered from poor vision, and stood in Eisav’s stead. He was able to pull this off by wearing goatskin, which made him feel like his hairy brother.

When Yitzchak wondered who was really standing before him, he felt Yaakov. After touching Yaakov, he remarked, “The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Eisav.” He then blessed Yaakov.

The Talmud, commenting on this passage, explains that when the voice of Yaakov (the Jewish people) is engaged in Torah study and prayer, then the hands of Eisav (warfare of its enemies) are incapable of succeeding against Yaakov.

Many people – correctly – take this comment to mean that the Jewish way is to immerse ourselves in holy affairs. We should advance our cause by being role models and by connecting to G-d; not by trying to be greater warriors.

But does this mean we should not fight?

To me, one of the telling elements of this passage is the fact that Yaakov is the one garbed in Eisav’s clothing. Yes, Yaakov is primarily a man of the tent (Torah study), but he also knows how to wear – when necessary – the garb of Eisav.

We must surely have boots on the ground fighting the evils of terror. They will not stop firing missiles simply because we are nice guys.

But how do we ensure that our bombs and tactics will overcome theirs? Especially, in a lopsided war in which they use human shields and exploit their own population. Especially, in a war dominated by media that is not friendly to Israel. Especially in a United Nations that has a built-in majority that is anti-Israel.

For this, we must remember that while other nations can rely strictly on their superior firepower, we are different. Our very survival was and is predicated on the fact that we are a people committed to G-d and His Torah.

We need both.


So what can we do? If you are not on the ground fighting (and even if you are) you can still make a difference.

 Here are some things you can do that will make a real difference:

·         Recite Psalms, especially Chapter 20 daily. Click here for Hebrew/English.

·         Women: light Shabbat candles today at 5:00 PM and every Friday before sunset.

·         Men: set up a time to put on Tefillin with Rabbi Mendel.

·         Set aside a few coins daily to put into a Tzedakah box.

·         Study extra Torah.

·         Encourage your children or someone else to do an extra mitzvah.

May the Almighty protect our brothers and sisters in the land of Israel and may He speedily usher in the era of world peace with the coming of Moshiach!

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