Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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Memorial Musings

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

The Torah teaches us we have 2 types of wars, the Milchemet Mitzvah – to defend the nation and people, and Milchemet Reshut, a permissible war chosen by the political leadership to gain wealth or expand the borders.

reubenwachtel-soldier3(Photo – Private Reuben W., U.S. Army, heading to war against the Nazi’s, y”m, via Liberty Ship troop transport, World War II)

Memorial Day was never very meaningful to me in the United States.  My grandfathers, a”h, fought in World War II.  But, while my father did a brief stint of National Guard service in the Vietnam era, that was before I was born.  War and soldiering was and remains a foreign experience for most Americans (having a professional army with no draft), myself included – not just for themselves but for their families as well.

Further, prior to 9-11 (the Twin Towers attacks of 2001), it’s been a long time – perhaps since the heights of the Cold War – since anyone in America has felt at risk of being affected by war.

Crime in the U.S., now that’s something else.  I’ve been mugged, my cousins have been mugged, my home has been robbed.  Reb Nati’s been robbed at gunpoint in his home, and mugged at gunpoint in the street.  Thought the truth is the crime statistics in the U.S. aren’t that high, or rather they are high but the majority occurring in inner city locations, so much of it is violent crime.

In Israel, they’re trying to kill us.  Statistics released today stated that 92 Jews died in Israel as a result of terrorism and/or in service to their country (meaning in the army).

That’s a horrifying statistic.  But in Israel, when they’re trying to kill us we’re not only able to do something about it, we’re obligated to do something about it.  Those who put their lives on the line for others, those who work to protect the innocent and go forth to fight in defense of the Jewish people fulfill one of the highest mitzvot possible.  They deserve our respect and appreciation.

Unfortunately the Evil Inclination gets involved.  Culture conflicts of Israel’s past (where the government took a variety of steps to de-religify the religious Jewish segment of society – and some of these actions were based and embedded into the culture of the army) has resulted in an automatic distaste and distrust between the Jewish religious segment and the army (and other security services). 

G-d willing, and with some nudges by some of us, that will change going forward.

Those who have given their all, we honor you.  And those who would if necessary, may Hashem guard you as you guard us.

1 comment:

  1. The following is a transcript of the Rebbe's remarks given in a private meeting on Av 5, 5727 (August 12, 1967), shortly after the Six-Day War, as recalled by Rabbi Chaim Gutnick of Melbourne, Australia, and published (in Hebrew) in Kfar Chabad Magazine, issue no. 806:

    ...Three times in our generation, G-d has granted us an opportunity for the beginning of the Redemption. But these opportunities were missed, and it is the Jewish leadership which is to blame.

    The first opportunity was in 1948. You know that I have a particular enthusiasm for Rashi's commentary on the Torah. Well, Rashi says regarding the waters of the Flood that, at first, G-d brought down "rains of blessing"1 upon them and waited to see if they would repent; only after they failed to do so did this turn into the very opposite of "rains of blessing," G-d forbid.2

    In 1948, G-d sent "rains of blessing." This was a time when even the Russians supported the Jewish people against the British, who had attempted to annihilate the nation of Israel. This was a time of opportunity. But the Jewish leaders stood by and debated whether or not to make mention of G-d's name in the "Declaration of Establishment."3 Thus the Redemption was put off by fifty years.

    The second opportunity was the Sinai Campaign [of 1956]. If the Jewish people would have believed that their salvation would come from G-d rather than from French MIGs and British warplanes, all would have been different.

    But never has there been an opportunity such as this one. This was a war won by Torah and mitzvot. There can be no doubt of this. A Jew in Moscow recited Psalms, and a Jew in Buffalo, New York, put on tefillin, and this helped the Jews defeat their enemies in the Land of Israel.

    If the Jewish leaders would have utilized the opportunity to rouse the people to the observance of Torah and mitzvot, our situation today would be entirely different. Think about it: a young man in Israel was summoned, handed an Uzi, and told: "Leave your wife and children at home and go to El-Arish to fight." In every war there are draft-dodgers; here, no Jew, not even one for whom the word "Jew" is nothing more than an appellation, refused to fight. It was a time when the entire people of Israel were in a state of "We shall do and we shall hear."4 When this young man fought at El-Arish, his Torah and mitzvot fought for him. The Shechinah (Divine Presence) came down into the trenches to assist the soldier fighting on the borders of the Land of Israel.

    If the Jewish leaders would have told that soldier to utilize the reserves of faith and courage that were revealed in him during the war toward a commitment to Torah and mitzvot, with the same "We shall do and we shall hear," he, and the entire Jewish nation, would have responded, and everything would have been different. But again the leaders were silent, and the great opportunity was lost. They were too timid to tell the Jew the truth: that this is the time for a return to Torah.

    The very first chapter of the first section of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) begins not with Maimonides' "Thirteen Principles of Faith," but with the Rama's ruling that "One should not be intimidated by mockers." Why? Because when one does not fulfill this rule, one is prevented from fulfilling the entire Shulchan Aruch. Perhaps I speak too sharply, but the Jewish leadership is bankrupt. They avoid me because they know that I will demand of them to speak the truth. Their timidness to speak the truth, contrary to the rule, "One should not be intimidated by mockers," is holding back the Redemption.

    ...We still have not lost the opportunity. It's still not too late. Now it is August. If we will do our job, if the shluchim6 will do their job and tell the world the truth, we can bring the Redemption...



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