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Beliefs & Perspectives Judaism Oslo/Peace Process

Urgently Needed: Jews for a Godly Israel

All honor to Zionist organizations for a “strong” as well as for a “safe” Israel! They have exposed the duplicitous and deadly nature of the Oslo peace process. But do they adequately understand what will make Israel safe and strong? Indeed, perhaps their emphasis on a “safe” or “strong” Israel is counterproductive; perhaps such emphasis obscures the one thing needed to make Israel safe and strong?

The mere fact that these Zionists organizations have had no discernible impact on Israeli governments suggests that their preoccupation with Oslo, along with Israel’s preoccupation with peace, obscures a more fundamental issue. Perhaps these Zionist organizations need to think more deeply what Israel is all about.

To be for a safe or a strong Israel is certainly meritorious, so long as it does not obscure the dire need of Jews to be, above all, for a Godly Israel, for only a Godly Israel can be truly safe and truly strong. As we learn from Zechariah: “Not by armed might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts” (4:5). Let us try to understand this (for which purpose I rely on the illustrious Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch).

The most sacred symbol of the State of Israel is the Menorah. The light of the Menorah symbolizes knowledge, more precisely, spiritual enlightenment. The source of spiritual enlightenment is of course God. This enlightenment is manifested in the words of the Torah. As King David says: “The Word of God is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). Or as King Solomon has written: “For the Commandment is a lamp and the Teaching a light” (Proverbs 6:23).

Israel will be safe and strong only if its leaders are men of Torah. Only if they imbue every heart and home with the light of the Torah will Israel enjoy peace. “For instruction shall go forth from Me, and I will create a quiet abode for My [people], so that it may shine upon the nations” (Isaiah 51:4). “O House of Jacob, come let us walk in the light of God” (Isaiah 2:5). When society perishes through murder and misery, it occurs because “they rebel against the light, do not recognize the ways of God and never seek serenity [or peace] in His paths (Job 24:13).

As Rabbi Hirsch points out, Scripture uses the words “lamp” and “light” as metaphors for the source of growth and life, of undisturbed progress and happiness. Hence the spirit of God mentioned in Zechariah denotes not only the means for attaining perception, but also the motivation for action.

Now, it should be noted that the Menorah resembles a tree with a central shaft generating three branches from one side and three branches from the other side. The central shaft symbolizes the spirit of God. From Isaiah (11:2) we learn that whereas the three branches of one side of the menorah symbolize wisdom, counsel, and knowledge, the three branches from the other side symbolize understanding, strength, and fear of God. Imbued with the spirit of God, Israel will unite theory and practice, perception and accomplishment.

Unless they stem from the spirit of God, what is called “wisdom,” “counsel,” “knowledge,” “understanding,” and “strength” will be futile. “I am the Lord … that turneth wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolish …” (Isaiah 44:24-25). As for the fear of God, this, says King David, “is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalms 111:10). If Israel’s leaders feared God, they would not have made a covenant of death with PLO terrorists. (See Isaiah 28:15.)

But merely to critically analyze the suicidal folly of Oslo or of Israel’s political elites will have no impact on their behavior, since such criticism or knowledge is not linked to the spirit of God. This is why Isaiah says that God “confirms the words of His servant, and fulfills the counsel of His messengers” (44:26). Which means that it is not enough for Zionist organizations or conferences to reveal the truth about the peace process. Their words must be motivated by the desire to sanctify the Name of God. God’s Name must be in their hearts and on their lips.

“Thus said the Lord, your Redeemer and the One Who formed you [Israel] in the womb: I am the Lord, Who has made everything; Who spread out the heavens by Myself, and firmed the earth of My own accord; that frustrates the signs of imposters, and makes rulers mad …” (Isaiah 44:24-25). Are not Israel’s rulers mad?

Hence I say, all honor to Jews who speak for a safe and strong Israel. More urgently needed, however, are Jews who speak for a Godly Israel.

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