4) RAV KOOK TZ’L-WAR:WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?
“ When there is a great war in the world, the power of Messiah is aroused. ‘The time of zamir-song has arrived’(1), ‘the zemir-scything of tyrants’(2), the wicked perish from the world and the world is invigorated ‘and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land’.(1)” (HaMilchama-The War:1)
The war here is being aroused.
Missiles are flying all around. I had to duck two of them Saturday night the moment I arrived in Tel Aviv. There are better ways of beginning a week.
The Iron Dome system has proven extraordinarily successful in preventing Hamas’s missiles from hitting human targets and population centres. Israel’s newest hero is Brigadier General (Ret.) Dr. Dan Gold, Phd (Mathematics). Under his tenacious leadership and vision a small team of Israeli computer whizzes have created the most advanced defensive tool in human history (to date). Necessity is the mother of invention.
And innocent people are dying in Gaza.
While the Israeli Air Force is making titanic efforts to limit the deaths of ‘non participants’, the integration of Hamas’s military infrastructure in heavily populated areas makes this very difficult and mistakes are inevitable. The most truly victimized and defenseless people in this sticky mess are the many innocent people living in Gaza. They are the ones who are ultimately most terrorized by Hamas’s dictatorial leadership and agenda.
The Hamas leaders are however safe underground. The Hamas leadership and soldiers are hiding in military installations that they have been feverishly digging and building under Gaza since taking power in 2006.
From there they are lobbying missiles into Israel,1,200 so far. We are very grateful to the Iron Dome.
An Israeli ground operation is rumbling into motion as Bibi, the cabinet and the military conclude that it is necessary in order to truly weaken Hamas and prevent them from attacking again. At least for a while.
And as I write these words, Israel has undertaken a 5 hour ‘humanitarian’ ceasefire.
Not a boring day in Israel as history unfolds here.
How are we to deal with enemies?
Those people who wish to harm us?
I do not know how many of the readers of this identify enemies as part of their everyday existence. In my Canada years, I felt enemy-less.
The reality here is vastly different. Israel is surrounded by enemies.
The most immediate number one enemy is our next door neighbor, Hamas-The Islamic Resistance Movement. This ‘organization’ was founded in 1987 as an offshoot from the Muslim Brotherhood which was founded in 1928. Its main raison d’etre according to its charter is ‘to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip’.
Appropriately, Hamas in Arabic means ‘devotion and zeal in the path of Allah’. In Hebrew it means ‘to do violence/wrong’ as a verb, and ‘violence’ as a noun. They are unfortunately an excellent example of the long time plague of the fusion of violence with religious zeal.
How are we-in Israel, of Israel-to deal with it?
The Torah is explicit about our responsibility:
“And you shall excise the evil in your midst” (Deuteronomy 17:7) Good must be willing to face evil and do what ever is necessary to protect the innocent.
Rav Kook was eminently practical:
“In matters of war, it is impossible that Israel is the only one not fighting at the time when all her neighbours are truly voracious wolves, If so, they would gather against her and destroy all her remnants.
She must [if necessary] act cruelly in order to frighten the ‘wild ones’. While we must envision guiding humankind to where she must ultimately be, we cannot deny the needs of the hour.” (Letters 1:100)
We must do whatever is necessary.
As a child of Holocaust survivors, I am acutely aware of the consequences of not confronting evil. The political and military leadership of Israel is charged to protect her people from ongoing murderous assaults. It is a huge challenge.
Rav Kook explains that through this confrontation, the awaited transformation will emerge. As we stop evil, the good is enabled:
“Undoubtedly the power of evil aspires to do evil. It agitates, it imposes fierce control…it aspires to destroy and ruin, to toxify and pollute, to darken and obscure, to divide and explode [!]. It extends its evil until that time in which the world will be perfected, until a new spirit, the pure spirit of life will rest on humankind.”
(Orot HaKodesh 2:478)
Unfortunately, a central part of the world’s perfection requires the removal of evil from power-‘the zemir-scything of tyrants’(2)
Rav Kook was explicitly clear that “our ultimate purpose and destiny is to bring ‘shalom-peace’, happiness and blessing into the world, in line with the blessing to Avraham- “and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by you and your descendants”(Genesis 18:18,24:14) -in Letters:2:178
“It is necessary that all human beings recognize that they must live together as brothers [and sisters]…and [after the process of clarification and transformation] all will join together as brothers [and sisters] of one family.”(LeNevuchei HaDor-To the confused of the generation: Chapter 7)
This is our goal and our most profound desire.
In the midst of war, it is most important to re-iterate as Rav Kook poeticized in 1912:
“It is the good that I desire,
Its glorious expanses entrance me.
Its lips, its roses, I kiss,
Its beautiful vision exalts me.
Absolute good, without limitation,
Without end, constriction or boundary,
That is not separate from anything alive,
That with it’s love, fixes everything broken.
Good for me, good for all,
Good without bad or tightness,
Good full of pleasure for all,
Full of tranquility without anxiety.
Good forever, good right now,
Good for every people and nation,
Who seek the good and not the bad,
And the light and the delight, ‘as the One is there’ (3).”
The Divine presence is with those ‘who seek the good and not the bad, the light and the delight’. And they will be blessed to experience ‘good for every people and nation, forever and right now’.
May we be so blessed, quickly and in our days.
(1) Song of Songs 2:12
(2) Isaiah 25:5
(3) Genesis 21:17
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