Dreaming of Moshiach

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hunger & Thirst for HaShem

As we sit here in the scorching heat of Gaza, terrorized by the flies whose persistence and tenacity is nothing short of inspiring, we find ourselves asking this very question. At face value, it is clear that the war is far from over. If anything, the majority of Israeli’s recognize that while the battle in Southern Lebanon may have ended for now, the war with Hezbollah and the Muslim world is still to come. As to why we are here, the Arabs of Gaza are escalating their Jihad against Israel, and being that the army is still recoiling from the events of last month, they have decided to mobilize more soldiers to compensate.

The deeper question that must be asked is what this war is really about. G-d’s providence is unquestionably profound in the Land of Israel, and much like all of his creation, everything happens for a reason. Although our Prophet Isaiah tells us “My ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts”, the spiritually attuned person can look at his life and world events and see the perfect orchestration and design.

Alongside hundreds of other Israeli’s, we never thought that within the week indoor restrooms and sock-changing would be the luxuries of life. We found ourselves asking why G-d would interrupt our noble and necessary pursuit of being a “Light unto the Nations” with a call to our southern border. It did not take long, however, before the wisdom and perfection of this “distraction” became apparent.

Despite the disengagement, a little over a year later we find ourselves back in Gaza and the attacks continue. Before surrendering Gaza, many claimed the attacks would cease if we would surrender the territories acquired in the 1967 war to the Palestinians. Now the missiles are exploding in Sderot, a city part of the 1948 State of Israel. The futility of machinations such as the “disengagement” and the “realignment” has been exposed and the true intentions of our enemies has been revealed leaving the same soldiers who sang the praises of appeasement and unilateral withdrawals with questions demanding answers. If this war is not about the “occupied territories” then what is it about? If we have completely withdrawn to the northern borders delineated in UN resolution 1559, then why did Hezbollah attack us? What can we do to finally make peace with the nations around us?

At this very moment, there is a Torah study session going on just a few feet to my left between a secular Israeli named Rafi with a large tattoo of Gandolph (the wizard from The Lord of the Rings) on his arm, and a religious Jew named Eran with a full beard covering his face and large knitted kippah on his head. While the UN, the EU, and a growing voice in international community is questioning Israel’s right to exist, Rafi is opening his heart to the true legitimacy to our claim. Rafi is learning that our right to Tel-Aviv is no more legitimate than our right to Gaza or Hebron and is based on the promise of G-d to Abraham. He is learning about our enemy, Ishmael, who is a “beastly man; his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him” who is jealous of the birthright granted to our forefather Isaac, with whom G-d granted an “everlasting covenant with him and his offspring after him”. Most importantly, he is learning that there is a G-d in the world, we are his chosen people, and that he is waiting for us to return to him and guard his commandments.

As we look at Rafi and see him beginning to understand, we too are understanding as well. Before the Jewish people can completely fulfill our task of being a “Light unto the Nations”, we must first be a light unto ourselves. We cannot extend a hand of friendship to the Christian world unless our other hand is firmly clasped by our Jewish brethren. G-d is bringing our enemies against us in order to turn us towards each other and to him. Whether or not we can understand it, the trials and tribulations we are facing in Israel are for our own good. Sometimes shedding falsehoods and illusions is cathartic, but the pain is a small price to pay for the truth we achieve.

Thousands of years ago the prophet Amos sang ““Behold, days are coming – the word of the Lord – when I will send a hunger into the Land; Not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water, but to hear the words of Hashem.” Was he picturing this very scene on the sweltering sand dunes of Gaza?

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והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו