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The Secret Israeli Military Disasters

Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24 )

by Rabbi Stephen Baars

You've just got to love it when God is on the Jewish people's side. And as such, it doesn't get much better than this week's parsha.

The Jewish people are told what to expect when they enter the land of Israel. God will take care of their enemies by sending ahead deadly wasps. (Exodus 23:28)


There is a caveat however, God could easily drive all the bad guys out at once, but then, as the Torah explains, the cities would become desolate and wild animals would move in. To avoid this dilemma, God will drive out our enemies slowly, until the Jewish people can increase naturally and properly occupy the land. (ibid 29 & 30).

For me, this is one of the most eloquent explanations of the military and political messes of the modern State of Israel.

Let me explain...

Rav Noah Weinberg zt"l would ask, "Which would you rather have, a sane or an insane enemy?"

Most would agree that a sane enemy is preferred. The First World War was fought against sane enemies (relatively speaking). The Germans surrendered without the allies having to invade Germany.

Not so with the Second World War, where the allies actually had to conquer the capital city, Berlin. The chess equivalent of taking the king - something only reserved for pure amateurs or fools.

The Torah above gives us the same option. Which would you rather deal with, the local Canaanites, or the wild animals?

If you answered lions, tigers and bears, you were close to the right answer.

Lions are the insane enemy because you never quite know what they are going to do. A sane enemy will run away when it realizes it can't win as opposed to the Nazis who kept fighting until the end.

The obvious question is, hornets, wasps and the common-garden bumble bee don't have free will. Canaanites, Nazis and you, do. That's why God needed to use the wasps against them - so they would choose to leave. However, as it relates to free will, tigers are like wasps, i.e. they are sorely lacking the advantages of free will.

So if God can control wasps, why wouldn't He control the tigers and keep them out of the cities?

Of course He can, and does, except when He needs to give you an insane enemy.

When do you need an insane enemy?

When you beat your sane enemy too quickly.

When you defeat your sane enemy slowly, everything is ok. But when you defeat them too quickly, you will end up with a far more dangerous one.

You. That is, you with arrogance. That combination produces an insane enemy.

You can think of earning a living as a sane enemy. It's a fairly predictable foe that requires strategy and perseverance. Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (the famous 19th century German leader) explains that the Hebrew words for war and bread are the same (Lechem and Milchamah). He further explains that earning a living (symbolized with bread) is a battle. The healthy way, is to slowly make it to the top. However, some people get there far too quickly.

Give me the person who made $30 million before his 24th birthday, and I will show you the train wreck of a lifetime.

Unfortunately, we all have enemies. In 1948, the enemies of Israel were pretty sane (relatively speaking). Most of those enemies have since melted away or disappeared. But because that war was so miraculous, and we won so quickly, we got an insane enemy.

This insane enemy, arrogance, is far more dangerous. So, as it says in the verse above, to help us realize who we really are, and what we are really capable of, and most importantly, who is really making it all happen, God sends an insane enemy.

Hizbollah, Hamas, suicide bombers, Ahmadinejad and Osama bin Laden; each one could have their own insane asylum named after them. They did not exist in 1948. We have them so that we and our leaders will say words never heard from an arrogant person, "We don't know what to do."

Insane enemies, whether they are a furious spouse, a delinquent teenager, or Hamas, serve a great purpose.

To teach us that we are not God.

This is the great paradox of existence, the more you appreciate how little you can do without the help of God, the more you will achieve.

The more you think you can do without the help of God, the more significant problems you will have to convince you otherwise.

How fast can a person succeed in life? There is no limit if you know it's all a gift from God.

* * *


Question 1: Who would you more likely vote for, someone who said he knew what to do about Iran, or someone who said he didn't know?

Question 2: Look at the problems you have in your life. Try and identify the ones that are insane - completely unpredictable and counter productive. Now ask yourself, why do I need such an obstacle?

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