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Gaza and the Torah

It always amazes me how the weekly Torah portion dovetails with what we are facing as a people.

Immediately after learning about the death of Aaron, Moses’ brother, we read about a certain Canaanite King who attacks the nascent Jewish nation. A deep insight emerges from this peculiar juxtaposition.

During the lifetime of Aaron, the Jewish people were insulated from enemy attack by the miraculous Clouds of Glory which surrounded them as they sojourned for forty years in the dessert. As long as the Jews were enveloped in the protection of the Clouds of Glory, it was impossible for any nation to attack us. The clouds neutralized any missiles or arrows lobbed by their enemies.

Does this sound familiar? These Clouds of Glory were the original Iron Dome. Amazing! And right here in this week’s Torah Portion.

The Aaron Dome

Iron Dome

When Aaron died, something shocking and terrifying occurred. The clouds vanished, leaving the Jewish people wide open and susceptible to enemy fire. They discovered, with hindsight, that it was in the merit of Aaron that these clouds existed as a Divine form of protection. As one friend commented, these clouds could have been called the Aaron Dome.

Aaron dies, the protective clouds dissipate, and the Canaanite King who notices that the original Iron Dome is no longer functioning, immediate launches a vicious, frontal attack.

But let’s look at this a little deeper. Why did these clouds of protection, that insulated us from our wishful assailants, exist exclusively in the merit of Aaron?

The Talmud tells us that Aaron was known for his relentless pursuit of peace.

Hillel said, “make yourself into a disciple of Aaron; love peace, pursue peace, love people and bring them close to the Torah.” (Ethics of our Fathers 1:12).

Aaron excelled at creating harmony where there was discord, love where there was enmity, mutual understanding where there was antagonism. He unified the people into one nation with one heart. As long as we were able to maintain that unity based on mutual respect and honor, we were surrounded by the protective clouds, untouchable to those who sought our downfall. As soon as Aaron died, we lost the ability to harmoniously coalesce as a unified nation, leaving us unprotected and open to attack.

Here is the takeaway:

Just like the original Iron/Aaron Dome protected us only to the extent that we were able to transcend petty differences and to look at each other with a desire to understand, honor and ultimately love one another, so too our modern day Iron Dome functions the exact same way.

Personally, I have no doubt that the reason why we have dodged the potentially devastating impact of thousands of rockets fired into Israel is because of the unity that we were able to generate as the direct derivative of the abduction and savage murders of Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frenkel.

Just like the first Iron Dome, I am convinced that our modern-day Clouds of Glory have been so extraordinarily effective because of the unprecedented acts of love and kindness between Jews who have learned to overlook religious, ethnic and cultural differences.

The Unity We Created From Our Three Boys:

This unparalleled national fusion began when we heard the news of the kidnapping of our three boys and the eighteen-day period of a unified outpour of love and prayer consolidated the achievement. The Jewish people became one nation with one heart.

And just in time. When the rockets started pounding down from Gaza, and we needed the protection of the Iron Dome, we had already become the disciples of Aaron, loving peace, pursuing peace, loving each other.

Gilad, Eyal and Naftali had been murdered before we even heard that they had been kidnapped. Why did we have to go through 18 days of ambiguity and doubt, sitting  awake at night wondering where they were? To me it is simple, we needed 18 days to unify our hearts as one people in order to authorize the Iron Dome to work effectively.

We can never lose sight of the fact that our ability to maintain our presence on our land is inexorably linked to our commitment to remain true to our mission as a people. We are a unique nation that has been singled out and charged with the task of broadcasting morality to the world. We have no choice to go beyond that which the nations of the world would do and to lead the world on the pathway of the moral high road. We are paying a painful price for this, as 33 of our boys have been killed on the ground on Gaza, but there is no choice and we stand firmly behind the decision of the Israeli government.

We are proud that Israel has not taken the easy way out by carpet bombing a few square blocks of Gaza and burying terrorists along with thousands of civilians. This is certainly what other nations do, but we don’t operate that way. If we become those people then we are not being true to our mission as a people.

The IDF has redefined the code of ethics during warfare. No other nation in the world subjects its soldiers to danger and peril just to avoid civilian casualties. These boys are the tzadikim (righteous ones) of our generation. Just take a look at this video depicting a battalion of soldiers moments before entering Gaza. They join hands and dance and sing words of praise to the Almighty.

The world somehow misses this point. The media has duped a world that is eager to believe the worst about the Jews.

One day, history will be clarified, our faith will be admired, our efforts will be acclaimed, and our people celebrated. The moral relativists will be indicted and those who have defamed and vilified us will be exposed for the haters of G-d and humanity that they are. But we are not there yet.  In the meantime, we have to suffer the indignity with the inner conviction and clarity that we are a people who answer to a call of justice and virtue, at any expense.

Good Shabbos



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Posted on: Friday, July 25th, 2014

Author: Rabbi David
About: For more and more students in the Chicago area, Rabbi David is like a personal tour guide into the world of Jewish thought. He is passionate about elucidating timeless Jewish texts to the contemporary mind and leading each student on his or her own personal spiritual journey. His inspiring and insightful teaching style, coupled with his sense of humor and warm approach, has attracted hundreds of students since he began teaching on the North Shore 12 years ago. Rabbi David and Ali have five children, and currently reside in West Rogers Park in Chicago.

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