SINS OF THE SECULAR AND THE "ULTRA-ORTHODOX"
The below article, authored by columnist Jonathan Rosenblum, is reprinted from
the Jerusalem Post Email Edition Opinion File of May 19, 2000. I agree with
everything that Mr. Rosenblum says in his article. His indictment of secular
Mr. Rosenblum, a member of Israel's Haredi (-- in light of the following, inaccurately translated as "Ultra-Orthodox" --) population, which is overwhelmingly anti-Zionist or non-Zionist, fails to apportion at least some of the blame for Israel's loss of will to his own community, the growing Haredi sector, which enjoys a blanket exemption from, and -- with limited exceptions (one of them being Mr. Rosenblum) -- publicly denigrates service in, the Israel Defense Forces, and which has claimed for years that Israel's secular citizens sacrifice their lives for nothing when they defend the Land of Israel from its enemies. Every year it is becoming more difficult to convince secular youth that they should risk their lives for those who scorn and ridicule them.
Truth be told, both the secular and the Haredi citizens of
While the Haredim may observe all of the personal Mitzvot to the smallest detail, they (with limited exceptions) not only ignore -- †but they go even further by denigrating and ridiculing -- the very same national Mitzvot that God bestowed upon Moses and the Jewish people. A great Chillul HaShem (desecration of God's Name) is thereby created.
After all, in an action ratified by God Himself, Moses orders Joshua to assemble a strike force to attack the nation of Amalek (see Ex. 17:8-16); and, at God's explicit Command (see Num. 1:1 - 2:34), Moses takes a census of the tribes (other than Levi) and turns the Israelites into an organized military force that subsequently makes war against the Amorite kingdoms ruled by Sichon of Cheshbon and Og of Bashan (see Num. 21:21-35; Deut. 2:26 - 3:10) and against the nation of Midian (see Num. 25:16-18 and 31:1-20) -- and all this before the returning Israelites even cross the Jordan River in order to physically dispossess the Canaanite nations from the Land of Israel.
God, acting through Moses, also declares that Israel's enemies are,
by definition, His enemies, thereby imposing upon the nation of Israel a
national Mitzvah to physically destroy its enemies (-- "HaShem spoke to
Moses, saying, 'Take Vengeance for the Children of Israel against the
Midianites ...'", but: "Moses spoke to the people, saying, '...
inflict HaShem's Vengeance against Midian.'" (Num. 31:2-3) --). By
refusing to take up arms against
Finally, the Torah declares the laws of military conscription and war in
anticipation of the Israelites' imminent invasion of the
Unfortunately, due to the fact that the early secular Zionists substituted belief in the Land of Israel for belief in the God of Israel, the Haredim, in reaction, spiritually distanced themselves from any reverence for the Land even to the point of calling the secular Zionists' love of the Land a form of avoda zara (idolatry and other deviant worship), when, in point of fact, the Hebrew Bible itself extols and mandates love of the Land: "HaShem said, '... a good and spacious Land ... a Land flowing with milk and honey ...'" (Ex. 3:8); and: "For HaShem, your God, is bringing you to a good Land: a Land with streams of water, of springs and underground water coming forth in valley and mountain; a Land of wheat, barley, grape, fig, and pomegranate; a Land of oil -- olives and date-honey; a Land where you will eat bread without poverty -- you will lack nothing there; a Land whose stones are iron and from whose mountains you will mine copper. You will eat and you will be satisfied and bless HaShem, your God, for the good Land that He gave you." (Deut. 8:7-10); "But the Land, to which you cross over to inherit, is a Land of hills and valleys; from the rain of Heaven shall you drink water; a Land that HaShem, your God, seeks out; the Eyes of HaShem, your God, are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year." (Deut. 11:11-12); and: "The commander of HaShem's legion said to Joshua, 'Remove your shoe from upon your foot; for, the place upon which you stand is holy.' And Joshua did so." (Josh. 5:15).
In response to the above criticisms, the Haredim usually respond that they do, in fact, protect the Land of Israel, and that they accomplish this monumental task more effectively than the secular and religious Zionists who risk their lives by serving in the Israel Defenses Forces. This they do by their full-time study of the Torah, the Talmud and other religious texts, and by their prayers on behalf of the Jewish people. While these spiritual activities are undeniably crucial for the continuity and well-being of the Jewish people, they are nonetheless insufficient in the Eyes of the God of Israel due to the fact that He requires from the Jew both action and prayer -- especially in situations where the Jewish people are in physical danger.
As the Torah relates: "HaShem spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the
Children of Israel and let them turn back and encamp before Pi-hahiroth,
between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon; you shall encamp opposite it,
by the sea. Pharaoh will say of the Children of Israel, "They are
imprisoned in the land; the wilderness has locked them in." I shall strengthen
the heart of Pharaoh, and he will pursue them; and I will be glorified through
Pharaoh and his entire army, and
In order to establish His Omnipotence and to glorify His Name before the nations (and, as well, before the Jewish people), the God of Israel intentionally placed the Jewish people in a situation of posed vulnerability to induce Egypt to falsely believe that it was able to decimate the Children of Israel and return its survivors to slavery. As a result, the Jewish people, fearing for their lives, prayed to God that He save them; and in response, Moses assured the Jewish people that God would, indeed, deliver them from the approaching Egyptian army without requiring any cooperative actions on their part aside from their prayers. However, even wise Moses misunderstood God's Purpose, and he was harshly rebuked for his improper instructions to the Jewish people. For, when the Jewish people are in physical danger God demands that they engage in action as well as prayer, especially at a time in History when the Jewish people have returned to their homeland, and have military forces and other means of defense at their disposal. Since the God of Israel almost invariably chooses to implement His Will through the agency of human beings, God's Purpose in permitting modern Israel to develop a capable army is -- by virtue of the final and complete military victory to be effected by Israel over its numerous and powerful enemies at the End of Days -- only to establish His Omnipotence and to glorify His Name before the nations (and, as well, before the Jewish people). Clearly, the Torah obligation to engage, not only in prayer, but, as well, in action (through service in the army of the Jewish State) is incumbent upon all Jews, including the Haredim.
It is tragically unfortunate that the Haredim's disdain for Zionism is so great that it induces them to refuse to embrace certain national Torah Mitzvot simply because these Mitzvot are being performed on a daily basis by their secular neighbors (albeit not out of a desire to observe the Torah). If anything, the Haredim should see the Secular's performance of these national Mitzvot for what it really is, namely, common ground.
Mr. Rosenblum's article is a worthy read, but I think that it is largely
directed at the wrong audience. He should also distribute it in
© Mark Rosenblit
(c) 2000 The
Wanted: A Churchill
By JONATHAN ROSENBLUM
So concludes Daniel Pipes's "
Evidence of that low morale is all around us: in the glum responses Israelis give when asked their predictions for the Future, in the declining allure of elite army units, and in our youths' increasing retreat into forms of Eastern religion and music stressing passivity and detachment from the World.
According to a World Health Organization study, Israeli teenagers are the
world's least happy, though they live with economic affluence undreamed of by their
parents' generation and have never known a major war.
NOWHERE has this short-term thinking had more profound consequences than in
the realm of security. Only now, on the eve of withdrawing from [Israel's
security zone in southern] Lebanon, are we waking up to the fact that the
result may well be a bloodbath far worse than anything we have endured in
recent years. In negotiating with the Palestinians, we increasingly resemble a
man fleeing from a lion, who keeps dropping hamburger meat in the lion's path
to delay him. We forget, however, that there is only so much meat. Having lost
our love of the Land, we cannot conceive that another people has not. Having
lost our sense of ourselves as a people, we cannot comprehend that another
people has not. The cry "Slaughter the Jews," heard recently at [
We must believe again that our leaders are animated by principles, by some vision beyond their own retention of power. Recent evidence is not encouraging on this score. Unfortunately, we also need a leader capable of preparing us for War. Failure to do so will only make war more likely by encouraging our enemies to believe that we have no more will, and that victory will be theirs -- if not today, then tomorrow.
In short, we need a Churchill. Based on the evidence so far, we have only a watchmaker.
The writer is a biographer and contributing editor to the 'Jewish Observer.'
(c) 2000 The
["You ask what is our policy? I will say it is to wage war, by sea, by
land, by air, with all our might and strength that God can give us: to wage war
against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of
human crime. This is our policy. You ask what is our aim? I can answer that in
one word. Victory; victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror,
victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no
survival."-- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in a speech to
[All parenthetical additions are mine and form no part of the republished article -- Mark Rosenblit]