Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's Clear in The Torah That All Jews are Commanded by G-d to Serve in the Jewish Army

Warning: I'm not a rabbi and don't claim to be.  I'm not even a Torah scholar and certainly never claim to be.  I'm a simple Jew who does my best to live according to what G-d commands us.  Almost half a century ago I began to be Torah observant and soon after that got married and moved to Israel.  For over thirty years we've lived in Shiloh.  This is my personal opinion.

This week's Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week has a very timely story. 
Matot-Masay (Numbers 30-36) are the last chapters of במדבר Numbers (In The Desert.)  It takes place during the fortieth year of wandering in the wilderness, just as the Jewish People are about to cross the Jordan River enter the Land of Israel.
Numbers Chapter 32 בְּמִדְבַּר
א  וּמִקְנֶה רַב, הָיָה לִבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן וְלִבְנֵי-גָד--עָצוּם מְאֹד; וַיִּרְאוּ אֶת-אֶרֶץ יַעְזֵר, וְאֶת-אֶרֶץ גִּלְעָד, וְהִנֵּה הַמָּקוֹם, מְקוֹם מִקְנֶה. 1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle; and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle,
ב  וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי-גָד, וּבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן; וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל-אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן, וְאֶל-נְשִׂיאֵי הָעֵדָה לֵאמֹר. 2 the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spoke unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying:
ג  עֲטָרוֹת וְדִיבֹן וְיַעְזֵר וְנִמְרָה, וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן וְאֶלְעָלֵה, וּשְׂבָם וּנְבוֹ, וּבְעֹן. 3 'Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Sebam, and Nebo, and Beon,
ד  הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר הִכָּה יְהוָה לִפְנֵי עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל--אֶרֶץ מִקְנֶה, הִוא; וְלַעֲבָדֶיךָ, מִקְנֶה.  {ס} 4 the land which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle.' {S}
ה  וַיֹּאמְרוּ, אִם-מָצָאנוּ חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ--יֻתַּן אֶת-הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת לַעֲבָדֶיךָ, לַאֲחֻזָּה:  אַל-תַּעֲבִרֵנוּ, אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן. 5 And they said: 'If we have found favour in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession; bring us not over the Jordan.'
ו  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה, לִבְנֵי-גָד וְלִבְנֵי רְאוּבֵן:  הַאַחֵיכֶם, יָבֹאוּ לַמִּלְחָמָה, וְאַתֶּם, תֵּשְׁבוּ פֹה. 6 And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben: 'Shall your brethren go to the war, and shall ye sit here?
This statement by Moshe is a very important one.  And I as a longtime Israeli whose husband, sons, other relatives, neighbors and friends have served in the IDF, most survived but not all, relate to those words very strongly.

In 1948 a small Jewish State was established, which lacked the Walled City of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and many other areas of the historic Land of Israel.  Nineteen years later, as a result of the Six Days War when Israel was attacked by three coordinated Arab states, Jordan, Syria and Egypt, Israel miraculously won and liberated most of those Biblical areas.

Israel's victories in 1948, 1967 and 1973 were so obviously miraculous that it was and is obvious that G-d lent His Power and approves of the existence of the State of Israel.  In this week's Torah Tidbits, Phil Chernofsky wrote about the " old philosophical question about whether a glass is half full or half empty" apropos to the State of Israel.
There are some Jews who view the establishment of the State of Israel as an empty glass - or worse. As has been written many times in Torah Tidbits, that is a lamentable attitude towards something that we should be thanking and praising G-d for. Israel has been returned to Jewish hands, Jews from all over the world are returning to their homeland, and the land that had been desolate and abandoned for so many long years of exile is flourishing.
There are some Jews who see the modern State of Israel as a full glass. The dream - Herzl’s dream has been realized. The Jewish people have their state, have their homeland back. What more could we want? As has been often written in these pages, these people are seriously missing the point. Our dream has not merely been ‘Next year in Jerusalem’, but in Yerushalayim HaB’nuya - in rebuilt Jerusalem, and that means the Beit HaMikdash and all that accompanies it.
There are many Jews who view our current status as the proverbial half-filled glass. This group is subdivided into the half-empty or half-full types - but let’s leave that for another time.
Let’s be optimistic. Today we have a half-full glass. We have witnessed the process of the Ingathering of the Exiles. We has seen - with out our own eyes, as the expression goes - parts of Zecharia’s prophecy come to be. There are old men and women who sit in the streets of Jerusalem and we see Jewish children playing in those streets. We see the Land flourish with fruits and vegetables that not only fill our food baskets but are, in some cases, the envy of the world. Israel’s impressive strides in many fields are evidence of our return to Israel - with G-d’s blessing.

I am not saying that things here are perfect.  It's our job to make it better, closer to perfect and not to stand back and reject the State and the IDF.

At the women's Shabbat Torah Class in my neighborhood, we were reminded that the Jewish People were given three commandments to do once entering the Land:
  1. anoint a king
  2. destroy Amalek
  3. build the Beit Hamikdash
I numbered them, because they are supposed to be done in that order.  G-d facilitated the establishment and continued existence of the State of Israel.  It is up to us to make is a Jewish State, a proper Jewish Kingdom.  And it's up to us to make the army, the IDF a strongly Jewish army. The only way to do this is to have Torah observant Jews as soldiers and officers. That is how, with the help of G-d, our enemies will be destroyed.  And then we will be able to build the Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple.


Edward F. Villa said...

Amen Amen and Amen !

I couldn't have said it any better Batya !

You have a truly blessed week !
Shavua Tov Shiloh and all of Israel !

Beit Ha Mikdash

Batya said...

Edward, thanks so much!