Every American Jew must do her and his utmost to show up at the National Mall in Washington this Tuesday and, March for Israel!
One: This is War
Jewish Law (Maimonides, Hilchot Melachim, 5:1-2) makes it clear that when there is an enemy that threatens and attacks the Jewish nation, the king does not have to seek the approval of the legislature to declare war. An attack on the Jewish nation triggers what is called milchemet mitzvah; an emergency situation when all Jews are obligated to join the fight, when “The king can declare that the entire nation, with no exception, must join the battle.”
This is such a time.
Hamas in Gaza, the Ayatollah in Teheran, and the Iranian proxies in Lebanon and Yemen, are waging a war against Israel, and against the Jewish nation. This is a milchemet mitzvah, a war of obligation. This is a multi-front war for the future of the Jewish people in the Jewish homeland. Everyone in Israel is on one front or another: the southern front, the northern front, or the home front. Everyone has shown up for battle.
The corridors of Congress, and this Tuesday, the National Mall in Washington, are also a front in the battle: The battle for “the world’s” support of Israel against the Jihadi butchers of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, begins in Washington.
So Jews of America: You’ve been called to the front lines, and we, the Jews of Israel, are counting on you to show up.
Two: The Shunamit Woman
In the book of Kings, we learn of a remarkable woman from the town of Shunam.
As thanks for her hospitality, the prophet Elisha offers her a blessing. What an opportunity; a blessing from the spiritual giant of that time, Elisha, the disciple of none other than Elijah the Prophet himself. Yet, she refuses Elishas’ blessing, saying that, “B’toch ami anochi yoshevet – I dwell amongst my people.” Because for a Jew, there is no greater blessing than knowing that we are each part of a family; a family that is a Nation, and that our first place is with our family, our people. Yes, we are a family that prays for the peace and prosperity and well-being of all people, everywhere—even in Gaza—but first we must know who we are, and from where our great blessings emanate: From B’toch ami anochi yoshevet.
So Jews of America, go to Washington, because there is no greater blessing than to clearly understand who you are, and to stand, shoulder-to-shoulder, with your people.
But What If …
What if my boss will be upset if I take a day off?
“Too bad boss. My family in Israel was attacked, and my grandmother is being held hostage.” B’toch ami anochi yoshevet.
What if my school won’t excuse me from a test?
“Too bad Mrs. Principal. My family in Israel was attacked, and my little cousin is being held hostage.” B’toch ami anochi yoshevet.
What if my friends say it won’t be safe?
“Sorry guys. If a person doesn’t know what he is willing to risk his life for, then he doesn’t know what’s worth dedicating his life to.” B’toch ami anochi yoshevet.
In his first comment on the first verse in the Torah, Rashi, the great 11th century Biblical scholar, says something that is seemingly absurd.
“[One day] The nations of the world will accuse the Jewish people of stealing the land of Israel. Therefore, [to cut such a perfidious accusation off at the knees] the Torah begins with the story of creation so that the “they”—the Jewish nation—will be able to respond, “God created the world, the entire earth is His, and He chose to give the Land of Israel to the people of Israel.”
A thousand years after the demise of the second Jewish commonwealth in Israel, Rashi detected within the currents of history a time when there would be a worldwide accusation leveled against the Nation of Israel: You are thieves! Occupiers! Colonialists! Interlopers that should go back to Poland, Morocco, Ukraine, Syria and wherever else you came from!
And the recommended response?
Well, it’s a bit absurd.
Just tell the world that God gave us this land. Tell them He promised it to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Tell them the Jewish people were sovereign in Israel for eight-hundred years, and that we were conquered, our land was stolen, and that six hundred years before Islam even existed, we were exiled to Iraq, Spain, Germany, and Cleveland. Tell them that for two thousand years, despite being scattered and battered, we longed to return and re-establish our home in Israel, until we finally did. Tell them all that. That will convince the world. Won’t it?
I can just see it now:
Bibi gets Biden and Hamas on a zoom call and tells them that God gave Israel to the Jews. Hamas immediately relays the news to Iran and Hezbollah, an emergency session of the General Assembly is convened, and the world apologizes to Israel for ever having hassled us.
With all due respect to Rashi, that’s about as likely as the cow jumping over the moon and Biden and Trump getting together for coffee at Starbucks. It’s absurd! What in the world was Rashi thinking?
I believe that what Rashi was trying to tell us was this:
When the Jewish nation”—everyone—presents the truth with unified conviction, nothing can stand in our way. And that’s why “they”—everyone, every Jew—must show up in Washington. Because the truth must be asserted by the Jewish nation: All of us. The most powerful weapon the Jewish people may ultimately have, is the power of truth being delivered with the collective force of our Unity.
The battle of Hamas-Iran-Hezbollah against Israel has always been about one fundamental issue, the right of the Jewish people to our Home in Israel.
Hamas-Iran-Hezbollah has always considered a two-state solution to be a treacherous abandonment of truth; the truth that Palestine belongs to Islam and the Palestinians, and the truth that the Jews are nothing but colonizers and occupiers that need to be dealt with accordingly: Off with their heads! Literally. Their clearly stated Jihadi goal is to simply slaughter the Jews, and destroy Israel, all of it, “from the river to the sea.”
This is a war of truth against falsehood, of lovers of life vs demons of death. If we expect “the world” to grasp what’s actually taking place, then all of us need to assert it.
So, Jews of America. Show up, and make sure that our collective voice rings from Washington, and reverberates on every campus, from sea to shining sea.
In memory of David Newman.
Last seen by Noam, his wife to be, as a Hamas gunman shot him at point blank range.
Dovid Yair Shalom Neman ben Moshe Meir and Chaya z”l.