Jews worldwide have been “Calling for action” in response to large trends of Anti-Semitism. But who exactly are we calling to action?
We’ve all been truly perplexed by the number of people worldwide who genuinely believe that Hamas is justified. Trying to talk to these people is like trying to convince someone from Neturei Karta or a Hamas terrorist himself that Israel is in fact the one fighting evil. Moreover, the bewilderment only intensifies when these individuals and groups not only hold these beliefs, but also commit such insensitive and despicable acts in response, making it impossible to comprehend how people can perceive that their actions display moral behavior.
Given the evident unfair treatment of Israel, and subsequently Jews in America due to this war, we’ve gathered to organize rallies and put out joint statements condemning this chaos. We complain to our politicians and college presidents that as Jews we don’t feel safe in our college campuses and communities, and the world and leaders are silent because it’s the Jews. We demand that they “take action” in a real and tangible way, ensuring the safety of all Jews, and allow the freedom of religion we all deserve. In addition, to condemn Hamas and hold accountable anyone who supports them and tries to harm us Jews. We’re so confident demanding this because we know we are objectively right and our demands are completely fair and justified.
This battle that has erupted around America, is essentially the same exact war here in Israel. So too, in Israel, we are fighting a war for the freedoms we rightfully deserve and require to function freely as the Jewish Nation, and ensuring the distribution of justice that must be served to ensure that for our friends and family here. The key difference though, is who we’re putting our trust in to fight this battle.
IDF soldiers witness firsthand that if they’re not on the front lines against our enemies, their own families, homes and lives will not be safe. In addition they are backed up by the extreme power of the Tefilot from their mothers, wives, and children, davening that they should come home ״שלמים ובריאים״, “whole and healthy.”
Who better to put your trust in than the ones who have literally everything to lose and a genuine significance for the safety they need to provide? Moshe’s final words to us exemplify this as well saying Hashem “…drove out the enemy from before you and said: ‘Destroy!’ And thus Israel dwelled in safety, untroubled… in a land of grain and wine…” (Dev. 33:27-28) Moshe’s message essentially being that Bnei Yisrael can and will dwell in peace, only once they drive out their enemies, delivered through the power of Hashem. Israel is indeed “The land Hashem looks after, the eyes of Hashem are always upon it, from the beginning until the end of the year.” (Dev 11:12) On the other hand, the leaders we plead to in America for that safety may lose some votes or donations if they don’t protect the Jews, but realistically, they can live with those consequences, whatever they may be, as has been shown time and time again since the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash.
I always hated history class because I never saw the point of learning about things that already happened. And of course, the answer I always got was “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” None of us are really offended personally by the words of these antisemites, because frankly they’re coming out of the mouths of some of the biggest fools the world has to offer, and we can just disregard their opinion. What we mainly fear is the physical danger it always ends up leading to. We’ve always tried to stand up, call to action from our leaders, and fight back in our foreign countries, but never to any long term avail. Because ultimately, as Yeshayahu tells us “Like a man whose mother consoles him, so will I console you, and in Jerusalem, you shall be consoled.” (Yesh. 66:13) It is only in Yerushalayim, the heart of Israel, that we find our collective consolation as the Jewish nation.
Following the tragedy, the initial days that ensued showcased the global unity of the Jews, as we came together to mourn and start our fight back against Hamas and all terrorists around Israel. Unfortunately, the surge in antisemitism eroded this unity, as it created many smaller battles on a college, community, state, or country level, instead of one united front in Israel. So to achieve the most success possible for all of Am Yisrael on a national level, which is back to when we were all together, we have to first look on a personal level at not just when, but how we want to return to Israel.
The Malbim notes in Yirmiyahu 31 that there are two ways Hashem can return us from exile. One way is through hardships causing a return out of fear. The second way is through miracles and wonders causing a return out of love. This current war has been a catalyst for longer contemplation about our own futures in exile, sparking thoughts about how we wish to return. On one hand, we see the danger and fear that comes with the threat of living surrounded by antisemites that can’t be controlled in our streets and campuses. On the other hand, we’ve experienced the power of what we can accomplish by coming together as a nation to defeat Hamas or any enemy that comes up against Israel, when we’re all in on one battle.
At the end of the day, the story of the Jewish people continues with all of us coming back to our homeland. Rashi notes in Dev. 30:3 that the day of the gathering of the exiles is so important and difficult, it is as though Hashem Himself must literally grab each individual’s hands, and drag him from his place in exile. Four years ago I had a choice at the end of high school. I could’ve done the classic year in Yeshiva then college in America, waited for it to become completely unlivable in America, and run away to Israel with whatever I could take, and try to figure out everything at once. I also could have just done college in America and then try to get to Israel. But the fact was that no matter what, I would eventually be in Israel, so why not do it the best way possible, which is the option I chose. As a result, I Baruch Hashem was able to find friends and connect with family here, learn the language and culture, bureaucracy, bussing, and most importantly, the spirit and mission of being a ״גוי אחד בארץ״, “one nation in its land” and be able to “start my life” confidently and successfully, despite starting in a new country.
The choice is now in front of us. We can come back through the lens of the miracles Hashem has shown us in Israel historically and in front of our own eyes, and prophecies detailing the joy of returning. We can settle down comfortably, learn the language at our own pace, and leave room for plenty of mistakes along the way. We can get off the plane with our family there to greet us, a house ready and the beginning of a new, purposeful journey, showing Hashem that we are coming back out of love. Or, we can Ch’v come from the pits of hardships, and be dragged by Hashem along the way in fear. I think this is most relevant at the post high school age, when you can come over with the least amount of responsibilities, acclimate a lot easier and have a lot more to give, because it only gets harder from there.
Since the second Beit Hamikdash we only had places to run from. But now, we have our home to run to, with Hashem and a nation fully committed and desiring to protect and support all of us. We’ve seen how connected and passionate we are to Israel and how much we want to contribute even from the outside, when it’s not our only home. Imagine how much more we have to offer from the inside, when it is our only home.