Do We Want G-d On Our Side?

Toward the end of the book of Leviticus, the Torah gives us the bottom line: “If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them, I will give your rains in their time, the Land will yield its produce, and the tree of the field will give forth its fruit…” Devotion to G-d will bring the means to life — water, food, peace and security. You will multiply. You will not fear man.

“…you will lie down with no one to frighten [you]; I will remove wild beasts from the Land, and no army will pass through your land;”

And then, comes the corollary. If you abandon G-d. Notice the language of the Torah. It does not transform the positive into the negative, saying “If you will not follow My statutes…” Instead, it first gives us the state of mind of a Jew who decides he’s had enough of G-d and his commandments.

“…if you despise My statutes and be disgusted by My ordinances, not performing any of My commandments, thereby breaking My covenant…”

The Torah knew the psychology of a sinner. He comes with a ready complaint why he’s no longer devoted to G-d. He calls the commandments archaic, unsuitable for the modern world. His greatest hostility is toward the rabbis, whom he accuses of distorting the Torah and seeking to manipulate the people for power.

G-d says he will respond measure for measure. Remember, the food, water, health, security, peace that He brought you. Well, that’s gone. Instead, you who don’t fear the One above, will fear man, particularly the evil people you hooked up with.

“Your enemies will rule over you; you will flee, but no one will be pursuing you.”

These words comprise today’s headlines. In Israel, Jews far outnumber others in this country. And yet, the Jews are being frightened by the threats of a tiny but increasingly bold enemies. They don’t come with guns and bombs. They rush at Jews with kitchen knives and razor blades. The police often refuse to intervene. The plain folks run.

The wave of terror has taken place suddenly. The unelected government, formed in consultation with Washington, has abandoned responsibility. Instead, it seems resigned to surrender. Defense Minister Benny Gantz told his Blue and White Party that the Jews might lose the Negev and the Galilee. “The future of the Jewish state may end up being between Gedera and Hadera,” Gantz was quoted as saying.

What happened to the assurances by Gantz and the other so-called leaders that Israel is so strong that it can handle any threat? What happened to the bravado of the arrogant who said Jews should stop being paranoid and make strategic concessions to their enemies?

Rabbi Saadia Gaon lived in the 9th Century. He born in Egypt and later moved to the Land of Israel and finally Babylonia. He was regarded as one of the greatest sages in Jewish history and spent much of his time fighting the Karaites, Jews who abandoned the Oral Law and denounced the rabbis as frauds. The Karaites were often the elite in society, encouraged by gentile regimes that wanted to neuter the Jewish people.

Rabbi Saadia explains in this week’s Torah portion that G-d’s response to evil in the Jewish nation is rapid. There is no neutral zone, where Jews can live freely without G-d. When He removes his protection, the enemies appear immediately and attack.

This has been Jewish history. In the book of Judges, G-d defeats the enemies of Israel. But when the Jews turn away from Torah, He revives those same vanquished nations to conquer and oppress Israel.

For a decade, Israel was an island of tranquility in a turbulent Middle East. Syria was enveloped in civil war. So, was Iraq. Lebanon was under the rule of Iran and Hizbullah. Jordan was under constant threat from within and without. Egypt battled Al Qaida. Saudi Arabia fought the Houthis. But there was peace in the Jewish land.

This state of affairs should have been appreciated by the Jews, particularly the leadership. The leadership should have understood G-d’s protection; embraced the Torah and commandments. Instead, the unelected government and the elite hungered for money and power. They made deals that brought in missionaries, apostates — virtually everybody but devout Jews. They were proud betraying the Jewish majority. The courts, backed by the international community, exploited every opportunity to weaken Jewish resolve and faith.

But had the Israeli elite taken a good look at their American sponsors they would have recoiled. The Americans celebrate Thanksgiving — yes, to G-d. Despite, recessions, they have kept “In God We Trust” on their currency. Proselytizing — whether for Christianity or Islam — goes on openly in the U.S. military. These Jews would see that America isn’t all about Wall Street and Mickey Mouse.

Moses Ben Nachman, known as Nachmanides, played an important role in the Land of Israel. He helped reestablish the Jewish community in Jerusalem after the Crusaders destroyed the city in 1099. In his commentary on this week’s Torah portion, Nachmanides cites the destruction of the Second Temple nearly 2,000 years ago. At the time, the Jews were well-versed in the Torah. Most were observant.

But there was hate, fueled by a regime controlled by the Romans. Nachmanides points to the last king of the Jews, Agrippas, who conveniently left for Rome on the eve of its invasion of Israel. Titus destroyed the Temple, grabbed Jewish boys and girls and shipped them to Rome for the pleasure of the aristocracy. This, Nachmanides says, marked the fulfillment of G-d’s warning to His people.

But there is a way back, and it can be as short as the road to evil. Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar, or the Or Hachayim, says G-d is ready to end the oppression if the Jews repent: If they recognize that they had been following evil and want nothing more to do with the liars. He is even willing to withhold punishment if the Jews will return in the future.

“And I will remember My covenant [with] Jacob, and also My covenant [with] Isaac, and also My covenant [with] Abraham I will remember. And I will remember the Land.”

Our move.

About the Author
Steve Rodan has been a journalist for some 40 years and worked for major media outlets in Israel, Europe and the United States. For 18 years, he directed Middle East Newsline, an online daily news service that focused on defense, security and energy. Along with Elly Sinclair, he has just released his first book: In Jewish Blood: The Zionist Alliance With Germany, 1933-1963 and available on Amazon.
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