I do not believe in coincidences. G-d has endowed us with free will, a built-in compass that guides us in our pursuit of “good and not evil” (Deuteronomy 30:15) but which leaves us free to decide our conduct and fate away from all determinism. That being said, we often find sentences in the Torah that make us think that some of the events we go through in our daily lives were already narrated over 3000 years ago (should we even say planned?) sometimes with amazing accuracy.
So yes, I will spare you any suspense, Hamas is mentioned in the Torah. Stranger still, Hamas is spelled out in the parsha that we began reading this Saturday afternoon and will read three more times this week, that is, at the very time that these events are taking place “in real life”. And Hamas is mentioned twice!
To begin, here is the background: G-d tells Noah that He is going to destroy the world by causing a flood, and He gives him the reasons why.
Genesis 6 – 11: “ותמלא הארץ חמס” (Translation of the French Rabbinate under the direction of Zadoc Kahn): “And the earth was filled with iniquity”. Or according to other translations: “and the earth was filled with violence”.
Genesis 6 – 13: “כי מלאה הארץ חמס” “Because the Earth is filled with iniquity” (or violence) – ibid.
My analysis hereunder is based on the 5 volumes “La Voix de la Torah” by Rabbi Elie Munk Z”L (1900–1981), a German-born French rabbi and rabbinic scholar. Let me reproduce here in full Rav Munk’s amazing comment: “חמס (Hamas) is the iniquity that leads society to its ruin. חמס is in and of itself a crime but not only. It is accompanied by cunning or malice which the justice of men has no means to prosecute, but which only the voice of our conscience can prevent. But this voice is stifled when society sinks into perversity and then nothing can stop the catastrophe.”
There is no coincidence here: the parallel between the holy text of the Torah and the events that Israel and the world are going through at this very moment is troubling to say the least. But it also has the capacity to enlighten us.
Hamas is perfectly described: Having seen with horror the unbearable atrocities committed by the Hamas terrorists, no one should doubt that Hamas is the absolute, inhuman evil that has the potential to lead society to its ruin. The cunning, the malice of which Rabbi Munk speaks are the perverse maneuvers of Hamas and their cronies to portray Israel as the aggressor, to blame the victim (Israel) for all that happened, and to portray themselves as the innocent. In other words, to legitimize, to justify their monstrosities. They are masters at this kind of manipulation. Let us follow the Rav’s words again: only our conscience and that of civilized nations and enlightened leaders can prevent this reversal of moral values from taking place. Finally, Rabbi Munk warns us that the stakes are enormous. Here and today, it is a war of values, of morality, of civilization. A war we must win. Israel is only the spearhead, the first bulwark against the depravity and moral ruin that will surely affect the rest of the world if we (G.d forbid) lose this war. Nations of the world, be aware: If society (i.e. you, the nations of the world) sinks into perversity and accepts Hamas’ lies and fake news, then a worldwide catastrophe will be unavoidable.
I am neither a rabbi nor a scholar, but simply a person who reads carefully the words of our sacred texts. And these verses mentioned above resonated with me. Moreover, the comments of our sages force us to acutely reflect on the tragic events we are experiencing, on our own attitude and above all on the colossal stakes that are in the balance in this confrontation.
Let me end with a thought for the victims of this tragedy and for the hostages of course: Let us pray that G-d will keep the souls of the victims close to His Heavenly Throne and that their memory will be a blessing, and let us pray that G-d will bring the hostages back to their families in good health and very soon.