KJ Hannah Greenberg

Israel’s sense of agency

Israel is an independent state that’s meant to rely only on Hashem. Although the media would have all audiences believe otherwise, before we’re a democracy, before we’re an oasis of civility, or before we’re anything else, we’re Bnai Hashem. Our allegiance to The Almighty means we’re ethical, we’re caring, and that we have a sense of agency.

FOA [feeling of agency] is a lower level non-conceptual feeling of being an agent; it is the background buzz of control we feel for our voluntary actions when not explicitly thinking about them. JOA [judgement of agency is], on the other hand[,] a higher-level conceptual judgment of agency[sic] and arises in situations where we make explicit attributions of agency to the self or other (Moore).

Absurdly, allegedly “neutral,” “altruistic” sources, e.g., the ICC, the ICJ, and the UN, in allegiance with our adversaries, engage in JOA. They frame us, the good guys, as criminals since a “witch hunt” benefits them and the wicked collectives with whom they side by shifting attention away from the actual wrongdoers. They operate consistent with tohu.

Tohu modality is the raw, default state of this world. Each thing competes to grab as much as it can, propagate, dominate, and ensure its survival. In the animal world, things mostly work out in the end, since each creature has its limitations, its handicap. It’s brutal, but it works. [Yet h]umanity only survives through invoking the tikun modality. Tikun means to repair and to perfect. It’s a state that only comes through intelligent, intentional, visionary human intervention (Freeman).

Unlike the path of the scourge, the nation of Israel’s course is tikun. Israel takes into account others’ welfare. We provided earthquake relief to Mexico in 1985 and to Armenia in 1988. We assisted terror victims in Argentina in 1992 and gave aid to sufferers of a huge fire in Turkey in 1997. As well, we lent ourselves to flood relief in Louisiana, USA in 2005 and in the UK in 2016. There are countless other instances, too, in which we stepped in to assist foreign realms (“Israel Humanitarian Operations”).

Our nemeses don’t act similarly; they have no sense of agency; they lacks accountability for their behavior. As such, they can’t be managed through punishment. Evil, specifically tohu-based publics, care only for self-defined ends (Moore). Consequently, our antagonists wish to rid us of our “feeling of control over [our] actions and their consequences” (Moore). They want us to cower, to give up our sense of self, so that they can be considered champions.

Fortunately, Am Israel is not, has never been, and will never be a puppet of human go-betweens. Rather, we trust only our Tatty in Shamayim. As such, we’ve developed a sense of agency. We control our stimuli, associate selectively with others, don’t remain static, position ourselves as learners, manage our emotions and beliefs, check our intuitions, and deliberate before acting (Napper and Rao).

Per controlling our stimuli, we think critically. Whereas our nation enjoys freedom of press and of speech and allows peaceful protests, simultaneously, we recognize that self-determination is derived from enforced limits. More exactly, our nation does not and will not dread malevolence (Melamed) nor kowtow to international forces.

[E]very Jew must elevate himself above and beyond his personal existence, and see himself as a part of Clal Yisrael, as a representative of the Nation of Israel, which has been Divinely designated to sanctify the Name of God in the world. In this manner, he can overcome the natural emotion of fear and fight courageously (Melamed).

Our lionhearts are born from our strong emunah. We’re not a needy nation; we’re The Abishter’s children.

In terms of associating selectively, we’ve withdrawn our ambassadors from Spain, Ireland, and Norway (Jordan), from nations that validate our enemies as well as fail to acknowledge our profound losses at the hands of horrific others. Likewise, we’ve chosen to defend ourselves despite other lands threatening to withhold promised ammunition (Youssef and Lubold). Additionally, on the worldwide stage, we speak plainly about difficult issues (“Knesset to vote on bill designating UNRWA a terror group”)[sic].

By means of not remaining static, Am Yisrael doesn’t idle when our opponents gather. Instead, we respond to outrages including October 7th’s horrific massacre, brutality, and kidnapping. “The Swords of Iron War is the war declared by the State of Israel against the Hamas terrorist organization, in response to the surprise attack launched by Hamas” (“Swords of Iron”).

Further, by dint of positioning ourselves as learners, we, The People of the Book, of Torah/of The Boss’ commandments, appreciate that our way of life, given to Moshe by Hashem at Har Sinai, is the way of Truth. Our halacha requires us not only to be just to our foes but, foremost, also to be mindful of the requirements of our own pikuach nefesh (Weiss).

As per managing our emotions and beliefs, on the one hand, we remain resilient, b’ayin tova, in the face of danger. On the other hand, we don’t hesitate to express our grief over losses. More precisely, we choose when and how we share our feelings and thoughts. We’re not a pariah state, but a lamp unto the nations.

By virtue of checking our intuitions, we look within instead of to external “authorities” to assay our goings-on. As brave songstress Eden Golan demonstrated via her costume, her choice of music, and more, during her performance at Eurovision 2024, as courageous journalist Caroline Glick remarked in many widely published commentaries, and as Dry Bones cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen repeatedly illustrated, we refuse to minimize, rationalize, or deny Israel’s existential rights. We endow ourselves with self-defense; we don’t submit to our nemeses.

Finally, through deliberating and then acting, our defense forces are more humane than any other army in the history of the world.

An IDF soldier will only exercise their power or use their weapon in order to fulfill their mission and only when necessary. They will maintain their humanity during combat and routine times. The soldier will not use their weapon or power to harm uninvolved civilians and prisoners and will do everything in their power to prevent harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property (“Our Mission & Our Values”).

Viz., among the disproportionately compassionate actions of our military are our giving widespread notice to villains that we intend to enter their domain and our attempts to evacuate noncombatants before we confront terrorists.

All in all, ultimately, tikun, a sense of agency is “what literally all the western models of government and culture depend upon in order to make the system work” (Maille). Contrariwise, cultures based on tohu can only lean toward violence because they feel out of control. Expressly, Ishmael’s people remain unable to conduct themselves in an enlightened way. A “lack of agency seems to drive people towards fear and suffering and away from meaning and love” (Maille).

[Contrariwise, w]ith agency we strongly tend towards the best version of ourselves” (Maille). For example, Am Yisrael isn’t obsequious to speciousness, insists on justice, and trusts Torah to guide our comportment.

Despite antisemitism, Am Yisrael ignores hollow social systems. We have a proper sense of agency.

Sadly, the rest of the world does not.




Freeman, Tzvi. “How to Avoid Fanaticism by Rabbi Akiva and His Students.” Accessed 26 May 2024.

“Israel Humanitarian Operations: IDF Relief Efforts Around the World.” Jewish Virtual Library. Accessed 17 May 2024.

Jordan, Eliana. ”Israel withdraws ambassadors as Ireland, Norway and Spain recognise Palestinian State” [sic]. The Jewish Chronicle. Accessed 28 May 2024.

“Knesset to vote on bill designating UNRWA a terror group, another stripping its immunities” [sic]. Janglo. 28 May 2024. Accessed 28 May 2024.

Maille, Addison. “The Power of Human Agency.” Medium. 6 Mar 2024. Accessed 24 May 2024.

Melamed, HaRav Eliezer. “Israel Defense Forces and Torah.” Machon Meir. 27 Feb. 2023. Accessed 26 May 2024.

Moore, James W. “What is the Sense of Agency and Why Does It Matter?” Frontiers in Psychology. 29 Aug. 2016. Accessed 17 May 2024.

Napper, Paul and Anthony Rao. “How to Develop Your Sense of Agency.” Mindful. 15 Apr. 2019. Accessed 17 May 2024.

“Our Mission & Our Values.” Accessed 28 May 2024.

“Swords of Iron.” The Knesset. Accessed 28 May 2024.

Weiss, Rav Asher. “Halachic Questions and Answers Relating to the War in Eretz Yisrael.” Minchas Asher. 12 Oct. 2023. Accessed 28 May 2024.

Youssef, Nancy A. and Gordon Lubold. “US Stalls Weapons Shipment to Israel in Bid to Stop Rafah Offensive.” The Wall Street Journal. 8 May 2024. Accessed 28 May. 2024.

About the Author
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Thereafter, her writing has been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.