David Page
US Lawyer and Israel Attorney

The Attack on Israel: A Reflection on the Covenant

"Torah Nation" - Original Artwork by Menucha Page, via Limited License from Artist
"Torah Nation" - Original Artwork by Menucha Page, via Limited License from Artist

On October 7th, 2023, Israel faced a devastating attack that shook the nation to its core. The focus was understandably on the cruelty and sadism of the attack and most of all on the indescribable pain of the victims and their families, the hostages and their families, and on the pain of the people of Israel,  In addition, the Jewish people everywhere have been experiencing a dramatic upsurge of hatred, including at elite institutions of higher education, initially as an expression of solidarity with the Hamas terrorists in the name of a bloodthirsty neo-Marxist ideology of “liberation” and then, as a result of Israel’s successful defense of its citizens and its territory, in the name of “peace” and human rights.  It is tempting, and to some extent even appropriate, for us as Jews and those who support the Jewish people to emphasize the moral bankruptcy of those perpetrating the attacks as well as those fellow-travelers supporting the “ceasefire now” and “free Palestine” agenda of the terrorists.

Yet in the aftermath of this tragedy, the worst attack on Jewish civilians since the Second World War and the upsurge of publicly expressed Jew-hatred, it is also natural and fitting to seek understanding and meaning. For many in the Jewish community, these events can be seen through the lens of the Covenant between the Creator of the universe and the Jewish people, and a reflection on the Mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah.  Many Jewish people are reconnecting to that heritage, seeking a spiritual root of the upheaval we are increasingly witnessing around us, both in Israel and in the rest of the world.

The Covenant: A Divine Contract

The Covenant between the Creator and the Jewish people, established with Abraham and reaffirmed through Moses at Sinai and in every generation through the prophets and the Sages thereafter, is a foundational element of Jewish faith. This Covenant is not merely a promise of land and nationhood; it is a binding agreement that calls for adherence to God’s laws as detailed in the Torah. The Mitzvot, 613 categories of commandments encompassing all aspects of life, serve as the terms of this Covenant. The Torah is clear:  Blessings follow obedience, while curses follow disobedience.  (Leviticus 26:3 passim; Deuteronomy 28 passim).  According to the Book of Deuteronomy, these blessings and curses are especially present and powerful in the Land of Israel, a place upon which the “eyes of the [Creator] are focused from the beginning of the year until its end.”  (Deuteronomy 11:12).  Contrary to what those who are unaware of the strictures of the Covenant, the Torah is no stranger to destruction.  Rather, destruction is built into the Covenantal relationship itself, beginning with the Flood and continuing through two destructions of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem and beyond.

“Torah Nation” – Original Artwork by Menucha Page, via Limited License from Artist

The Mitzvot and Jewish Responsibility

The Mitzvot are more than religious rituals; they are ethical and moral directives intended to guide the Jewish people in creating a just, compassionate, and above all holy — Divinely connected and Divinely aware — society. From observing the Sabbath by refraining from certain actions and engaging in others, to honoring our Sages and Torah scholars and our parents, from engaging in acts of charity to pursuing justice, from guarding our speech to guarding our chastity, and much more, the Mitzvot encompass a comprehensive way of life. Failure to uphold these commandments not only affects individual spiritual well-being but also has broader implications for the community and nation as a whole as well as its actual security in the Land of Israel and elsewhere.  To be clear, we are absolutely not privy to the precise consequences of particular actions or inaction.  Only the Creator Himself is privy to those precise consequences.  But we are privy to the general outlines of the Covenantal relationship, the reciprocal system of closeness and distancing that comprises a genuine living connection between us and the Divine.

The October 7th Attack: A Call for Reflection

In times of outward crisis, such as the attack on October 7th, it is therefore crucial to turn inward and reflect on our spiritual and moral state. Jewish tradition teaches that suffering can be a catalyst for introspection and repentance (a process envisioned by the Creator even before the creation of the world called Teshuvah). The prophets often linked national calamities to a collective failure to uphold the Mitzvot and a failure to engage in that process of introspection and repentance.  These are the main subject of Jeremiah’s prophecy and are indeed contained in every other prophecy as well as in the writings of the Sages in the Oral Torah. For instance, the destructions of the First and Second Temples were attributed to the three cardinal sins of idolatry, murder, and depravity, and baseless hatred and moral corruption, respectively.

Yet clearly there is more occurring after October 7th in the nature of the Covenantal relationship:  open miracles.  These we have experienced both as individuals and very publicly as a nation.  By way of well-known and brief examples:  The urban warfare conducted by Israel against Hamas within urban Gaza was predicted (by Israel and by the Hamas terrorists themselves) to be typical of urban conflicts, causing both very high casualties among the Israelis forced to fight in the urban environment and also among the general population of Gaza (who are infamously unprotected by shelters due to Hamas’s deliberate policy of exposing its general population while protecting its terrorists via the vast over 500-kilometer subterranean underground tunnel system dubbed the “Gaza Metro”),  The actual results on both counts (even taking inflated Hamas health ministry statistics into account, statistics that fail to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants) were astonishing, with Israeli and the general Gazan casualties a small fraction of the norm.  Similarly, the Iranian missile and drone attack caused virtually no damage, with an over 99 percent interception rate, exceeding the “maximum possible” interception rate of 90 percent and was similarly miraculous.  These are only two examples of the many miracles we have experienced.

Meanwhile, on the flipside, the obsessive negative focus on Israel’s actions against Hamas is likewise miraculous.  How can negative obsession be considered miraculous?  By virtue of that singular obsession against all logic.  Miraculously, Israel’s military response to the Hamas attack has been mischaracterized as a genocide.  This is a baffling misnomer, bestowed upon Israel despite the deliberate and unique care Israel has taken to evacuate the general population prior to attacks (via prior leaflet and telephone warnings), to protect that general population by creating humanitarian zones and to supply vast amounts of humanitarian aid to the Gazan general population in those zones.   Such protective actions by a state are unique in history, having never before been undertaken in the midst of warfare either qualitatively or quantitatively.  By way of counterexample, the Allied invasion of Nazi Germany toward the end of the Second World War is illustrative, which entailed both indiscriminate bombing of German and Japan cities and zero provision of humanitarian aid to the general German population.  In the usual course of human events, war is war, and as the expression goes, war is hell.  Similarly, by way of contrast, actual genocides are being perpetrated, and have recently been perpetrated, involving much larger numbers of people than the purported number of deaths in the general population in Gaza: the massacre of Christians in Nigeria by radical Islamic groups, the massacre of Sunnis in Syria by the Iranian-funded Assadist Alawites and Shiite groups, the engineered famine and murder taking place in the Sudan, to name only a few.  Yet the main focus of the international institutions of the United Nations is consistently and obsessively on Israel, which is now even a defendant in an ICC war crimes proceeding despite that body’s lack of jurisdiction over Israel.  This is nothing new:  A perusal of UN resolutions of various bodies against Israel reveals the United Nations’ consistent and increasing obsession with Israel.  This is as if to say:  “We hold you to a special standard beyond all other nations.”  This, too, is miraculous and may be understood as Covenantal.

It is worthwhile reflecting on the miraculous events of this conflict.  The attack on Israel and its aftermath thus can be seen as a modern spiritual wake-up call, urging us to examine our adherence to the Mitzvot. Are we living up to the ethical and moral standards set forth in the Torah? Are we fostering a society grounded in justice, kindness, and humility? Do we appreciate the Torah and Torah scholars themselves as the spiritual carriers and teachers of the Covenantal relationship?  This tragic event can serve as a reminder of the enduring relevance of the Covenant and the necessity of living according to its terms.

The Path Forward: Strengthening Commitment

While our forefather Jacob responded to the military threat of Esau and the 400 soldiers who marched to confront him upon his return to the Land of Israel, Jacob realized that his response needed to be more than this-worldly and military in nature.  He famously readied himself, as the Biblical narrative and the Oral Torah relate, via not only dividing his camp and sending Esau gifts to placate him (this-worldly precautions) but also via prayer, a form of intimate connection to the Divine.

Similarly, responding to this attack by strengthening our commitment to the Mitzvot is a way to honor the Covenant and seek Divine favor and protection. This does not mean simply increasing religious observance but integrating the principles of the Torah into all aspects of life. It involves:

  1. Community Solidarity: Building a united community that supports and uplifts each other, reflecting the Mitzvah of loving one’s neighbor as oneself (Leviticus 19:18).
  2. Honoring Torah and Torah Scholars: Recognizing the Divine nature of our Covenantal relationship by fulfilling the Mitzvah of honoring and supporting the Torah and its scholars as guardians and teachers of that Covenant.
  3. Spiritual Renewal: Engaging in sincere Teshuvah, seeking forgiveness, and committing to personal and communal improvement.
  4. Education: Deepening our understanding of the Torah and the Mitzvot, ensuring that future generations are well-versed in their heritage and responsibilities.
  5. Acts of Kindness: Embracing the Mitzvot related to charity and kindness, such as giving tzedakah (charity) and performing acts of chesed (loving-kindness).


The October 7th attack on Israel is more than simply a tragedy.  It is a profound reminder of the ancient Covenant between the Creator and the Jewish people and the importance of adhering to the Mitzvot of the Torah. While the immediate response to such an event is often appropriately one of defense and security, and appropriately one of empathy for the suffering of those of us who have born the bitter attack, this tragic event and its aftermath also offer an opportunity for deep spiritual reflection and renewal.  That process of reflection in fact began virtually immediately after the tragedy and has inspired a reawakening of faith on the part of the Jewish people.

By recommitting to the commandments and principles of the Torah, the Jewish people can seek to fulfill our Covenantal obligations and build a more just and compassionate society, hopeful for Divine protection and blessing in the future and the coming of the final redemption in which the world will be made peaceful and whole under the spirit of the Divine.

About the Author
David Page is a US and Israeli attorney practicing law in Jerusalem as the principal of David Page Law. David is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School, after which he went to study European law at the University of Paris and to clerk on the US Court of Appeals. David also has learned at the Mir Yeshiva, and has taught at the Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and published in the field. He served as regulatory counsel in an American Israeli high-tech company for more than half a decade and heads his own law firm in the real estate law, litigation, business and corporate law, wills, trusts, and estates and probate, tax, and trademarks fields, and is the founder and CEO of the innovative business legal-tech platform NoGranite ("some prefer their lawyering straight up, not on the rocks") You can write David at, or visit him at or
Related Topics
Related Posts