Andy Blumenthal
Leadership With Heart

They Died So We May Speak

Photo adapted from Israel Defense Forces via

Israel is a blessed nation, and its people are blessed as well. This is evident in the beauty and resilience of the country, as well as the strength and determination of its people. The country has overcome many challenges in its history and has always emerged stronger. The Israeli people are a diverse group, but they are united by their common faith and their shared history. They are a people who have faced adversity and come out stronger on the other side.

Israel and Its People are Blessed.

Since 1948, Israel has become not only the single Jewish nation in the world and the only democracy in the Middle East; it is also a land where the deserts bloom, and the Start-Up nation has grown into a true hi-tech and innovation powerhouse. But more than the land and nation being blessed, the people are actually blessed, and it is visible! Today, in synagogue, there was a group of teens from the FIDF Legacy Summer Camp program for children from IDF bereaved families. What a beautiful program to bring these kids to America for a few weeks of camp and fun, and for us to say thank you for defending us and inspiring us. But what I also noticed, and it was amazing, was that the children literally shone. They had a beautiful, holy aura (and no, I am not imaging it). I said to my wife, “Do you see what I am seeing?” And we both couldn’t believe it—the children had a heavenly glow. I said, “The blessings that Hashem bestows on Israel are literally on the faces of the children.” It made me think of Moses, when he was granted permission to see G-d’s back at the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai, and he literally shone afterwards.

How Will Peace Ever Have a Chance?

With the protests in Israel over judicial reform going on for an agonizing 28 weeks now, culminating in a march on Jerusalem, we see such division that it seems almost like when Israel split into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah 2,800 years ago. Yes, the protests now are about judicial reform, but underneath it all, it definitely seems like it is more boiling over antagonism between secular vs. religious, Peace Now (and trading land for peace) vs. Peace through Strength (and building the Settlements), and the politics of left vs. right (especially those that hate PM Netanyahu). Unfortunately, if we can’t work out our internal divisions as a Jewish people and nation, embrace and love each other, really talk to each other, and find middle ground, then how can we ever find true and lasting peace with our Arab neighbors? And peace is what we pray for and want more than anything!

Big Mouths and Small Brains

Aside from the Israeli protests, with the advent of the Internet and especially social media, people have the ability and, generally, the freedom to say what they want, when they want. It has become easier than ever for people to not only speak sense but to spout off. Whether it is voicing opinions about issues, politics, officials, or just trolls looking to cast aspersions or conspiracy theories, there is no shortage of those who spend what is clearly huge amounts of time and effort to jump up and down, pump their chests, and try to shout the loudest. But does yelling and screaming with near endless protests or 20+ posts a day really accomplish anything? Honestly, I remember this German saying from when I was growing up about people who do this, and it goes something like this:

Ein großer, großer Mund und ein kleiner, kleiner Kopf

Translated into English, it means a big, big mouth and a little, little head. I believe there is a similar saying that I heard in relation to the intelligence community: “Those who know don’t talkThose who talk don’t know.” In short, I take these to mean that it’s definitely not the biggest mouth or loudest voice that either knows what they are talking about or has a real impact, but the thoughtful sincerity of those who speak from the heart and act in truth and G-dliness that speaks volumes above all else.

Summing up these three themes, the beautiful Israeli teens from the FIDF Legacy Summer Camp program are the children and siblings of those who died to protect Jews rights to live, speak, and have self-determination. Rather than cower in fear of the next pogrom or Holocaust, we can now use our sovereignty to grow ourselves and improve the world. Whether or not we like or agree with other people’s opinions, we should be grateful for the ability to express them.

Israelis are a people who are not afraid to speak their minds, and they are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in. Regardless of the outcome of the current controversies, I am proud to be a part of the Jewish people, and I am confident that the citizens of the Holy Land will continue to be a beacon of hope for the world.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is a dynamic, award-winning leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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