Parsha Matos 5766: Remaining “in peace” During a War of Survival — Revisited …

Parsha Matos/Masei 5766: Remaining “in peace” During a War of Survival — Revisited

By, Moshe Burt

In Parsha Matos, Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven approached Moshe Rabbeinu regarding their desire to graze their flocks and settle their families on the East side of the Yarden. To this, Moshe Rabbeinu replied, “Shall your brothers go off to war, and shall you sit here?” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 32, posuk 6)

Moshe was quite angry at the two Sh’vatim. He was concerned lest Gad and Reuven would avoid taking part in the wars for Eretz Yisrael, that the Sh’vatim might follow suit and B’nai Yisrael might be condemned to wandering in the desert another 40 years.

There are those commentators who hold that the hearts of Gad and Reuven were in the right place and that they had every intention, of their own volition, of taking part in the wars and, in fact, preceeding the rest of B’nai Israel into battle.

There were other commentators who viewed the desire of Gad and Reuven to settle on the East side of the Yarden as representing greed, a secular approach to Eretz Yisrael and a tendency toward separatism vs. communal responsibility.

But, I found the most poignant explanation of the situation as coming from the Tiferet Yehonatan who is quoted in the sefer “Torah Gems” where he states, on “‘Shall your brothers go off to war, and shall you sit here?”, that ‘…when your enemies attack Israel — you shall sit here’ — you will remain in peace in whatever country you are living in? Do not think so for an instant, because a war in defense of Israel is a war for the survival of the entire Jewish people whereever they are.'” (Torah Gems, Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Matos, page 156.)

This explanation is as poignant now, a year after the expulsion from Gush Katif and the Shomron and as the chickens of last years’ “disengagement” come home to roost despite whatever spin Olmert, Mofaz, Peretz or Peres may put on recent events in Gaza and in the North. It was last year at this time that Israel left parts of the land of israel because “the war is not at our doorstep”, “that the settlers are the root of the problem,” not an existential enemy sworn to our destruction. Israelis of our generation can’t relate to Sh’vatim Gad and Reuven and the War to capture the Land of Israel.

And last year, this author provided 5 reasons why the expulsion, and Olmert’s subsequent plans for the “convergence”, “consolidation”, “realignment”; his rationale for being, similarly stinks on ice. Deleted from the list this year is the point of Sharon and his corrupt family — no longer relevant. The remaining points should all be viewed as of equal importance.

1/ Jew does not expel Jew, and surely not from the Land of Israel.

2/ The loss of a significantly huge piece of Israel’s agricultural sector is surely being felt in the agricultural sector and through the entire economy.

3/ The Kassams ARE now falling hot and heavy in Sderot as well as Ashkelon. We watch Hamas calibrate the Kassams for longer distances just as Hizbullah has advanced their Katyushas and are striking Safed, Tiberias, Haifa and are now threatening Tel Aviv. Hizbullah received more advance missiles from Syria and from Iran and other sources. Chas V’Chalila that Olmert’s “realignment” would be come reality, that the Kassams and Katyushas find their ways into Arab hands in Yehuda and Shomron … And on Tuesday, it was announced that this 2-front war has cost Israel 1 Billion USD thus far, so we must realistically ask about the collective tax bite and minus for Yosef Q. Secular Israeli? Who will the Am then blame?

4/ Although we have not yet felt an international impact of the past year’s events, we are the front line of Judaism. Our humiliation at repeatedly rewarding terror can be foreseen as again, as with generations of pogroms and with the holacaust, casting all Jews here and in Chutz L’Aretz as “spineless” and “sub-human.”. Unless Israel undertakes a selfless, steadfast, unified (by Jewish brotherly love and Kiddush Hashem) battle-to-the-finish for our inalienable divine right to the Jewish homeland, look for serious Anti-Semitic backlash. Unless we conduct a war to a winning conclusion, expect the Arabs and the world to attack us at will and as we have probably not seen in the past 50 years. We would again be viewed by the world, as we were seen by the Nazis, as spineless, sub-human creatures who bow to threats and intimidation. Nothing would remain sacred.

This author wrote last year; we felt betrayed when we were attacked at the Munich Olympics, on the Holy day of Yom Kippur, in the Air France plane hijacked to Entebbe. Don’t dare feel betrayed, indignant again because, for the Secular Israeli who supported expulsion of his Jewish brothers and apathetically gave little thought to them, caring only for his own personal comfort and convenience, caring only for gaining “the normal life” of the nations, perhaps nothing Jewish could ever be sacred again.

So it is for all of the above reasons, and probably more, that every believing Jew belongs taking part in this battle, on all of it’s levels, to his fullest and beyond, to the extent that he can.

May it be in this year and beyond, that our brethren; the refugee families from Gush Katif and the Shomron (may they soon be restored to new homes and neighborhoods, Bati Knesset, Yeshivot in Gush Katif and the Shomron and only happiness and success for all time), as well as our dear brother, Jonathan Pollard (may he soon know freedom and long life in Eretz Yisrael), that the lives of the 3 captive Chayalim be central in our thoughts, prayers, chassadim and actions. May this abominable period of history called hitnatkut be as a bad dream.

May we be zocha in this coming year to take giant steps toward fulfilling Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.