In G-d We Trust
As Heard from Rav Doniel Lehrfeld, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Bais Yisroel
Transcribed by Rabbi Daniel Travis
Living in Fear
Just the other day, I listened to the news at noon and heard that Arabs had attacked Jews. I went to daven Minchah, and when I came home, I was shocked to hear that yet another terror attack had taken place.
When I am walking in the street and I hear a noise, I turn around to make sure that it’s not an Arab following me with a knife. Generally, it is another Yid going to shul or involved in some other activity, yet the fear is intense.
My wife runs a store in Geulah, and she tells me that the streets of Yerushalayim, which are generally full of people, with so many tourists shopping, have become quiet. An atmosphere of trepidation has descended upon Eretz Yisroel. What are we meant to take from these increasingly frequent attacks?
Getting to the Root of the Problem
Before we answer this question, we must deal with another issue. At first glance, it seems that the source of these killings is the discord that exists between the Israelis and the Arabs. If we could just find a way to end this conflict, seemingly all the strife would disappear.
Rav Elchonon Wasserman, in his analysis of the Great Depression (Kovetz Maamarim, p. 15), explains that this approach is incorrect. Everything that happens in the world is for the sake of the Jewish people. In order to understand what is taking place around us, we must look for the real cause behind the apparent one.
During the era of the Great Depression, kefirah, the denial of Hashem’s existence, was becoming rampant, even affecting Klal Yisroel. As a result, many Jews lost their trust in Hashem. In order to rectify this, the Almighty punished them middah keneged middah.
The lifeblood of an economy is the circulation of currency, which is based on trust. During the Great Depression, since Jews lost their trust in Hashem, the Almighty caused people to lose trust in each other. As a result, business ventures ceased, money sat uselessly in banks and government coffers, and the economy stagnated.
In our times, although many Jews are observant, a large percentage are unaffiliated. Even those Jews who are Torah-observant may not be on the elevated level of complete bitachon in Hashem. Let us try to understand how the Almighty is using these terror attacks to rectify these issues.
“And Yaakov said to his servants, ‘When you deliver the gift of animals to Eisav, leave a gap between each flock’” (Bereishis 32:17). The Ramban cites a Medrash, which explains that this hints to Yaakov Avinu’s request to Hashem that if the Jewish people experience tzaros, there should not be too many at a time. Rather, the tribulations they experience should come with gaps of time between them.
In the nearly two thousand years of this golus, the Jewish people have been the target of constant persecution. Yet, there have been breaks between one tribulation and the next, as Yaakov Avinu requested. After each onslaught, we have had the chance to pick ourselves up and start again.
In Eretz Yisroel, the situation appears to be different. For nearly a century, there has been a Jewish presence in Eretz Yisroel, and during this time we have been the target of constant attacks from the Arabs, with almost no time to catch our breath. Why hasn’t Yaakov Avinu’s request aided the Yidden in Eretz Yisroel?
The Palace of the King
Eretz Yisroel is the Palace of the King. Living here comes together with the responsibility to maintain an elevated level of Torah-observance. For this reason, the middas hadin is much stronger here.
We have no idea where or when these daily attacks will take place. All of these incidents are meant to instill within us the reality of Hashem’s complete control over our lives. The army, weapons and other forms of protection are all but futile when we are fighting teenaged children who are willing to give up their lives to kill Jews.
The Vilna Gaon (commentary on the Zohar, Vol. II, 119b) explains that chevlei Moshiach are like the birth pangs of a woman in labor. As we get closer and closer to the birth, they become more and more frequent and more intense. This is what we are seeing now in Eretz Yisroel.
Fighting Yishmoel with Bitachon
The natural reaction to such frequent terror acts is to try to tune out all that is going on, so that we can live our lives as normally as possible, but we must not allow ourselves to become numb to the acts of terror around us. Each one of these stabbings and murders is a message from Hashem, and we must make sure to analyze them carefully.
In a previous article, we cited the commentary of Rav Chaim Vital, who explains that the verses of Tehillim 124:1-3 make reference to Yishmoel, whom the Torah calls a pereh adam. The Arabs realize that the existence of the Jewish people is proof that they are not the true heirs to Avrohom Avinu’s work. Therefore, they try to “swallow us up alive,” doing everything in their power to negate our very existence.
Tehillim 124 concludes, “Our help is through the name of Hashem, Creator of the heavens and the earth.” Here, Dovid Hamelech reveals to us that the way to deal with the attacks of Yishmoel is to come to a clearer recognition of the fact that salvation can only come from Hashem. Strengthening ourselves in emunah and bitachon will cause the tribulations to end and will usher in the geulah.
While it is certainly painful to see daily terror attacks, the recognition that we are powerless is exactly what Hashem wants from us. The Mishnah teaches us that when we reach the End of Days, we will need to acquire the recognition that we have nothing to rely on other than Hashem. Only then can the final redemption take place (Sotah 49a).
I believe that there is an important reason that the geulah must come specifically in this fashion. A majority of the Jewish people are not observant today, and most of them are tinokos shenishbu. They were not privileged to have received a true Torah education from their families. They may not understand that what is taking place is a call to strengthen ourselves in Torah and chessed.
However, emunah is a concrete reality, and the clearer the signs that Hashem wields complete control, the more we are obligated to internalize it. The fact that we have nothing to rely on today is something that everyone, religious or not, should be able to perceive. Hashem is giving our nonreligious brethren the opportunity to come to this recognition and join with the rest of Klal Yisroel to be part of the final revelation.
Every such event that takes place is meant to help us internalize the truth of the Mishnah at the end of Maseches Sotah that we have nothing to rely on other than our Father in Heaven. The more we see such violence, the more we are expected to recognize that, in truth, there is absolutely no safe place in the world.
We need to internalize that these attacks are messages from Above, and we must use them to come to a crystal-clear recognition that Hashem is the only true Power and our only Source of salvation from these terrorist acts, so that we may merit the redemption quickly.