The latter half of 5773 faces us with unprecedented uncertainty, not only in Israel but in America and Europe as well. There's considerable saber-rattling in the Far East. North Korea has an itchy finger on its nuclear trigger. Radical Islam is thriving. The economy and health care are subjects that most people prefer to avoid. Syria's chemical weapons are up for grabs. In Israel, just this morning, both the Golan in the North and the Eshkol region in the south have been bombed. Also, President Obama's recent visit to Israel, despite all the photo-ops and smiles, reawakens folks to the political pressures that will once again try to twist Israel's territorial arm. Who would have believed that Bibi Netanyahu, a former special forces commando himself, would have apologized to Turkey and Erdogan over the Mavi Marmara affair? That's just an example to show us that Hashem is in charge, not the politicians.
Meanwhile, there's an entire political upheaval over here, with the Bayit Yehudi party led by Naftali Bennett and the Yesh Atid party led by Yair Lapid now pulling the strings of the coalition with a severely weakened Bibi Netanyahu and his Likud party. They have all types of plans that call for drafting Yeshiva students into the army and cutting back financial benefits for Torah institutions and the Haredi populace.
Certain doomsday prophets in the Haredi community are yelling bloody murder. I humbly ask them, since when are we dependant on flesh and blood? Hashem does only the best for us; with the current government, we'll simply have to strengthen our emuna and place our total dependance on Hashem. Besides, if Hashem doesn't want the Haredim in the coalition, there's certainly a good reason and that too is for the very best. So why talk bad about other Jews? Let's invest our energies into more Torah, more prayer, and more mitzvoth. Jewish activism means doing something to make the world a better place. Let's not waste a moment on negative thoughts. Stop worrying! I certainly don't know what the future holds, but I can promise you that it will be good, even more than good.
Sure, Israel suffers from big problems and major threats, from within and from without. But it's heaven for your soul. The fact is that here, more and more people are quietly getting closer to Hashem. In Israel, a beautifully quiet spiritual revolution is taking place. Entire communities of emuna-oriented Jews are mushrooming in places that for years never had a synagogue or a Torah scroll. Yavniel, Carmiel, and Maalot are three examples. Folks there aren't yelling at social protest demonstrations because they're talking to Hashem. Many of our good friends in the USA and Canada have made Aliya recently. I urged those who sought my advice to consider places other than Ramat Bet Shemesh and Har Nof. I sent them to Maalot, to Katzrin, and to Yerucham, where they could buy nice apartments for a song, not worry where the kids are playing and breathe clean air. I've heard no complaints, only expressions of how happy they are to be here. I firmly believe that the latter half of 5773 will be a wonderful for the Jewish people in Israel, despite the threats.
The Evil Inclination wants you to think otherwise. By the way, the EI will do anything to prevent a person from making Aliya, especially casting worry and doubt in people's hearts. The EI was active back in the time of the "Sin of the Spies", and he's still active now...
Every day, I get letters from worried parents with children in yeshivas and seminaries here in Israel. They're frantic for their children to come home to the USA or Canada because of the apparent impending danger with Iran. Other families who had planned Aliya write and ask if it's still safe to come to Israel; many are getting cold feet, especially whenever they listen to the news.
So is it safe in Israel? Let me preface my answer with a quick historical refresher of what happened a mere two decades ago:
The Gulf War began when Saddam Hussein's Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. Condemned by the international community, Iraq was given an ultimatum to withdraw from Kuwait by January 15, 1991. Sadaam ignored the West. The next day, on January 16, the coalition, led by the USA, began an intense aerial campaign against Iraqi targets.
Just a year earlier, I had retired from my combat unit in the IDF. My speed at 41 was not what it used to be, and after twenty years of combat service, I was ready for a breather. I therefore served my last nine years in the IDF Reserves as a military chaplain.
Israel's military intelligence was almost certain that Sadaam would attempt to muster the aide and sympathy of fellow Arab countries in his struggle against the USA by bombing Israel. Tiny Israel began to quietly brace itself for the worst, expecting the first SCUDs to be fired at Israel on January 15 or 16, 1991. Iraq's SCUD missile carried a massive 500-pound payload which was capable of reaching the heart of Israel. Don't forget that Iraq had already used its chemical warheads in its war with Iran.
Two weeks previously, on New Years Day, 1991, we military rabbis got an urgent call to report immediately for reserve duty. Why us? As soon as I reported to base, a busload of my fellow chaplains and I were taken to a military warehouse somewhere in the center of Israel. We were greeted by the Top Brass, briefed, and taken on a tour of a warehouse that contained 100,000 body bags. Israel was expecting the worst. Our commanders figured that we'd be performing funerals around the clock, Heaven forbid.
When the smoke of the Gulf War cleared, 39 SCUD missiles had hit Israel, some in densely populated areas like Ramat Gan and Ramat Aviv. One person died of a heart attack but no one died from Sadaam's missiles.
In contrast, one SCUD missile hit a US Army base in Saudi Arabia, killing 25 GIs and wounding over 200.
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Nu, so is it safe in Israel?
My answer is utterly simple: Hashem did not perform history's greatest miracles to bring us all back to our ancient homeland in the Land of Israel in order to slaughter us here, Heaven forbid.
Neither the Pentagon, newspapers, Fox News, CNN, nor anyone else has an iota of understanding about Hashem's relationship with His beloved children, especially those in the Land of Israel.
In World War II, the British Army in North Africa crumbled under Rommel's iron boot. Nothing stood between the German Panzers and Israel; that is, nothing but Hashem. Hashem stopped Rommel in his tracks when the thirsty German soldiers drank salt water in the desert and got sick. The Brits regrouped and routed the Germans.
Hashem saved the Jews in the Land of Israel in 1948, in 1967, in 1973 and again in 1991. Hashem was a well-established chazaka, a pattern of reliability.
Only a fool would conjecture about what's in store for us in the remainder of 5773. All the dangers that surround us - Iran, the Syrian uncertainty, terror in Sinai and the takeover of Egypt by the Muslem Brotherhood, Hamas and Hizbolla - are high-volume wake-up calls for us to do our very best to come back to Hashem.
One point seems clear - Hashem wants us to learn emuna and to believe in Him. A dazzling IDF victory over Iran doesn't seem likely, because Hashem doesn't want people to be putting their trust in our army. In a manner that no one can imagine, Hashem will foil the evil designs of our enemies, to make us all declare Ein Od Milvado, there is no one but Him!
The summer of 5773 faces us with unprecedented uncertainty, not only in Israel but in America and Europe as well. A huge percentage of American families are on food stamps with unemployment at record highs. Both the dollar and the Euro face a bleak future. Antisemitism, especially in Europe, is rampant.
Hashem is closing the doors of alternatives. He wants us all to come home, and soon.
So, despite the apparent threats and dangers, Aliya is your best bet. Now is a unique window of opportunity that might not be open for long. We're waiting for you. Write or call my good friends at Nefesh B'Nefesh and tell them that Lazer sent you. Meanwhile, blessings for a healthy summer!
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