Until quite recently, I never understood the full implication of the prophet’s famous saying (Isaiah 41:14), “Do not fear, worm of Jacob; masses of Israel, it is I who has helped you, the word of God, your Redeemer.”
It’s amazing how Time, Newsweek, and the CNN look at the news with no spiritual awareness whatsoever. The above quote should have been the banner headline of 2010, for it’s the secret that underlies this past year’s most earth-shaking events, especially Stuxnet and WikiLeaks, the two hottest names in the news.
“Worm of Jacob?” At first glance, Isaiah’s metaphor seems strange. Why compare Israel to a worm? Isaiah was one of our greatest prophets. He foresaw everything. Didn’t he see our modern IDF fighter squadrons? Didn’t he see our hi-tech capabilities? Didn’t he see the Mossad’s surgical-precision striking capabilities, our sophisticated unmanned planes and our nuclear reactors?
You can be assured that he did.
But the prophet Isaiah also saw how $50,000/piece Arrow missiles wouldn’t be able to stop $50/piece Kassam rockets put together in Gaza garages.
The Midrash (Tanchuma, Beshalach) explains why Israel is called “Worm of Jacob”: The worm is a soft invertebrate, yet it can destroy a mighty hardwood cedar. How? The worm attacks the cedar with its mouth. Just as the worm’s power is in its mouth, Israel’s power is also in its mouth, by way of its prayers.
King David was also a prophet. In Psalm 29, he says, “And Hashem shall break the cedars of Lebanon.” Rashi explains that the “cedars of Lebanon” are the nations hostile to Israel.
Most of us would probably nominate Achmedinejad’s Iran as the most hostile nation to Israel today, with its biweekly declarations of what they plan to do to us. Isaiah the Prophet had an answer for them too (Isaiah 8:10): “Their counsel shall be overturned for the Lord is with us.”
The mindboggling precision of Isaiah’s prophecies makes a micron look inaccurate. Achmedinejad and Iran are the Shiites who control Nasrulla and the Hizbulla, and the Hizbulla is the de facto ruler in Lebanon today. Achmedinejad and Iran therefore set the tone in Lebanon today. How interesting – Iran is in essence “the cedar of Lebanon”, contemporary Israel’s nemesis number-one.
An Israeli preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear reactors is no longer a viable option; it would undoubtedly lead to a continental-scope confrontation and possibly a global war. Yet, Israel cannot remain idle and watch Achmedinejad and company put together nuclear warheads whose crosshairs hone in on our beloved tiny homeland in Zion.
Achmedinejad with his weasel-like smile (would you buy a used car from this individual?) looks at us and says in Chess terminology, “Checkmate!” Any move we make to an adjacent square is apparently catastrophic, either this year or in a few short months away.
Ok, Iran – it’s not yet checkmate, but granted, Israel is in check. That is, until Hashem joins in the game…
Hashem tells us, “Do not fear, worm of Jacob…”
There’s a wonderful expression that I once learned from the Stoliner Rebbe’s beadle: Hashem doesn’t use a 1000 Watt bulb when 25 Watts will get the job done.
The Gemara (tractate Gittin 56b) tells about when Titus defiled the Holy of Holies in the most unspeakable way, then destroyed the Holy Temple altogether. He shook a fist to the sky and boasted, “I have defeated You!”
A voice came down from the heavens and declared, “You haven’t even defeated the smallest of creatures in My world.” Hashem then sent a mosquito, which entered Titus’s nostril and penetrated his brain. It pecked away at his brain like a woodpecker for seven excruciating torture-filled years before he finally died his miserable death.
2000 years ago, a mosquito did what Bar Cochba and his armies couldn’t do.
This past year, a worm has done what the most daring of IDF missions couldn’t dream of accomplishing: it has penetrated the dark-side holy of holies, Iran’s nuclear program. It’s amazing that the little bit of code that’s known as the computer virus is also referred to as a worm.
Experts and amateurs alike have been conjecturing who was brilliant enough to develop the worm known as Stuxnet, which was also surgically precise enough to penetrate the computers that control Iran’s nuclear reactor. Ed Barnes wrote an article for Foxnews.com entitled Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile that Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions– this article makes James Bond and 007 look like a Savta Simcha story.
We humbly submit the obvious solution to the mystery of where the worm named Stuxnet comes from – Hashem, and no one else. Ein od milvado, there’s no one but Him.
The theme of “No one but Him” is the key to understanding all of the major events not only of this past year, but for all of history.
Who would think than another worm, a tiny little snippet of code that wiggled its way into the world’s most carefully guarded email servers would give Wikileaks access to everything that’s going on in the CIA, MI5, KGB, and even our Mossad?
Hashem has a mighty sense of humor; via Wikileaks and Stuxnet, Hashem has shown smug Silicone Valley and prodigious governments alike that there is no cyber security or any other security without Him. We here in the Land of Emuna should be the first to recognize that fact.
Our world-renown Hi-Tech and IDF can’t give us what we need. Neither Elta, IAI, Intel or Sayeret Matkal can bring the rains that we so terribly need. But our prayers can. If every Jewish man, woman, or child would speak to Hashem for a few minutes a day in personal prayer, we’d all be up to our ankles in puddles.
Our power comes from the prayers of our mouths. 24-inch Hulk-Hogan-size biceps look fine in a photo, but you won’t accomplish anything spiritually by banging on the table. The recent Carmel fire was a sinister reminder of our national futility without Hashem’s blessing.
Hashem has been showing us all through 2010 how our military and technical might don’t cut the mustard anymore. I don’t know how soon Moshiach will be here, but with the light of emuna in the world, biceps now take a back seat; those 24-inchers can’t beat their way out of a spiritual paper bag.
So what does Hashem want from us in 2011? He wants us to return to our traditional powers of prayer and emuna.
Be firm like a worm. And don’t be afraid. G-d bless for a Happy New Year 2011.
(We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer Beams)