Each passing day brings Iran closer to a nuclear warhead. Only the blind and the naive would think otherwise. Despite international sanctions, the Iranian centrifuges are working 24/7 purifying uranium and producing nuclear weapons-grade fuel.
Lately, one after the other, senior American government officials such as the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense have visiting Israel, each carrying the same message: "Don't be naughty, you mischievous Israelis! You may certainly not carry out a preemptive strike against the Iranian nuclear reactors!"
Our leaders answer with their well-known bravado, "We won't leave our fate in the hands of others. We'll do what we need to do when we need to do."
We certainly agree with the above statement, but our references aren't the same as theirs. We don't leave our fate in the hand of "others" - in other words, other gods. We leave our fate in the hand of Hashem.
With all the hype in the media, people are frantic. They hear Iran day and night. Syria too is up for grabs, and no one knows in whose hands hundreds of tons of chemical mass-destructive weapons will fall. Then there's Hizbulla, Iran's armed-to-the-gills proxy right on our border too. Terror is on the rise in lawless Sinai. What will be?
I asked that question to my beloved teacher, Rabbi Shalom Arush, shlit'a. Recent events, especially the horror stories of breaches of holiness in the Haredi community, have taken a toll on his health.
Rav Shalom brushed aside the USA, Iran, and all of our other so-called friends and enemies with one backhand gesture. "They don't decide our fate," he said hoarsely. He had tears in his eyes, his voice was quivering, and he was obviously trying to restrain himself from crying. It was scary. "This is the Minister of the Smile?" I asked myself. Rav Shalom was seeing a very dark cloud on the spiritual horizon.
He then quoted the Torah: "And I will bring upon you the sword that avenges the vengeance of covenant" (Leviticus 26:25).
Rav Shalom then became as fierce as a lion: "When will people begin to realize that the entire purpose of Torah and mitzvoth is to bring a person to a state of holiness, so he or she can be a worthy vessel for the Divine Presence. But everyone must know: if they eat Kosher BaDatz, keep Shabbat with stringencies and have long beards - yet they think that their libido is a big mitzvah and their hearts are far from holiness - then they have done nothing! They've completely missed the point of Torah observance."
Not only have they missed the point, but they aid and abet the enemy. How?
Rav Shalom quoted Torah and mentioned "the sword that avenges the vengeance of covenant". Hashem incorporated a hard-fast law of cause-and-effect in the fiber of creation: if the Jewish people shall live their lives in holiness, they shall be encompassed within the glorious "clouds of Divine Presence;" they shall lack nothing and shall enjoy every single blessing in life, both material and spiritual. Not only that, Hashem Himself shall dwell in their midst, so no evil can befall them.
But, if on the other hand, Heaven forbid, the Jewish people forsake the path of holiness, succumbing to temptations mind and body, they shall suffer the consequences of the breach in brit, the holy covenant. Any breach in covenant produces a negative spiritual force known as "vengeance of covenant". The vengeance of covenant is the force that creates a sword of vengeance, the same way that nuclear fuel is the power source of an atomic weapon.
Are you beginning to understand?
The spiritual roots of the Iranian nuclear weapons, the "sword of vengeance" that threatens us today, are all the breaches of holiness within the Torah-observant community. Maybe you think that's not fair. "What about the seculars?" you want to ask.
Hashem expects much more from the Haredi community than He does from the seculars, who grew up in utter ignorance of Torah and mitzvoth.
People are afraid to be called names. One "average" Haredi man says, "If I go around closing my eyes, people will think I'm insane."
Rav Shalom answers, "If you open your eyes, especially to unfiltered web and to Facebook, you will be insane.
A Haredi woman says (wearing her long Euro-Kastem $1600 wig and her long but quite-tight satin dress that accents every curve), "Do you expect me to dress like a yachna (Yiddish for 'old hag')? I wouldn't be caught dead like that!" Hey lady, if you continue dressing the way you do, you are creating the sword which will "catch you dead."
So maybe you're asking, "What can I do if the whole world is off its rocker and I guard my eyes?" Or, "What can I do if all the women are 'in style' and I dress like 'Little House on the Prairie?" Rav Shalom that you're doing a lot - you just might save the Jewish people.
When the Jews arrived at the Red Sea, with the Egyptian Army in hot pursuit from behind and the sea in front, there was an argument in the Heavenly Court if the Jews were worthy of being saved or not. One man's dedication - Nachshon ben Aminadav who jumped into the water - tipped the scales in the Jews' favor and the sea split. This is what Rebbe Nachman of Breslev calls azut d'kedusha, or boldness for holiness.
Rav Shalom told me that azut d'kedusha is the only weapon which can defeat the sword of our enemies, conventional or otherwise.
So it's not our enemies or our allies that determine our fate; they don't decide. Our determination in strengthening personal holiness - guarding eyes for men and modesty for women - is the force that will determine which way the chips fall. There's little time left, so let's get to work. G-d bless always.
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