Those of us who are not in the army must become spiritual soldiers with the same day-and-night spirit of sacrifice and sense of duty as our boys in uniform. It is our prayers that give fuel to our fighter planes and tanks and direct our missiles on course.
-Elder Kabbalist, Rabbi Eliyahu Leon Levi
Who better protects Israel: A soldier or a Yeshiva student?
A friend of mine is volunteering for combat duty in the IDF. I am so proud of him. It takes a lot of character and guts to offer so much of yourself to the Jewish People. Very few of us give up the comfy life in our warm homes to live in a tent for three years.
I told my Rabbi this and he was also impressed. However, as with everything else that happens, he took this event as an opportunity to ask a profound question about the nature of the Jewish People.
He asked me, “Which is more beneficial to our National Defense? Guarding a post or performing a mitzvah?”
It’s a pretty annoying question. Soldiers run to the front lines and brave bullets for our protection. A mitzvah involves none of these dangers. A soldier pushes himself to the limit of his physical and mental boundaries.
Even the Bible had soldiers. Didn’t Moshe lead us in war against the nations of Sichon and Og? Didn’t Joshua conquer the Land of Israel by war? Wasn’t King David one of the greatest warriors in Jewish History?
My Rabbi had the perfect response to these questions.
It is written in the Book of Vayikra that when the Jewish people were at war, whenever Moshe held his hands high in prayer, they would gain the advantage. When he would lower his hands, the other nations would dominate. To win, Moshe’s hands were placed under rocks so they wouldn’t fall. Joshua was given specific instructions by Hashem concerning the first battle the Jewish people fought for the Land of Israel. In the battle of Jericho, we didn’t tear down the walls with battering rams or heavy artillery. We followed Hashem’s Commandments and the walls miraculously fell down on their own. As for King David, he was Israel’s greatest warrior. He was also a torah scholar and a prophet. It was our ancient Commander in chief who wrote: Some rely on horses, others rely on chariots, but in the Name of Hashem we call out. (Psalms 20:8).”
Does this mean that for those of us who live in our comfy homes, and work in the climate of controlled offices can protect Israel just as much as the hardened warrior protecting our northern border while fighting the cold, sheer boredom, and Hezbollah terrorists?
According to Moshe Rabeinu, Joshua Ben Nun, and King David, winning our spiritual battles is the basic prerequisite for victory in War.
The greatest battle I have ever fought in my life is against my Yetzer Hara. The hardest thing I have ever done is to defeat the urge to break the laws of sexual morality. Every time I set foot into a subway, I have to fight every instinct inside me that wants to look up and gaze at that figure in my peripheral vision. My army service lasted 18 months. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. When the last day of my service came, my commander gave me a big hug, and home I went. The battle ended.
The spiritual battle never ends. It is an ongoing struggle to purify our piece of the collective soul of Israel. We are the Jewish People. We don’t simply win wars by our physical or military strength. When we fight for Holiness G-d steps in and makes sure we are triumphant.
This is the story of Chanukah. We weren’t just outnumbered. The empire of Greece was the superpower of the day. It would have been easy for the Greeks to wipe Israel off the map if Israel was at full strength – but we weren’t. We were half a nation. The other half was fighting on the side of the Greeks! There is no logical way to explain how we won. Understanding the logic of the Maccabee victory is as reasonable as explaining the logic behind how the Jews won the Six Day War.
During the Hellenist period, our forefathers fought for purity. They fought to protect the basic mitzvoth that define us as Jews and enable us to be a nation that serves our Creator. It was in that merit we had help from Above.
When Israel fought Edom, it was the Macabees and Hellenists.
Today, whether its President Bush or President Obama, the policies of the West haven’t changed. The Jewish People will have to evacuate from all of the West Bank and lift any blockade on Gaza. We are required to relinquish security control of all areas where our enemies are plotting to kill our women and children, and allow into Israel millions of alleged refugees. If that wasn’t enough, the West demands that our holiest site must be given away. The west can make similar demands of compromise from the Palestinian people, but they don’t. Edom wants us as weak as we can be.
How do we fight them?
For the answer, we need to go all the way back to the Book of Genesis.
One of the main characters in the First Book of the Bible is Joseph the Tzaddik. How did he get this title? He was successful in overcoming his sexual desires. When he was 17, he was a slave to one of the Pharaoh’s officers. The wife of Joseph’s overseer had a thing for Joseph. She was widely known as the most beautiful woman in all of Egypt. She was kind of like Brittney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Beyonce Knowles rolled up into one. She did all she could to get Joseph to sleep with her. Each day, she would change her clothes three times to get Joseph to so much as lift his head to check her out. It never worked. In the end, Joseph would become the ruler of all of Egypt. At the time there was a global famine and Egypt was the only nation with food. Egypt used this advantage to make the nations of the world subservient to it. When Joseph took control of Egypt, he became de facto ruler of the world.
The Talmud, in Pirkei Avot states, “One who controls his evil inclinations is greater than the conqueror of a city.” In resisting the temptation to gaze at a woman’s beauty, commit adultery, and betray Hashem, Joseph stood up to all the impurities of the world. In defeating the depravities of the physical world, Joseph came to dominate that world.
His life story serves as a ray of hope for our current situation.
We may not all be 17 years old, but we are all faced with a thousand wives of Potiphar every day. We can’t walk five feet without being tempted to check out a girl on the street, an impure image on a billboard, or a link to a website that leads us to spiritual debasement. In order to defend the soul of Israel, the challenges all of us face require us to fight battles all the time that would make even the toughest generals wince.
We have it in our ability to defeat the forces of Edom and live in peace and prosperity. Every time we resist the urge to look at someone we shouldn’t, every time we keep quiet when the girl next to us wants to be chatty, every time we turn off the internet after we read the daily news, we are doing what Joseph did. We are doing what the Macabees did. God is watching over us. He is waiting for the moment we will merit His miracles.
The Torah talks about Jacob leaving the Land of his uncle Lavan and returning to Israel. After working for Laban for 20 years, our forefather became an ancient billionaire.
If Jacob worked for Laban for 20 years to acquire Leah and Rachael why didn’t he leave? He knew that the moment he returned to the Land of Israel, his older brother Esau would kill him. Esau was incensed that Jacob acquired the birthright of the firstborn. Jacob was rich. He was safe. Why did he risk it all to go back? After working 14 years for his two wives, why did he stay an extra 6 years?
The Midrash tells us that once Joseph was born, Jacob knew he could defeat his older brother and live in the Land of Israel in peace. Joseph has the power to defeat Esau.
The truth applies to us, the Children of Jacob, in our war against Edom, the Children of Esau. By fighting our inclinations that constantly beg for us to commit acts of sexual depravity, we can tap into the same Source of supernatural strength Joseph did.
In harnessing the power of Joseph, we can provide spiritual cover for those brave souls that are risking their lives for our continued national survival.
Spiritually, we can help protect Israel with the merit of our hard earned mitzvoth the same way physically, the men and women in uniform protect Israel in the merit of their courage.
David Fink is the Editor-in-Chief of the daily investment newsletter, Real Wealth Recon. In 2008, his Real Wealth portfolio MADE MONEY, outperforming the three major indices by 38%, and the average Hedge Fund by 25%. For $99 a year, you get David’s daily market commentary, instant emails for every trade he makes, total access to David’s portfolio, and a weekly review of the major articles published around the world. Why hand over your hard earned money to someone in a suit saying “trust me.” Keep your money and trust yourself. Join the elite investors who are making money this year, and tell Wall Street: YOU’RE FIRED!