Border Policemen check a Palestinian youth at the Damascus Gate, the scene of multiple terror attacks in Jerusalem’s Old City..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israeli people are heroes. They have endured an onslaught of terrorist attacks that would have crippled any other nation on earth. Since September there have been 307 attacks or attempted attacks in 170 days, in which 33 people have been killed and 360 injured. There have been 192 stabbings, 76 shootings and 39 vehicular attacks.
An extended onslaught of this nature would break the morale and ability to function of any society. And yet Israelis go about their daily lives in fortitude and bravery. Children go to school, people go to work and society continues to function at a very high level, shaking off the constant threat of danger with remarkable resilience.
Jews in the Diaspora watch from afar in awe and admiration, and in unwavering support. The words of King David from the Book of Psalms come to mind: “May G-d bless His angels, mighty heroes who...
listen to the call of His word.”
The people of Israel are the brave angels of G-d Himself. The Talmud says that this verse refers to those farmers who observe the Sabbatical year, when farmers do not cultivate or harvest their fields: “It is the normal way of the world for a person to be able to do a mitzva for one day, one week or one month, but for an entire year?! And this farmer sees his field lying desolate and he sits silently. Is there any greater hero than this?” The Talmud sees such personal discipline and commitment to doing the right thing, as heroic and brave, indeed, even angelic and super-human.
Certainly the same can be said of the brave people of Israel today. To apply the thinking of the Talmud to the current situation one could say: It is the normal way of the world for people to endure terrorist attacks, for one day or one week; but the Israeli people have endured terrorist attacks on their streets now for months, and yet they face these challenges with enormous bravery. Are there any greater heroes? Indeed the verse “May G-d bless His angels the mighty heroes” applies directly to each and every man, women and child of the Israeli people, who have with such fortitude endured such an onslaught.
And the onslaught of recent months is just the latest mutation of an ongoing war to destroy Israel, one which began at the birth of the Jewish state, and even before, and has taken the form of seven conventional wars and many waves of terrorism.
For decades without respite generations of Israelis have fought with remarkable heroism and bravery in the armed forces of their country, to defend their homes and cities from murderous attacks. All the while, they have created, with G-d’s blessings, a flourishing society, which has absorbed millions of refugees, establishing a haven of freedom and prosperity in a region of hatred and oppression.
And they have done so for all these years with positive energy and even optimism.
Israeli society is filled with a joy for life and with a will to celebrate every part of it. This is the greatest answer to the terrorists, who seek to bring destruction and death to the world. Jews around the world are so deeply grateful to the people of Israel because it is this bravery and the refusal to bow in submission before evil violence that ensures that the freedom and independence of Israel to function as a Jewish state in the Middle East is protected.
And indeed, all decent people in every civilized country should be grateful to the Israeli people for standing so resolutely on the front lines of the war against the forces of radical Islam, which seek to assault and destroy freedom, life and dignity. The Israeli response of little children attending nursery school, or teenagers high school, or the countless Israelis walking to synagogue on Shabbat, and who go to their businesses and places of work each and every single day with a positivity and determination, is the greatest answer to the forces of evil that seek to destroy civilization based on the values of life, dignity and freedom – values which our Torah gave to the world. And it is for the defense of these sacred values that we pay humble and grateful tribute to the heroes of Israel, and we pray, “May G-d bless His angels, mighty heroes.”The writer is chief rabbi of South Africa.