Amid a cloud of controversy, Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, strode into the Rotunda and delivered clarity, courage and vision. It was a watershed moment, the collective Jewish nation breathed a sigh of relief. A message, bottled for far too long, was finally heaved off our chest. Bravo, Netanyahu.
In his remarks, the Prime Minister pointed to the story of Purim as an example of the constant persecution Jews suffered throughout history. He vowed that Jews will never again go down without a fight. He declared that we now have the capability to defend our own.
“For the first time in a hundred generations,” declared the Prime Minister, “we the Jewish people can defend ourselves.” He went on to say, “As Prime Minister of Israel I can promise you... Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand. But I know that Israel does not stand alone, I know that America stands with Israel.”
Ringing words of courage and defiance, but… and this is a big but, a most important word is missing. That word is G-d. Netanyahu came around to G-d eventually. He concluded with the words, “May G-d bless the State of Israel... and may G-d bless the United States of America.”
My friends, it is not enough for G-d to show up at the very end. G-d is with us every step of the way. From the trouble, to the solution and through to the salvation. Netanyahu mentioned the story of Purim. Think of that story. The Jews had a queen in the palace and Mordechai, an important official, who had the honorable distinction of saving the king’s life.
Either could have appealed directly to the king. Esther could have appealed to the king as his wife, surely Ahashverosh was in no mood of losing yet another queen. Mordechai could have invoked his merit of saving the king’s life and demanded a life for a life. Yet neither Mordechai nor Esther responded to the news of Haman’s decree with diplomatic efforts. Their first order of business was to strengthen the collective Jewish bond with G-d. They fasted, donned sackcloth, repented and prayed
In fact the book of Esther declares that his sackcloth prevented Mordechai from even entering the palace. Rather than donning his best and appearing before the king, he donned sackcloth and appeared before G-d. Only then did he consult with Esther and ask her to intervene with the king. Esther at first demurred, but eventually acquiesced after she too fasted and prayed for three full days.
When troubles befall the Jews, it is G-d’s will. To solve such trouble, we must first turn to G-d. If G-d willed Haman to promulgate a decree, there was no point in arguing with Haman or intervening with Ahashverosh before appealing directly to G-d. That would be like attempting to withdraw money from an empty account. First the account must be filled, only then can money be withdrawn. First a Jew must appeal to G-d, only when G-d has consented can we work on devising a solution.
Netanyahu invoked the story of Purim and from it we must learn a lesson. The path forward is not paved solely by fierce determination and strong will. It must also paved by a collective spiritual awakening. Through prayer, devotion and a return to Jewish tradition we can strengthen our bond with G-d and secure His goodwill. And with that in hand, we will implement Netanyahu’s brilliant strategies.
Israel will not stand alone and neither will America. Both will stand with G-d as we face down the Iranian threat.