"Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites"
For thirty nine years Moses led the Israelites through the desert. A man of peace, Moses never looked for a fight with the neighboring nations. Seeking only non-violent means to lead his flock into the promised land of Israel, he, nevertheless, never backed down from a battle imposed upon the children of Israel by hostile enemies. But now, as commanded by G-d, Moses tells his people to gear up for war. This war of vengeance, as Torah calls it, is unprovoked, gratuitous. What's it all about?
The prophets of the G-d of Israel all foretell of a day when nations will beat their swords into plowshares, and mankind will unite in peace. But until that day, Torah teaches us, war, under certain circumstances, can serve a very moral purpose. G-d's war of vengeance against the Midianite corrupters of the Jewish nation was waged, not with bellicose delusions of grandeur, but with a cool, dry aim to be achieved: the destruction of the mortal threat that the Midianites posed to the nation of Israel.
Yet the Israelites had already recovered from the internal chaos caused by the disastrous "policy" of appeasement, assimilation and moral abandon, as exemplified by Zimri, prince of the tribe of Shim'on, and Cozbi the Midianite princess. The Midianite episode was over. So why start up again, just when things seem to have quieted down? Why not just leave well enough alone?
Moses himself provides the answer: Even after the Israelite armies thoroughly defeated the Midianites, slaughtered their five kings, and Bilaam the prophet, Moses was furious with his officers for sparing the lives of the Midianite women. But what harm could the helpless woman cause the children of Israel? Moses is quite emphatic in describing the Midianite women as the source of the scourge: "Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Bilaam, to revolt so as to break faith with HaShem in the matter of Peor, and so the plague was among the congregation of HaShem." (Numbers 31:16)
Today the nation of Israel once again finds itself at war against cruel G-d-less prophets, bloodthirsty dictators, savage warlords, and sadistic blood crazed armies. Even, and especially, women and children have been recruited in Islam's all out war against the G-d of Israel and His people. Israel has time and time again defeated her enemies, only to, at the behest Israel's own bankrupt leadership, spare the enemy the final deathblow, thereby enabling the enemy to strike time and time again.
"We're enlightened, we're moral, we're Jewish, we're not like our enemies," our leaders intone after each deadly attack, wringing their hands for the cameras, while wrapping themselves in immoral, self-serving complacency and helplessness. There is nothing enlightened about giving G-d's land to His sworn enemies. There is nothing moral about allowing a child killer, (recently released terrorist Samir Kuntar), to acquire a college degree, marry two times and father children, all from the confines of an Israeli prison, and then to release him back into the arms of those who swear Israel's destruction. There is nothing Jewish about allowing our enemies to repeatedly and systematically kill Jewish men women and children in Israel, simply because we pride ourselves on being too civilized to take the necessary means to put an end to the killing for once and for all. And yes, by passively acquiescing to the dictates of the Amaleks and Bilaams and Balaks who torment us today, we are, indeed, like our enemies in every way, serving as their enablers and accomplices.
We can't be more Jewish than Moses, more moral than G-d. The utter destruction of the Midianites that enabled Israel to get on with the task at hand - entering the land and building a nation - is what is called for today. Until Israel's leaders cease to rebel against, and accept what Torah has to teach us about vanquishing our enemies without misplaced compassion; until Israel's leaders cease to worship at an altar of self-imposed passivity and helplessness, and cling to the principles of immorality, this great nation, so anxious to fulfill the true words of Torah, will languish in the desert.
Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven take aim at helplessness posing as enlightenment, and see true Torah morality and exile-slaying resolve in the actions of Moses and Pinchas, and one man's quest to rediscover the elusive Crimson Worm.
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