Shabbat Parashat Behar| 5765
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Reflections Right After the Six Day War - Part I - From Sha’alu Sh’lom Yerushalayim, pp. 53-55
“I will extol You, Hashem, for You have drawn me up, and You did not bring joy to my enemies over me” (Tehillim 30:2). What was our situation before our salvation came? We were in the depths of the pit and on the lowest level. The noose was tightening and the hopes that “friendly nations” would come to our aid were evaporating like a false fantasy. Every day brought its “tidings of Iyov.” One day it was the removal of the small UN force that separated us from our enemies. Another day it was the announcement of pacts between nations of the region with the promise that the day would soon come when the name of Israel would no longer be heard.
That was only part of the story. Internally, our situation was equally precarious. The economy was in a recession, with unemployment soaring. Yerida (outward migration) thinned the ranks of the most talented minds daily. The younger generation was wasting away, looking for lowly entertainment. Political parties were quarreling about anything and everything, while revelations of misappropriations of public funds were surfacing daily. The misgivings between the religious and irreligious were widening, as the desecration of Shabbat reached the point that the Shabbat was all but erased off the face of the map. Within the religious world, there was no lack of disunity, as well.
And then before our eyes, the double miracle occurred, the internal one and the external one. As by a magic wand, everything turned around instantaneously. The nation and its leaders overcame the feeling of helplessness. A national unity government arose and the nation forgot its upheavals. The “outer peel” dissolved, and the fire of belief and the willingness to sacrifice one’s self began to blaze in our hearts and surged outward.
Where did this come from? Young people who had been steeped in materialism and scorned everything holy were suddenly climbing to the height of self-sacrifice. People of all ages joined together to carry out their duties. Waves of powerful belief in the Savior of Israel swept over many who had harbored doubts. The kippa-wearers in the army were no longer outcasts but became the center of attention, attracting people who wanted to pray along with them. There are incredible stories of pre-battle prayers held by unprecedented, large groups with great inspiration and an awe of the Divine and an unquestioning faith that never existed before.
When the moment of truth came and firefights erupted, we were witness to acts of glorious bravery without parallel. How awesome were the sights of soldiers lying on barbed-wire fences to serve as bridges for their comrades to walk on to attack enemy positions in hand-to-hand combat! How wonderful was the composure of combat pilots diving toward their targets with disregard for their personal welfare! How can we explain the powerful excitement that took hold over those who were chosen to penetrate the walls of the Old City of Yerushalayim, reaching, as bloody sacrifices fell along the way, the holy stones of the Kotel Hama’aravi, the remnant of our Beit Hamikdash!
As we note the miracle that occurred within our souls, so should we recognize the miracle that took place in regard to the destruction of the encampments of our enemies and our arrival at the boundaries that the Torah set out for us in Parashat Masei. Even before the war we knew that our enemies possessed much strength. But only with our penetration into the network of their defenses is it starting to become clear how advanced their weapons of destruction were and how great the miracle was that Hashem did not allow us to be “feed for their teeth.”
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