Moshe Kempinski, author of "The Teacher and the Preacher", is the editor of the Jerusalem Insights weekly email journal and co-owner of Shorashim, a Biblical shop and learning center in the Old City of Jerusalem.
In this week’s Torah portion of Mattot we read how Moses commands the children to battle with Midian fiercely and completely because their earlier attack on Israel was not only physical but was designed to create a deeply spiritual wound.
Balaam came to curse the Jewish people but is barred from doing so by G-d. Then Balaam suggest to Balak to send the daughters of Midan to seduce the children of Israel.
As we read in our portion "And Moses said unto them: 'Have you saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, 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 31:15-16).
Why was this path chosen?
It was Balaam that spoke Hashem's words and said" He ( G-d) does not look at evil in Jacob, and has seen no perversity in Israel; the L-rd, his G-d, is with him." ( ibid 23:21)
Balaam realized that attacking the people of Israel frontally may not succeed. On the other hand attacking the sanctity of the Israelites might actually bring about a separation from G-d and make them physically and spiritually more vulnerable.
The weakness of this people always will come to the fore when they become disconnected from their spiritual core and Divine destiny. Their strength on the other hand comes to play when they listen to the Divinely whispered spiritual imperative.
That is the reason the Hamas are feeling so frustrated. They are encountering a people who have been tempered and strengthened in the very weeks prior to this new war . After 18 days of coming together in prayer concern and yearning for the safety of three boys kidnapped and murdered by the Hamas this people of Israel had become a different people.
They were a stronger more faithful Israel that would not be deterred or frightened by wave after wave of missiles. They had become the people that they were meant to be.
As Balaam was forced to declare; "Behold, I am bidden to bless; and when He hath blessed, I cannot call it back. None hath beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath one seen perverseness in Israel; Hashem his G-d is with him, and the shouting for the King is among them." (ibid. 20-21)
I thought about this when we heard the tragic news of a young man who was killed Tuesday
by a Hamas mortar shell
Dror Hanin, 38, was a married father of three lving in Beit Aryeh in Samaria.He was tragically killed as he was giving out gift bags to soldiers at the Erez Crossing near Gaza. The Judea and Samaria Firefighting District described this young man who had volunteered as a firefighter as “a true fighter, imbued with the spirit of volunteering, the first to initiate and take action, dominant and active in the fire station at Beit Aryeh.“
In the words of Avi Naim, Head of the Beit Aryeh Council, “Dror was a special person, motivated by values, who found his death while he did what he loved to do most – expressing love for his fellow man and endless giving.”
Dror ( HY”D) could have waited out this conflict in the safety of his bomb shelter or in the company of his loving family. He chose instead to drive into the midst of the battle area to give to others and to support his brothers and sisters. His actions and concern reflect a true son of Israel.
There are many types of soldiers in a battlefield. There are those on the front lines while there are those in logistics. There are soldiers working on the home front and those involved in intelligence gathering. There are also soldiers who simply represent the Heaven based attribute of Hessed- Loving-kindness. And in this fractured and hurting world, that, too, is an act of spiritual defiance.
May Dror Hanin’s name be for a blessing.
In the Divinely inspired words of Bilaam;
"For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, it is a people that shall dwells alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. Who hath counted the dust of Jacob, or numbered the stock of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let mine end be like his! ( Numbers 23:8-9)
LeRefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved
Note: We have suffered the loss of IDF soldier Eytan Barak Hy"d this morning. May he be the last holy sacrifice. And may his memory be for a blessing.