Until You Get Used to It

I believe that we have to face a bitter reality: Jews will be targets until the Messiah. Even during the Passover Seder, when Jews celebrate their salvation from slavery in Egypt, they remind themselves that in each generation there arise those who try to destroy them. Until the advent of the Messiah, that is.

Prof. Shmuel Neumann

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One village in Europe was so poor that no Jew could afford the holidays. Before every holiday, the Jews had to trek to the nearby city that had substantial number of rich Jews and solicit the necessary funds. As my grandparent's farm was midway, it was a convenient stopover, especially on the arduous return trip back at night. My grandfather maintained a separate apartment fully stocked with food to accommodate the overflow of guests.

Before one Passover, it was particularly crowded. All of the guestrooms in their house and all the rooms in the guest apartment were packed and people kept coming. Makeshift straw beds were put in the living room, dining room and kitchen. Close to midnight, an apologetic elderly Jew meekly knocked on the door, apologizing for the hour and asking if there was any place to sleep. My grandfather showed him the rooms littered with occupied straw beds and told him that he is sorry that it is so crowded, but if he wants, a straw bed could be made up in the pitch black attic. He directed my mother to set it up, and when ready, the wayfaring Jew went to the attic.

An hour later, same story. "Can I have any place to sleep?" a down beaten young man asked. Same answer and another straw bed was put together in the pitch black attic. The young man, thinking that he was alone in the pitch black attic, said his evening prayers and then started complaining in Yiddish to the Almighty.

"How long will I have to suffer?" he asked the Almighty.

In the pitch black darkness, he heard a voice:"Until you get used to it."

Many a truth is said in jest.

"If ten people tell you are drunk, go to sleep," an old gypsy saying goes. One fundamental belief shared by the Jewish, Christian and Moslem religions is that world peace will be established by a Messiah. It seems to me that its corollary is also a universal belief - until the advent of the Messiah, world peace is impossible. Certainly, there can be no peace in Israel until the Messiah. Any negotiated peace is simply a fleeting apparition.

During the Oslo Accord years, there was no significant reduction in terrorist attacks, not in number of attacks, number injured, nor number killed.[1] The only difference was media doctors redefining the casualties from human beings with families to "sacrifices for peace". Buses blew up in Tel Aviv, but instead of sharing the pain of the mourners, the spin doctors clucked their tongues and wondered what it would do to the peace process. Looking back, it was both stupid and insane.

I believe that we have to face a bitter reality: Jews will be targets until the Messiah. Even during the Passover Seder, when Jews celebrate their salvation from slavery in Egypt, they remind themselves that in each generation there arise those who try to destroy them. Until the advent of the Messiah, that is. A Pharaoh will go, a Haman will come. An Arafat will go and Abu-Whomever will follow in his footsteps. Until the Messiah, that is.

As I understand it, waiting for the Messiah does not obviate the Jews' obligation to move to Israel and build the Temple. The exemption from fulfilling a commandment that is impossible to fulfill is only after the attempt is made and is blocked by circumstance. For example, knowing that it will rain throughout Succot does not exempt a Jew from building a succah and waiting on the first night a very long time before having his meals indoors, nor from checking throughout the entire holiday that it did not let up. Similarly, there is no per se exemption from the Biblical commandment of moving to Israel until the honest effort is made and is blocked or fails. The Jews are not exempt from the commandment of building the Temple until they make an honest effort and are blocked.

My understanding of Jewish law is that Jews have an obligation to occupy every square inch of Biblical Israel. Those parts of Biblical Israel that are now in Lebanon and Syria never stop being part of Biblical Israel, but Jews are categorically barred from entering those areas. Jews are not barred from legal Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Jews have a religious obligation to occupy all of these regions. They have a religious obligation to buy land and actively farm it. They have a religious obligation to buy all Arab villages and occupy them. Yes, Jewish occupation of the West Bank is a Biblical imperative. Similarly, conquest of Biblical Israel is a divine imperative. It is one of the few commandments that suspend Sabbath laws; the conquest of Jericho was on a Sabbath.

As a light unto the nations, the Jews continuously make painful concessions for peace. They sacrifice their children for peace. They sacrifice portions of the holy land for peace. The only thing Jews should bring sacrifices to is the Almighty and only in the Holy Temple. Worshiping "peace" and bringing sacrifices to it is idolatry, pure and simple.

It seems to me that not only is it ill advised to make a peace treaty with the so-called Palestinians, but the Bible specifically forbids "making a treaty with the inhabitants of the Land." But even if the rabbis decree that the indigenous gentile population is permitted to vote for a civil administration that concerns itself with the welfare of its own people, then in that case, all Palestinians should be permitted to vote. Not just the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, but the Palestinians in Umm El-Fahm, the Palestinians in the "no Jew allowed" villages in the Galilee and Negev, and all the Palestinians who live among the Jews in Ramla, Jaffa, Acco (Acre), Lod and Haifa.

Conversely, as Palestinians are encouraged to vote to advance their self-interest, all Jews worldwide should be permitted to vote in Israeli elections, as their fates are irrevocably intertwined. Split loyalties, instead of being a badge of shame, ought to be a medal of honor. The better part of American Jews is the Jewish part. They have every right to be proud of their heritage and Jewish identity. Ultimately, the only one the Jews have to answer to is the Almighty, not Powell, not Rice, not Bush, and certainly not to the European Union or Russia.

There comes a time that Jews have to stop being timid cowards. I believe that Jews have an obligation to not stand idly by while a Jew is attacked. Certainly, after over a thousand dead and several thousands permanently injured, I believe that Israel has a religious obligation to fight and defeat the enemy, not to make "painful concessions" for peace. The Biblical commandment that obligates them to "preempt and kill the enemy first" if an enemy is coming to kill them applies not just to the leaders, but all foot soldiers. As such, targeted killings of the heads of terrorist organizations is not only permitted under Jewish law, but an obligation. It is my understanding that it is divine imperative to eliminate every single member of terrorist organizations, including those children primed to execute suicide bombing attacks. Only after eliminating every single member of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Al-Qaeda, the Hezbollah and Fatah can even a ceasefire be entertained. Vying for a negotiated peace is not only counter-productive, but is a sacrilege to the Jewish, Christian and Moslem religions.

As such, the peace initiative spearheaded by George W. Bush is an affront not just to Judaism, but to Christianity and Islam. Of course we all want peace, but we also share the universal belief that until the Messiah comes, you will just have to suffer "until you get used to it."


[1] http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/terrorism/terrisraelsum.html.