G-d will defeat our enemies

G-d promises to defend Israel with a 'hornet-swarm.' Could this be the Iron Dome, Arrow missile, or F16 fighter jet?

Dr. Joseph Frager ,

DR . Joseph Frager,
DR . Joseph Frager,
Courtesy of Dr. Frager

It is very important to point out that G-d Almighty will constantly defeat the enemies of Israel. Parshat (the Torah portion of) Mishpatim could not be clearer on the subject.

"I shall send MY FEAR before you and I shall confound the entire people among you shall come; and I shall make all of your enemies turn the back of the neck to you. I shall send the hornet-swarm before you and it shall drive away the Hivvite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite before you." (Exodus 23:27-28)

What is the "tzirah" ("hornet- swarm")? Why is the "tzirah" important? Why does G-d use the "tzirah" to fight our enemies? Is the "tzirah" of today possibly Iron Dome, the Arrow missile or the F16 Fighter Jet? Could G-d be alluding to these weapons when mentioning the "tzirah?" To answer the last question first, it is quite possible that G-d indeed was alluding to these weapons to defeat our enemies. But, it is much deeper than simply having these advanced weapons.

They are vital and important and just as G-d took us out of Egypt "on the wings of eagles" (19:4) which is a metaphor, so too, He will defeat our enemies with the "hornet swarm" which is a metaphor. The Ramban (Nachmanides) does not look at it metaphorically. The Ramban says (23:28), "And G-d said that just as He would "provide a beneficial sign" (Psalms 86:17) for the Israelites, so would He provide signs for their enemies to their detriment, namely that He would give them a "trembling heart" (Deut.28:65), "dread indoors" (Deut.32:25,) and furthermore He would send the tzirah among their enemies."

The Ramban elaborates that the "tzirah" is a bee or hornet that stings the enemies of Israel in their fortress cities, where specifically the Hivvite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite were protected from the sword and therefore somewhat impermeable. The Ramban quotes Deut.7:20 to prove his point.

"Also the hornet swarm will Hashem, your G-d, send among them, until the survivors and hidden ones perish before you." The "tzirah" has been the subject of much discussion.

It is enigmatic. It has hidden meanings. The Ibn Ezra says the "tzirah" is a form of "tzaarat" (leprosy). G-d would send "tzaarat" against our enemies. The Maor VaShemesh looks at the "tzirah" in a completely different way. Essentially the "tzirah" is more of a metaphorical term. The Children of Israel defeat their enemies by first defeating their own "yeitzer hara"(evil inclination).The word "Tzirah" has the word "yeitzer" within it. The Maor VaShemesh says G-d's description of the "tzirah" is a way of developing one's spiritual self. G-d is saying that developing one's spiritual self is a gradual process, step by step, and not a one-shot deal. It is not shooting one arrow and you are now a spiritual being.

Some people feel if they do just one thing for G-d in their lifetimes then they don't have to do anymore. In America, many American Jews say "I had a bar mitzvah (or a bat mitzvah)" and that is the extent of their Judaism. Judaism does not work this way. It is a process. Yahadut (Judaism) is not buying a lottery ticket and 24 hours later you are a billionaire on a super high spiritual level. One has to fight the "yeitzer hara" every day of his or her life. When you conquer one part of the "yeitzer hara" you begin to conquer the next part. Your enemies will be defeated when the "yeitzer hara" is defeated. The "Maase Mercava" (G-d's Chariot) (Ezekiel 1) raises the notion of four "klipot" (evil forces) that man must overcome: 1) Kina -jealousy ,2) taava - lust and desire, 3) kavod - seeking honor, 4) noga - gluttony. The Maor VaShemesh concentrates on the first three which he says correspond to the Hivvite, the Canaanite and the Hittite in the verse in Mishpatim (23:28).

G-d will often put physical enemies in our way so man can overcome his internal enemies. Human beings are called "holchim" (walkers) because we can progress spiritually upwards, whereas angels are called "melachim" because they can only remain at one level. The human being can rise above the angels if we work each and every day to overcome these klipot (evil forces). Defeating the Hivvite, the Canaanite and the Hittite really refers to our defeating our "yeitzer hara" which is represented by these klipot (evil forces) of jealousy, lust, and honor. (The 4th klipa of noga can be used for both evil and good - man can be a glutton and become rebellious, or he can use food for a seudat mitzvah (a meal accompanying a holy event) so is not discussed by the Maor VaShemesh per se).

Overcoming the three klipot of kina, taava and kavod will enable the Jewish People to defeat their enemies. As Israel's enemies gain momentum in the world today, it is more important than ever that every Jew looks closely at himself and herself to overcome the "yeitzer hara." It is only then that G-d will send the "tzirah" before us to destroy our enemies.

Each Jew must eradicate the "yeitzer hara" that lurks in him or her. We must all shoot all the arrows we have into the face of the "yeitzer hara." Then "I shall confound the entire people among whom you shall come." We all pray that that day is not too far off, and indeed is close at hand. Shabbat Shalom.