Events happen so fast in Israel we can readily forget the monumental significance of yesterday in the clamor of the headlines of today. Let us pause to reflect on the recent elimination of the cadre of Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza.
Rabbi Kook calls this “the weeding away of tyrants.” In the first essay of his writings on war in the book “Orot” he writes: interpreting a phrase from the Song of Songs:
“When there is a great war in the world, the power of Mashiach awakens. 'The time of the songbird has come' - the weeding away of the tyrants. The evil ones are obliterated from the world, the world becomes more perfected, and 'the voice of the turtledove is heard in our Land'.”
In other words, Israel’s elimination of these terrorists has made the world a better place. It has also brought the coming of Mashiach closer. More than this – the pin-pointed assassinations were a part of Mashiach. These are no small things. But it shouldn’t be a wonder. After all, Israel’s mission is to make the world a better place. Sometimes this can be done via advancements in medicine, or by inventing new agricultural techniques, or by setting a higher moral standard. But it can also be done by wiping out terrorists and evil regimes from the globe.
In another essay in “Orot” Rabbi Kook writes:
“The evil kings of the land and the murderers who bring terror on the earth have stained the world with blood, and atonement is sure to come – the total annulment of all of today’s cultural machinations, with all of their lies and deceit, with all of their evil pollutions and venomous poisons. The entire culture which flatters itself with melodious lies must be erased from the world, and in their stead will be established the kingdom of the high holy ones, Israel.”
Wow! This is heavy stuff! After all, probably more than any person in our era Rabbi Kook is known for his great love of mankind and for his outstanding tolerance. How could this great holy figure whose whole life was Torah have written such a resounding condemnation?
Certainly Rabbi Kook is no militarist. However wars are a part of the Torah. Many commandments deal with war and the holiness of the Israelite military camp. Thus in a century characterized by massive wars and killing it is not surprising that a spiritual leader like Rabbi Kook focused a series of essays on war.
It is important to note that a true love of mankind does not preclude an active fight against evil. Judaism does not preach blindness and turning the other cheek. As King David said: “Do I not hate those who hate You, Hashem, and strive against those who rise up against You? I have hated them to the ends of hatred; they have become my foes.”
Our Sages inform us that those who hate Israel are the enemies of God. One of Mashiach’s prime tasks is to fight the wars of the Hashem. On the path to world tikun the uprooting of terrorists and evil dictators is a necessary stage in the process of redemption. And the Nation of Israel is to lead the way:
“The light of Israel will appear, to establish a world whose nations are possessed of a new spirit, nations who will no longer speak emptiness, and who will no longer act contemptuously against God and against His Mashiach, against the life-light of the world, and against the perfection and belief embodied in the eternal covenant of the Torah… Then it will be known and proven that only in Him, in the God of Israel, is there salvation, and the salvation of God will surely come.”
Therefore, as the Haftorah of “Nachamu” which we read this past Shabbat says, we can find comfort in knowing that Tzahal’s recent achievements in the battle against terror and our enemies have significance far beyond the Gaza Strip. We can also take comfort in knowing that the tyrants and enemies in Beirut and Teheran are living on borrowed time. The sandglass is running out on these rats of the desert as well.
Rabbi David Samson is Rosh Yeshiva of YTA, the Yerushalayim Torah Academy, and the founding dean of the King Solomon Academy online school. He is author of four popular books on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, and the recent books “Contact” about Prophecy and Divine Inspiration, and an English translation of Rabbi Kook’s “Rosh Milin” on the Hebrew letters, all available at Amazon Books. He also teaches classes in Jewish Meditation