Rabbi Hagai Lundin
Rabbi Hagai LundinCourtesy

These days, rabbis receive many questions from soldiers in the field. A recurring question is: "Why endanger myself when the political echelon takes into account non-military considerations (international pressure, hostages, etc.) and perhaps because of that does not conduct the war more aggressively? If in the end we don't completely wipe out Gaza (and some add ;and settle Gush Katif;), aren't the soldiers dying in vain?"

Tough questions. We have all seen the rise in the number of fallen IDF soldiers since the temporary ceasefire when Hamas had a chance to regroup.

The answers I give are:

1. We are neither chiefs-of-staff nor prime ministers, so we have no way of knowing whether the considerations are correct or not or even whether they are factors on the ground. Sometimes there is indeed no choice but to take additional data into account, and if we were the decision makers, it’s possible that we also would have done the same.

2. Even if the war can indeed be waged differently, part of the reality of a state is the individual's acceptance of the laws of the community. Once the individual has done their best to influence the majority, one acts within it, for the better or for the worst that is in the state; otherwise it's anarchy. We are neither Neturei Karta nor the Kaplan Force. For twelve dark hours on Simchat Torah, we felt what it means to be without the State of Israel in the world. This must not happen again.

3. The sentence "the soldiers are dying in vain" is shocking and debilitating. God forbid. The entire history of the Jewish people and the State of Israel is built on incomplete processes. The Hasmonean kingdom, for example, for which thousands of Maccabees fell, was a partial and problematic kingdom, and yet every year we commemorate the "return of the kingship to Israel". We now live in the State of Israel in the merit of soldiers who also fell in wars waged by imperfect people, and also to wars that were partial successes. Every soldier and every person who did their job in the most complete way – God attaches their drop to the great sea that has been accumulating over the generations.

The bottom line is that our situation today is incomparably better than in the days of the Hasmonean kingdom; and we can already see how the current war – even with its problematic aspects – advances the people of Israel light years from the situation we were in before it. No sacrifice is in vain.

Everyone is a small light and together we are a steadfast light. And together we will win.

Happy Hanukkah!