IDF soldiers
IDF soldiersצילום: Shutterstock

Instead of apologizing and feeling guilty about who we are, the Jewish people need to stand proud and begin educating the world. I would begin by pointing out how the founding of America was inspired and motivated by many of our Jewish leaders.

Consider these 3 examples, all connected to the recent holiday of Hanukkah: In West Point – the #1 Military academy in the USA (founded in 1802) – there are 9 statues known as “The Nine Worthies”. These statues are of the greatest warriors in history and 3 of them are of Jewish leaders! They are Yehoshua bin Nun, King David and Judah the Maccabee. Not bad. We’re less than 2% of the current American population, but make up 33% of the West Point warriors.

But wait… it gets better.

On June 19, 1778 the US Continental Army, led by George Washington, pursued the British from Valley Forge to New York, following the battle tactics of Judah the Maccabee, and the US army won a decisive victory! You read that correctly. The great, mighty, brave George Washington followed the military plan of Judah the Maccabee and won one of America’s most important battles!

The final example is the term “In G-d We Trust”. Any idea where that came from? Its on every dollar bill - and in every US courtroom - but how many people know that it was inspired by Jewish leaders? The first one to utter this was Moshe Rabbenu after he gathered the tribe of Levi to kill those involved in worshipping the Golden Calf. “Mi L’HaShem Ey’lai” – He who trusts G-d, come with me! (Shemot 32:26) The next time we heard those words was about 1,100 years later when Matityahu, son of Yochanan Kohen Gadol, smote a Hellenized Jew who tried to offer a pig on a pagan altar in Modi’in. Matityahu then killed the Greek officer sent by the King, and officially began the revolt with the words; “Mi L’HaShem Ey’lai” – He who trusts G-d, come with me! The Founding Fathers of the newly formed United States of America simply played around with those words and coined the term “In G-d We Trust”.

All three of these examples prove why we need to stop begging for acceptance and legitimacy. The Torah and the Jewish People are examples for the world! Stop complaining and start teaching! Although we just finished Hanukkah, let’s look at a few quotes from what Judah the Maccabee said to his forces before battle, since we need to apply them now as well. (Note: All these quotes are from the terrific book by Rabbi Pinchas Stolper z”l entitled “Five Glorious Brothers”)

Before the battle in Bet Horon, led by the Greek General Seron, the handful of men that Judah had gathered were hungry and tired. They asked; “How can so few of us fight against so many? Besides, we have had nothing to eat all day and are exhausted.” Judah the Maccabee answered, “Many can easily be overpowered by a few – it makes no difference to Heaven. Victory does not depend on numbers; strength comes from heaven alone. Our enemies come filled with insolence and lawlessness to plunder and kill us, our wives and children. But we are fighting for our lives and our Torah. Heaven will crush them before our eyes. You need not be afraid of them.”

Shortly after that victorious battle, came an even bigger challenge led by the Greek General Gorgias. Judah’s men were heavily outnumbered and were not even fully equipped with swords and armor. Here is what he said to the few soldiers he had; “Do not be afraid of their great numbers… Remember how our fathers were saved at the Red Sea… Let us cry to Heaven to favor our cause, to remember the covenant of Torah that Hashem made with our fathers and to crush this army before us today. Then all the Greeks will know that Hashem saves and liberates Israel!”

Even though Judah and his men were winning battle after battle, the Greeks kept coming back with bigger and stronger armies. In the final battle, before cleansing the Bet Ha’Mikdash and the miracle of the oil, the Greek General Lysias gathered 60,000 infantry soldiers plus an additional 5,000 cavalry to battle Judah at Bet Tzur. Once again, the Jewish army was heavily outnumbered (about 7-1) but Judah did not retreat. He poured his heart out to Hashem. “All praise to You, Savior of Israel, who broke the attack of the giant Goliath, through Your servant David. You delivered the army of the Philistines into the power of Saul’s son and his armor-bearer. Just so, put the Greek army into the power of Your people. Strike them with panic, turn their strength to water and make them reel under a crushing defeat.” And so, it was! Judah the Maccabee won – yet another – incredible victory.

I am proud to say that today’s IDF is fighting this way in Gaza… with unprecedented trust and faith in Hashem. Before each battle, the brave and courageous soldiers recite “Shema Yisrael” while wearing tzitzis and saying Tehillim. Every soldier is proud to be in Hashem’s army and takes this responsibility very seriously.

We need to give this message to win the PR war as well; the message of how Jews inspired America, how our most successful military leaders are the ones connected to Hashem and how the holy soldiers of today’s IDF are following in their footsteps. When we do this – on both the battlefield and in the world of media – no force can stand against us. “He who trusts G-d, come with me!”

Am Yisrael Chai!