“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the Land where you dwell.” (Numbers 33:55).
The residents of Gaza and the rest of the Arabs whom we have allowed to remain in our Land, serve us as barbs in our eyes and as thorns in our sides. That seems to be their primary purpose in life.
When you walk through a field and a thorn nabs you in the side, what do you do with it? You remove the thorn and toss it as rubbish. The thorn has no inherent value to you, especially when it is lodged in your flesh and causes you pain and suffering. You remove a thorn immediately, without asking permission.
Now imagine what would happen if someone told you not to remove a thorn: “Let the thorns remain in your legs and thighs, let them prick you in your eyes. May the thorns cause you to constantly bleed from your sides. Come, I will help you rub them in.”
What would you think of such a person?
The Nations Love their Thornbushes
The nations around us have planted thornbushes in Israel, and we get pricked by them all the time. Any rational person would remove them, but the nations strongly object to this. The nations love their thornbushes.
If you had a neighbor who planted thornbushes in your lawn, I’m sure you would be suspicious. Obviously, you would cut them down. Who is he to ruin your garden? Especially if those thorns sprout at the entrance to your house, where you encounter them daily.
But you have more than one rotten neighbor, and your neighbors hate you. They do, however, love their thornbushes, the ones they plant in your lawn. Each time you want to cut them down, your neighbors stand around and cry out: “If you harm those thornbushes, it will mean war! We will burn down your house and garden.”
Distant neighbors come to their aid. Even the ones who are your friends warn you not to cause trouble. The neighborhood has teamed up against you, and living in relative peace with them requires you to make sacrifices. “Learn to live with thornbushes,” they say. “It is better than being engulfed by flames.”
What rotten neighbors you have, and what good can be said even of your friends? They give you water to water the thornbushes, and they demand that you water them profusely. Not only do they not let you remove these invasive species, but they also incessantly demand that you nurture the thornbushes with food, so that they may sprout a multitude of thorns to prick you.
What are you to do?
You would call the police, but the forces of reason have long pulled out of the region. You have been left to your own devices for a very long time. For most of your life, you were driven out of your house, passed from neighbor to neighbor as a slave, fugitive, or hostage, each time beaten to within an inch of your life. No one even knows how you survived.
Some neighbors felt bad for you. They did not object when you took back your house. Others could care less, they tried repeatedly to drive you out. With God’s Help, you were able to drive them back.
And yet, God has not exactly left a sheriff in town, to call upon for help. You live in a lawless neighborhood, and you know it. Your neighbors will attack again when they have a chance. In fact, the whole town might rise against you at any moment.
You think, maybe I should learn to live with the thornbushes. Maybe I am better off with cuts and bruises, than deep and mortal wounds. The surface wounds might bleed you out over time, but the mortal blows could kill you a lot faster. That type of thinking makes the thornbushes seem more benign.
Where is the Mayor?
Lucky for you, you have good relations with the mayor, or at least you did in the past. He is not a mayor who is easy to contact. The mayor of our global village is God. Somehow, He has agreed to speak to you.
You ask the mayor, “What am I to do? I live in a very bad neighborhood. My neighbors have planted thornbushes in my yard. I have suffered so much from their thorns and would like to cut them down.”
The mayor answers: “That is outrageous. Your neighbors planted thornbushes in your yard? What do you want from me? Cut them down.”
You explain, “But my neighbors don’t want me to cut down the thornbushes. They say that if I do, they will attack me. I am afraid. The whole town is against me.”
To which the mayor responds, “I am the mayor and I say, cut them down. Who else do you need to ask for permission?”
You say, “Then why have you not sent the police to protect me? I feel as if you have abandoned me. I fear the wrath of my neighbors.”
The mayor explains: “I gave you the best lot in town. Sure, it is not the largest lot, but it is the nicest and in the best location, and it even had a house on it when you received it. I told you to drive out its previous inhabitants, because they were evil people, and the whole neighborhood had gone bad. I evicted house after house, and brought in better people, to improve the neighborhood.
“I gave you rules and regulations to live by, and I even made you the sheriff, to help me create the ideal neighborhood and village, but you ignored them and turned against me. I sent people to warn you and to enforce my judgments, and each time you pretended to listen, but quickly turned against me. So I had you evicted, as I evicted those before you.
“I brought you back, giving you another chance, but you did not improve yourself. You acted as if there is no mayor in town, and created your own rules and regulations, so I had you evicted again for a very long time.
“Now you have returned to your house, and you act as if I had never given you rules and regulations to live by, and yet you complain that I am not around to defend you? You do not listen to me, so why do you expect me to defend you?
“Your neighborhood has turned bad again and that is a travesty for the whole town, but I blame you for this. Instead of listening to me, you listen to your neighbors. You water and nurture the thornbushes you despise, whose thorns cut you and pierce your eyes, and you deserve this.
“Had you listened to me, there would be no thornbushes in your yard. You would help me create the ideal village and you would be its sheriff. All your neighbors would fear you and they would know me.
“Instead, my town does not know me, the sheriff I have appointed for my village does not know or enforce my judgments, and the townspeople have risen up against me to lynch you.”
You ask, “What am I to do? Will you save me?”
And the mayor says, “Listen to me and you will no longer listen to your enemies.”
Yshai Amichai is a father of six and an author with a legal education, whose books advocate upholding the Torah as a national Constitution. He may be contacted at: [email protected]