“וְכִֽי־תָבֹ֨אוּ מִלְחָמָ֜ה בְּאַרְצְכֶ֗ם עַל־הַצַּר֙ הַצֹּרֵ֣ר אֶתְכֶ֔ם וַהֲרֵעֹתֶ֖ם בַּחֲצֹצְרֹ֑ת וְנִזְכַּרְתֶּ֗ם לִפְנֵי֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם וְנוֹשַׁעְתֶּ֖ם מֵאֹיְבֵיכֶֽם׃”
“When you go to war against an enemy who attacks you in your land, you will sound a staccato on the trumpets. You will then be remembered before God your Lord, and you will be delivered from your enemies.” (BaMidbar 10:9)
Unfortunately very timely (again). The State and the People of Israel are constantly at war with an enemy who attacks us in our land. Israel has become very expert at the art and science of war. What can Torat HaRav Kook ZT”L teach us about war and how to make it be no more?
Rav Kook certainly knew of war. He experienced WW1 closely as he was in Switzerland and London from 1914-1919. When he returned to Israel, he became the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and Israel. At the same time, Amin al-Husseini became the Chief Mufti of Jerusalem and initiated, in 1921, the birth of the modern anti-Zionist and anti-Israel movement. In the name of the Islamic world, he dedicated the rest of his life’s activities to preventing the re-birth of Israel. Under his evil leadership, attacks on Jews began in the early 1920s and climaxed in the 1929 Hevron Massacres.
The Mufti’s students and disciples continue this incessant attack upon Israel until this day (and into the foreseeable future). Yasser Arafat was a loyal disciple of the Mufti as was Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas. Two weeks ago, Hamas began a missile assault on Israel as their contribution to the traditional Ramadan disturbances. The ‘Guardian of the Walls’ campaign followed. And many innocent people suffered greatly
Rav Kook wrote this about war: “MILCHAMA/WAR. This word is so terrible. It evokes a spiritual agony that saddens the heart of every person of integrity. War has a stranglehold on humanity. We are very unable to free ourselves from this awful and terrifying menace.
The ‘war of life’ is too common a phrase. Creatures fight each other for their existence, humans battle with other humans, and nations war with each other.
A human being who is created ‘beTzelem Elohim/in the Divine Image’, a human whose greatest good -of all his special qualities – is his inner ethical consciousness, must be ready to fight his battles ethically, with righteousness and justice. He must not allow anyone to oppress him, materially or spiritually. Defending his honor, he must be ready to fight for his moral and actual existence.
But only when justice and ethics are standing with us – can we be considered true warriors in God’s battle- the battle of the Creator -יְהוָה אִישׁ מִלְחָמָה- the Man of War’ -(Shmot 15:3). His Power and Strength, Wisdom and Kindness perfect all the worlds as they battle against the emptiness and chaos, decay and destruction that threaten spiritual and material existence.
When a person knows that their battle is girded with justice, then they know that they are not only fighting for themselves and their personal needs and desires, but for justice itself…
Then one can righteously call to Elohim, and their call will be answered. Their prayer will gain valor, their spirit will grow within them and the light of universal justice, the light of HaShem will shine upon them…
A war that is brought to your land by an enemy who hates you is a war in which justice has been trampled underfoot. Your prayer [for success and victory] in this case will be joyful and liberation will be close.
“וַהֲרֵעֹתֶ֖ם בַּחֲצֹצְרֹ֑ת וְנִזְכַּרְתֶּ֗ם לִפְנֵי֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם וְנוֹשַׁעְתֶּ֖ם מֵאֹיְבֵיכֶֽם
You will sound a staccato on the trumpets. You will then be remembered before God your Lord, and you will be delivered from your enemies.” (Ginzei HaRayah 157)
A truly human being, created in the Divine Image, must fight his battles ethically, with righteousness and justice. Then one can be a real warrior for God.
Fortunately the Torah teaches us that war will not be forever. As Isaiah prophecies:
“וְשָׁפַט֙ בֵּ֣ין הַגּוֹיִ֔ם וְהוֹכִ֖יחַ לְעַמִּ֣ים רַבִּ֑ים וְכִתְּת֨וּ חַרְבוֹתָ֜ם לְאִתִּ֗ים וַחֲנִיתֽוֹתֵיהֶם֙ לְמַזְמֵר֔וֹת לֹא־יִשָּׂ֨א ג֤וֹי אֶל־גּוֹי֙ חֶ֔רֶב וְלֹֽא־יִלְמְד֥וּ ע֖וֹד מִלְחָמָֽה” “Thus He will judge among the nations And arbitrate for the many peoples, And they shall beat their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not take up sword against nation; They shall never again know war.” (Isaiah 2:4)
What will it take for us to reach this level? At the end of WW1 in London Rav Kook wrote: “When the inner Godly light…will be revealed in the world, it will be recognized that every movement, material and spiritual, that occurred in the world of life and society, came into existence in order to help bring the world out of the narrow, constricted and dark places that prevent the Divine Light from illuminating its Infinite Light.
[When the inner Godly light is revealed in the world], it will be recognized by all humankind, by all the different nations, races, languages, religions, lifestyles, thoughts and feelings-…that there is an exalted emanated idea, a powerful holy aspiration [for unity] that encompasses all the differences. Its unifying value is much more significant than all the differences in the world.
And [once this understanding takes root] all the warriors, adversaries and haters will unite in pure fraternity. When our speech is clarified and our language is refined we will be able to bring this unifying principle to light without any stuttering or concealment.
כִּֽי־אָ֛ז אֶהְפֹּ֥ךְ אֶל־עַמִּ֖ים שָׂפָ֣ה בְרוּרָ֑ה לִקְרֹ֤א כֻלָּם֙ בְּשֵׁ֣ם יְהֹוָ֔ה לְעׇבְד֖וֹ שְׁכֶ֥ם אֶחָֽד׃ – For then I will make the peoples pure of speech, So that they all invoke the LORD by name And serve Him with one accord.” (Tzefania 3:9) – (Notebook 8:228)
When the Divine Light truly radiates into the world, we will understand that ‘that which unites us is much greater than that which divides us’. At core, we are all the children of Adam and Eve. “And all the warriors, adversaries and haters will unite in pure fraternity.” And then we will have war no more.
BeMhera BeYamenu-Quickly in our days.