Latest update: June 3rd, 2013
Last week we experienced an extraordinary Kiddush Hashem when, on Wednesday, July 2, an Arab murderer armed with a huge bulldozer went on a rampage in the streets of Jerusalem. He flattened occupied cars, turned over a bus and ran over innocent pedestrians until his reign of terror was finally stopped by what was described as a passerby.
As a result of five minutes of horror, two mothers and a grandfather were killed and scores of others injured. The “passerby” was “M,” a hesder yeshiva boy on leave from a special army unit who immediately understood that he had to take action to save fellow Jews. He endangered his own life by climbing on the bulldozer, where he took a gun from a security guard and shot the savage terrorist, thereby putting an end to the ruthless killing.
This brave young hero, “M”, is one of our students at the Yeshiva of Kiryat Arba. When asked how he had the courage and determination to act so swiftly, he explained that he was inspired by the valiant actions of his brother-in-law who killed the Mercaz HaRav terrorist last March, by his faith in the Almighty, and by his devotion to the ideals of the Torah — among them the command to take responsibility for each of his fellow Jews.
He mentioned several Torah commandments that instruct us to kill our enemies before they kill us and the warning in Parshat Kedoshim not to stand idly by the spilling of our neighbor’s blood (Vayikra 19:16). Any act taken to save Jewish lives is a sanctification of God’s name.
Unfortunately, the heroic action by “M” was taken after some of the police and security personnel did not respond adequately or quickly enough to save lives. I cannot put the blame in its entirety on these security people; the blame lies with the prime minister, the minister of defense, and other senior officials who have created an atmosphere of trepidation.
Any Israeli aw enforcement officer who uses his weapon and succeeds in deterring a crime is liable to be arrested and dragged through the courts for years. This depressing situation leads to a climate that stimulates terror and completely destroys the government’s terror deterrent capabilities. For seven years the government has done nothing substantial against Kassam rockets fired on Sderot and other Negev towns. This inaction or “restraint” has encouraged the terrorists to continue their daily bombardment of Jewish towns.
This failure to prevent aggression, this weakness of the Israeli government when it comes to securing the lives of Jewish citizens, is directly related to the IDF’s self-degrading flight from Lebanon and the crime of uprooting the Gush Katif and northern Shomron Jews from their homes in the Land of Israel.
The Arabs quickly grasped the utter deterioration of Israel’s basic determination to protect its people and its willingness to yield its right to the Jewish homeland. There was a total lack of courage, of determination to initiate operations that would prevent violence on the part of the enemy and deter him from daring to even think of attacking or endangering Jews.
The principle that every Jewish man, woman and child could depend on Jewish soldiers for protection has always been the backbone of the Jewish state. The bravery and valor of a Jewish warrior was the pride of the Jewish people, and the world revered us as well. Saving Jewish lives was always a sacred mission, even if it had to be carried out on foreign soil, as was the case at Entebbe on July 4, 1976. Far and wide it was known that the Israeli government would send soldiers to distant places and go to all lengths to save Jewish lives.
But today, in the heart of Jerusalem, the government’s reaction indicates loss of all national survival instincts; our leadership class has morally deteriorated by showing indifference and taking no notice of impending danger. Our leaders have become paralyzed and exhibit no willingness to fight the enemy.
The exemplary officer at Mercaz HaRav and his brother-in-law, our student “M,” have switched on the light of Jewish pride and determination in the dark and confused atmosphere of national life in Israel. They have restored our dignity and the deepest essence of the Zionist ideal by navigating their actions according to a map of faith and Torah values.
Their sanctification of the Almighty demonstrates that only a Zionism that derives its power from divine values of Jewish faith is able to confront and eliminate the threat to Jewish existence in Israel. Only a Zionism of faith will create the motivation and courage to overcome the moral fatigue of our government and revitalize the enthusiasm and pioneering spirit inherent in our people.
This thought is expressed clearly in this week’s parsha in the words of Bilam, in which we find a glowing description of Jewish valor that compares the awakening of Israel to a leopard and lion: “Behold the nation will rise up as a leopard, and as a lion will demonstrate his prowess” (Bamidbar 23:24)
Rashi explains the source of the power of the leopard and the prowess of the lion: “They rise up early in the morning to recite the S’hma, to put on tefillin and tzitzit.” Our spiritual roots are brought to life by the performance of mitzvot that reveal our allegiance and devotion to the word of God, which gives us the power to rise up against our enemies.
The phenomenon of a Kiryat Arba hesder yeshiva student taking swift and decisive action against a terrorist murderer — thereby preventing him from taking the lives of more innocent Jews — is a direct result of the moral values ingrained in him by his rabbis. We are grateful to the Almighty Who has granted us the privilege of being part of an educational process that produces such bravery and selfless devotion – an educational process that brought about a sanctification of Hashem and serves as a shining example to us all.
About the Author: Rabbi Eliezer Waldman is rosh yeshivaof Yeshivat Nir Kiryat Arba.
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