web analytics
October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Parshat Shelach

Hertzberg-053113

One of the most studied intelligence failures of the past fifty years is Israel’s performance in the lead up to the Yom Kippur War. Despite numerous indicators that Egypt and Syria were planning an actual attack, Israel’s intelligence establishment continued to dismiss them as acts of deception. To be sure this failure was not one of “collection.” Israeli intelligence had collected many facts and identified numerous “dots.” Rather, this was a failure of analysis. The question is why did this happen?

The heart of the problem from Israel’s perspective was that its intelligence community became a prisoner of its assumptions—assumptions that had never been tested or proven true to begin with and were certainly not tested as time went on. The underlying assumption guiding Israel’s analysis was that Egypt would not go to war without knowing a military victory was possible. Short of a military victory, Israel could not conceive of any reason to go to war.

Given this primary assumption Israeli intelligence developed “the Concept.” According to the Concept, Egypt would not consider itself capable of military victory without sufficient air power to neutralize Israel’s air superiority. Since at the time, Egypt did not have such air power, Israel assumed that Egypt would not attack. Given Israel’s primary assumption that Egypt would only go to war if it could win, the Concept made sense. Such being the case, Israel was forced to dismiss or interpret accordingly evidence that did not support this working hypothesis. Sadly for Israel the primary assumption was wrong. Egypt under Sadat was not aiming for a military victory, but rather a political victory that would better position it in future negotiations with Israel.

Although Israeli intelligence fell victim to many cognitive traps while analyzing Egyptian activity in late-summer 1973, the erroneous projection of Egyptian goals was a result of what is known as mirror imaging. Mirror imaging is when analysts (or decision-makers, for that matter) project their own views of reality and personal perspectives on others. For example, prior to Pearl Harbor many American decision-makers did not think Japan would attack the United States because it wasn’t a war Japan could win in the long run. They failed to understand that Japan’s goal was not to win the war, but to force the United States to negotiate with them under favorable conditions. Likewise, American leaders could not conceive that Saddam Hussein would prevent inspectors from checking for WMD if he didn’t actually have them. They failed to understand that Hussein was more fearful of the consequences if Iran discovered that he was bluffing.

Leaders must not only be careful that they don’t fall victim to mirror imaging, they must, assume that the other side will fall victim to mirror imaging and act accordingly. This concern is underscored in Moshe’s supplication to Hashem in the aftermath of the Meraglim’s sin. The Torah relates (14:12) that G-d wanted to destroy Bnei Yisrael and start anew by establishing a nation through Moshe’s offspring. Hashem’s calculus, as Moshe understood, was simple. Bnei Yisrael sinned – terribly. As such, they forfeited their right to exist. By punishing Bnei Yisrael so thoroughly and swiftly G-d intended to teach the world an important lesson.

Moshe, however, pleaded with G-d and argued that the nations of the world would derive the wrong lesson. He felt that the other nations would not imagine that Hashem Who, loved Bnei Yisrael so dearly, would ever destroy them simply because they were disobedient. Rather, as Rashi explains Moshe’s argument (13-16), the nations of the world would claim that G-d was strong enough to defeat one king, namely Pharaoh. But the reason He destroyed Bnei Yisrael was because G-d was not strong enough to defeat thirty-one kings. Therefore, instead of encouraging people to believe in and fear G-d, by destroying Bnei Yisrael G-d would just fuel the impression that He didn’t have enough power to conquer the land of Israel. Moshe was in essence arguing that the nations of the world would fall victim to mirror imaging. According to their understanding of how deities operated, a god would only destroy his people if he were powerless to defend them. They couldn’t imagine that G-d’s love of Bnei Yisrael was conditional upon observance of His laws and belief in His omnipotence. Such an idea was simply not on their radar.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. David Hertzberg is the principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle Division and is an adjunct assistant professor of History at Touro College.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Parshat Shelach”

  1. Louis Gavin says:

    Whilst I think your analysis of Israel's failure to step outside of its own intelligence assumptions is brilliant, I have to ask what kind of a God could possess the desire to destroy 'his' own creation? Is that not simply humanity 'mirror imaging' its own violence and irrational nature?

  2. Louis Gavin says:

    Whilst I think your analysis of Israel's failure to step outside of its own intelligence assumptions is brilliant, I have to ask what kind of a God could possess the desire to destroy 'his' own creation? Is that not simply humanity 'mirror imaging' its own violence and irrational nature?

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Which glass has the poison?
State Dept. Complains New Homes in Jerusalem ‘Poison’ US Peace Plan
Latest Judaism Stories
Duxvielfalt_2011

Contrary to popular belief, the Talmud never explicitly limits the ban on footwear to leather shoes.

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

More Articles from Rabbi David Hertzberg
Hertzberg-092614

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

Parsha-Perspectives-logo

Eisenhower understood that motivated men will fight much harder and longer than unmotivated men.

When Germany invaded neutral Belgium on August 4, England declared war on Germany. Thus, by the end of the first week of August all the major powers of Europe were at war.

Although famous for his smile, Ike Eisenhower actually harbored a volcanic temper that he worked arduously to control.

Why did we merit exiting the gas chamber alive when so many others did not?

Without a plan of action, a leader will never be able to lead his followers anywhere, no matter how important the destination or lofty the goal.

Like Dempsey and Gates, leaders must always be cognizant of the costs involved in their decisions – even when the costs are less than human life

G-d, accordingly, is encouraging Moshe to not just focus on reaching the top of the spiritual mountain but remaining there as well, thus fully capitalizing on his gains.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/parshat-shelach-2/2013/05/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: