web analytics
February 28, 2015 / 9 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


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.

As is always the case, Hashem forced Moshe to learn these important lessons and articulate them for future generations. From Moshe’s actions and arguments we learn not only how a leader must fight for his people, but how he must objectively think to ensure the best future for his people. Pirkei Avot enjoins us not to judge our friend until we are in his position. This is not only true with respect to circumstances and context, but with respect to his perspective and outlook as well. Only by trying to see things as another person sees them can we hope to accurately understand a situation and decide on an appropriate course of action.

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.

Current Top Story
18,000 Iranian Centrifuges
Reducing Iran’s Number of Centrifuges Makes a Bomb More Likely
Latest Judaism Stories
Niehaus-022715

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

Mendlowitz-022715-Basket

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Winiarz-022715-Kids

Does Hashem ever go away and not pay attention to us?

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

In other words, the Torah is an expression of the Way that we must follow in order to live a divine-like life and to bond in the highest way possible with God or Being Itself.

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

Moreover, even if the perpetrator of the capital offense is never actually executed, such as when the fatal act was unintentional, Kam Lei applies and the judge cannot award damages.

Forever After?
‘Obligated for Challahh and Not Terumah’
(Kesubos 25a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

“We really appreciate your efforts in straightening the shul,” said Mr. Reiss. “How is it going?”

This was a spontaneous act of rest after the miracle of vanquishing their respective foes. The following year they celebrated on the same days as a minhag.

The way we must to relate to our young adult children is to communicate with genuine loving-kindness

Jewish prayer is a convergence of 2 modes of biblical spirituality, exemplified by Moses and Aaron

In holy places it’s important to maintain a level of silence permitting people to dialogue with God

Eventually, after some trial and error, including an experience with a prima donna and one with a thief, I baruch Hashem ultimately found a fine, honest and reliable household helper.

More Articles from Rabbi David Hertzberg
Hertzberg-021315

The Torah presents us with a model of how to effect change in a sustainable way.

Hertzberg-011615-Gen-Haig

Three years of war and the loss of one-tenth of Britain’s men is not too great a price to pay.

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

Leaders must always pay attention to the importance of timing.

Realizing that his death was immanent and he had only a few more moments, Moshe focuses on doing the most important thing: he runs to Bnei Yisrael and blesses them.

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

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.

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: