Israel / Zionism

“We pay so much attention to the physical threats to Israel, but what about the spiritual and moral threats to its existence?”

As terrible as the atomic threat is – there is a greater threat. That threat is both psychological and social. It is spiritual and moral. It is the threat of forgetting why Israel exists. It is the threat of forgetting a two-thousand-year exile and the lesson of what it means to be the minority. It is the threat of forgetting the Torah that has preserved us through history. It is the threat of forgetting the words – lo tirtzach – and the words anochi hashem elokecha.

We pay so much attention to the physical threats to Israel, but what about the spiritual and moral threats to its existence? We mourned the destruction of the temple on Sunday. Why was it destroyed? I’ll tell you the answer. It was destroyed because the Romans were stronger than the Jews. But that’s not what our sages say. They tell us that it was destroyed because of a spiritual and moral failure – it was destroyed because of senseless hatred, sinat chinam. Our sages do not deny the physical reason that I just described. Not one of our sages would say that the Romans were not stronger. Yet, our sages looked more deeply into the situation and saw spiritual and moral – psychological and social causes for the failure of the second Jewish commonwealth.

If we are to protect the third Jewish commonwealth, then we must join our sages and see Israel’s security more fully and more honestly. We as Jews and Zionists must find a motivation to continue the struggle for our people’s existence in our land. This motivation will not be found around Viennese negotiating tables. It will be found at the table of justice and of kindness – at the table of human rights and of spiritual generosity. It will be found at tables upon which the words anochi hashem elokecha and lo tirtzach are still read.

Rabbi Chaim Strauchler, “Spiritual and Moral Security”, Shaarei Shomayim (2 August 2014) [http://www.shomayim.org/blog/spiritual-and-moral-security]