Eretz Yisrael is currently engaged in Operation “Protective Edge,” the purpose of which is to assure peace for the Jews in Israel by removing the terrorists, who, entrenched in Gaza, have been menacing the entire region. The operation has been highly successful, with G-d once again showing open miracles. The Israel Defense Forces have been victorious far beyond expectation, and the operation has proceeded with stunning rapidity — actions which were expected to take two days were executed in one day or less. Individual soldiers have related the miracles they have witnessed; and all agree that “the hand of the L-rd has done this.”
Yet, not all have been able to measure up to the occasion. The avowed intention of this campaign was the complete eradication of the terrorist menace. But some political “leaders,” employing the most irrational of reasoning have protested, insisting that the campaign be halted and not brought to its necessary conclusion. Unfortunately, their influence succeeded in obstructing the progress of the operation; and therefore the campaign has not, as yet, completely fulfilled its goal.
Our Sages say that had the Jewish people merited it, the redemption from Egypt would have been final, with no exile following it. So too today. If, after victory in previous wars, Jews would have followed the directive of Shulchan Aruch and been steadfast in their refusal to surrender lands necessary for their very security, this present war in Gaza would have been completely unnecessary.
Why are Jews acting in such an irrational way? They are possessed by fear of gentile reaction, the age-old fear of “what will the non-Jew say.” A “golus mentality” has become integrated into their very character; and embedded within them is the belief that a Jew must always cringe and cower before non-Jews, and always, always, take their opinion into account.
The source for this mentality? When a Jew loses his own Self-respect, when he no longer knows how a Jew thinks, speaks or acts, he adopts non-Jewish attitudes. When a Jew no longer knows what it means to truly fear G-d, he becomes subservient to the “strange god that is within you.” That “strange god” is the antithesis of the true Jewish attitude of submission to G-d’s will. The supreme criterion of conduct is no longer G-d’s Torah, the Halachah; but rather how the non-Jewish world expects him to act.
This irrational fear of non-Jews and public opinion results in submission to all sorts of pressure — even while one knows that to do so is to act against the best interests of Jews and Eretz Yisrael. Thus the pathetic hesitancy in carrying out the present operation to its logical, avowed conclusion. All for fear of what the gentile will say, what the gentile will think of us.
In this instance, the golus mentality worked its influence even without outside pressure. Many nations are now too occupied with their own wars to concern themselves with other matters. Certainly then, it was the proper time to begin and fully complete the campaign. Yet, because of their golus mentality, some Jews imagined pressure which did not even exist! Fearing, as usual, world opinion, they succeeded in hindering the progress of the campaign.
Although pressure is beginning to mount now, it is nevertheless not too late to rectify the mistakes of the past for repentance helps in all instances and at all times. A true desire to fulfill Torah law will see the campaign successfully and fully completed. Moreover, the enemy has broken the cease-fire agreement; and thus by Divine Providence Eretz Yisrael has been given another opportunity to resume its task and completely attain its goal. The operation could and should have been completed in the ten days. But since it was not, G-d has granted another opportunity to make good. And since the enemy has broken the cease-fire, Eretz Yisrael not only may, but must break it. To sit by passively will be construed as a sign of weakness and fear on Eretz Yisrael’s part exactly the opposite of his campaign’s purpose.
But still, in the face of all logic, there are those Jews who caution against publicizing the enemy’s breach of the cease-fire, maintaining that Eretz Yisrael must continue to honor its side of the agreement.
We have tasted the fruits of such an attitude, and they have been bitter indeed. Let us make sure that this time the error is not repeated. It is imperative that all Jews be able to live safely in all parts of Eretz Yisrael — in the north and in the south, in the east and in the west. No other considerations can be taken into account. In matters of security, the opinion of the military must prevail, for they are the experts; and they are of the unanimous opinion that Operation “Protective Edge” must be fully completed. Since this is the consensus of military opinion, it becomes the halachah — and must be fully adhered to.
In addition, only the full completion of this undertaking can justify the casualties which have occurred. Every Jew is a “complete world,” and every soldier killed is an incalculable loss. The purpose of this campaign was to assure the well-being of Jews living in Eretz Yisrael. If this goal is not attained, the casualties incurred will have been in vain. To stop now, and let the situation revert to its previous state, is tantamount to letting those Jewish deaths be in vain. Only the full realization of the operation’s avowed aim will justify the deaths and injuries. And it is only by completing the operation that future casualties will be prevented.
Although this seems like an Op-Ed written for the current war against the terrorists, this is actually an excerpt of the Rebbe’s Sichos during the Summer of 1982, with a few slight modifications for the current situations…