Roy Neuberger - Nov. 21, 2014

We have just returned after two months in the Holy Land. It was hard to leave, but we have much to accomplish, and the words of Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch Shlita"h still ring in my ears: "Yisroel, you are a soldier and soldiers have to go where the battle is."

Right now, battles are everywhere. We are fighting for our lives, nothing less.

Two weeks ago I wrote an article entitled "Evil Automobiles." The week it appeared, and the day before we left Israel, there were more attacks in which "evil automobiles" played a part. I don't have to tell you that the title is a euphemism. Obviously, the evil was not perpetrated by automobiles. Evil is caused by men, not chunks of metal.

This week's Torah Portion describes the ultimate evil partnership. "Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalas, the daughter of Ishmael... as a wife to himself." (Genesis 28:9) This event joined our two archetypal enemies, and today we are feeling the stupendous weight of their combined hatred and worldwide assault. It is very important to understand Jacob's reaction to the formation of this union, because "ma'ase avos siman l'banim... the actions of the Fathers are a sign for the children." (Ramban to Genesis 12:6)

What did Jacob do?

He "disappeared." Where did he go? He left for the one place of shelter and safety in this world, the Bais Medrash (place of Torah Study)! "Jacob hid himself away in the House [of study] of Ever [for] fourteen years." (Rashi on Genesis 28:9)

Yes, my friends, we must learn from our Father Jacob. When Ishmael and Esau form a partnership to destroy us, G-d forbid, there is only one way to react. We are not going to destroy them, because they are stronger than we. We are not going to outwit them, because they are as clever as we are. We must go to the place where our unique strength lies, Hashem's Torah.

I will quote once again the words of Rabbi Chaim Vital zt"l: "What is happening now with the offspring of Ishmael is preordained. In order for us to prevail over Ishmael, we must raise our voices in prayer. His name does not hint that if we are strong and battle him with chivalry, we will defeat him. His name does not hint that if we engage him in diplomacy, we will outwit him. His name proclaims that the only way to defeat him is through prayer." (Noted by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz, publisher of Yated Ne'eman)

There is much talk about how to deal with the current resurgence of the coalition of Ishmael and Esau. As predicted, Ishmael is causing chaos: "He shall be a wild-ass of a man; his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him...." (Genesis 16:12) The coalition between him and the Children of Esau is even more threatening, because Israel is surrounded everywhere.

In a time of crisis it is essential to act wisely. Just as Jacob ran to the Source of his strength when confronted with this threat, so we must run to that same Source of strength. Our problems have only one root and one cause. They are not "political" and their solution is not political. All problems are caused by our own shortcomings. No amount of police or military or political action, either within Israel or outside Israel, will resolve this situation. The only solution to the life-threatening problems that we face is for each one of us to study our own actions and bring them into line with the path which Hashem has set for us.

But what is wrong with us? This is the last place we look! We imitate the other nations, who blame others for our problems, but that's not going to help.

When are we going to understand that the only salvation is for every Jew to raise our voice in prayer and Torah study? Did we not read this week, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are Esav's hands." (Genesis 27:22) The need to defend ourselves only arises when Jacob's voice becomes weak, G-d forbid, and then we are forced to adopt the ways of Esau, whose strength lies in his hands.

We cannot destroy Ishmael and Esau physically. This only Hashem can accomplish. As we say every day, "Hashem will have redeemed Yaakov and delivered him from the hand of one mightier than he...." (Jeremiah 31:10). Our Father in Heaven will see to it that not a trace of evil will remain in the days following the Final Redemption, just as in Biblical Egypt, when "He exacts vengeance for us from our foes and ... brings just retribution upon all enemies of our soul ... [He will pursue them who hate us] and [cause] them to sink into the depths..." (Evening Prayer)

In this week's Haftara we read: "Yonasan said to David, 'Go in peace. What the two of us have sworn in the Name of Hashem, saying 'Hashem shall be between me and you, and between my children and your children,' shall be forever." (1 Samuel 20:42) The nations are at war with us only because we are at war with each other, with G-d and His Torah. We are not thinking. We must learn from Yonason and David before we cause irreparable damage, G-d forbid.

My friends, at the very moment the "voice of Jacob" rises from our lips, at that moment we will see the dawn of our eternal Redemption!


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