Sunday, August 17, 2008

Misplaced Mercy

Who is like Your people, Israel, one nation on the Earth? Such a foolish nation. Such a beautiful nation. Such a good-hearted and merciful nation. Such a stupid nation.

100 years ago, the Jews, fed up with their puny shtetl existence, championned the cause of Communism which promised to spread freedom and equality around the world. They broke down the shtetl walls, cut themselves off from their traditions and raised high the banner of the Worker's Revolution. The Jews dedicated themselves to creating the utopian world of the Worker's Paradise in which exploitatation, hatred, inequality and corruption would disappear forever. Not bad for the heirs of the Prophet's promise that "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:4) Ironically, the Jews soon found themselves to be the first victims of the Communists. Under Stalin's brutal hand, the Jews suffered intense persecutions and oppression.

Judaism is a particularistic religion with a universal message. The laws and commandments of the Torah are the unique property of the Jewish people, one nation out of seventy. And yet, the Torah demands that all of G-d's creations abide by basic laws of morality. It promises an era of peace and prosperity for all nations. The Temple in Jerusalem will be the center of pilgrimage for all peoples to come and worship HaShem, the G-d of Israel.

The longed-for age of world peace can only come about once Israel is firmly planted in her land and living by the laws of the Torah. The prophecies of being a "light unto the nations" will only be fulfilled when Israel lives as an example to other nations, in the Land of Israel and follows G-d's commandments. Many Jews, either out of misplaced goodness or foolishness, seem to interpret the commandments to be merciful and kind at the expense of the Jewish nation. When Israel defends itself against attacks by its Arab neighbours, they are quick to cite the Torah's commandments to be forgiving. Whenever Israel retaliates, they quote psukim that command us not to take vengeance against our enemies.

Having lived in exile for so long, many Jews are uncomfortable with the idea of strong Jews. They have grown much more accustomed to seeing weak and crying Jews, rather than Jews making their enemies cry. Because of gentile influences in the exile, the Torah's concept of mercy has been perverted and we have been left with a flase mercy, the mercy of fools. The Sages say that we must imitate G-d; just as He is merciful, so must we be merciful. This also means that just as He defines mercy, so should we define mercy. The Midrash asks why the Torah uses the words: "when you go to war against your enemies". It explains: "Fight against them as enemies. Just as they would have no mercy on you, have no mercy on them.". No mercy? Certainly that is not the Torah's way. For its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace. How can such a cruel and harsh passage square with the Torah's commandment of "'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people" (Lev. 19:18). The key to this passage is the context, the words "against the sons of your people". It is forbidden to take revenge against fellow Jews in personal matters. Whoever was wronged by a fellow Jew must forgo his anger and forgive him. However, against non-Jews who threaten the pride of Israel, we must certainly take revenge. Our sages said (Berachot 33a), "Shall we say that even revenge is great because it appears between two names of G-d? 'A G-d of vengeance is the L-rd' (Psalms 94:1). Rabbi Elazar responded, 'Indeed. Where revenge is necessary, it is a great thing.'" When a Jew takes revenge against the wicked, (Psalms 58:11-12): The righteous man shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance. He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. Men shall say, "Verily there is a reward for the righteous. Verily there is a G-d Who judges on earth." By avenging the pride of Israel, G-d's pride is raised up and proven to the world.

By having mercy on the cruel and wicked terrorists and those who wish to destroy the nation of Israel, we permit them to continue murdering and maiming innocent Jews. Israel's physical return to the Land heralds G-d's kingdom on earth and vindicates the enemies of Israel who taunted her that her G-d had forsaken her. In essence, the State of Israel, despite all of its flaws and heresies, proves that G-d still loves His people and will yet redeem them. That is the reason for the urgency of the settlement of the Land of Israel. Our enemies who oppose Israel's return must be wiped out. The Sages say that he who has mercy on the cruel will eventually be cruel to the merciful. There is no room for misplaced mercy which can only harm Jews in this struggle between Israel and the nations. Have faith, Israel. HaShem will take His harsh vengeance against the nations. And then we will sit in peace and live in His light.


Anonymous said...

Very nice article, have you been learning Ohr Ha'Arayon?

Mad Zionist said...

We should also have no mercy upon Olmert and his government, who have now announced they will release more murderers from prison so that they can continue killing Jews. A Zionist Revolution is needed in the Holy Land.