Israel Forever

For the week ending 14 February 2004 / 22 Shevat 5764

Israel's Other War

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

As if the war against Arab terrorism were not enough, Israel finds itself today facing another war. This time it is a war against organized crime, a problem that has suddenly received alarmed attention as a result of innocent bystanders losing their lives in the pitched battles between rival gangs.

The police are doing their best with their limited resources to eradicate this plague by cracking down on the suspected crime bosses and their underlings. But something must also be done about getting to the root of the problem.

The oft-quoted cynical remark of one of the secularist founders of the State that "we wont have achieved real statehood until we have a Jewish criminal in a Jewish jail" is hardly a comforting thought for a people whose mission is to be a "light unto the nations". To fulfill that mission we were given a Torah and heard the Ten Commandments at Sinai, as is described in this weeks Torah portion. The two sacred tablets upon which those commandments were etched are the two pillars of responsibility the first dealing with mans obligation to his Creator and the second with his obligations to his fellow man. They are two units which are interdependent. If one does not respect the first tablet commandments to believe in G-d and the mitzvot that flow from that faith, it is highly unlikely that he will respect the prohibitions against stealing and murder on the second one.

If children are taught at an early age that religion is more important than materialism and even nationalism there is hope that they will develop the proper respect for parents, teachers, classmates, and neighbors which will eliminate violence and crime from our society and sanctify Israel forever.

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