Israel Forever

For the week ending 16 August 2003 / 18 Av 5763

Nothing New Under the Sun

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

We have news for you that there is nothing new about the problems which Israel faces today in regard to its security and its economy.

Eretz Yisrael, say our Talmudic Sages, is a precious gift from G-d to His people Yisrael, but one with strings attached along with it comes suffering.

This is clearly spelled out in two passages of the Torah portion we will be reading this Shabbat. "For as a father afflicts his son so does Hashem, your G-d, afflict you" (Devarim 8:5) is followed by "For Hashem, your G-d, brings you to a good land" (ibid. 8:7).

To understand the purpose of the suffering which accompanies this gift of the land the great Talmudic commentator Maharsha (Mesechta Brachot 5a) directs us to the passages which follow. In those passages we are warned not to forget G-d and abandon His commandments, and not to allow our prosperity to make us conceited to the point that we say in our hearts "It is my power and the strength of my hand that has achieved this prosperity". (ibid 8:11-17)

It is human nature that when things are going well there is a tendency to attribute our security and prosperity to our own abilities and efforts. In order to rescue us from the self-destruction of such an abandonment of G-d "Who is the One who grants you the power to achieve this prosperity" (ibid. 8:18), our merciful Father in Heaven has throughout history sent us reminders of our dependence on Him, either in the form of threats to our security or problems with our economy.

So there is really nothing new about these threats and problems. What is needed along with our human efforts to solve them is a return to recognizing the real source of our power and prosperity which alone can preserve Israel forever.

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