Israel Forever

For the week ending 31 August 2002 / 23 Elul 5762

A New Middle East?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Oslo criminals must be brought to justice!

Thus reads one of the most popular graffiti slogans to be found on walls throughout Israel.

Although this may be viewed as a particularly harsh indictment of the Israeli leaders who made the deal that created the terrorist-ridden Palestine Authority, it is indicative of a trend in public opinion. A recent poll showed that about two-thirds of the populace think that Oslo was a tragic mistake.

Without passing judgment on the architects of the Oslo Accords, who may well have had the best intentions, there is no escape from condemning their misguided thinking that an agreement with terrorists pledged to the destruction of the Jewish state would result in what they so naively termed a New Middle East.

The Middle East today is the same Middle East of yesteryear in so many ways. Today, just as it was when Moshe addressed the Children of Israel three millennia ago, as they stood on the threshold of the land promised to them by Hashem, a tiny Jewish nation is threatened by hostile neighbors. This great leader, as he took leave of the people he led for forty years, provided them with a perspective which would enable them to not only survive all the troubles which would befall them but to actually grow as a result.

You are all standing here today, before Hashem.

Thus Moshe begins the covenant he made between Israel and Hashem on the last day of his life, words which will be echoed this Shabbat in synagogues throughout the world. Israel, explain the Talmudic Sages, is compared to the day. Just as darkness is followed by light in the life of a day so are the dark moments in the life of the Jewish nation inevitably followed by light. Furthermore, it is precisely the pain of darkness which enables Israel to remain standing. Suffering causes a nation to reflect on what improvements have to be made in order to be worthy of heavenly assistance. It also serves as an atonement for the mistakes we have made.

As we approach Rosh Hashana, when all men are judged as to their fate in the year to come, it is important to reflect on this historical perspective of what ensures that Israel will be forever.

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