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Beit Midrash Family and Society Understanding Circumstances

Tension in the Persian Gulf

I prefer to look for the positive side of this atmosphere of tension which is overtaking the public; for, every circumstance in the world contains an essentially positive aspect by virtue of which it is granted existence.
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Dedicated to the speedy recovery of
Asher Ishaayahu Ben Rivka
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The present situation in the Persian Gulf is causing many Israelis to worry that Iraq may once again fire missiles at Israel – this time, chemical or biological ones. And though experts say that there exists really little, if any, danger to Israel, the media has nonetheless taken it upon itself to create an atmosphere of fear and tension. For, after all, tension raises the ratings – and what could possibly be more important than raising the ratings?

Yet, it is important to realize that fear is damaging in its own right. Our beloved mentor, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook zt"l, used to say that, just as, in the words of our Sages, "Thoughts of sin are more serious than sin itself," so, too, fear and worry of possible impending danger are more damaging than the danger itself. The psychological effect of worry is more harmful than the threat itself. It is therefore important not to allow oneself to become victim to fear and worry. Though all necessary precautions must be taken in order to be prepared for danger, one must not fear. Caution – yes; fear – no. Fear merely hastens the hardships, as the verse states, "Just as I feared, it came upon me." One who places his trust in Almighty, on the other hand, will be protected by God's compassion and spared hardship.

Yet, because I assume that my words will be heeded by a minority alone, and that the vast majority of Israelis will continue to be woefully misled by the media, I prefer to look for the positive side of the atmosphere of tension which is overtaking the public; for, every situation in the world contains an essentially positive aspect by virtue of which it is granted existence.

Let us consider the manner in which the Israeli public reacts to such a predicament: Some buy plane tickets with the intention of waiting out the war abroad; others adopt the position that it is impossible to solve all the problems in the world, and that we must at least do what is possible here in Israel; still others are awakened to repentance. Their healthy Jewish intuition causes them to return to God. And this ought really to come as no surprise, for the Sages teach that the simple act of king Achashverosh’s removing the ring from his finger and giving it to Haman did more to make the Jews repent than all 48 prophets and seven prophetesses who tried to bring their people back to God. All of them together were unable cause Israel to repent, but the mere removal of the ring succeeded.

Indeed, this continues to be the case even today. I do not know if it is the intention of the media to cause panic in order to awaken the Israeli public to repentance, but it seems to me that this will, at any rate, be one of the results.
Here, then, is the positive aspect of this tension: The danger of missiles from Iraq causes some people to repent.
We pray to the Almighty God of Israel that He beckon us lovingly, not through hardships, and bring about a speedy and complete redemption.
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
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