1. Lack of Spirit
2. Vision Also Determines the Goal
3. Peace in Flames
4. "Turn from Evil and Pursue Good" (Psalms 34:15)
Lack of Spirit
It is common knowledge that a body without a soul cannot be active and creative. This is true regarding the individual, and it is certainly true with respect to public bodies. Today we know that it is impossible to establish a factory without "vision." It is vision that vests workers and administrators with the motivation to improve and advance the factory in which they work.
In the field of business, a specific, limited vision suffices, for this is enough to breath life into an economic system. However, when it comes to the life of a people and a state, a much larger and more comprehensive vision is called for to uplift the nation and to give it the vitality to prevail over its adversaries and flourish.
In history, many a nation has risen to greatness and world domination only to eventually crumble and fall. The reason for this eventual downfall is the loss of national vision. Lack of vision leads to the collapse of the national body and its subsequent disintegration. Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, and others - all of these nations have disappeared due to and an absence of spirit.
Vision Also Determines the Goal
Every single person who wakes up in the morning must ask himself: Why do I rise? One who has no purpose in life indeed will not rise from his bed. This is all the more true when it comes to an entire nation. A people must ask itself what it lives and strives for.
A vision is akin to a peak towards which the nation aspires. When there is no vision, there is no clear purpose, and every action is carried out with half force, or even less.
The collapse of vision and loss of goal is what Israel has been witnessing during the past months. For about two decades, the majority of the nation of Israel has entertained itself with various prospects of peace. False prophets with most-probably good intentions misread the regional and international map and, as a result, misled a huge public with illusions of peace with our neighbors. The nation eagerly embraced this fictitious vision and under its banner was ready to perform all evil. But this is not the scheme of things according to divine truth.
The Rambam teaches us (Hilchot Melachim 11:4): "If a king will arise from the House of David, who, like David his ancestor, delves deeply into the study of the Torah and engages in the commandments as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law; if he will compel all Israel to walk in [the way of the Torah] and repair the breaches [in its observance]; and if he will fight the wars of God - we may, with assurance, consider him Messiah.
Peace will not come through making alliances with our enemies; it will be achieved by waging war upon them and vanquishing them.
The Almighty surprised the Jewish people, government and army, by suddenly arousing our enemies to war. And when a nation is mesmerized by visions of peace, it is unable to disenthrall itself all at once. This explains the confused response to the kidnapping of soldiers, the falling of hundreds Kassams in the south and thousands of Katyushas in the north, and the many regretful casualties.
Peace in Flames
It must be made clear: a nation frees itself from erroneous views much quicker than the leaders who espouse these false ideas and seek to lead the nation accordingly. We all saw how ready our soldiers were to sacrifice themselves in order to defeat the enemy; and to our great chagrin, many actually did. We all witnessed the determination of so many citizens to continue dwelling in dangerous places in our to preserve the national spirit. It is the leadership - political, military, and civilian - that is responsible for this failure, the leadership that did not wake up quickly enough from its dreams of peace.
The time has come for us to begin a new era.
Tempers are still raging, dissatisfaction with the leadership abounds. One hears talk of a return to Judaism and its sources from a variety of quarters, from soldiers who experienced the war at the front, from civilians who witnessed the damage suffered at home, and from the public in general, tired of leaders constantly subject to inquiries.
"Turn from Evil and Pursue Good" (Psalms 34:15)
Redemption and repentance overlap one another. We must uplift the national spirit and transform it into a process of repentance on both an individual and collective level. Only those who are intimately attached to the Torah of Israel and its faith are capable of breathing new life into the old vision. The Almighty calls upon us to raise the banner. The banner, however, will be raised in two stages:
The first stage: "Turn from evil." The nation of Israel is unlike any other nation on earth. No more "territories-for-peace" agreements; no more relinquishing portions of the land of Israel; no more taking orders from other nations of the world.
The second stage: "Pursue good." We shall be independent in thought. A "New Middle East" will arise when we fight and defeat our enemies in order to provide them with just leadership, to remove bloodthirstiness from our region, to defeat terror, and in so doing to bring a blessing to the nations surrounding us as well. Peace will come when the nation of Israel returns to its Torah, returns to rule over its entire land, when it assumes an upright bearing and understand its responsibility for the nations in general and for our region in particular.
When this happens, we shall merit witnessing the fulfillment of the verse (Isaiah 2:2): "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it."
Translated biblical verses in the above article may have been taken from, or based upon, Davka's Soncino Judaic Classics Library (CD-Rom).
Rambam quote based upon translation by Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov, edited by Uri Kaploun, from Sichos in English.