After a week of relative respite, an onslaught of Hamas rockets shattered the fragile ceasefire on Tuesday. Once more we were reminded that the very grave threat posed by Hamas and other terror groups has not passed, and the plight and wellbeing of our brethren in Eretz Yisrael must continue to be first and foremost in the thoughts and tefillos of Jews everywhere.
It is imperative that those of us in the Diaspora recognize our responsibilities on their behalf.
When Yehoshua bin Nun led the conquest of Yericho, he raised his eyes and saw a man covered in armor before him, a drawn sword in his hand.
“Are you with us or with our enemies?” Yehoshua asked him.
“No, for I am a commander of Hashem’s legion; now have I come.”
The Gemara in Megillah explains this seemingly cryptic response. This visitor was a malach, who had come with two complaints: “Yesterday you suspended the evening korban Tamid” — “And now you’re neglecting the study of Torah!”
Yehoshua asked him, “For which of these have you come?”
“Now I have come,” he replied — concerning the current matter of neglecting the learning of Torah.
Yehoshua immediately rectified the matter and Bnei Yisrael dedicated the night to Torah study.
Harav Mattisyahu Salamon, shlita, relates a question raised by his rebbi, Harav Elya Lopian, zt”l. When malachim appear to humans, they take on an appearance according to the mission they’ve come to fulfill. For example, when malachim came to Avraham Avinu, they came in the heat of the day, in the form ofcommon street Arabs. Avraham Avinu had to take them into the tent to have them wash, as if they were ordinary people off the street. For their shelichus was to fit in with Avraham Avinu’s hospitality.
When a malach is sent from Heaven to give mussar concerning bitul Torah, one would expect an elderly Yid, with a long white beard, declaring, “Now I have come.” But the malach appeared as a sword-wielding general, one that Yehoshua was unable to identify. What does that have to do with bitul Torah?
Harav Lopian explained that the malach Yehoshua saw was the malach who had been sent to fight the war for Klal Yisrael. And he was dressed for that task — the task of bringing about the downfall of Yericho so that the Yidden could enter Eretz Yisrael.
He came to Yehoshua and said, “You’ve taken away my ammunition! I can’t work when there is bitul Torah!” This is a malach of war, sent for the mission of fighting the war, but “how can I fight when I have no weapons?”
Far from the sight of mere mortals, battles are constantly being waged in Shamayim, as defending angels of Klal Yisrael seek to use the zechuyos created on this world to protect us from those who seek to do us harm. Every time military conflict is fought on this temporal world, the very same battle is simultaneously fought and decided in spiritual spheres, and the Torah learning and performance of mitzvos provides the much-needed ammunition.
During the past month, more than 3,300 missiles and RPGs were fired into Israel. Miraculously, most of them caused little or no damage. From the IDF spokesman’s report, more than 2,500 of the missiles exploded in open territory, and the Iron Dome system intercepted more than 580 missiles that were headed for residential areas. Approximately 100 missiles exploded in built-up areas.
We are deeply grateful to the United States government, both to Congress and the Obama administration, for helping fund the Iron Dome initiative. At the same time, we must recognize that while human eyes are only able to see the physical batteries that comprise this system, it is the infinite kindness of Hashem and the spiritual merits of Klal Yisrael that made it possible for this intercepting system to work, and for guiding the vast majority of missiles into uninhabited areas.
Torah Jews in general, and bnei Torah in particular, must be sure that we are doing our part, and must be vigilant in regard to our duties on behalf of the safety of the Yidden of Eretz Yisrael and throughout the world. Many of us spend much time closely following, discussing, and analyzing current developments in Eretz Yisrael. It would be highly beneficial to take some of that precious time and dedicate it to doing something practical on their behalf. Every moment of learning Torah, every perek Tehillim that is recited, and every mitzvah that is performed, arouses great zechuyos and provides desperately needed ammunition in Shamayim.
Our brethren in Eretz Yisrael are relying on us. We dare not turn them down.