Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests

The Real Enemies of Israel and the Jews

What group, movement, or country is it that Jews really have to worry about and devote energy to combatting? Is it Iran? Palestinian anti-Semites? Terrorists generally? Neo-Nazis? If you go on the ADL website, you’ll see a big tribute to the 85 victims of the 1994 AMIA Jewish Center bombing in Argentina. July 18 will be the 15th anniversary. “The message must be sent to those who would carry out such unconscionable terrorist attacks that they will have no peace until justice is served,” writes ADL head Abraham Foxman.

I’m not disagreeing, yet the sense of proportion, from an authentically Jewish perspective, is far from what it should be. The organized Jewish community doesn’t know who our most potent enemies really are.
In the week’s Torah portion, Matot-Massei (Numbers 30:2-36:13), we read about the battle against Midian that God directed the Jews to conduct, inflicting “the Lord’s vengeance” on that nation (Number 31:3). Rav Hirsch asks why God was so wrathful against Midian but when it came to Moab, there was no such call to war. Yet it was Midian and Moab that just a few chapters earlier had conspired together to hire a powerful sorcerer, Balaam, to curse Israel, with a view to physically destroying or driving out the Jews.


The reason is that after the enterprise with Balaam failed, Midian emerged as a much more serious moral and spiritual threat. It was a Midianite princess, Cozbi, who brazenly and publicly cohabited with a prominent Israelite, Zimri, necessitating Phinehas’s zealous act described in Numbers 25. Writes Hirsch:

By this war being against Midian and not against Moab, whose purpose was to destroy the material strength of Israel rather than their spiritual and moral strength, the spiritual and moral motive of this war must have been brought to the minds of the people with double signifiance. Not who brings about Israel’s material ruin, but he who achieves its spiritual and moral death is the real enemy….By their policy of seduction, Midian had practiced the worst international crime [on Numbers 31:3].

Metaphorically, if you were to divide haters of Jews, Judaism, and the Jewish spirit into two groups — Moabites and Midianites — it’s the latter that should be the chief object of Jewish concern. Take care of Midian and you’ll have much less to fear from Moab. It’s true now as it was then.
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posted July 16, 2009 at 8:51 pm

That’s basically the message of Ravs Shalom Arush and Lazer Brody, who advocate ignoring political activism and instead focusing on bringing Jews to real emuna and tshuvah, faith and repentance. The idea is that bad things happen only because we’ve failed to return to G-d, by fostering brotherly love, an end to hatred among the Jewish people, and of course by following the commandments. This idea is not new, but exists throughout the Bible and other Jewish texts. The second paragraph of the Shema is one example of many.

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posted July 16, 2009 at 9:11 pm

What group, movement, or country is it that Jews really have to worry about and devote energy to combatting?

You asked the question, but you haven’t really answered it yet. The true enemies of Israel are the modern incarnation of the Midianites, ok, but which actual “group, movement, or country” do you consider to fit that mold?

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David Klinghoffer

posted July 16, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Sophist: Isn’t it obvious? Secularism.

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posted July 16, 2009 at 10:27 pm

Yeah, I was pretty sure that’s what you were driving at, but I wanted you to explictly state it rather than hint at it, because then everyone can see how warped your priorities are.

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posted July 16, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Also, I am unclear about something: are you saying that, among those that hate Israel, those that promote secularism as a means to damage Israel are more dangerous than those who advocate violence for the same purpose, or are you saying that secularism itself in a greater enemy than those that would see Israel destroyed by any means? Because it is not at all clear in your post which one you meant to imply.

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posted July 17, 2009 at 5:18 am

More pseudo chareidi nonsense from this blog. Why don’t you move to Meah Shearim (or Kiryas Yoel since you wouldn’t want to get too close to Israel), join a kollel and join the ranks of those who abjure any contact with society. They also believe that you just need faith and Torah learning. No need to work, no need to interact with the rest of us who combine Torah observance with work and certainly no need to defend oneself from mortal enemies. With the furthering of the complete idiocy that know flows from your pen (or keyboard) I expect shortly you will start burning dumpsters in the street when something upsets you. (That activity has as much logic and brains behind it as what you write here.) You can’t spread Torah knowledge from a concentration camp. Maybe living in picturesque Mercer Island it doesn’t seem that way. Those of us who live within range of missiles from Gaza, Hezbollah or Iran know otherwise.

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posted July 17, 2009 at 9:21 am

So you’re advocating the total destruction of secularists. What’s with that ominous “take care of…?” Or are you just planning on leaving it to God? (with a bit of help from folks like you?) Are your serious?

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posted July 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm

What DK is saying here is very true. The ancient world was intimidated then and (perhaps still a little) by the Jewish reputation–that is to say they were “psyched out” as people today might say. Bigger and stronger (as DK says–the MATERIAL)could not defeat them.
The micro version of this comes in sporting events where a team without the talent of another team manages some kind of magical upset victory–how is this kind of victory achieved? Commentators look at the spectacle to exclaim the weak team that upset the better one was “on a mission” and yes, this is part of it. Billam saw a people that could not be beaten since they were BLESSED by the Almighty. The only way to beat them was to have themselves be cursed.
When Zimri sinned–he went all the way–he did not merely fall for a pretty Midianite princess, he fell for corruption. Perhaps this is why Jewish men have always had a eye for the pretty girls and yet we stay loyal to our wives and hold on to our Torah. Unlike Governor Spitzer or even a fine man like Gov. Sanford–a beautiful young woman can only have so much sway for us. Jewish men are less prone to be caught up in sex scandals (perhaps more prone to money scandals). Bill Clinton, Spitzer–these men would never stop (if they were not caught)and could not see a spiritual problem and this is why sexual “sins” are not even seen as real sins by the secularists. Jews have a tendency towards the extremes so we are either holy or profane and truly some of the most notorious purveyors of pornography are Jews who are way, way off the path.
What we recall concerning the matter at Peor is not the temptation of a young woman but the potential damage that comes from moral corruption. DK has it exactly right.

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Glen Davidson

posted July 17, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Why don’t you just say it, David, that disagreeing with you is anti-Semitic, and one of the greatest evils in this world?
Imagine Jews getting into disputation over issues. It’s too horrible to contemplate.
Glen Davidson

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Shema Israel

posted July 19, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Shema Israel is great Jewish prayer.

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