Living with Emunah
James McDonald, the first American ambassador to Israel, once remarked that Israel is the only country in the world that factors 25% miracle into all government planning. At some level, one must be a ba’al emunah to live in Israel.
Just consider last week’s news. According to one fully credible source, Hamas is already attempting to clear away the attack tunnels destroyed by the IDF and to rearm. And that was the least of the scary news of the week.
Israel TV reported that Israel is frantically preparing for a “very violent war” against Hezbollah. According to the report, Hezbollah has 100,000 rockets, over ten times as many as Hamas at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, and is thus capable of overwhelming Iron Dome’s protective shield. That 100,000 figure includes at least 5,000 missiles with precision guidance systems capable of reaching all Israel. Because their trajectory is not locked in at the time of firing, those missiles represent a far larger challenge for Iron Dome and the Arrow anti-missile defense systems.
Like Hamas, Hezbollah has built over the years an intricate system of interconnected underground tunnels from which it can fight defensively in southern Lebanon. And it is widely assumed to also have attack tunnels burrowing beneath the northern border. While Hamas never constituted a threat to launch ground operations against Israel, that is not true of Hezbollah, which has been fighting for three years in Syria and has accrued invaluable combat experience and confidence while doing so.
The only “good” news (if it can be called that) is that the IDF recognizes that in a war with Hezbollah, it would not have the luxury provided by Iron Dome in Operation Protective Edge of fighting methodically and precisely pinpointing every target to minimize civilian casualties – not that doing so earned Israel a lot of plaudits. (How many newspapers reported, for instance, the findings of the U.N Office of Humanitarian Affairs – not exactly known as a pro-Israel body – which found that Israeli retaliation against Hamas rocket fire was confined to “Hamas missile launching grounds and facilities, command posts, terrorists’ homes and hideouts, operational bases, weapon inventory and tunnels” and left 95% of Gaza undamaged?)
Given the damage Hezbollah missiles are capable of inflicting, the IDF would have no choice but to bomb quickly and heavily and deep into Lebanon where the longer-range missiles are housed, with little regard to civilian casualties or Lebanese infrastructure, to pressure Hezbollah to cease and desist.
Admitting that Iron Dome would be overmatched by Hezbollah missiles, Col. Dan Goldfus told Channel Two News, that the IDF would have to maneuver fast and act forcefully to prevail quickly and decisively. The same report quoted Prime Minister Netanyahu telling UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012, that in the event of war in the North, Israel would have to hit homes in villages across southern Lebanon in which missiles are located
And both the Hamas and Hezbollah threats are dwarfed by the danger of a nuclear Iran becoming the world’s first suicide-bomber nation.
Yet, by almost all measures, Israeli Jews remain among the world’s most optimistic people. What can possibly explain that other than emunah hidden deep in the recesses of their hearts?
While the attitude yihiyeh tov (everything will be fine) no matter how ominous the storm clouds on the horizon, represents a level of belief, it is one in some ways more appropriate to our Yishmaelite cousins. Rashi comments that Avraham Avinu insisted on washing off the afar ragleichem from the legs of the three “Arabs” whom he saw from the entrance of his tent because it is the way of Arabs to worship the dust of their feet. Rav Moshe Shapiro explained “worshipping the dust of their feet” to refer to the arrogant belief that wherever I go Hashem will be with me.
The task for us, the bnei Yisrael, particularly in Elul, as we contemplate how Hashem has protected us and how much we are in need His protection, is not to complacently assume that protection is guaranteed, but rather to figure out what we must do to make ourselves worthy of it.