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לימוד תורה

'Multi-Arena War' - panic or a wake-up call

Parasha and its implementation - for Parshat Behar-Bechukotai - Jerusalem Day - 5783

Rabbi Eliezer Haim Shenvald

The term 'multi-arena war' is becoming more common in the public's dialog. From it being a military term discussed only in the security forces' rooms, it gradually began, about two years ago, to seep into the public and news discourse. The assessment that the explosive reality at the borders, the damage to deterrence of the IDF and the State of Israel following the severe discord in the people, statements of refusals to join the army, and stipulation of conditions to serve in the reserves, may cause our enemy to assess that this is a good time for a military adventure. That the time has come to attack and embark on a 'multi-arena war'.

Recently, there were those who also cared to explain to the public, in detail, what this term means. How the 'multi-arena' war might play out. They detailed how the country could be attacked simultaneously from several fronts: from Lebanon - by Hezbollah with thousands of missiles per day, which could hit the civilian home front, while at the same time Hezbollah forces will try to penetrate through the border and attack the Galilee. From the Syrian border - militias with Iranian affiliation firing missiles and foot soldiers that will try to penetrate through the Syrian border. From Gaza - by Hamas and its partners by firing rockets and by foot and naval forces that will try to attack the surrounding settlements. From Judea and Samaria - by forces of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and even the Tanzim militia, who may attack the settlements in Judea and Samaria and even settlements beyond the Green Line, And Route 6. From the countryside, the villages and the cities - by armed extremist Arabs. Similar to what happened in "Operation Guardian of the Walls" in the mixed cities, they would attack the population and block roads in the north and south to prevent IDF forces from reaching the front. In addition to that, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and long-range missiles may also be fired from Iran, as we recently saw in the war in Ukraine. And there is a danger of shooting from Yemen as well.

It was noted by them that a war of this type could create a serious threat to the State of Israel. It could cause very serious damage to the home front, casualties and damage to infrastructure, on different scales than we knew in previous wars.

Some opposed to publicizing and exposing the public to the dangers of the 'multi-arena war'. In their opinion, this disclosure could cause disproportionate panic among the public and even damage the routine and the growth trend. On the other hand, there are those who support publicizing the dangers of a 'multi-arena war' as a 'wake-up call'. In their opinion, the public must be mentally prepared for this possibility so that, if G-d forbid, it happens, they won't be caught by surprise. And to speed up the necessary preparations in all areas so that all systems and bodies are not complacent and prepare as much as possible for this. They like to remind us of the lack of preparation and the surprise of the Yom Kippur War and seek to draw the relevant conclusions from it.

We also wish to contribute to this discourse in a public calling, at a time of acute public controversy. The threats the State of Israel faces are real and not imaginary. They do not distinguish between those who are 'in favor' and those who are 'against'. It is important to argue the crux of the matter. To moderate the fervor, lower the height of the flames, and prevent the proliferation of hatred. While facing these threats, we must strengthen the unity and commonality between us despite the differences of opinion, like what happened on the eve of the Six Day War. This week 56 years ago.

In the Parasha, the Torah makes a difference between what will happen if:

אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ...

"If you follow My laws …" (Vayikra 26:3)

and between what will happen in the event if

וְאִם־לֹ֥א תִשְׁמְע֖וּ לִ֑י..... וְאִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֣י תִּמְאָ֔סוּ...

"But if you do not obey Me… if you reject My laws and spurn My rules…" (ibid 14-15).

Among them:

וְרָדַ֣ף אֹתָ֗ם ק֚וֹל עָלֶ֣ה נִדָּ֔ף וְנָס֧וּ מְנֻֽסַת־חֶ֛רֶב וְנָפְל֖וּ וְאֵ֥ין רֹדֵֽף׃ וְכָשְׁל֧וּ אִישׁ־בְּאָחִ֛יו כְּמִפְּנֵי־חֶ֖רֶב וְרֹדֵ֣ף אָ֑יִן וְלֹא־תִֽהְיֶ֤ה לָכֶם֙ תְּקוּמָ֔ה לִפְנֵ֖י אֹֽיְבֵיכֶֽם׃

"…The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight. Fleeing as though from the sword, they shall fall though none pursuesWith no one pursuing, they shall stumble over one another as before the sword. You shall not be able to stand your ground before your enemies" (ibid 36-37)

"כי זה מדבר בפירוד לבבות המצוי בישראל יותר מבכל האומות, כמו שנאמר 'ואתכם אזרה בגוים'. כמזרה שאין אחת דבוקה בחברתה, כך ישראל גם בהיותם בארץ אויביהם הם מפורדים איש מעל אחיו! אף על פי שמדרך הגולים לנחם זה את זה, אבל ישראל אינם כך שהם מפוזרים ומפורדים אף בהיותם בגולה וכל אחד דוחף את חבירו בחזקת היד ומבקש להדיחו ממצבו להתגולל ולהתנפל עליו וכו'. על כן המשילם כאן לעלה נדף, כי העלה חלוש מאוד ונדף מחמת הרוח הנושב בו, ואף על פי כן כל עלה דוחף את חבירו ומכה בו, כך כל איש מישראל בגלות דומה לעלה הנידף מפני רוח".

"This is speaking about discord, which is more common among the people of Israel than any other nation in the world. It says (v. 33): “I will scatter you among the nations.” Israel is scattered as by a winnowing fan, as when a person winnows barley with a fan, and not one of them (the barley grains) clings to the next; so too, the people of Israel are detached from one another even while in the land of their enemies. Although exiles usually console one another, the people of Israel are not that way, for they are scattered and separated even when they are in exile. Each one pushes his fellow man with a strong arm and seeks to depose him from his situation, to incriminate him and fall upon him… Therefore, they were compared here to a blown leaf, for the leaf is very fragile and blown around by the wind. Yet despite this, each leaf pushes the other one and hits against it. So too, the Jews strike one another...” (Kli Yakar ibid).

וְכָשְׁל֧וּ אִישׁ־בְּאָחִ֛יו "…they shall stumble over one another" is the tragedy of a nation who, despite the state of war, instead of helping each other, each man fails his brother. The defeat in battle was not caused by an enemy, but by a close brother, his own flesh and blood.

The answer is to be found at the beginning of the Parasha:

אִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֖י תֵּלֵ֑כוּ וְאֶת־מִצְוֺתַ֣י תִּשְׁמְר֔וּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָֽם... וִֽישַׁבְתֶּ֥ם לָבֶ֖טַח בְּאַרְצְכֶֽם... וְנָתַתִּ֤י שָׁלוֹם֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ וּשְׁכַבְתֶּ֖ם וְאֵ֣ין מַחֲרִ֑יד... וְחֶ֖רֶב לֹא־תַעֲבֹ֥ר בְּאַרְצְכֶֽם... וּרְדַפְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־אֹיְבֵיכֶ֑ם וְנָפְל֥וּ לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם לֶחָֽרֶב

"If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments… and dwell securely in your land… I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down untroubled by anyone…and no sword shall cross your land… [Your army] shall give chase to your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword". (Vayikra 26:3-8).

Unity, friendship, brotherhood, and unconditional love will multiply national power, and will bring help from Heaven, and deterrence, which will cause the enemies to abandon their dreams. "וְנָתַתִּי שָׁלוֹם בָּאָרֶץ וּשְׁכַבְתֶּם וְאֵין מַחֲרִיד"

"I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down untroubled by anyone".

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