Archive | June, 2010

Grasshoppers or Angels

1 Jun

As the details of the IHH sponsored flotilla to Gaza continues to flood the news and bloggers make their “expert” comments, forgive me for contributing my own unofficial banter to the worldwide chat.

This is not a complicated issue.

First, did everyone see this video?

You can tell from the soldier’s head nodding at the end of the video that he received the answer that he expected to receive. And that’s because of the following statement and others like it, made the day before by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, which basically sums it up:

“If the ships reach Gaza it is a victory; if they are intercepted, it will be a victory too.

This was no humanitarian mission. 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid. Since March 22, 2009, the State of Israel has been assuring the arrival of humanitarian aid on that amounts to an average of 13,000 tons of aid plus on a weekly basis.

This was a provocation. Period. The 600 people on board these boats were warned. Allowing them to enter Gaza and to “break the blockade” by force is only an invitation to jeopardize Israel’s security. If the blockade is to be removed at some point, it must be on Israel’s terms, in accordance with Israel’s confidence that Israeli lives are not being jeopardized. Doesn’t anyone remember the Karine A affair of 2002?

The IDF and the government of the State of Israel’s number one priority at all times must be to protect the lives of its citizens. There is no one else out there who is going to do that…not even the UN.

“And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them‘” (Numbers 13:32-33).

The sin of the meraglim (the spies in this week’s Torah reading) begins with their own insecurity about the task at hand. When they chose to see themselves as grasshoppers, as irritating insects that come in swarms,associated with devastating plaques, they took the first steps toward what would have been inevitable defeat. For that reason they were to dwell in the wilderness until a new generation would arise, a generation who saw things differently.

Our own self-image is where it all begins.

The following powerful midrash offers an important understanding of this text. In it, God berates the spies for their poor self-image:

“I take no objection to your saying: ‘we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves,’ but I take offense when you say ‘so we must have looked to them.’ How do you know how I made you to look to them? Perhaps you appeared to them as angels!” (based on Numbers Rabbah 16:11).

I hear from my son, a medic in the IDF, about the way the IDF bends over backwards to protect the lives of innocents. After the Egyptians take pot shots at Sudanese refugees seeking asylum, my son and his comrades receive them at the border, giving them food, shelter, and medical attention.

The IDF soldiers appear to them as angels. No doubt about that.

The Israeli commandos who boarded the ships yesterday succeeded in maintaining control on 5 out of the six ships. Did you know that they boarded the ships with paint ball rifles strapped to their backs? Luckily the soldiers took along pistols which protected them from the lynch-mob they encountered on that ship.

Israelis and Jews worldwide – hold your heads up high with great pride in your army and your country.

We are not grasshoppers. Rather, we are malakhim, the Hebrew word for angel. The true translation, however, of this word into English is messenger. We are the messengers of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Sarah, Rachel, Miriam and Devora. We are here for a purpose – let’s not allow the “giants” of the world to confuse us about that.