Don’t Stop in the Middle of the Operation!
It was this time of year 32 years ago, in 1982, during the first Lebanon War (“Operation Peace for Galilee”), and, after scoring significant victories, the IDF became bogged down mid-campaign by the hesitant political leadership.
The security of the Jewish people in Israel was always paramount to the Rebbe, who was deeply involved with both Israel’s security forces as well as the country’s political leadership.
During a farbrengen (public gathering) he held during that time, the Rebbe spoke about the ongoing IDF campaign at some length.
Following are some very brief selections of the Rebbe’s talk, adapted and freely translated into English. (You can hear the original audio of the Rebbe’s talk here. For more about the Rebbe’s approach to Israel’s security, click here.)
They Need to See That We Are Serious
Those whom divine providence has placed in the position to move forward must not be swayed by fearful politicians. They need to finish the operation thoroughly and carefully, so that no extra casualties are sustained by either side.
The serious intent to engage in battle needs to be resolute and unequivocal (—and may then actually be cause enough to deter the enemy).
We must engage also in spiritual protection, in particular tefillin1 and the other mitzvah campaigns, as the Psalmist (20:8, 6) sings: “[Some depend on chariots, others on horses, but] we call upon the name of G‑d our G‑d,” and “We will . . . raise the name of G‑d as our flag.”
There is nothing greater than risking one’s life to protect others. Thus, the soldiers who are protecting the Holy Land and the Jews who live there, at the risk of their very lives, have enormous merit, which is itself deserving of open miracles! (Would that one of those miracles be that their leaders would carry out the holy task given to them, and bring the war to a successful conclusion . . . )
Don’t Stop in the Middle of the Operation!
Calling for a premature end to the war is like a squeamish person who enters an operating room where the surgeons are starting to cut into the patient. At the first sight of blood he starts begging the doctors to stop operating, wait until the wound heals, and only then continue with the operation, for how can one continue when the patient is losing blood.
We can imagine what the doctors would say to such a notion!
This can serve as a metaphor for the security of the millions of people living in the Holy Land. No sooner did one “surgery”2 begin, than one “fearful and fainthearted person” (Deuteronomy 20:8) came pleading that it has to be interrupted—we have to get together an assembly, find out what everyone thinks, ask permission overseas, etc. . . . The same thing happened with the second “operation” and the third. Now we’re well into the fourth one, at the awful cost of hundreds of lives and hundreds more injured, and still there are people who think that the way to achieve peace is to abandon a lifesaving treatment in the middle.
How can anyone suggest running such “experiments” on matters that affect the mortal wellbeing of millions? Three times already this kind of approach invited further calamity! And yet it continues . . .
What Will the Nations Say?
The same people (or their acolytes) keep bringing forth the same arguments: It is imperative firstly to be well-liked by the world, and not act like “a people who dwells alone” (Numbers 23:9). And supposedly this is the way to bring peace and justice to the Middle East!
True, Israel needs funds, armaments and so forth from others. The truth (which is kept from the public) is, though, that they give these without conditions. Furthermore, they, too, want the operation to be finally fully completed! They just cannot say so publicly because of other political considerations.
So the responsibility lies on the leaders who have the power to decide to finish the task—to do so. The surgery is already fully underway at the steep cost of hundreds dead; they need to complete it.
If they don’t, then the result will, G‑d forbid, be like the near-disaster of the Yom Kippur War. The then–prime minister3 later admitted that for the rest of her life she would never forgive herself for choosing political calculations over the opinions of the military experts,4 and that for the rest of her life those who were killed and wounded as a result of that blunder would stand before her eyes.
What Can We Do?
All of the above is mainly directed to those who are able to influence the issue. But there is something else that every person can and must do: increase in Torah study, prayer and charity on behalf of the IDF soldiers and their leaders, that they be able to withstand the test and finish the operation as thoroughly and expeditiously as possible . . .
Free, unedited adaptation from a talk given on Tammuz 13, 5742—July 4, 1982.
|1.||Shortly before the Six-Day War, the Rebbe announced the “Tefillin Campaign,” urging IDF soldiers and Jews worldwide to put on tefillin. This mitzvah, the Rebbe pointed out, has the special quality of making our enemies fear us. In subsequent years the Rebbe inaugurated campaigns focusing on various other fundamental mitzvot.|
|2.||Referring to Israel’s wars.|
|4.||To initiate the looming war instead of waiting to be attacked.|