The Strong Roots of the Jewish People at Machpelah
Give us the Strength to
to Uproot Us from Our Homeland
by Rabbi Eliezer Waldman
Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivat Nir Kiryat Arba
The nation is trembling in anguish, horror, frustration and outrage as Arab terror continues to strike, and our leaders continue to declare that the only solution is negotiations with our PLO "peace partners". The explosion this morning of a school bus loaded with children on their way to school at Gush Katif only accents the absurdity of continuing to treat the PLO as if they are our partners rather than our enemies. Yet rather than admitting that there is no peace process and ordering our army to vanquish our enemies and protect Jewish lives, our government displays confusion and weakness, begging Arafat to stop shooting so we can give him even more of our homeland for his worthless lies. While it is true that one makes peace with an enemy, this can only happen after that enemy has been vanquished and surrenders.
Our government has lost the basic Zionist ideals upon which this country was founded and which are necessary in order to lead our people in an independent state. What is even more painful is to listen to our enemies enunciate the very principles which once were espoused by Jewish leaders. PLO spokesman proudly say, "Our spirit is strong. We will be victorious because of our loyalty to our homeland and faith in our just cause." How pitiful and frustrating it is when I fail to find governmental leaders in Israel making such a statement. Unless we believe in our inviolable right to our homeland, we will not be able to sacrifice and fight for her.
Our leaders talk about understanding and recognizing the needs of the PLO. It is this very willingness to accept their claims, even partially, which is the root cause of this so-called "intifada". It lends justification to, and encourages, the savage murder of Jewish men, women and children as an "understandable" means of attaining their "just" rights. Rather than dedicating their efforts toward building, strengthening and defending our homeland, our government has set the example of fleeing from our obligations. We fled from Bethlehem and Jericho, abandoning Jewish land to PLO thugs who, defacto, turned these areas into a new PLO sovereign terrorist state. We fled cowardly from Lebanon, allowing our enemies to portray us as defeated in battle, thus stimulating the PLO to declare, "We will drive you out of Jerusalem just as you were driven out of Lebanon." This policy of fleeing from before our attackers was continued as we evacuated Jews from the kotel rather than driving the stone-throwers from the Temple Mount. The policy of surrender continued as our army abandoned the Tomb of Joseph to Arab murderers.
In exile we had no choice but to flee from our enemies. But the essence of Jewish independence in Israel is to confront and destroy our enemies. Today the Tomb of Rachel is under attack and our government responds by limiting Jewish access to our holy site rather than removing those who shoot at us. The main road from Jerusalem to Hebron is closed every other day as a result of shooting by Arab snipers. Instead of silencing the guns and driving away our enemies, again we choose the path of retreat. This policy only reassures our enemies that by continuing to shoot, bomb and stone us they will eventually win the war. Thus we invite even more terror. The new roads which were built to avoid the intifada and ensure the safety of Jewish travelers still find Arabs throwing rocks and shooting at us. By not stopping terror in its tracks, rather deciding to live with it, guarantees more terror. The only way we can find an answer to this crisis is to return to our Jewish roots and restore our faith in the Zionist process.
I remember when Chaim Herzog, the 6th President of Israel, was our ambassador to the UN, the Arabs demanded the uprooting of the Jewish presence from the "Arab" city of Hebron. Herzog took out his Bible before all the member nations of the general assembly and read from the parsha of Chayay Sarah. He reminded the world of the historical transaction in which our Father, Abraham, bought the Cave of Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite. "Hebron belongs only to the Jewish People." Who in our government is prepared to make that statement? Yet this is the only answer to terror and the source of our strength. We must return to our roots, to Hebron and the faith of Abraham and Sarah. No Jew, certainly no Jewish leader, has the right to reject those roots. We must remember that our cause is just. Our rights to our land are engraved in the covenant of Abraham and the lives of our people in all generations.
We find, in parshat Chayay Sarah, two expressions of elevation with regards to the Cave of Machpelah: In verse 17 (Genesis 22), it says "Vayakam", "it rose up", describing the transfer of ownership of the Cave of Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite to our Father Abraham. Now the Cave of Machpelah, as all of Abraham's possessions is destined to serve a Divine purpose. Again, in verse 20, after Abraham buried his wife, Sarah, the same word appears, "Vayakam", to indicate yet a further elevation of sanctity, which, in this case is spiritual. In this way, the Cave of Machpelah unites the spiritual and physical elements of Jewish life, being elevated to the service of G-d. Our sages say that the Cave of Machpelah is the focal point connecting this world to the eternal life of the next world, therefore serving as the point of transition of every Jewish soul from one world to the other.
The Jewish people have a Divine obligation to reveal the holiness of the Land by possessing it, and establishing a Jewish life of Torah values. Jewish leaders have the responsibility to bring the Jewish people to fulfill their destiny. They must possess the courage and strength to stand up to evil and destructive powers, never to negotiate with them. The goal of our enemies is to destroy the Jewish State and the ideal for which it was created. It seeks to extinguish the light which we are destined to bring to all of Mankind.
The children at Katif were on their way to school to be imbued with these ideals. No PLO hatred nor Jewish weakness can deter us from fulfilling this responsibility. A government which does not understand this responsibility and lacks the courage to achieve our goals will not long endure. A new leadership will rise in its place, drawing its strength and courage from Hebron and our Father, Abraham. Such a leadership will attack the roots of Arab terror. It will keep murderers away from our roads and holy shrines, and will eventually drive the PLO out of our homeland. With G-d's help, we will restore Jewish life to all of our towns and cities, removing the evil and returning to a life of faith. Until then we, in Judea and Samaria, will continue our everyday life. We will continue to travel the roads. Our children will continue to go to our schools and strengthen their faith. We will not allow the enemy to achieve its heinous goals. We will continue to live in all parts of our homeland and raise our children to give expression to our eternal ties to our homeland and faith in G-d. The G-d of Abraham, who has brought us back to our homeland and helped us create this great reality of Jewish life, will continue to guide us to our destiny. The eternity of Israel will not be denied.