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Monday, January 12, 2015

The Real Threat To Israel's National Security (A Comment On Ridley Scott's "Exodus")

Ridley Scott's "Exodus" may not be historically accurate on all counts. It is not supposed to be, and in changing the facts a little bit, it is extraordinarily effective. Whether you're Jewish or not it is impossible to escape the power of this film artistically, spiritually, and religiously.

Without giving away too much, the essence of the movie is Moshe's character. Christian Bale convincingly plays a man who is settled and happy in Egypt's royal palace at first, who thrashes and flails at the mere thought of being a Jew by birth. Yet by the end he finds ultimate meaning in leading the people - "my people" he now says - to the Promised Land.

We are introduced to G-d through the person of a child. Bale argues with Him forcefully and repeatedly throughout the movie: We're supposed to understand that Moshe has his own mind, wants others to do the same, and comes to G-d out of his own choosing.

G-d honors this, but He says to Moshe - don't write the Ten Commandments unless we're on the same page.

Moshe nods understanding and writes them.

The leader is worried about the prospects of the Jewish people. "What will happen when they're not running anymore?" he asks. Meaning, what will happen when there are "two Jews and three opinions," when the people are fractured. How will they be saved again?

That, right there, is such a powerful message of the movie and for Israel its main point.

The real threat to Israel's national security is the failure to acknowledge the Jewish religion as its foundation - to serve G-d the way we have been asked to.

Just as the Jews were liberated from Egypt through a series of miracles, we can only hope to obtain and retain the Promised Land with wildly out-of-proportion G-dly intervention and support.

But we've forgotten. We articulate the promise of the land to us, but we repudiate the rules of its giver.

Which are, that Israel it is a Holy Land and we Jews are entitled to it only in accordance with the tenets of observance to the faith.

Over and over again throughout our national history, G-d has hit the "eject" button specifically because we disgraced His name. Our holy Temples were destroyed as well, because we disgraced our kinship through baseless hatred to each other.

When we serve, we will be blessed, and when we don't we will be punished accordingly.

It is true, the modern State of Israel was formed by people who were not religious. In a series of miracles, that continue on to this day. I believe that G-d wants the Jews to settle it. But we have taken the liberty we've been given too far. With the arrogance of thinking we can totally disregard our Maker in the process, and just do things the way we want.

You can't separate Zionism from Judaism. The two are related, they are one and the same, they are integral.

When you realize this, it becomes clear that the enemy is really ourselves. It's the ego which says we are smarter than G-d, that the Torah is obsolete, and that we can make up our own laws to supersede His.

But it's not - and we can't.

Our failure to serve in the proper way, to honor the land's essential identity, is the root of the strength of the terrorists - those who seek to eliminate and eradicate the Jewish state and blow its people sky-high.

The battles appear to be happening on Earth, but they are really taking place in Heaven. As the representatives of our physical enemies say: "The Jews are not worthy of the Land," because we refuse to adopt a theocratic model of governance while they (so they say) are willing to.

If we would only humble ourselves and submit as a nation to the One G-d. If we would only, even in concept, admit that the Torah is the governing law of the land. If we would only honor spiritual leaders and the study of Torah instead of mocking them and spitting on it as a useless waste of time as versus military service and industrial work.

This may be very hard to comprehend, but in a sense Israel's national enemies are its best friends, because they remind us who we really are, when it is oh so very tempting to forget.

In the movie the Pharoah asks Moshe how his G-d can be a "baby killer." It reminded me of the war in Gaza last summer, when the terrorists (as usual) turned on their own people and then blamed the Jews and Israelis for attacking them. They are masters of this propaganda.

There are time when religious service calls you to pain, torture and death. It is extremely hard to understand. But we waste too much time deconstructing G-d's ways, too much time relying on our own ideas of right and wrong, as well as worrying about what the rest of the world thinks.

One thing I do know: There are enough deadly nuclear weapons pointed every which way in the world. A military war is worse than fruitless. It is absolutely crazy to play a game of chicken and tell yourself that G-d will really save you in the end. Why does it have to get that far?

If only we would bend our necks and accept the yoke of G-d. Take just a step in that direction, and re-establish Israel as a Jewish State in service of the One.

That is the real task which G-d has set for us. And strangely it seems easier for us to fight a bloody war than to submit to His supreme power over the world, over our lives and over the Land.

It is hard to submit, though. It's hard for me. I understand.

May G-d mercifully lead us to do the right thing, because we are a nation weak in our ways. May He help us to accept the yoke of nationhood once again, so that He delivers us from strife and re-establishes peace on Earth and in the Jewish national homeland, with a single snap of His fingers.

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All opinions my own.