Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rachel's Children on Fire

If you’re not a mom, you might not fully understand the luxury of a “Girls Night Out.”  That occasional night when the kids stay home with dad or a sitter while mom goes out with her friends to relax and unwind.  A “Girls Night Out” usually involves dinner, movie, and a cocktail or two.  But unfortunately, a “Girls Night Out” in Israel can involve a different kind of cocktail.  A Molotov cocktail.

I have the honor of knowing what the world refers to as a “settler” in Israel.  I have another name for the “settlers” though; pioneers.  Pioneers reclaiming the Land of Israel.  I also refer to them as prophets.  Prophets, because they are doing one thing better than anyone else in the world; telling the truth.  But they don’t just tell the truth, they live the truth.  And bottom-line, that’s what prophecy is.  The truth.  But more on that in a moment.  Back to the “Girls Night Out” with a splash of Molotov cocktail thrown in.

My friend, who lives in the Judea and Samaria region, recently went with her sister and three other friends for a “Girls Night Out.”  Their night included an award-winning movie, Fill the Void, produced by a chassidic woman.  They enjoyed the movie almost as much as they enjoyed being out together.  Their enjoyment came to an abrupt end though.  On their way home, they experienced an all-too-common incident throughout Judea and Samaria.  A Molotov cocktail was thrown in the road in front of them.  Fortunately, the women knew that it was a ploy to scare them out of the car, and if they had got out, I hate to think what kind of barbaric acts could have been inflicted on them.  Instead, they quickly made a u-turn and sped away.  Eventually they were able to find members of the IDF who helped them get home. 

In describing the incident, my friend said, “This is what we go through.  Every time my family leaves the house, these are the kinds of situations we have to think about.”    

She is not exaggerating when she says that every time her family leaves the house they have to be aware of impending dangers.  Ask Jews what can happen if one makes a wrong turn and ends up in an Arab neighborhood.  If they could speak from the grave, Jews would tell you how they were lynched and killed after making a wrong turn.  Ask Jews what can happen if a rock is thrown at their car while driving through Judea and Samaria.  Some of those Jews and their children would also have to speak from the grave.  Ask off-duty soldiers what can happen during a hike in the hills outside of Hebron.  You guessed it.  They would have to speak from the grave too.  Rocks.  Molotov cocktails.  Ambushes.  No big deal, right?  After all, these attacks are happening to “settlers,” who in many peoples’ eyes are only getting what they deserve for living in so-called “disputed” or “occupied territories.”  When people fall prey to the propaganda that the "settlers" are illegally occupying Jewish land, they can also easily fall prey to thinking that terrorists acts against the "settlers" are justified, perhaps even deserved. 

My pioneering friend not only has to be concerned about impending danger when she leaves home, but while she is at home too.  Far too often Shabbat has ended with a mob of Arabs with weapons rioting in her neighborhood chanting, “Death to the Jews!”  Thank G-d, she and her family have not been harmed.  The same cannot be said for some of their vineyards.  But again, who cares?  She is only a “settler.”  By living beyond the “green-line,” otherwise known as the heartland of Israel, she chose to put herself and her children in harms way, right?
To sum up the events of her night out, my friend said, “We felt Hashem guiding us and leading us out of danger.  Thank you Hashem!  No matter what we go through we feel safer here and we know this is our home!” 

I’m not surprised by her reaction.  It is the reaction of a true pioneer, of a true prophet.  It is the reaction of one of Rachel’s children responding to Rachel’s cries per Jeremiah 31.  It is the response of someone who has truly come home. 

There are many Jews living in Israel.  But not all of them are really living in Israel.  They are living in a faux, political dream.  They are living according to how the nations are telling them to live instead of how the G-d of Israel instructed them to live.  If a Jew is living in the Land while trying to give the Land away, he or she has not truly come home yet.  Rachel still weeps for them.

The pioneers, though, they are the epitome of living in the Land; of being home.  Besides the IDF, they are another line of defense, staking claim and protecting the Land of Israel against enemies within and without who are not only trying to steal the Land of Israel, but are actually trying to end Israel’s very existence.  But, instead of being lauded as a second line of defense, the pioneers are considered by many, including fellow Jews, as the #1 roadblock to peace.  An Arab terrorist can, G-d forbid, don a suicide-belt, launch rockets, and slit Jewish women and children’s throats.  But in the twisted logic of liberals, barbaric acts of terrorism are nothing compared to a Jew picking up a hammer to build a home in Judea and Samaria.

In Obama’s first term, he launched his presidency with his famed speech in Cairo.  In the speech he was quick to point his finger, as other US administrations before him did, at the “settlers” in Israel for being the biggest obstacle to peace.  Yet, what the pioneers are really an obstacle to are the plans of the nations to continue to shrink Israel until, “Poof!” it no longer exists.  While the nations push for pre-1967 borders, while liberal Jews continue to dream of a two-state solution, while the Israeli government bulldozes pioneers’ homes in cowardly acts of appeasement, the pioneers continue to stand on one simple truth – every inch of Israel belongs to the Jews.  Period.

In a world of revisionist history, in the midst of the conniving schemes of Peace Now, and despite many members of their own government and population being against them, the pioneers are a beacon of unadulterated Biblical truth: the Land of Israel was given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and that has never changed.  Twenty-first century politics and “peace accords” will not cause the pioneers of the Land to sway.  If anything, the liberal ideas of man will only make the pioneers stronger in their stance to live out the promises given to their forefathers.  In the long run, revisionist history and propaganda are no match against pioneers who are the living embodiment of Biblical prophecy coming to pass.  

After the most recent “cease-fire” in Israel, hundreds of Arabs rioted throughout Judea and Samaria throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Jews in buses and cars and at Israeli soldiers and police.  Much of the rioting took place at Rachel’s Tomb where Arabs threw 73 Molotov cocktails at the tomb’s compound and at the security forces there.  (It is worth noting that Rachel’s tomb is just one of several historical sites in Israel that Arabs have tried to claim as their own, with the help of UNESCO, and then desecrated the site with barbaric acts, just as they did with Joseph’s tomb.) 

The flames of Molotov cocktails, though, pale in comparison to the holy flames Rachel’s children have become.  Rachel's children have returned to their land.  There, they will stay.  The House of Jacob.  The House of Joseph.  A fire and a flame, in the guise of hammers and nails, consuming those who would oppose their existence.   

                              Dedicated to Hela - the beautiful, indomitable pioneer. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Israel, Fight Like a Girl!

After the attacks by Muslims on U.S. embassies in the Middle East, which included the murder of four Americans, a college student posted the following comment on Facebook:  “My heart goes out to the families of the people killed in Libya. But I hope we can be filled with forgiveness towards all this baloney. I feel like this secret desire for vengeance and calling it ‘justice’ is exactly what led us into the hell-hole we're currently in. Come on, Christian nation. Forgive them 70 x 7 times.”

I know this kid. (When you get to be my age, you can call college students "kids").  He’s smart, rather brilliant actually.  He’s of upstanding moral character.  He’s even a supporter of Israel, which makes him a rare-breed on college campuses.  And even though he’s a Christian, he doesn’t completely blow-off the teachings of the Torah or the Prophets.  Well, at least he doesn’t intentionally blow-off those teachings.  Knowing all of this about him, I was disappointed, yet not surprised by his comments, as it represents what many of his generation believe.  

His comment led me to ask myself, “WWJD?”  No, not that J?  I’m going back a bit further and looking at the actions of, brace yourself, a woman.  To get a Biblical perspective of what a godly response to murderous hatred, violence, and imposing danger should be, I’m asking, “What would Jael do?”

The story of Jael is found in Judges 4 & 5.  Jael was a contemporary of a judge in Israel named Deborah.  During Jael’s and Deborah’s lifetime, the Jews were threatened by Jabin, King of Canaan.  The general of Jabin’s army was Sisera, who forcefully oppressed the Jews for twenty years.  

To make a long story short, Jabin was an enemy of the Jews and he picked the wrong tent to take a nap in after tiring on the battlefield.  He went into Jael’s tent and asked for water and demanded that she keep mum regarding his whereabouts.  He then went to sleep.  Forever.  At the hands of Jael.   

The Bible describes Jael’s actions as, “Jael, wife of Heber, took a tent peg, placed a hammer in her hand, came to him stealthily, and drove the peg into his temple and it went through into the ground and he died.”

Talk about moxie.  Talk about seizing the moment.  But was she right?  Was it right in God’s eyes for her to kill someone in cold-blood?  The reader of the story is not left to wonder.  Deborah’s reaction to Jael killing Sisera answers that question.

It is worth noting that Deborah was one of the most righteous people in Israel’s history.  She was both a prophet and a judge, i.e. she had the final say regarding the laws of the nation.  She decided what was right or wrong.  What Deborah said was law, literally.  Or perhaps better said, what Deborah sang was law.

Judges 5 records the "Song of Deborah."  A song in the Bible is not just an ordinary song; it denotes a rare spiritual phenomenon.  A “song” meant that someone was having a very clear vision of why certain events occurred and how and why those events fit into the bigger picture.  A “song” is a lucid moment of God’s complete sovereignty and Divine design.  So it is interesting that a large portion of the "Song of Deborah" is about the heroine Jael.

The end of the song goes a little something like this, “Blessed by women is Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite; by women in the tent will she be blessed.  He asked for water, she gave him milk; in a stately saucer she presented cream.  She stretched her hand to the peg and her right hand to the laborers’ hammer.  She hammered Sisera, severed his head, smashed and pierced his temple.  At her feet he knelt, he lay.  At her feet he knelt, he fell; where he knelt, there he fell, vanquished.  Through the window Sisera’s mother gazed, ‘Why is his chariot delayed in coming?  Why are the hoofbeats of his carriages so late?’ The wisest of her ladies answer her, and she too offers her responses, 'Are they not finding and dividing loot?  A comely captive for every man; booty of colored garments for Sisera, booty of colored embroidery for the necks of the looter.’  So may all Your enemies be destroyed, O God!  And let those who love Him be like the powerfully rising sun.  And the land was tranquil for forty years.” 

Did you get that connection?  An act of aggression led to peace.  Repeat that a few times to yourself.  An act of aggression against Israel’s enemy led to peace.  Also, Deborah made the correlation that an enemy of Israel is considered an enemy of God.  Deborah had no secret desire for justice or vengeance.  She openly desired justice and vengeance, and showed no remorse for such.  She even mocked Sisera’s mother who awaited her son’s return.

Another Biblical example of a Jewish woman taking the Jews' survival into her own hands by causing the death of their enemy is Esther.  I admit I used to be in the same boat as others when it came to typical thinking about Esther.  To me Esther was just a beautiful queen who was the epitome of white-washed slogans like, “for such a time as this” and “one night with the king.”  Let’s get real.  “Such a time as this” and “one night with the king” led to a blood-bath for the enemies of the Jews.

Esther’s actions and desires didn’t just lead to Haman’s and his sons’ deaths.  That wasn't enough.  Esther asked for the blood of all those who were against the Jews. And she got what she asked for - the deaths of over 75,000 anti-Semites. She understood the words of her ancestor King Solomon. She understood that there is a time to kill. Who knows?  Perhaps Esther hummed the "Song of Deborah" as she walked towards her fateful meeting with the king.

Since it’s rebirth, Israel has been in a constant war with Arab nations who want to destroy her.  And for decades, the U.S. government has been the biggest proponent of trying to create peace in the Middle East through the “peace process” which would be more aptly called the “appeasement process.”  It has been an epic failure.

Capitulating to people and a cultural mentality that desires to destroy does not work.  It does the opposite.  It emboldens their desire and plans to destroy.  Have you ever asked yourself why God sometimes instructed Jews to "utterly destroy" certain nations?  They were being instructed to destroy entire cultures.  Cultures of destruction.  

Most Americans are oblivious to the fact that the culture which has called for the destruction of Israel for the last several decades, has included America in that same sentiment.  “Death to Israel, the little Satan!” Muslims have chanted for decades.  Along with those chants are calls to destroy the “big Satan.”  Guess who the “big Satan” is? 

This hatred has been smoldering for decades and it is igniting before our very eyes.  It is not “baloney” as the college kid called it.  It is a deep-seated hatred that has led to the murder of thousands of Jews since 1948 and recently the murder of thousands of Americans on 9/11/01 and Americans on 9/11/12. 

A deep-seated hatred has led to hundreds of cowardly acts by militant Muslims, including: 
     Killing an American Jew who was in a wheelchair.  He was murdered and thrown overboard from the cruise ship he was vacationing on.  
     Flying airplanes into buildings in America.  
     Teenagers slipping through a window of the home of a Jewish family and slitting the throats of a baby, two young boys, and the father and mother.  The mother walked out of her bathroom before being killed, though, and most likely saw her baby’s head nearly decapitated before she was murdered.  I’m sure her last thought wasn’t, “This is all just a bunch of baloney.”  

The uprising of Muslim hatred is a matter of life and death.  And according to Biblical principals, and I’m not speaking of Biblical principles that have been reduced to politically correct “turn the other cheek” clich├ęs, I’m talking, bold-faced, when-you-live-in-the-real-world instructions from a Bible that has ample examples of righteous men and women fighting to the death for their families, for the land of Israel, and most importantly for the honor of the God of Israel.  Those kinds of principles teach that if someone tries to kill you, God forbid, you should try to kill them first. 

That is why it is past time for Israel to fight like a girl.  A Jewish girl.  And it’s time for America to fully back Israel in the fight and to begin fighting to win its own wars too.  It’s time for cunning, calculated, take-no-prisoners Esther-type policies.  Would Esther continue to negotiate with Abbas after years of failed “peace talks” while terrorists continue to murder Jews and while over 12,000 rockets are launched into Israel?  Would Esther wait a few more months for Iran to build a nuke?  

It is time for the bold, audacious, seize-the-moment actions of Jael. Would Jael consider a cease-fire before winning a war?  Would Jael release terrorists from Israeli prisons?  Would Jael put Gitmo prisoners into art therapy? Would Jael let Ahmadinejad walk the streets of New York City?  No, a modern-day Jael would put a bullet in his head.

The right thing for Israel to do will not always appear "civil" as noted in Isaiah 63’s description of God’s desire for justice through vengeance:  
“Who is this coming from Edom, with sullied garments, from Bozrah?  This One Who is majestic in His raiment, girded with His abundant strength? 
It is I, Who speaks with righteousness, abundantly able to save!
Why is there red on Your raiment, and why are Your garments like those of someone treading in a wine vat?
I alone have trodden a winepress, not a man from the nations was with Me; I trod on them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath, and their lifeblood spurted out on My garments, so I soiled all My garments.  For a day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redemption has come.  I looked, but there was no helper; I was astounded that there was no supporter; so My arm wrought salvation for Me and My wrath was a support for Me.  I stepped on peoples in My anger and made them drunk with My wrath, and I threw their lifeblood to the ground."

Do you know what the very next line in Isaiah says?  It says, “God's kindnesses will I proclaim as the praises of God, in accordance with all that God has bestowed upon us and the abundant goodness to the House of Israel that He has bestowed upon them in His compassion and in His abundant kindness.” 

God's ways are definitely not our "civil" ways.  We are given a description of a blood-bath and how does Isaiah sum it up?  As God's kindness.  The destruction of Israel's enemies will be an “abundant goodness, kindness and compassion” for Israel.  

And what happens in Israel does not stay in Israel.  What happens in Israel spills over into all of the world.  When Israel rises up to partner with the God of Israel's vengeance and justice, and rises up to fulfill it's destiny to be the Light to the world, “abundant goodness, kindness and compassion” will fill The Land and then fill the world.

The world has seen Israel aroused as it fights against the terrorists in Gaza. We can only hope and pray that Israel will not retreat this time, but finish the job.  If Israel is smart, it will follow the example of its matriarchs and fight until all of its enemies are destroyed.