Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz: Sheep


yated_logo.jpgSome things infuriate me. One of them is the way secular Jewish leaders continue to speak of Israel and its army in the face of the deteriorating, frightening situation facing Israel today. I hope those who read this will think about it and share your thoughts with us. 

One of the underpinnings of the State of Israel is the claim of Zionist leaders that that it is the natural refuge for Jews from all over the world. These leaders reach out to Jews everywhere, urging them to move to Israel where they are guaranteed to be safe. They preach that had there been a Jewish state and a Jewish army during the period of the Second World War, the Holocaust never would have taken place.

All throughout history, Jews were sitting ducks, but now that we have our own army, never again will we be systematically wiped out, goes the claim. Never again will a nation be able to decimate untold numbers of our brethren. We will fight back; we will be defended by the Israel Defense Forces. We will not go like sheep to slaughter; we will fight like all nations of the world do. We will fight for our lives and we will prevail. So proclaim the self-important secular leaders of the Jewish state.

Every year on Yom Hashoah, the leaders of Israel gather and address the people and feed them this hype. They wax eloquent about how the Holocaust will never happen again thanks to the IDF. They tell them that now we can hold our heads high because we have our own country and our own army. They proclaim that Israel is the ingathering of the exiles and every Jew should make aliyah and flee to The Promised Land where our own army will protect them.

One glance at reality is enough to puncture these myths. Take a look at the most recent news. Iran is getting very close to producing a nuclear bomb. As Israel fiddles, the radical leader of that country continues to repeatedly proclaim that he intends to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. What does Israel do? Not a thing. What can they do? At the end of the day, nothing. Oh, yes, they deliver speeches and warn the world that something must be done before it is too late. But they are powerless to stop the madman of Tehran from achieving his ambition and carrying out his threats.

Forget about Iran. Look at the lowly Palestinians, a people which didn’t even exist at the time of the founding of Israel. This lowly group of stateless vagabonds has the vaunted Israeli leaders stymied. The greatest general and tactician in the history of Israel thought that if he would forcibly evacuate Jews from Gaza, that would usher in salvation and peace for Israel. They would be rid of the contentious conclave and leave the Arabs to deal with the mess.

What actually happened? As was predicted here and elsewhere, Gaza turned into a terror base. Thanks to American insistence on “democratic” elections and Israeli acquiescence, Hamas ran for election and won control of the area on Israel’s southwestern border. Gaza is now a terrorist’s dream. Every terror group has an office there. Every terrorist is armed to the teeth with as many guns, grenades and rockets as he desires.

Every day, the undisciplined and poorly trained Palestinians shoot rockets into Israel, killing some, wounding others and creating mayhem in the border city of Sderot. The people are terrorized to stay there, but many have nowhere to go. Children won’t go to school, people are afraid to go to work. They are afraid to stay home and afraid to leave home.

The poor people of Sderot have been repeatedly promised protection and retaliation against the terrorists by the government, but that same government fails to provide even rudimentary bomb shelters. They promised to reinforce school roofs and haven’t done even that. Private philanthropists had to step in and donate pre-fab simple bunkers for the shell-shocked city. No one even talks anymore of stopping the rockets from falling in the first place

They turn to their army for salvation and there is none. They turn to their elected leaders for some direction and there is none. As a last resort, some raise their eyes to Heaven and beg G-d to deliver them from their enemies and leaders.

The very same people, who just one month ago on Yom Hashoah spoke with so much pride of their many accomplishments since the day Jews were liberated from Auschwitz, now stand as if paralyzed, mouthing empty, meaningless words. They are powerless to stop the rockets, they have no plan, they have no way out.

 In the face of constant bombardment of the home front, Israel’s political leaders are shown before the world to be inept, arrogant and ignorant. It’s not just me who is saying this; this shameful truth was codified and documented in the recently released Winograd report set up after the disastrous experience last summer in Lebanon. The usual bravado didn’t work this time and Israel was displayed before the world as a paper tiger.

The feckless and hopelessly conceited prime minister should have been thrown out, but the people haven’t mustered enough force to demand his removal. His party, founded on the faulty premise that unilateral withdrawal from Gaza would usher in peace, is fearful to face new elections. Hypocritically, they stand behind him, placing their positions of power and imagined prestige above the security of the beleaguered and besieged country.

The defense minister is not as lucky; his people have thrown him out, though in his stead they seem set to pick another left-wing loser with his head in the sand.

To us, none of this should come as a surprise. We say, “Al tivtichu binedivim, b’ven adom she’ein lo seshua.” The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos states as well, “Ein miskarvin lerashus, she’ein michavnim eloh letovasom,” politicians only do what’s good for them and rarely care about the welfare of the general community.

Israel now celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Six day War of 1967. Way too many of the military and political leaders who ought to know better fail to recognize the many miracles which led to that historic victory, attributing all to the prowess of the vaunted Israeli army, “kochi v’otzem yodi asu li es hachayil hazeh.” They ignore the truth that since that exuberant period four decades earlier, it has become painfully obvious to all that “Im Hashem lo yishmor ihr shav shokad shomer.” The great army which repelled advancing armies from three different directions is rendered powerless when it fails to earn Divine support.

Yes, we are sheep, and our shepherd is the L-rd, who watches over us and leads us to greener and safer pastures when we so merit.

We still have not merited to be delivered from the exile of golus to freedom in Eretz Yisroel as we are so painfully and repeatedly reminded each day. We raise our voices in prayer and beg that a new light rise above Zion, illuminating the truth, and that we all prove worthy of benefiting from it.

We say every day in davening, “Eileh barechev v’eileh basoosim va’anachnu besheim Hashem Elokeinu nazkir.” We don’t place our faith in military might, but rather in G-d. Those who depend strictly on the army and political leaders to defend them will crumble and fall. “Heimah karu venafalu va’anachnu kamnu vanisodad,” but we will rise and ultimately prevail.

May we merit seeing the posuk come to fruition speedily in our day before any more innocent Jewish blood is spilled.

© 2007 Yated Neeman


  1. Pinny, Since when do you have all the ‘ins and outs’ of the israeli governments foreign policies to say that they arent doing anything to a) protect the people of Sderot and b) the nuclear crisis in Iran??

    What a lack of faith in the country that is SIXTH in the world in arms manufacturing, top five in inteligence, and according to a recent NYT article number one in the world in the War against Terror!!

    What gives you such a lack of faith in Israel?

    Shabbat Shalom

  2. This is a refreshingly true article.

    People should realize that no matter which non Torah leaders lead Israel, there will be not natural solution to Israel’s current problems. Hashem Yisborach is showing us on a daily basis that our only trust should be in Him.

    The current problems are exacerbated by the non Torah viewpoint of the Israeli military. They have formulated rules of engagement based on Asa Kasher’s non Torah approach which puts Jewish soldiers needlessly in danger. Besides the limits of military force in general, Israel can’t possibly win b’derech hateva since they have adopted the dictum of the holy civilian and will not attack terrorist in the vicinity of guilty civilians.

    The terrorists most potent weapon is their army of guilty civilians.

    May Hashem bring salvation to clal Yisroel speedily in our days.

  3. Although the main point that our true trust is placed in Hashem and not in the stregnth of the Israeli army very well taken, it is pointless to pound the table with every weakness that exists in E.Y. in comparison with the millions that have murdered throughout the ages in both Western and Eastern countries. The mainly ineffective kassam rockets shot from the distance are no comparison to the massacres of Europe. The security of the State is not being threatened by kassams. Being threatened by an Iranian leader thousands of miles away is a lot less threatening than being threatened by your own fhurer.
    It is interesting to note how in this same article the author seems to be against the disengagement in Gaza and would have preferred holding a stronger military presence in Gaza to protect the minority of Jewish settlements in a hopeless situation which endangered the lives of the settlers and the army that protected them every day. You will not hear such comments from most Chareidi gedolim. The constant articles in the yated advocating harsher military responses and blasting the more moderate voices seem to be in stark contrast to the truth of the main point of this article.
    May Hashem bring the final geulah b’korov.

  4. That was the best article I have read anywhere in a very long time.

    The whole article is right on the money!

    re: Tzitzis Boy – all of your points only serve to reinforce his – that is, that for all of Israel’s brilliance and technological advancement, the fact that savages shoot rockets in to its territory and terrorize its civilians on a daily basis, with the Israeli government powerless to do anything about it, shows how bankrupt they are.

    Hashem Yishmor, and yiyasher kochachem to YW for posting this article.

  5. Very well said but I have an important question:

    Does Rabbi Lipshitz know how to get right to point? Every article I have ever read from him seems to never end. Would could be said in3 short paragraphs he seems compelled to stretch to 3 pages. That is why I cancelled my suscprition to Yated Neman. What ever happened to the principle Chazal tell us “that one show always strive to speak or write with the least amount of words possible”. We could also help the enviorment by saving ink and paper!

  6. Sheep we are as long as religous Jews cower behind the doors of the Yeshiva and refuse to join the army. It is very easy to criticize a military establishment as a man that has done nothing more strenous then twiddle some fingers on a keyboard. It is easy to find fault in a situation as difficult and complex as this. Do you think there is some simple solution for the political and military leaders to resolve this situation. Maybe you have a better idea though why you are keeping it from us I can only imagine. By all means let us know. Your only advice is to pray and learn which is what we are supposed to do but in conjunction with the appropriate actions.
    My cousin was sent to Lebanan and in his first engagement under heavy fire he ran to a disabled tank to retrieve the dead soldiers inside. He wears a yarmulke he went to Yeshiva he married a frum woman. Why do we still raise boys who are weak. Why not raise Men as religous jews who will stand and fight? Why is this a contradiction? Why did Moshe Rabbeinu feel we needed an army of all men from the age of 20. Where there no Torah Scholars during the time of Moshe? Where they all frei yidden that could go the army. Hashem will help protect us but we need to put some effort into it. Where was hashem during the fight with Amalek, He was there but so were the fighting men of Klal Yisroel. Moshe Rabeinu Davaaned and the young men fought this is the partnership. Not all the men davaaning and learning all the time.

  7. Foolish.

    First, the writer presents a straw man, putting into the mouths of someone else (zionist leaders) sentiments that they do not subscribe to (that those who immigrate to Israel are “guaranteed” to be safe). Then he proves that the guaranty is false. Ergo, Zionist leaders are wrong and creators of myths.

    Only problem is that the zionist leaders don’t say such silly things. It’s a myth created by Rabbi Lifshitz, a myth as to what secular zionist leaders believe.

    Not that I agree with their secular perspective, but I highly doubt that those whose children serve in the army and fight and die for Israel all too often, think that safety is “guaranteed.”

    The secularists have plenty of myths, but this ain’t one of them.

  8. dgmiami: Did you mean to say:

    Good but loooong. Typical. Cancelled Yated for same. Chazal: “keep it short”. This also would save paper & ink.

    (I am sure mdlevine or other creative posters here could probably get your post even more concise than this. Anyone wanna give it a shot?)

    dgmiami – You just reminded me of the ironic song that Mendy Werderger sings – (Emor Mee’at Mee’at Mee’at V’asay Harbeh)

  9. OLD NEWS, this one and last wks Birnbaum article in the Yated of the Six Day War Syndrome. The feeling of “My strength and My power” is old, ailing and buried long ago, now the slogan is “AIN LE KOACH” – and most youth are defecting, exempting or just leaving to LA instead of serving in the IDF. Pinny has always been an anti on all Israel issues, check his bio of the Adereet of about 8 years ago, notice all the family history that is not recorded.

  10. vchi yodov shel moshe osos milchomo….elah..,..kol zman shehayu yisroel michavnim klapei maalah….. Moshe was NOT the only one to daven. You takeh talk like your namesake.

  11. Lev sorim umelachim beyad Hashem.

    In fact, the IDF is one of the best militaries in the world. However, their strings are being pulled by what appear to be incompetent politicians (and in my dealings with the IDF, they have told me so). I say “appear to be”, because the politicians’ strings are being pulled by the Ultimate Puppetmaster, in response to our behavior.

    Vehameivin Yavin.

  12. RE:We don’t place our faith in military might, but rather in G-d. Those who depend strictly on the army and political leaders to defend them will crumble and fall.

    This debate is similar in many ways to the debate regarding the need for secular education. While we all know that ultimately Parnassa comes from the Ribono shel Olam, slowly buy surely over the past ten years, most girls desiring to marry Kollel boys , have gotten degrees. Don’t they all know that Parnassa is from above?


    We need to Daven AND we need a strong army. Presently, army management might not be at its best, but we’d be worse off without it.

    I’d also like to add that In My Opinion, it’s doubtful that any country could survive with all its citizens/politicians being Shomer Shabbos.

  13. DS ought to go look up the speeches delivered at Yom Hosha ceremonies and then say he’s sorry. They say it all the time, and at every occasion, had there been a state in 1940 there wouldnt have been a holocaust because tzahal would have fought for us and the jews would have had a place to escape. Pinny didnt make it up.

  14. Yaated and all its readers and all its contributors and all of us, should not be permitted to write or comment until they (or child) served time in the IDF. I did not, my children haven’t, so shhhhh don’t judge the tzionim be happy they let us chareidim in the country. The ones who believe in Hashem should and are living in Galus and await the coming of Moshiach.
    PS. for those who cancel the Yaated you should try the NY Times for a real taste of galus.

  15. I agree with the article. As far as the rest of the comments, one look at the daily headlines (Jer. Post…) should convince all that the gov’t is running around without their head, there is no one to trust over there ELAH AVINU SHEBASHAMAYIM!

  16. Dear Rabbi Lipschutz:

    As ususal, you have written an excellent article with a strong message that Klal Yisrael must realize that while we must exert effort and perform our own hishtadlut, ultimately, it is Hashem who will provide our security and salvation.

    Actually, I felt that there is no greater proof that Hashem protects the Jewish People in the land of Israel than the fact that Amir Peretz was the Minister of Defense!

    Kol tov,

  17. reb pinny if you can use your real name while stating your view so can i! yasher koach on an article written from the heart. isnt this the lesson to learn from maaseh hameraglim .every effort should be made {hishtadlus} al pi derech hateva but knowing fully what transpires is all hashems decision. {bitachon vs. hishtadlus} look @ rabeinu bachaya reish parshas shelach for a beautiful hakdama elaborating this point. k’dichsiv, “soos muchan leyom milchama ulashem hateshua” !