by Rabbi Mordechai Tzion
We were attacked in our spiritual heart – within a Shul. Every attack is hideous and dreadful and all the more so an attack on the heart. It is not by chance that they chose this holy place. The forces of evil wanted to attack the heart, even though they will obviously not succeed in their goal. The Nation of Israel is certainly stronger than the forces of evil, and the Torah is certainly the strongest of all.
We must remember that we are dealing with an enemy. We are at war. During war we are not merciful to the cruel. One who is merciful to the cruel is cruel to those who require mercy (Tanchuma, Parashat Metzora 1. Yalkut Shimoni Shmuel 1 #121). We are the merciful and they are the cruel, and when you are merciful to the cruel, you are cruel to your brothers and sisters. This is a war like any other war. There is a concept of the total war which means that, while we do not look for wars (we are a Nation which loves peace, searches for peace, and loves all people), if someone attacks us, we respond with all our might. When the enemy simply shaved half of the beards of some of King David’s soldiers and tore their clothes, he went to war. In a war, the most important aspect is deterrence. You cannot place a soldier on every square meter. The Rambam in the Moreh Nevuchim (1:41) discusses his national philosophy and writes that the secret to security is deterrence. One must therefore strike his enemy with all his might. It makes no sense to provide terrorists, evil people and murderers with electricity, gas and weapons! Are you crazy providing terrorists and murderers with weapons?! The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (15-16) says that it is forbidden to provide regular murderers with weapons, and you give weapons to these people, not only in the past but now. Have you lost your mind?! This mercifulness towards the enemy is harming us. Other countries understand that we need to fight with all our might. Perhaps they will yell and scream, but they would do that regardless of what we do.
I remember a joke – although it is certainly not a times for jokes – from Meir Uziel, a comedian and grandson of former Chief Rabbi Ha-Rav Ben Tzion Uziel: In the competition for Ms. Ethical among the 200 nations of the world, we always come in last place, since we are the only ones who show up! We must certainly be ethical, but to our brothers, not the enemy.
During the Second World War, the Allied power destroyed neighborhood after neighborhood in Berlin, because everyone understood that there was no other way to wage war. Did King Hussein of Jordan deal with Black September with child gloves? No, he killed 17,000 Palestinians and ended his Intifada once and for all. President Assad killed 21,000 Palestinians in one month when there was an uprising in Syria. And when Hamas wanted to take over Gaza, they killed many, many people. This is the language they speak and understand. This is how we must deal with them.
I remember that a terrorist once attacked a woman in Neveh Dekalim. She lay down on the baby carriage to protect her baby, and he stabbed her fifteen times in the back. By some miracle, someone came and shot him and saved her. Later, an unethical reporter interviewed the rescuer on the radio and asked: “How do you feel after killing a person?” He responded: “The thing which I killed was not a person.” I remembered this and quoted it various times. I once met someone and I said “shalom.” He said: “You don’t know me but you quoted me. I am the person who killed that thing which was not a person.” I said: “Yashar Koach – Way to go. Your actions followed what the Rambam says in Moreh Nevuchim (vol. 1 #7).” The Rambam discusses the “demons” mentioned in the Gemara. He says that a “demon” looks like a person on the outside, but is a wild animal on the inside. It is more dangerous than a wild animal in that it has intellect. People periodically ask me: Is the theory that we came from animals true? I answer: “I do not know. I was not there. The question, however, does not bother me. What bothers me is whether we have left being animals.”