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Who Controls Israel’s Destiny

by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

  

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At a Chassidic gathering held on Shabbat Bereishit 5752 (1991), the Lubavitcher Rebbe focused his attention on the teaching with which Rashi begins his commentary to the Torah. The Rebbe explained that like all of Torah, this teaching should not be regarded merely as an abstract principle, but rather as a construct practically applicable throughout our nation’s history.

The same principles, the Rebbe explained, are relevant in the present age and should be employed within today’s contemporary political arena. Presenting the Torah’s ideas straightforwardly and without apology is the means to influence public opinion at present. The following is an adaptation of that address:

Rashi’s First Teaching

Sequence is of crucial importance in the study of the Torah.1 Giving one subject precedence over others endows it with prominence. In this vein, it is significant to note how Rashi, the commentator who seeks to reveal "the simple meaning of the Torah’s words,’’2 begins his commentary on the Torah. Rhetorically, he asks3 why the Torah does not begin with the description of the mitzvot which the Jews were commanded to fulfill and explains that it was necessary to recount the narrative of creation and the early phases of the formation of the Jewish nation so that:

Even when we are in a situation where we require the generosity and favor of non-Jewish powers, they do not control the fate of our people
If the nations of the world tell the Jews; "You are robbers, for you have taken forceful possession of the lands of the... nations,’’ the [Jews] will reply, "The entire world belongs to G-d. He created it and He gave it to whom He saw fit.’’

Rashi associates this teaching with the verse,4 "The power of His works He declared to His people,’’ emphasizing that it is not the shifting socio-economic forces in the world at large that mold the fate of our people, but rather "the power of His works.’’

Relying on the Rock of Israel

This lesson has been expressed throughout the course of our nation’s history. Even in times of persecution and oppression, when outwardly, their fate appeared to depend on the decisions of foreign powers, the Jews knew that G-d was the source of their deliverance.

This approach does not imply that we should rely on faith alone. On the contrary, the Torah obligates us to employ all the natural means at our disposal and not to rely on miracles.5 Nevertheless, the natural means which we employ cannot alone promise success, for success depends on G-d. Needless to say, an approach which reflects a lack of faith in G-d will not have positive consequences.

Our Destiny is in G-d’s Hands

This lesson is particularly relevant at the present time. The Jews must realize that their security and well-being is a matter between them and G-d alone. Even when we are in a situation where we require the generosity and favor of foreign powers, they do not control the fate of our people. Our people’s destiny is dependent on "the power of His works.’’

This is the message which the Jewish people must communicate to the nations of the world -- that G-d has given us the Land of Israel and that He determines our security and well-being.

Relaying this message will influence world opinion, for the Torah is accepted by all nations. When the Torah’s message is communicated to them straightforwardly, politely and without apology, they will listen.

Reprinted with permission from Sichos In English.

Footnotes

  • 1. See Sheloh, Torah SheBeal Peh, 402b.
  • 2. See Rashi, Genesis 3:8.
  • 3. Rashi’s words are based on the commentary of the Bereishit Rabbah on Genesis 1:1, Yalkut Shimoni to Exodus 12:2.
  • 4. Psalms 111:6.
  • 5. Talmud Pesachim 62b.

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Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Rashi
Acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105). Legendary French scholar who authored the fundemental and widely accepted "Rashi commentary" on the entire Bible and Talmud.
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Lubavitcher
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.