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Parshas Chayei Soroh - The Perils of War           25 Cheshvan 5784

11/09/2023 03:22:02 PM

Nov9

Parshas Chayei Soroh – The Perils of War

When it comes to war there are many different strategies and ongoing intense planning sessions required to takedown the opponent. Three mechanisms come to mind regarding the current battle which the Jewish people are fighting.  The first, obviously involve sophisticated use of physical armaments, guns, aircraft, and ships as well as placement of materiel and manpower.. Second, the daily need to publicly address the false narratives and lies being spread - not only by the  enemy on the southern border of Israel, but the media promoting so many of those lies throughout the world. The third mechanism, which, unfortunately, will continue to grow, is the economic battle that is visibly threatening the stability of one of the most successful economic countries in the region.

As I previously wrote, a call to say Avinu Malkeinu during these difficult times was suggested by leading Rabbinic authorities. We here at Beth Jacob took this up, reciting Avinu Malkeinu daily during Mincha.  The point of adding certain Tefillos/prayers and or Tehilim is not just to say the words, but rather to internally process their powerful meaning, reciting each word as a plea to God. We typically say Avinu Malkeinu during the ten days of repentance when our personal lives hang in abeyance, and on public fast days, recalling a tragedy that gives us pause to reflect upon. But the reciting of Avinu Malkeinu is different now, as it carries implications for Jews around the world and Israel specifically.

Tefilla/prayer in Judaism is multi-dimensional. Tefilla speaks for individuals, groups, and the entire Jewish people. This, too, is reflected in the Avinu Malkeinu prayer, as it can be dissected in different parts to meet the needs of targeted audiences. I will share a few lines to illustrate my forthcoming message. By and large the media outlets around the world are biased against Israel (and whenever I mention Israel, it does not only refer to the land of Israel, but to the Bnei Israel -the Jewish people everywhere). We are being verbally attacked by hateful propaganda. Therefore, we say “Our Father, our King, seal the mouths of our adversaries and accusers.” The haters of our people throughout the world are constantly thinking and conspiring - knowingly and unknowingly – of means and methods to attack us. To this we say, “Our Father, our King, thwart the counsel of our enemies.” The last example I will share is "אבינו מלכנו בטל מחשבות שונאינו"  - “Our Father, our King, nullify the designs of those who hate us.”  This war has drawn hundreds of thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish workers in Israel away from their day jobs, placing an enormous strain on the usually robust Israeli economy. A second degree of cause is that several countries around the world have cut off diplomatic economic ties with Israel. Here are some of the challenges Israel is facing on the home front.

The following is an excerpt from Anchal Vohra, a columnist at Foreign Policy.

In southern Israel, crops are now waiting in the sun, wilting further with every passing minute, and shuddering a bit as army vehicles buzz past. The area’s farms have become a vast army staging area, packed with olive green tents and tanks. Farmhands are nowhere in sight.

The veritable greenhouse of the nation is now dependent on university volunteers. They have tried to salvage the situation and pick the fruit before it rots, but their efforts have fallen short and the Israeli government has already started to import some items.

Israelis are proud of their technological innovations in agriculture and of their ability to grow in a largely arid region and feed their people. Now it is at the top of the list of sectors that will bear the brunt of a long war with Hamas. Oil and gas, tourism, health care, retail and technology are some of the others. “Many of my colleagues have left,” said Cindy, a caregiver from the Philippines who asked to be identified only by her first name for safety reasons. “We are going, too, if it gets any worse,” she told me at a market in Jerusalem.

Many airlines have stopped flying to Israel while the government has asked for activities at a gas field to be halted to minimize the risk of a targeted attack. The Israeli shekel has already plummeted to a 14-year low; the central bank has cut the forecast for economic growth this year from 3 percent to 2.3 percent, and prominent industries are facing disruptions.

Israel entered the war with $200 billion in reserves and $14 billion in aid, mainly for military funding, from the United States. And yet experts say the ongoing conflict will cost the Israeli economy billions more and take much longer to recover than it has in the past. Israeli volunteers at home and abroad are chipping in with extra labor and economic assistance—an admirable gesture but insufficient to make up the economic shortfall.

Entire towns have been abandoned and businesses shut down as 250,000 people have been evacuated and forced to seek refuge across hotels in the country or with relatives living elsewhere. Furthermore, the call to 360,000 reservists, who were employed in various jobs in peace time, has stretched companies and made their continuation as profit-making businesses precarious.

“This war will cause additional costs compared to these two (previous) confrontations also because of a massive participation of reservists, who are inserted in the labor market in normal times but will be absent from their jobs during the war,” Strawczynski said. “If the war is long, the impact of lack of human resources will result on a high cost for the Israeli economy.”

Tourism, a sector that makes up 3 percent of Israel’s GDP and indirectly provides 6 percent of total jobs, has been dealt a fatal blow, too. The beach in Tel Aviv and cobbled lanes of the old city in Jerusalem, the main tourist attractions, both lie vacant.

The economic pressure for the land of Israel is not a new phenomenon. In this week’s Parsha Chayei Soroh the Torah relates Avraham Avinu purchasing the Mearas Hamachpeila for the exorbitant amount of four hundred silver shekel pieces to bury his wife, Soroh Immeinu. According to the Hammurabi code of that time, a year’s wage for a working man was between six and eight Shekels.  After Avraham paid Ephron, the Torah states in Bereishis 23:20: “This is how the field and its cave became the uncontested property of Avraham as a burial site, purchased from the children of Cheis.”  *Rav Shmuel Mohilever asks why the Torah needs to relate in such detail, relating the specific business transaction between Avraham and Ephron and the sons of Cheis, especially, to the degree of informing us of the final sale price?! Rav Shmuel explains that the Torah wants to teach us that at a when time we need to redeem our holy soil from “others” we will do so at any cost. Avraham models for us that we will pay and overpay any amount to buy, maintain, and keep Eretz Yisroel. Money is being spent and money is being lost in the economy. Nevertheless, we will overcome all adversity - Mi K’Amcha Yisroel, Am Yisroel Chai!!!

*Rav Shmuel Mohilever 1824-1898 was a rabbi, pioneer of Religious Zionism and one of the founders of the Chovevei Zion movement.

Sat, May 18 2024 10 Iyyar 5784