The Fatal Trap
by HaRav Dov Begon, Head of Machon Meir
When Israel were just setting out in the desert, G-d promised them, “I will drive the inhabitants out little by little, giving you a chance to increase and fully occupy the land” (Exodus 23:30). At the same time, He gave us a harsh warning: “Do not make a treaty with these nations or with their gods. Do not allow them to reside in your land…. it will be a fatal trap for you” (Exodus 23:32-33).
At the end of their journey, before they entered the Land, G-d once more gravely warned Israel, elaborating on what was meant by a “fatal trap”:
“Clear out the land and live in it, since it is to you that I am giving the land to occupy. If you do not drive out the land’s inhabitants before you, those who remain shall be barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, causing you troubles in the land that you settle” (Numbers 33:53-55).
Rashi explains the words “those that remain” as follows: “They shall bring you misfortune. They shall be like pins which prick out your eyes.” It will be as though we are blind. That is, we will forfeit the wisdom and understanding which are man’s eyes, and we will not see the fatal traps and perils which we face.
Ohr HaChaim adds, regarding the words, “They will cause you troubles in the land that you settle” (Numbers 33:55): “Not only will they hold on to part of the land that you have not merited to acquire, but even in the part that you have attained, ‘in the land that you settle,’ they will ‘cause you trouble,’ saying, ‘Get out of here!’”
Right now, we see clearly how, unfortunately, the Arabs, with the backing of the world’s nations, demand of us, “Get out! Even from the places that you have settled.” This includes Gaza and Judea and Samaria with its dozens of settlements and its thousands of inhabitants who for decades have been holding fast to it, full of devotion and belief that this is our land. Now all this is in danger of destruction, not so much because of our enemies’ demands, but due to the blindness from which our leaders suffer. They do not see the danger, the fatal traps lying before them. And it is the way of fatal traps that we do not notice them until we fall upon them.
We must not wait until we fall into the trap, G-d forbid. Rather, we must take steps to distance those traps from us. We and our leadership must learn, know and recognize, and we must review very carefully what is the purpose of our holding on to the Land of Israel. We must realize that our being privileged to rule over Eretz Yisrael is in order to bring merit and show benevolence to all the earth’s inhabitants. We have the opportunity to spread the light of faith revealed exclusively through the rebirth of the Jewish People in Eretz Yisrael and in Jerusalem, heart of the nation and heart of the world. G-d’s promise to Abraham, “I will make you a great nation…. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3), has its place only in Eretz Yisrael. Knowing this noble purpose, and believing in it and clinging to it, will give us the strength of spirit to stand and fight for our just demand that no portion of the Land of the Living, Eretz Yisrael, be handed over to any foreign people. Then the words of the Prophet will be fulfilled, “Thus will I magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will make Myself known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the L-rd” (Ezekiel 38:23).
Diffusing the Oslo Bomb
“Do not make a treaty with the land’s inhabitants…. It will be a fatal trap for you” (Exodus 23:32).
Why is the treaty with the land’s inhabitants called a fatal trap? It is because a treaty about partitioning the Promised Land stands in absolute opposition to the treaty forged by G-d with Israel: “I shall give this land to your seed” (Genesis 12:7). The opposition between these two treaties will sooner or later be revealed and will cause the agreement to blow up.
In modern Hebrew, the word for “fatal trap,” “mokesh,” means “mine” or “bomb.” A mine lies hidden in the ground without our sensing the danger. Yet the moment we step on it, it explodes, causing much bloodshed and suffering.
Today, the bloodshed and great suffering that we are experiencing are the direct result of the “minefield” known as Oslo, which is blowing up before our very eyes, and causing the death of so many of our fellow citizens.
The government has the responsibility for the security of the State of Israel and its citizens.
The way to restore security to our county is by diffusing the Oslo bomb, that is, by our nation and government recognizing the tragic mistake of this miserable agreement. With every concession we make, every time we hand over territory from our homeland to a foreign people, it weakens the State of Israel and jeopardizes its security. This applies all the more so when we are talking about the Arab Muslims, one of whose tenets of faith is “Holy War,” great and ongoing “Jihad” against us. The Arabs remain committed to their goal, sometimes via war and sometimes via a policy of “peace,” so to speak.
We have to strengthen the Israeli army and to restore to it its power of deterrence. Above all else, we have to strengthen recognition and faith amongst the myriads of G-d’s people, Israel, that the Land of Israel belongs to them and that it cannot and must not be divided with a foreign people. Jewish control over the Land does not just serve to benefit the Jewish People, but to bring goodness and light to the whole world, as the Prophet Isaiah said (2:3), “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of G-d from Jerusalem.”