THE MEANING OF ISRAEL’S WARS – CLAL YISRAEL

In the time of war, we are compelled to lay aside the private individual aspect of our lives and to become “tzibori” and “Clal Yisraeli” by identifying with the larger community of Knesset Yisrael and its mission... This unique segula is concretely revealed through the willingness for self-sacrifice and the desire to sanctify G-d’s Name (Kiddush Hashem) that can be seen in large segments of the Nation who aren’t even aware of these inner potentials. In wartime, the greatness of each individual, the true depth of his life and noble ambitions, overcome him and dictate all of his deeds.

Sacrifice for the Clal

By HaRav Tzvi Yisrael Tau, head of the Har HaMor Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

 

[This essay is a loose and edited translation of Rabbi Tau’s classes, which can be found, in the original Hebrew, in his book, “Ozar Yisrael B’Givorah.” It is a continuation of the essay  “The Meaning of Israel’s War’s.” Any mistakes in the understandings are of the translator’s, Tzvi Fishman, and not those of HaRav Tau.]

 

When Am Yisrael goes to war against its enemies, all normal considerations change; the entire situation is judged and weighed on a completely different level. We don’t view soldiers as an assembly of private individuals. Each member of the army is considered like an organ inseparable from the body. A new level of life comes into being at this time, the revelation of a “mega-soul” through which the exalted value and depth of an individual Jew is revealed through his holy attachment to the eternal all-encompassing Community of Israel, past, present, and future, which is the foundation of the life of every individual Jew, transcending all of his other values, increasing all of his powers, his love of G-d, and the desire to sanctify His Name through the nullification of all of his truncated private concerns.

In truth, this doesn’t come to cancel the importance of the family and the value of the individual. On the contrary, precisely because of this, in one’s elevation to the transcendental life of the Clal and its all-encompassing value, the life of the family and of the individual reach their peak, far above all other private human reckonings.

This phenomenon resembles the “Akeidah.” In setting off to sacrifice Yitzhak, it seemed that Avraham Avinu had nullified all of his love for his son and his concern for upright moral behavior. But the truth was just the opposite. Precisely through his willingness to sacrifice his son comes the Divine command: “Lay not thy hand upon the youth, neither do anything to him” (Bereshit, 22:12). It is precisely through the willingness to give up everything for the love of G-d that we come to understand all of the values of life in a new light, in their deeper meaning, how they are incorporated and absorbed in the Source of all ideals, in the Source of all morality and justice, in their Divine Source – the will of G-d. Stemming from the nullification of the self, and from all,  private human understandings and accountings, the true moral way in life evolves and comes to fruition, receiving its true value, and mankind is strengthened by becoming realigned with its natural feelings [to do the will of G-d]. The Divine Goodness, which is beyond all of our concepts and understanding, this, and this alone, is what constitutes the foundation of every value in Israel, and in the world, by gracing them with eternal content and meaning.

Rabbi Kook writes:

“The eternal wonder of the “Akeidah” trial, and its influence on the world, derives from the fact that the greatest illumination of life shines forth from it, in all of its wholeness. How could the father display no natural feeling toward ending the life of his offspring? To the contrary, everything to Avraham was abounding with life, yet with the clear recognition that every living being, and everything which rises up spiritually, everything is destined to be, and destined to pass from this world, to be bonded by a Divine connection, according to the Will and Word of the Almighty, Master of Heaven and Earth, the Judge of all the world, the Father of all which transpires. Avraham understood with the holy recognition that every act and everything which exists is nothing in itself, and that all of its intrinsic worth and greatness is only in owing its existence to the G-d of the Universe, Master of All. Out of the heights of this understanding, even the feelings of compassion for his only son, paternal feelings which have such glorious and exquisite value in the ethical life of mankind, with all of their emotional power, were necessary to subdue in order to carry out the word of G-d and to do His Will with a full heart. Through this act of sacrifice in fulfilling G-d’s command, Avraham’s feelings of compassion for his son won the highest place, in the highest spiritual realms, in being merged with the Will of G-d, where nothing is ever lost or transitory. Doing the Will of G-d, in absolute fullness, wholeheartedly, this is the characteristic which sustains everything, all of life and its feelings (and all of the compassion which must be suppressed), in raising it up to the most exalted heights.” (Olat Re’iya, Vol.1, pg. 98, on the Akeida passage before Shacharit].

The same is true when it comes to war. Every individual who sacrifices his life in fighting the battles of Israel, in the war between good and evil, doesn’t lose his individual worth and character. On the contrary, this transforms him into becoming “Clal Yisraeli,” merged with the entire Community of Israel, and elevated to the eternally living level of Knesset Yisrael, whose value is above all measure, to kedusha and greatness, to spiritual elevation and its unsurpassable value, and through this, he brings to expression the apex of his worth.

In the time of war, we are compelled to lay aside the private individual aspect of our lives and to become “tzibori” and “Clal Yisraeli” by identifying with the larger community of Knesset Yisrael and its mission. This revelation of our higher inner content comes about as a necessity forced upon us because it stems from our inner segula (our special uniqueness as the Divinely Chosen Nation) and it isn’t dependent on the level of our free will. This unique segula is concretely revealed through the willingness for self-sacrifice and the desire to sanctify G-d’s Name (Kiddush Hashem) that can be seen in large segments of the Nation who aren’t even aware of these inner potentials – whether through a lack of spiritual education, or because of their personal perspectives on life, or because of the shallowness of their conscious recognition. In wartime, the greatness of each individual, the true depth of his life and noble ambitions, overcome him and dictate all of his deeds.

This Kiddush Hashem which finds expression in war isn’t a passing, imaginary illusion. On the contrary, it is the most absolute reality and fundamental truth of every single individual Jew. Obviously, in order for this higher state to continue, we are obligated to elevate the spirit through education and increased Torah study, to illuminate our lives from the collective soul of Knesset Yisrael, which is the foundation of our holiness, and which is bonded in oneness with the holiness of the Torah, and in this fashion the Nation will come to recognize its true inner self and become consciously aware of the holy foundation of its life’s valor – and it will know that the Name of G-d is called upon it.

 

 

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