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Amid Israel’s war in Gaza, there is talk of drafting yeshivah students into the army to bolster its ranks. On Shavuot, we celebrate the anniversary of receiving the Torah, so I want to write about the role of Torah in war. The Torah is not just a dusty old book …

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Home » High Holidays, Israel

New Year Greeting 5766: Emotional Disengagement

Submitted by on November 2, 2005 – 12:40 amNo Comment | 4,757 views

As we enter the new year the catchword in the Jewish world is the word “disengagement.” Some are in favor, others opposed but everyone is talking about it. Should Jews voluntarily disengage from portions of the holy-land or are our ties to our country too deep to easily disengage?  It is interesting that this question is even being considered. This is the first time in Jewish history that Jews have considered parting with portions of our holy-land. The history of our people is replete with military battles. Many nations have challenged our right to live in Israel and we have always defended that right. We were defeated on two occasions, once by Babylon in 350 BCE and once by Rome in the year 69.

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On both occasions our ancestors fought to their last breath. On both occasions our prophets and scholars, aware of the heavenly decree against Jerusalem, advocated surrender. On both occasions they were refused by zealous militia men who spurned the suggestion. Our sages did not view this zealotry in a favorable light because it spurred our enemies to great atrocities.

Though their decision was wrong it was spawned by a positive aspect, their love for the Jewish land. Their ties to their country ran deep and they could not easily disengage. We are currently experiencing the very first time in history that Jews are prepared to disengage from parts of the holy-land with nary a second thought or hesitation.

This is only possible because we have already disengaged emotionally. The Jewish allegiance to Israel stems from our connection to G-d and to our people. As Jews, we enjoy a vertical love for G-d and a horizontal love for our people. When our vertical and horizontal connections reach their fullest measure we are rewarded with our land.

Settling the land of Israel depends on a successful connection with G-d and with our people. It requires divine blessing and protection because there are simply too many dangers that can derail the settlement process without a blessing from above. It also requires the hegemony of the Jewish people, a single individual cannot settle the land.

Our sages taught that the first temple was destroyed, and our people exiled, because our ancestors spurned G-d, and his blessing. at that time. Our sages further taught that the second temple was destroyed, and our people again exiled, because of the senseless hatred that Jews harbored towards each other at that time.

Without a tangible connection to G-d and our fellow Jew it is unrealistic to expect a strong feeling for our homeland. It is possible to speak casually of disengagement only because we have emotionally already disengaged. It therefore follows that re-engaging our love for Israel depends upon re-engaging our love for G-d and the Jewish people.
As the new year arrives I propose that we counter the winds of disengagement through an effort of re-engagement. Let us re-engage with each other. The Torah teaches that we most love every Jew as we love ourselves. Let us re-engage our bothers and sisters in uncompromising and unconditional love. This includes not only those Jews with whom we agree but also those with whom we don’t. Our points of contention are numerous but our areas of common ground are even greater. We might not agree on disengagement from Gaza but we must agree on re-engagement with each other.
Let us also re-engage with G-d. Let us resolve to make G-d a priority. Let us commit in the coming year to study the Torah and learn about G-d. To perform the Mitzvot and think about G-d. To thank him for our blessings and learn to love G-d.

When we, as a people, collectively re-engage with G-d and our fellow Jew we will find ourselves passionately engaged with the land of Israel. It’s sanctity will beckon us and rekindle the passion of our collective soul. We will rediscover our intimate yet tangible connection with our holy-land. When we engage the land on a spiritual and emotional level the land will engage us too. G-d will bless us with a year of peace and security, enabling us to preserve the sanctity of our lives and of our land. When we experience and internalize the truth of our convictions the nations of the world will see it too and learn to respect us and our right to our land.