Dear Parents and Friends:
Having a state of our own is the single greatest blessing Hashem has bestowed on us in the last 2,000 years. “Our mouths are full of laughter, our tongues of song.” With the help of Hashem, for the first time in millennia, a Jewish army stands ready to defend the Jewish people. Words of Torah from this week’s
which have been merely theory for centuries are suddenly insistently relevant:
“When you go out to war against your enemy, and you see horses and chariots, a nation more numerous than you – do not fear them, for Hashem, your God, is with you, He who brought you up from the land of Egypt…. Hashem, your God, goes before you, to battle for you with your enemies, to save you” (Devarim 20:1-4).
Not only do we have soldiers to defend us after centuries of helplessness in the face of persecution, but apparently, our victory is guaranteed by Hashem Himself. We need not fear.
Bizarrely, however, this assurance is immediately contradicted by the very next
“The officers should speak to the people and say: ‘Which man has built a new house and not inaugurated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in battle, and another man inaugurate it.’”
The same instructions are issued to any soldier who has planted a vineyard but not yet enjoyed its fruit and to any soldier who has bethrothed a bride but not yet begun married life with her: “Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in battle, and another man inaugurate it.”
How are we to make any sense of the flow of the Torah? First the soldiers are assured that they will win and that there is nothing to fear, but then they are immediately cautioned that the chance of their dying in battle is real enough that if they have good reason, they should sit out this battle at home. Is there what to fear, or is there not? Will Hashem protect us or will He not?
I believe that the message behind these
is that as a nation, we are eternal and victorious, always enjoying Hashem’s help in battle. We need never fear that Klal Yisrael will be destroyed. As individuals, on the other hand, our future is less certain. Klal Yisrael as a whole will come home victorious, but individual soldiers may fall during the effort.
If so, the Torah’s message to each of us as individuals is especially poignant: While we need not worry whether Klal Yisrael’s big-picture goals will be achieved, we must each zero in on our personal dreams and make sure to realize them. Victory is assured – but what of the house built of a man’s dreams, now forlorn and abandoned by a master who will never return from battle? National success is guaranteed – but what of the match made in heaven, the woman waiting at home not for news of victory, but for assurance of her beloved’s saefty?
The year in Israel at Midreshet Moriah is designed to help our students define some of those personal life-goals and begin to bring them to reality. It is our privilege to be a place where young women achieve greater clarity and then take concrete steps toward fulfilling the potential of which they are daily more conscious than ever. We are incomparably fortunate to be a group of people who help the next generation establish strong and loving relationships, inaugurate wonderful new homes, and produce beautiful fruit.
May Hashem bless our efforts this year and every year; may He keep Klal Yisrael safe from all harm; and at the end of the year, may we look back with wonder and pride at what each and every one of our students has accomplished.