One idea that keeps getting sent my way is that we should somehow stage a ‘violent revolution’ against the powers-that-be.
If I was an unbelieving non-Jew, who really just viewed the whole world as some big ‘shoot out’ with the guy with the biggest gun winning, then maybe that would be something that would interest me.
But I’m not.
I’m a believing Jew, and I believe that God runs the world.
And I also believe that all the ‘evil’ we have to encounter in our lives, both on the national and personal levels, is only powered by our own sins.
We make teshuva, properly, and come back to Hashem, sincerely – all these ‘problems’ disappear by themselves.
But a lot of people don’t like that idea.
Even in the Jewish world, a lot of us are still believing that ‘acting like Esav’, and using guns and violence to ‘eliminate evil’ is the only way to go.
I cannot disagree with that idea strongly enough.
Where did using guns and violence to ‘resolve our problems’ really get us, as a people?
It landed us in a country where violence is the only language most people speak to get their own way, and their ‘problem solved’.
And that’s why you get elbowed out of the queues by people pushing to the front, that why you get psychos screaming at you for not ‘solving their problems’ fast enough, that’s why you get people mugging others, people assaulting others, people forcing themselves on others in so many different ways, people hurting others….
All this is a version of that same idea that ‘using violence solves my problem’.
And it’s about as un-emuna – ANTI-emuna!!! – as you can get.
God is running the world.
Whatever God decides to do, He decides to do.
There is a mitzvah for me to defend myself and to ‘rise and kill first’ if someone is literally coming to kill me – but it stands to reason, it’s obvious, that if I can find ANY OTHER WAY OF DEALING WITH MY ATTACKER THAN KILLING HIM, THAT’S PREFERABLE.
Because human life is sacred.
And respecting the sanctity of human life is what really separates a truly God-fearing person from those who are cheapening, degrading and destroying human life, all around us.
What follows is an excerpt of a piece I wrote around two years ago.
It’s still relevant today.
Last week, we read the final parsha, Vayechi, in Sefer Bereishit, where Yaakov Avinu calls his sons to him for a final blessing. When he gets to Shimon and Levi, he castigates them for adopting the ‘stolen craft’ of his brother Esav. Rashi explains there:
“Klei Hamas – ‘stolen tools’. This craft of murder is in their possession by theft. It is from the blessing of Esav. Yaakov admonished them, “It is his [Esav’s] craft, and you robbed him of it.”
The full verse from the Torah reads:
“Shimon and Levi are brothers, klei hamas are their weapons. Into their design may my soul not enter! With their congregation do not unite, O my honor! For in their rage they killed a man, and in their wish they hamstrung an ox. Accursed is their rage for it is mighty, and their wrath for it is harsh. I will divide them in Yaakov, and I will disperse them in Israel.”
Clearly, Yaakov Avinu is very unhappy about his sons – forbears of the Jewish people – acting like his brother Esav, and killing people left, right and centre whenever they got angry and ‘felt justified’ in doing so. This is not the Jewish way.
The voice is the voice of Yaakov – it’s the voice of prayer, the voice of emuna, the voice of knowing that God is really running the world.
Following the awful Chanuka attack in the shul in Monsey a couple of weeks ago, I was personally horrified when I saw pictures of orthodox Jews walking around toting what looked like machine guns.
Killing people is not our craft, it’s the craft of Esav. Of course, we’re meant to defend ourselves with all means possible, and to make every effort to save our life (although why moving to Israel doesn’t seem to make it on to that list is a bit of a mystery to me, I have to admit…) But there is a world of difference between discreetly arranging security for shuls, schools and Jewish neighborhoods and strutting around for the media like Moshele the Terminator.
Esav is way, way better at killing people and murdering people than we are. It’s a very dangerous game to get involved. There are somewhere between 20-25 million people in the US with white supremacist tendencies. They are Esav mamash. A lot of them have machine guns. A lot of them are just waiting for ‘Moishele the Terminator’ to cross the line and actually kill someone, even in self-defense, so they can use that as a pretext to come after Jews all over the place.
Of course, what I’m writing here also has implications for the State of Israel, and for the whole idea that the IDF and the military is what is protecting the Jews here.
This is an idea that has profound, far-reaching implications, and I certainly can’t cover off all the angles in one post. But I will say that every time I hear apparently orthodox Jews advocating for ‘carpet bombing’ Gaza, and other extremely violent acts, I shudder. Is this really how Jews are meant to act and behave? Isn’t ‘carpet bombing Gaza’ a perfect example of klei hamas? Isn’t that just what the terrorists and the neo-Nazis would love to do to us, too?
Anything that puts Jews even tangentially into the same moral space as terrorists and Nazis has to be bad, doesn’t it?
These are big questions, they need to be dealt with and discussed carefully by our qualified Sages and rabbis, and let’s be clear that in the State of Israel, that’s simply not happening.
Our country is run by people who have adopted the ‘stolen craft’ of Esav as their main religion, and we are all paying the price for it. Which brings me to the next point I want to make, about how the idea that killing and murdering people is somehow the best solution to every problem gained so much traction in the first place.
A lot has changed since I wrote this two years ago.
Like, for example, these days the FBI is actively trying to track down and ’round up’ people with guns in the USA, who they consider to be a threat to the powers-that-be.
Woopy-do, great you have five machine guns in your cupboard – but how is that going to really help you, when they powers-that-be knock on your door and give you a choice between handing your weapons in voluntarily, or being arrested?
What, you’re going to dig yourself in and begin a shoot-out with law enforcement?
You think you can out-gun a government, an army, who is spending billions and trillions on figuring out the best way to kill people who get in their way, and who has no moral qualms about murdering millions and billions of people?
Violence is not the answer.
Teshuva and prayer is the answer, long-term.
Of course, in the short-term, in the here-and-now, if I see a terrorist coming over to stab someone, of course I will do everything in my power to neutralise them and prevent them from hurting people.
That’s not ‘violence’, that’s Torah-mandated self-defence.
We are Jews.
We aren’t ‘Esav’.
Jewish wars, Jewish battles, have never really been ‘won’ with hi-tech ways of mass-killing other people.
Read Tanach, understand that all our successful wars were won with open miracles, and were fought by people who had emuna and truly believed in Hashem.
Even in our times, the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War were won by open miracles, not because the State of Israel had an amazing military.
It was corrupt and barely functioning then, and it’s still corrupt and barely functioning today.
Ask anyone who actually serves in the IDF and they will tell you the same.
Many of our problems appear intractable right now, because it IS going to take open miracles to solve them.
They only get solved by God, when enough of us start adopting the route of praying and following the advice of our true tzaddikim like Rebbe Nachman.
I sat in an airport in Kiev two years ago, under armed guard with a squad of Ukrainian soldiers as they put me and my family on a bus in the middle of the airfield and then had a doberman run around the bus to make sure no-one could ‘escape’.
I spent the whole hour clapping, because what else could I do?
An hour later, they let us off that bus.
And two hours after that, we were let out of the airport miraculously, and allowed to spend the next three weeks in Uman, for Rosh Hashana.
I have seen open miracles time and again, following Rabbenu’s advice and paying pidyonot.
People don’t like to hear that.
They prefer to think they could somehow ‘break out a machine gun’ and fight their way out of their issues.
That’s ridiculous nonsense, at best – and it’s also totally anti-emuna.
God is the One putting us in all these unsolvable difficulties, and God will solve them as and when He sees fit, once we get the message that we can’t do this stuff without Him.
So please, stop telling me that we need ‘an armed uprising’.
That stuff is for non-Jews, it’s for Esav.
Our way, our path, is prayer and teshuva, and following the advice of our real Tzaddikim, who really know what they’re talking about.
And each time we forget that, we pay a very big price for it.
You might also like this article: