Thursday, July 7, 2016

Rabbi Binyamin Kahane Land for Peace -1992

Rabbi Binyamin Kahane

LAND FOR PEACEThe modern buzz phrase, "occupied territories," rears its ugly head in our parsha and haftarah (Judges 11:1-33). In Parshat Chukat we read of Og, king of Bashan, and Sichon, king of Ammon, trying to prevent the Jewish people from passing through their borders to reach the Land of Israel. Both kings decide to wage war against the chosen people and both kings lose. The Children of Israel conquer their lands and inhabit them. 

Interestingly enough, no one at the time thought of suggesting that the Jewish people return the land they had just conquered to the nations that tried to annihilate them. But what if such a proposal had been raised? What would the Jewish response have been? 

To answer this question we move the clock ahead 300 years. In the era of the Judges, the king of Ammon brazenly demands that the Jews return his terrotiries and threatens war if they refuse. The king recounts some well-known history: "Israel took away my land when they came out of Egypt, from Arnon as far as the Yabok and the Jordan" (Judges 11:13). 

Compared to the claims of today's Arabs, this demand is quite "moderate." The king of Ammon, unlike the PLO, does not call for the total destruction of the Jewish state. He only wants what was taken from his people. In words that echo in the UN and Washington, the king concludes his demand in the following manner: "Now, therefore, restore these lands peacefully" (ibid.). 

Peace. That magic word. What normal Jewish leader can refuse such an offer? After all, the king of Ammon's claim is not unreasonable; the lands were, indeed, taken from his nation. Ammon, unlike the PLO, once had a sovereign empire with a capital and an army on these lands. And most importantly, here is a genuine opportunity for peace. No more war, no more bloodshed. 

The answer, however, that Yiftach - the Jewish people's leader - gives the king of Ammon is very different than the answer Rabin and Peres gave Arafat. Yiftach recounts all the past history, and then concludes: "So now the L-rd of Israel has driven out the Amorites from before His people, Israel, and you should possess the land?!?! Will you not posses what your god, Kemosh, gives you to possess??? We will possess all that the L-rd, our G-d, has dispossessed before us" (ibid. 11:23-24). 

THIS is the reaction of a true Jewish leader. A reaction based on FAITH in the word of G-d. The land is ours not because of any historical claim or because we defeated the former inhabitants in battle. Rather, the land is OURS because G-d GAVE IT TO US AND WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO GIVE IT UP!!! 

If we TRULY BELIEVE in our G-d-given right to the land and act with faith in the Almighty, we will achieve the same results that Yiftach did: "And Ammon was subdued before the Children of Israel" (ibid. 11:33). 
Darka Shel Torah, 1992

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