Rabbi David Bar-Hayim
3 of the Ninth Month 5771/10 November, 2010
“And Isaac sowed in that land, and harvested a hundredfold that year; and HASHEM blessed him. And the man waxed great, and continued to prosper, becoming very great indeed. For he possessed great flocks of sheep and goats, and great herds of cattle, and a great household; and the Philistines envied him. And all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines sealed up and filled with earth.” (B’reshith-Genesis 26:12-15)
HaRav Shimshon R’phael Hirsch z’l notes that we would expect to read here “wayqanu bo” (the normal usage with the verb “to be jealous”), i.e. envy of his possessions. What we find, however, is “wayqanu otho” – “and they envied him”, the man. They envied him not on account of his wealth, explains Rav Hirsch; they felt themselves injured by the position and respect which he enjoyed. In Hebrew this is called Ssaruth ‘Ayin, ‘narrowness of eye’ – the inability to accept the success of another.
Still, ssaruth ‘ayin is one thing; a willingness to cause oneself harm in order to deny another the fruits of his success is quite another. That is not jealousy; that is an obsession.
The Philistines filled in the wells. Why not just steal the water? After all, “Stolen water tastes particularly good” (Mishle-Proverbs 9:17). You only fill in a well – at the cost of denying yourself the life-giving water – if your true purpose is to ensure that its rightful owner be unable to enjoy his success.
The common and oft-repeated “wisdom” is that if Israel were to hand over large tracts of the Land of Israel that it presently controls and allow a Palestinian state to be established therein, peace would break out in the Middle East, and Moslem hostility towards the West would end.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The reason the Moslem world cannot abide the West generally, and Israel particularly, is jealousy. Jealousy – and something else: Moslems cannot understand why non-believers are so materially successful, while Moslems world wide wallow in squalour.
HASHEM, the God of Israel, is the God of Morality, Love, Reason and Wisdom. As such, His people have understood that if they do not live up to HASHEM’s expectations of them, they will have to learn the hard way – this is a central tenet of the Tora. Klal Yisrael, the historical-covenantal Jewish Nation, has been taught to learn from its mistakes, repent and look forward to the future. Klal Yisrael has infinite patience, and believes, indeed knows, that even when reality falls short of expectations there is hope. They know that History belongs to God, that there is a Plan, and that Klal Yisrael transcends the here and now.
Allah, the Moslem god, is the god of material success and victory. Moslems are called to prayer with the words: “I bear witness that Muhammad is the prophet of God. Come to prayer, Come to prayer, Come to success, Come to success.” Moslems are supposed to enjoy great rewards and initially they did, exploding out of the sands of Arabia and conquering an immense swath of territory from the borders of China in the east to Spain in the west. Conquest, victory and tangible benefits formed the foundational ethos of Islam. Failure is unthinkable, humiliation unendurable.
Moslems live only in the here and now. Islam has been in decline for a millenium, and Moslems know it. That the Ummah, the Moslem Nation, should be backward and failing is incomprehensible.
As long as Eress Yisrael was a land of swamps and desolation, a backwater of the disintegrating Ottoman empire, the agglomerate of Arabs (Egyptians, Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese) who subsisted in the Jewish homeland never felt the need for much of anything, least of all independence. Not a single Moslem on the planet saw the Turks as invaders or usurpers. After all, they were Moslems, and that’s what Moslems are supposed to do.
But now it’s controlled by non-Moslems, kafirs. So what if they are the true sons and daughters of the Land? Worse still, with their labour and intellect, they strived and succeeded where Moslems had only failed.
How appropriate that these mongrel Moslems now became Palestinians (from the Roman Palestina, which in turn stems from the Biblical P’lesheth, the land of the Philistines). There is no Palestinian language or culture or history; there is no justification for a Palestinian state. But that’s not the point, is it? The Jews, and the West, cannot be allowed to succeed, thus showing up the Ummah for what it is.
So you strap on your explosive vest, catch a bus, and blow up some Jews. And burn down an forest in the land you claim is yours. And set fire to your own oil wells. And fly a plane or two into the WTC. Anything but turn your gaze inward and discover the truth about yourself.
To be continued….