by Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel – July 15, 2010
We read in the beginning of the Torah section of Devarim, in his final discourse before his death, Moses, amongst a series of recollections concerning the people of Israel, relates, “G-d your L-rd has multiplied you and behold you are like the stars of heaven in abundance. May G-d, the L-rd of your forefathers, add to you a thousand times yourselves, and bless you as He has spoken to you” (Devarim 1:10-11).
The aforementioned verses, as well as other such verses throughout the Torah and Holy Scriptures run counter to a prevalent notion among those who would prefer to believe that the Master of the universe, Who is responsible for the creation of all the planets in the solar system and all the stars and galaxies surrounding them as well as all forms of life, ceased all involvement with His creation after it was established. In these verses, we are told that G-d looks out for us and will continue to do so until the end of days – and, in fact, history bears this out.
It is related that Frederick the Great once asked his Lutheran pastor for proof of G-d’s existence, to which the pastor answered in two words: “the Jews”. As mentioned in a previous essay, Mark Twain also remarked at the prominence of the Jews in all realms of society despite their relatively tiny number and centuries of the cruelest and bloodiest persecutions.
Within 1700 years, Jews were expelled from over 80 countries, and the Jewish people have survived to this day as a distinct nation, even though history shows that people expelled from their land assimilate into the new land within three or four generations!
The land of Israel, a land rich in olives, grapes and other crops, is situated at the meeting point between Europe, Asia and Africa, thereby making it a very popular trade route, desired by ancient empires – Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece and Rome – who made every effort to conquer it. It would be in the interests of foreign powers to colonize and develop this land. Yet, after the Romans expelled the Jews, the land of Israel became: “A desolate land whose soil, though more than sufficiently rich, produces only thorn bush and thistle – a silent mourning expanse… The Land of Israel dwells in sackcloth and ashes. The spell of a curse hovers over her, which has blighted her fields and imprisoned her mighty potential with shackles. The Land of Israel is wasteland, devoid of delight” (Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad). This desolateness continued for some 19 centuries – as prophesied in the Scriptures. Remarkably, this situation changed only when the Jews, who had survived centuries of persecution and expulsion, returned to their land in the late 19th century, making the land fertile and alive again.
The return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel after some 1900 years is simply unprecedented in history; and the achievements of the Jews in Israel since the establishment in 1948 of the Jewish state, a tiny country with less than 1/1000th of the earth’s population, is absolutely phenomenal – beyond all reason and logic. In fact, the achievements of Israel’s Jews in only a little over a half-century have changed the face of the globe: The cell phone, viewed by most today as indispensable, was developed in Israel’s branch of Motorola, whose largest development center is in Israel. Most of the operating systems on today’s computers were developed by Microsoft in Israel. The Pentium MMX chip technology was designed by Intel in Israel; and the Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were completely designed, developed and produced in Israel. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel. The technology for AOL’s Instant Messenger was developed by four Israelis. The airline industry’s most impenetrable flight security was developed in Israel, and American officials turn to Israel for advice on handling airborne security threats. Israel’s 100 billion dollar economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined, and Israel’s GDP ranks only third among developing nations, just behind Hong Kong and Singapore. Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other country, as well as the highest rates per capita of patents filed; and Israel is second in the world only to the U.S. for venture capital funds. Israel has the largest per capita number of bio-tech startups, the highest per capita of museums, and the world’s second highest per capita of new books. Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in trees, in an area considered mostly desert. Israel has the most scientists and technicians per capita in the world. Israel’s scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer, and an Israeli company devised a computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thereby removing the element of human error. Israel developed the first ingestible video camera, used to view the small intestine from the inside, aiding doctors in diagnosing cancer and digestive disorders. Israeli researchers developed a device synchronized with the heart’s mechanical operations through sensors that directly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with great potential in saving lives; and an acne treatment, the ClearLight device, that produces a high-intensity, ultraviolet-light free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct without damaging surrounding skin or tissue was developed in Israel. A company in Israel first developed and installed a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity generating plant, in southern California’s Mojave Desert; and, on October 6, 2004, two Israeli scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their research into ways that cells can shut down bad proteins and enzymes, which is being used to end the creation and proliferation of cancer cells and neurological disorders. All of the aforementioned was achieved by Jews in Israel amidst periodic wars with neighbors, as well as an economy strained continuously by more per capita expenses for its own protection than any other country in the world.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, in line with Biblical prophecy concerning the return to their land from the four corners of the earth, the Jewish country, in a feat boggling the imagination, has been engaged in absorbing Jewish immigrants from every continent and over 70 different countries. At its inception in 1948, Israel was home to 600,000 Jews. Within its first 5 years, 600,000 more immigrated. Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing country on the planet!
All the more miraculous, while all of the above was prophesied in the Biblical books of Yechezkel (Ezekiel), Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) and Yeshaya (Isaiah), is that this all occurred amidst wars that were overcome in the most unfathomable scenarios. On the day of its declaration of independence, the state of Israel was set upon by five Arab armies. 600,000 Jews were surrounded and pounced upon by countries numbering 50 million Arabs, where Azzah Pasha, then Secretary General of the Arab League, announced, “This will be a war of extermination, and a momentous massacre.” In the meantime, the British who were in control of the land before its declaration as a Jewish state prohibited the Jews from acquiring arms or military training. Consequently a totally untrained and poorly armed ragtag group of Jews, many of whom Holocaust survivors who were sent into battle on the very day they landed in Israel, had the unenviable task of standing up to a swarm of British-trained invading Arab armies. Nevertheless, the Jews of the fledgling Jewish state miraculously survived, and, when the armistice lines were drawn in January 1949, even gained 21% more land than originally had been given to them in the United Nations Partition Plan. Then, in 1967, a coalition of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, equipped with 3 billion dollars of military aid from the Soviet Union, decided to annihilate Israel. Egypt drove out the United Nations peace-keeping force stationed in Sinai, and the four Arab armies deployed on Israel’s borders, backed up by the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait and Sudan. Egypt’s President Nasser then closed the Straits of Tehran, thereby blocking all shipping to Israel’s southern port of Eilat – an internationally recognized act of war. While no nation in the world wished to stand behind Israel nor provide it with arms, leading to despair in the young country, the war that broke out ended miraculously in a totally unprecedented, unexpected and unexplainable 6 day stunning victory, wherein the Jews, not only survived but, tripled their territory and regained their holiest sites in Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem. Again, in 1973, on Yom Kippur, while most Jews were in synagogues, fasting and praying, Arab countries sprung a surprise attack on the Jewish nation – Egypt attacking the Sinai from one end and Syria attacking the Golan from the other. Again, against grave odds, Israel turned the tide, threatening both Cairo and Damascus. In 1991, in what was known as the Gulf War, after Iraq invaded Kuwait and the U.S. attacked Iraq, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein vowed to “incinerate” Israel with Scud missiles. Despite being showered with 39 missiles on densely populated areas throughout Israel, miraculously only one individual was killed. Analyses in the scientific journal Nature and in MIT pointed out the scientific and military improbability of such an outcome. In other wars in the world where Scud missiles were launched, massive casualties were leveled; and, even during the Gulf War, one Iraqi Scud missile that hit Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killed 28 American soldiers. Interestingly, West Point Military Academy does not even attempt to analyze Israel’s wars in its courses on military strategy, because these wars defy normal laws of warfare.
In light of the above, one is hard pressed to avoid the inevitable conclusion that these miraculous occurrences affirm G-d’s ongoing involvement in the human race and its activities, especially those relating to the Jewish people.
“Give praise,” King David tells us (Tehillim 113:1-7), “you servants of G-d; praise the Name of G-d … High above all nations is G-d, above the heavens is His glory. Who is like G-d, Who is enthroned on high! He Who bends down to look upon the heavens AND the earth. He raises the needy from the dust; from the trash heaps He lifts the destitute.” Indeed, King David reaffirms what we are told by Moses himself in the Torah, “You shall know this day and take to your heart that G-d, He is the L-rd in the heavens above and on the earth below” (Devarim 4:39). We must take note that G-d pays attention to what we do on the earth below and acts accordingly. As Moses emphasizes immediately after the aforementioned verse, “And you shall observe His statutes and His commandments that I command you this day, so that He will do good to you and your children after you” (Devarim 4:40). Keep in mind that G-d is looking. Do not regret what He sees.