A Haredi Reflection on the Zionist Miracle

Today, Ḥaredim still tend to shun the label “Zionist,” even if most would be just as uncomfortable to be labeled as anti-Zionists. Moreover, writes Yehoshua Pfeffer, it is hard for any religious Jew to deny that, as Israel enters its 75th year, its creation and survival is nothing short of miraculous.

Israel’s large and growing ultra-Orthodox population, whose relationship with the state is ambivalent, quickly overcame its initial suspicions and recognized the miracle unfolding before its eyes. Rabbi Shalom Noach Berezovsky, the Slonimer rebbe, could not contain his amazement, [writing that], “our very eyes behold revelations that no dreamer or visionary could have entertained just a generation ago. . . . Tents of Torah study bloom; ḥasidic sanctuaries flourish in the fullness of their glory, alongside a t’shuvah movement unheard of in any past generation.”

Of course, the miracle of Jewish revival goes far beyond the world of Orthodoxy. The very fact that nonobservant Jews remain Jewish, coupled with birthrates that exceed any other OECD country, testifies to the wonder of Israel no less than its yeshiva institutions and ḥasidic courts.

But miracles can dissipate as quickly as they occur. The miracles of the Egyptian redemption did not prevent the death of the entire generation in the wilderness on account of its sinfulness. The miracle wrought by Elijah at Mount Carmel [1Kings 18–19] did not prevent the religious and political disintegration of the people. It is up to us to ensure that the miracle of modern-day Israel does not suffer the same fate.

[The rebirth of Israel also] is a call to action and a trial. We did not return to our ancestral homeland for the purpose of mere survival. This dramatic return challenges us to take history into our hands, partnering with God as we mold it in our image. That is what the early Zionist leaders who established the state of Israel and wrought the miracle did—despite all their ideological differences. Today, it is the turn [of the Ḥaredim]—the turn of a population much changed over the course of 75 years—to move Israel into its next phase.

Read more at Sapir

More about: Haredim, Judaism in Israel

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security