A Lesson on Freedom from the Biblical Story of the Spies

In this week’s Torah reading of Shlaḥ-l’kha (Numbers 13-15), Moses and the Israelites are poised to enter the promised land, and send twelve spies in advance to scout it out. When ten of them report back that the land, inhabited by fortress-dwelling giants, is unconquerable, the people lose their faith and sink into despair, and God decrees that they must wander in the desert for 40 years until the adults have died off. Thus it will be the next generation, raised not in Egyptian slavery but in the desert wilderness, that will inherit the land. Jonathan Sacks comments:

According to Maimonides, . . . the verdict [was not] a punishment as such. It was an inevitable consequence of human nature. It takes more than a few days or weeks to turn a population of slaves into a nation capable of handling the responsibilities of freedom. In the case of the Israelites, it took a generation born in liberty, hardened by the experience of the desert, untrammeled by habits of servitude. Freedom takes time, and there are no shortcuts. Often it takes a very long time indeed.

That dimension of time is fundamental to the Jewish view of politics and human progress. . . . Unlike in Christianity or Islam, there is, in Judaism, no sudden transformation of the human condition, no one moment or single generation in which everything significant is fully disclosed. . . . There are some things a parent may not do for a child if he or she wants the child to become an adult. There are some things even God must choose not to do for His people if He wants them to grow to moral and political maturity. . . .

One of the odd facts about Western civilization in recent centuries is that the people who have been most eloquent about tradition—Edmund Burke, Michael Oakeshott, T.S. Eliot—have been deeply conservative, defenders of the status quo. Yet there is no reason why a tradition should be conservative. We can hand on to our children not only our past but also our unrealized ideals. We can want them to go beyond us; to travel farther on the road to freedom than we were able to do. . . . That is the lesson of the spies. Despite the divine anger, the people were not condemned to permanent exile. They simply had to face the fact that their children would achieve what they themselves were not ready for.

Read more at Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

More about: Edmund Burke, Freedom, Hebrew Bible, Michael Oakeshott, Numbers, Religion & Holidays

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security