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Not nice to have to say, but…

B”H Safed, Galilee, Israel, Eve of the New Moon of Adar II, 5784

It is not nice to have to say, but please allow me to discuss certain hard lessons I believe we must learn from the events of Shemini Atzeret 5784 / October 7, 2024 and since.

Jews in Israel and across the world are facing war on all fronts. In the words of King David, I am peace, but they are for war” (Psalms 120:7).

In Israel, our soldiers are engaged in fierce active combat against Hamas in the south, Hezbollah in the north and terror cells within the country. Hundreds of our people have fallen in battle or as victims of terror: fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters… Whole families have been wiped out. Thousands have been injured, some are fighting to survive, many are crippled and traumatized for life.

Tens of thousands are currently in exile from their homes in border towns in the north and the south, which are subject to daily barrages of rockets. Livelihoods have been destroyed, businesses are in ruins, and people are stressed and tired. The October 7 Hamas terror invasion prompted an immediate display of national unity, but as the unwanted war drags on, the deep divisions in Israeli society that were evident earlier are now reappearing, with well-funded anti-government marches and protests and lavish publicity campaigns.

Israel’s is truly facing threats to her very existence, yet she is isolated internationally as never before, with even her closest “allies” acting openly and covertly to stall her military response, even though this will simply enable an unrepentant Hamas to regroup and continue the war.

Across the world, mass demonstrations are being held protesting Israel’s alleged “genocidal war” against the Palestinians and calling not only for a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea” but for global jihad against all the perceived enemies of the assorted Muslims, Marxists, communists, socialists, anarchists, woke, LGBTQ and brainwashed “useful idiots” taking part.

Perhaps at some time in the future, historians will question how millions and millions of people not only in Islamic countries but also non-Moslems across Europe and America could have become deliriously enamored of masked, machine-gun-toting jihadi “resistance fighters” to the point that they uncritically lap up all the slanted propaganda coming from Hamas spokesman, Al Jazeera and the left-dominated mainstream media. Politicians, academics and celebrities are now unashamedly repeating blood libels and encouraging violence against Israel, Zionists and all Jews, while showing willful blindness and hearts of stone in denying all wrongdoing against innocent Israelis.

Nearly eighty years after the Holocaust, which was never supposed to happen again, Jews in Britain and Europe, America, Africa, Asia and Australia are now waking up to a new nightmare of hatred against Israel, Zionists and Jews, to the point that Jews everywhere are in actual and immediate physical danger, with daily reports of antisemitic attacks, random assaults in Jewish neighborhoods, looting of Jewish businesses, demonstrations outside Jewish hospitals, disruption of Jewish and Israeli events, intimidation of Jewish students on campuses, knifings, car rammings, shootings and killings.

Jewish activists in public life, on campuses and in the social media are forced to engage in endless battles to counter the unceasing torrent of lies, distortions, libels and undisguised hatred we are witnessing today. Yet much of this effort is very likely futile because of our enemies’ deeply-ingrained prejudices, their closed minds, woeful ignorance of history, immunity to reason and sheer denial of proven facts. They will never learn.

But can we to learn?

Can we find anything positive amidst all this darkness? We must at least search, as taught by King Solomon (Kohelet 7:14): “When times are good, enjoy the good, and on a bad day, look” – that is, search for the hidden good that surely lies beneath.

Faced with murderous enemies, Israelis and Jews everywhere have no choice but to fight, as taught by the Torah sages: “If someone comes to kill you, rise and kill him first” (Sanhedrin 72a-b). In the words of Rabbi Nachman: “In times of war, one must fight with weapons of war… and must not rely on a miracle” (Sefer HaMiddot Conflict #101).But at the same time as we give our full support to the military in their struggle to defeat an enemy whose declared goal is to annihilate us, we must strive to lift our thoughts above the daily flood of troubles and ask what this war comes to teach us and what we need to rectify.

The rod of chastisement

All the prophets of Israel taught that the enemies of the people of Israel are nothing but a rod of chastisement in the hands of G-d Almighty on account of our shortcomings, to spur us to self-reckoning, repentance and good deeds.

What message is G-d sending us in the guise of the “Palestinians”, Hamas, Hezbollah and the many other terror groups and the major powers who stand behind them?

The enmity of the Ishmaelites against the Jews began with the birth of Isaac and became greatly intensified owing to our refusal to acknowledge the supremacy of their prophet over Moses. The sages of Israel and our prophets foresaw that in the end of days, Ishmael, in alliance with Edom, will dominate the entire world for a nine-month period of painful birth-pangs immediately prior to Israel’s final redemption.

Amalek – bearer of Esau’s sharp sword – is characterized by preying on the frail and weary. If so, the barbaric murderers, baby-killers, rapists, pillagers and destroyers of October 7, their supporters and those who want to emulate them would certainly seem to be identifiable as Amalek. Hamas and Hezbollah are both heavily supported by Iran, mentioned as foremost among the confederation of nations in the end-times war of Gog and Magog against Israel, and one of the leading protagonists in the final judgment (Ezekiel 38:5; Avodah Zarah 2b).

If we Jews will be honest with ourselves, we will surely acknowledge that we have many shortcomings which G-d is prompting us to correct. The very name of the top Hamas leader, SIN-WAR, indicates that it is our many sins and the sins of our leaders that have ultimately brought these troubles upon us. Likewise, the name of the founder of the “Palestinian Liberation Organization” and arch-terrorist was Yassir, which in Hebrew signifies, “chastiser” from the root of yissurim, “suffering”.

As the Torah foretold:

They have moved me to jealousy with a non-god, they have provoked me to anger with their vanities, and I shall move them to jealousy with a non-people; I will provoke them to anger with a vile nation.
Deuteronomy 32:21

Secular Israel

Ever since the inception of the Zionist vision of a secular Jewish state in God’s Promised Land, the successive governments and mainstream political leadership of the country have done little or nothing serious to promote genuine awareness of the true national spiritual heritage of Israel, our global mission and destiny, whether through education at home or around the world.

The constitution of Israel guarantees the religious rights of all religions, yet Jews are not permitted to ascend the Temple Mount to pray, let alone take proper control of the site, which is shockingly abused by the Arabs and has repeatedly been used as a springboard for terror attacks.

For three decades successive Israeli governments have dealt with the “Palestinians” as if they were a “nation” with whom the only possible honorable peace settlement would require their having their own independent state. However, what the Israeli political establishment and most of the country refuse to acknowledge is that both Hamas (focus of the current war in Gaza), Hezbollah in Lebanon and their main backers in Iran and Qatar etc. are not secular political forces but Allah-intoxicated Jihadi militants fighting a war that for them is primarily religious. Accordingly, Israel’s only hope of succeeding in this protracted conflict is to understand it for what it is, a religious war against the faith of Israel, a denial of the Torah and of God who gave it.

We must pick up the messages in our enemy’s very terminology. The name Hamas was without doubt intentionally chosen to provoke, because the Hebrew word hamas connotes crime, robbery, foul play, violent anger, pillage and destruction. Thus, the word hamas appears repeatedly in the Hebrew text of the Bible in all the above senses, connoting everything that is opposed to true holiness (e.g. Genesis 6:11; Genesis 16:5; Habakuk 1:2, etc.). The initials of the Hebrew name of the Palestinian Liberation Front, Irgun Shichrur Phalesteen, spell out the Hebrew word A’Sh’a’Ph meaning a sorcerer (Daniel 1:20 and 2:2 etc.)

Dare we say we may have something to learn from our enemies despite their lowly barbarity?

Single-minded devotion

We may note that our enemies have shown single-minded, stubborn devotion to their cause for decades. I recall that over 50 years ago, when I was an undergraduate student in King’s College, Cambridge, there was a very persuasive Palestinian post-graduate student who systematically engaged all the students throughout the university, individually or in groups, canvassing support for the Palestinian cause. It is no surprise to me that fifty years later, campuses across the world are crawling with administrators, professors, students and weirdos who are bigoted, vocal supporters of “Palestine”.

If we Jews would show similar single-minded devotion to the cause of our people’s redemption and the restoration of G-d’s Holy Temple in Jerusalem – constantly talking about it, promoting it, and teaching young and old about it — we might come closer to our national goal.

Al Aqsa and the Temple Mount

From the time when Yasser Arafat thrust himself onto the international stage until today, he and his successors have never ceased to flaunt the Al Aqsa mosque, both in words and glossy full-color images, as the summit of the Palestinian national vision – a flagrant denial of Israel’s prophetic vision of the restored Temple on that very site. Arafat’s chosen surname was a blatant denial of the Binding of Isaac on that very spot, as if it was a different binding on a different mountain that happens to be in Arabia and happens to be called Mt Arafat.

Why then do we Jews and defenders of Israel not unashamedly promote the restoration of the Holy Temple as the summit of our national vision? Why is it that our political leaders and even most of our leading rabbis do not talk about this as our true goal. They should be using every possible domestical and international forum to educate Jews and people of all the nations in the desperate importance of the Temple for the entire world.

Only with the rebuilding of the Temple and the return of its services in Jerusalem will the earth be brought to true sustainability through the restoration of God’s blessing to the world, which is now seemingly under a terrible curse. All today’s fantasy solutions such as reversing climate change, blocking the light of the sun, resetting the world economy, human society and civilization itself, reducing the population, etc. will prove to be futile.

From the River to the Sea

Our enemies accuse Jews and Israel of being “racist” and discriminatory against Arabs, yet it is they who are the racists in their undisguised and publicly declared goal to establish an Arab state in the entire territory biblically promised to Israel, “from the river (Euphrates) to the (Mediterranean) sea” – a state that they intend to be completely and entirely Judenrein, just as the autonomous Palestinian areas in Israel today are out-of-bounds to all Jews, and any Jew who enters is unlikely to get out alive.

As Jews and Children of Israel, we need to be proud of the fact that in the ultimate settlement in the Promised Land (Ezekiel chapter 48), the restored Twelve Tribes of Israel will indeed inhabit the entire area from the River Euphrates to the Mediterranean Sea, from the River Nile in the south up to Antioch in present-day Turkey. Members of the nations of the world who embrace the Seven Universal Laws of the Noahide Code will be welcome to visit and permitted to reside in the Land at peace with Israel. But those who violate that same Noahide Code with their brutal murders, sadistic rapes, pillage and destruction will be punished without mercy and not with the shilly-shallying mollycoddling that present-day “liberal” judges both in Israel and in many supposedly “advanced” countries show to terrorists and criminals, resulting in the jungle conditions that now exist in all these countries.

Love of Life

The Hamas militants pride themselves on their love of death. The Hamas mothers pride themselves on raising their children to die as martyrs for a people who are not a people.

Let Jews and Israel rejoice in our reverence for life!!! Let our mothers and fathers pray to raise children who will love the Holy One and serve Him in every possible way with every fiber of their being.


Israeli society and Jewish communities across the world are deeply divided and splintered into many different and often quarreling groups and movements. One might then be forgiven for occasional wistful feelings of envy over the strong group loyalty flaunted by our enemies. We know full well that their “brotherhood” and “sisterhood” are façades since their societies are rife with violence, crime, corruption, intimidation and the rule of force. If our enemies did not have Israel as their bogey, they themselves would certainly splinter hopelessly. But message we may take from their avowed loyalty to their cause is that we ourselves must unify proudly and joyously in pursuit of our true national mission.

Words can also kill

When we recount the crimes of our enemies, the decades of stabbings, shootings, suicide bombings, rockets and missiles to which they have subjected us, crowned by the barbaric cruelty of 10/7, let us also take time to look inwards and reflect lest we at the way we often thinkingly or unthinkingly hurt and kill others with the venom of our words. Evil speech about our own has destroyed civil relations within many families and communities and between different groups and movements.

The Hostages

When we pray and campaign for the return of those of our own held captive by our enemies (if any of them are still alive), do we also remember entire generations of Jews who are held captive by woke ideology and the associated sexual license and deviation? How much child molestation and actual kidnapping and trafficking are going on in our own communities under people’s very noses? Assimilation of Jews into the surrounding nations has been continuing for hundreds of years. Do we care about the countless Jewish souls sunk and held captive in the impurity of the nations, and what will we do for them?

Shattered illusions

For many (though by no means all) previously “liberal” left-leaning Israelis and Jews across the world, 10/7 was a watershed event, finally shattering the thirty-year illusion of the “Peace Process” together with any realistic prospect of a “two state solution” and genuine peace with the Palestinians. Many believed that the oppressive conditions under which the Palestinians allegedly lived were the breeding ground for resistance and terror, and if only their educational level and standard of living could be improved, the terrorists would turn into polite citizens.

Yet the standard of living in pre-war Gaza was very high for some, as evidenced by the deluxe residential compounds of the elite, boutique shopping malls, cutting edge fitness centers, handsome palm-lined boulevards, flashy cars, sandy beaches, ubiquitous smartphones and satellite dishes, etc. If Gaza was a “prison”, it was only because the neighboring Egyptians maintained a hermetically sealed border, refusing to allow any Palestinians to enter, even when desperate as now on account of the war. Nevertheless, the Palestinians directed all their rage and terror against Israel.

When Israel encouraged captured Palestinian terrorists in her prisons to get educated and take degrees, they used the opportunity to develop ever more sophisticated methods of warfare and terror. The detailed information which the 10/7 terror invaders had about their targets in Israel was provided to them by Gazan Palestinians who were intimately familiar with all the Israeli towns and settlements in the area from years of making a good living out the jobs they had in them.

Law and Order

Not only in Israel but among the governments, judiciaries, police forces and armies of Europe and America and beyond, the liberal fallacy that primitive, barbaric religious fanatics can be reformed through honey-sweet talk, indulgence and financial inducements has led to a catastrophic surge in robbery, rape, violent crime, racketeering and corruption that reaches to the top levels of governments.

For decades it has been politically incorrect to point to significant differences in levels of culture between people of different races, religions, communities and social groups – as if the coarseness and savagery of those from more primitive backgrounds could be made to magically disappear under the banner of “inclusiveness” and “cultural enrichment”. We must have the courage to stand up and declare unequivocally that there are basic universal laws that differentiate between truly civilized and uncivilized behavior. These laws are none other than the Seven Noahide Laws.

Daily Miracles

Israel and our Jewish communities are not without our blemishes. It is a gift of God and a daily miracle that tiny Israel with its patchwork of different groups is even under the stress of war a world leader in science, technology, medicine, communications, agriculture and much more, and has survived over seventy years of wars, attrition, terror, world castigation, sanctions etc. while growing ever stronger. It is a fact that, serious as are the threats of Hamas and Hezbollah, they would be far worse if Egypt, Jordan and Syria had any intent of intervening militarily on their behalf on the scale of the 1967 and 1973 Israel-Arab wars.

Political stalemate

Successive Israeli governments have necessarily been coalitions precariously stitched together to serve sectional interests, and have thus never had the political strength to confront deep structural problems in the government, economy and society caused by the way the government was originally set up and by the uneasy balance between the different Israeli religious, ethnic, nationalist, secular, Israeli Arab and Druze sectors.

Israel’s Deep State

The Israeli constitution was ostensibly devised to maintain a balance between the government, legislature and judiciary. However, in the course of the last half century, the head of the Supreme Court systematically abrogated to his narrow clique of liberal, left-leaning, internationally-connected high court judges veto power over all government decisions and Knesset laws. In practice this has resulted in constant discrimination by the courts and police against all seeking to uphold the Jewish character of the country, including the Haredim, the Religious Zionists, the Settlers and the Hilltop Youth, some of whom are being detained and imprisoned until today without due process on the basis of confessions extracted through extreme torture perpetrated with the explicit assent of the Supreme Court.

The Israeli police avoid confronting terrorists and criminals for fear of being disciplined for racial discrimination and misconduct. Instead, they persecute innocent citizens for petty or fictitious offenses, leaving the population defenseless against actual crime and terror.

The outer semblance of Israel is of a thriving democracy with vigorous debate and regular elections, though for years these have led only to political stalemate. Yet the underlying reality is that the income of the 18 wealthiest families in the country is equivalent to over 75 per cent of its national budget according to business statistics. Their ownership of key defense and other industries gives them enormous steering power over the country and the government. The Israeli army officer corps is largely left-leaning because senior staff have systematically favored and promoted those with leftist views while discriminating against and stalling the promotion of religious and nationalist officers.

Samson blinded, bound and chained

The true Torah way of confronting the terror enemies that Israel faces is to use full force to destroy them. But the liberal ideology of the top levels of the government and military, buttressed by the Supreme Court, demands “restraint”, and always keeps the velvet gloves in place.

If the Israeli army had been allowed to function as a proper army facing a real enemy without being blinded like Samson bound and chained, the entire Middle East conflict would have been resolved peacefully decades ago. Sadly, the Israeli army is not yet a Torah army in the full sense of the word, although many of the heroic soldiers are fully conscious that they are fighting a Mitzvah War – Milchemet Mitzvah – to protect the people of Israel, and it is their true intent to sanctify the name of God.

The Arms Industry

Israel’s economy and the financial system that keeps it running are far from the Torah goal for the chosen nation. It is a tragedy that Israel has no option but to devote enormous resources to fighting her enemies and must invest heavily in the domestic arms industry, particularly now that her “allies” are threatening to withhold vital weapons needed to fight our enemies.

Nevertheless, it remains our hope to see the realization of the prophetic vision that all the nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). If only Israel’s leaders and representatives would repeat these words at every possible international forum so as to spread knowledge of the true prophetic vision of the future of Israel and the world.


The Israeli financial system is built upon credit, business and private loans, mortgages and other banking “products”, most of which involve some level interest. Yet receiving interest by the lender and even paying interest by the borrower are among the most serious Torah offenses, and considered equivalent to the denial of the Exodus from Egypt. Borrowing from the bank on interest is in no way mitigated by the rabbinical Heiter Iska certificate perfunctorily nailed to the wall of the bank stating that all interest accruing to the bank is “kosher” under the halakhic workarounds contained in the small print.

As a result, young Israeli couples seeking to purchase a modest apartment of their own in which to raise a family are instantly saddled with a 20-25 year mortgage with heavy monthly repayments. All this comes in addition to the chronically inflated prices that Israelis have been forced to pay not only for purchasing or renting apartments but for all their household appliances, gadgets, cars, etc. The present war effort has prompted a groundswell of kindness and generosity towards soldiers, exiles from their homes and others suffering on account of the war. Yet at the same time there are unscrupulous business people who continue to exploit the needy and the vulnerable. Indeed, serious poverty and actual hunger are widespread in the weaker sections of Israeli society.

The Israeli State Rabbinate

The Israeli state-sponsored Rabbinate has responsibility for supervising food production for kosher certification as well as other functions. One of the most important of these is the certification of Jewish marriages and divorces. This is enormously complex in Jewish communities that include many relatively recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and other countries.

However, what has made the Rabbinate hated and despised in all sections of Israeli society, from the radically secular through the traditionally observant to the religious and the ultra-orthodox, is the cumbersome bureaucracy that shows a stone-faced indifference to the needs, feelings and sheer desperation of those who have no other option but to turn to them, and who in some cases have to wait literally years and years for clarification of status, permission to marry, divorce proceedings and settlements, etc.

The religious and the draft

he original “Status Quo” – or legal balance between the Israeli religious and secular on which the state was founded – allowed for Yeshiva students to gain exemption from compulsory army service for the duration of their studies. However there has been a chronic tension in the country between army heads hungry for new recruits and fresh blood as against the desire of many bona fide Torah students to devote themselves entirely to their studies, while others may indeed wish to evade army service. This has brought a serious distortion into the Torah-observant world itself, because considerable numbers of students who are neither fit for nor interested in intensive Talmudic study are sitting on the yeshiva benches, essentially bored and idle, in order to avoid being drafted.

Neither the government nor the rabbinic and yeshiva leadership have yet devised a realistic and generally-acceptable program to keep such young people better occupied, if not through army or community service, then by combining basic Torah studies with acquiring an occupation that can provide them with a future livelihood. Unlike the sages of the Mishnah and Talmud, who were craftsmen and workers, many Haredim grow up looking down upon working people and marry in their late teens with no means of supporting themselves and their growing families. The draconian policies of the Israeli tax authorities deter many from participating in the official economy, and have in fact encouraged the growth of an extensive black economy.

Parochial interests

Even among the various Israeli religious political parties, there are deep divisions, conflicts, mutual hostility, back-biting and recriminations, far from the love of our fellows which Hillel taught as the foundation of the entire Torah. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said that everything depends on fellowship, mutual love and respect, yet our communities are often vitiated by a lack of respect, if not outright contempt, for various other groups and their members. Many major construction projects are currently underway: new towns and deluxe residential neighborhoods, magnificent synagogues and community centers – beautiful! But who is calling for the building of the one structure that will ultimately unite us all: our Holy Temple?

World War Three

A brief survey of the wider global picture shows that the Third World War is certainly well under way. Russia is fighting against Ukraine, and now NATO, the UK, France and Germany are bringing in forces on the ground, and all sides are threatening nuclear escalation. China is menacing Taiwan, North Korea is threatening South Korea. The Mullahs of Iran are set against “Big Satan” America, whose own current leadership appear to be eagerly colluding in the demise of their own country.

In recent years millions of illegal immigrants have been allowed to enter the USA, and the same is also the case in the UK and Europe, changing the face of their populations and importing new levels of rape, sex-grooming, theft, robbery, looting, violent crime, wanton destruction, indiscriminate assaults, knifings, shootings and all the other evils now plaguing these countries. The campuses have been politicized and radicalized, with professors and students calling for armed revolt, revolution and the destruction of traditional values and morals. Academia as a place of retreat for the peaceful pursuit of knowledge and truth is well and truly dead.

It is ironic that the fall of western civilization as previously known is apparently being brought about by an unholy alliance between godless, militant, extreme left-wing insurgents together with radical Islamic fundamentalists who murder, rape, loot and destroy in the name of their god. Establishment Christianity is in shambles; churches are being converted into mosques, while secularism and satanism are rampant.

Could it be that the prophesied dominion of Ishmael over the world on the eve of Israel’s final redemption may at least bring back some conception of God to the godless western world before the wrath of the final judgment comes upon them?

Bottom line: It’s up to you and me

Those who are supporting and encouraging the barbaric Hamas murderers, rapists, pillagers and destroyers, whether in the name of Allah or for the sake of “the Revolution”, are unquestionably self-blinded to the truth of the One God of Israel and the Torah. In fact, it is their all-consuming hatred for the True God, His Torah and His people that will ensure they will never open their eyes to see actual truth. The death they profess to embrace will not be the palatial, virgin-adorned bliss they envisage. Anyone who believes that “Allah” loves indiscriminate murder, rape, pillaging, wanton destruction and insatiable cruelty is at best a victim of diabolical manipulation that hijacks a holy name of God in the service of savage blood lust.

But what will happen to the souls of our enemies is not our concern. Our business is to do the work to which God has assigned us, each in his or her unique role in this life. Let us correct what we need to correct in ourselves, and do all we can to teach and influence our dear ones, families, friends, communities and all who are willing to hear.

May we see complete Redemption – Geulah Shelemah – this year!

Chodesh Adar II Tov UMevorach!!! May the month of Adar II come for good and for blessing for us and for all Israel and all our brothers and sisters, allies and fellow travelers across the world!!!

Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is a Torah teacher based in Safed Israel & author of translations and commentaries on Bible, Hassidut, Kabbalah, Spiritual Growth, Health & Healing. He is the Director of the Azamra Institute and maintains the website.

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