Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nissim and Zionism

Zionists will tell you that creating the State of Israel is hishtadlus to protect Jews from anti-semitism, that we may not rely on "miracles" and we have to have our own State, army, and political structure in order to survive.

Then they will tell you that the survival of the State of Israel is such a great miracle, that miracles of such magnitude have never happened in Golus, that Israel surrounded by all those enemies could not survive one week, the IDF could not win a single war the way they did, if not for Miracles by G-d.


The State of Israel, according to the Zionists, is the biggest example of "somchim al hanes" that exists. If indeed you need miracles to survive, then you are obligated to get out of there, because you are not allowed to rely on miracles!

(The truth is, both statements are false: Israel's existence is not a miracle at all, and the State does not protect us form our enemies, it just makes us more vulnerable to them - more Jews are killed in the "protective State" than everywhere else in the world put together, never mind all the anti-semitism that Israel has caused in throughout the world.)


The Gemora is replete with miracles done for idol worshipers and enemies of Hashem. The Arabs can tell you of equal or better miracles done for them. Arafat's plane crashes in or about 1995 (I forget exactly), all passengers in the plane are killed immediately, but he walks out unscathed. I guess G-d approves of Arafat.

The Dor Haflaga shot arrows into the sky to "kill" Hashem. The arrows, the Medrash says, came down dripping with blood. They archers thought they wounded Hashem.

This was a miracle, obviously. Not kishef - for the archers themselves were the ones fooled. But the rule is, "haba l'tameh poschin lo" - Hashem allows miracles to happen for good and for bad.

Rav Yaakov Saaportes, the great fighter against the Shabse Tzvi records miracles that were performed for the Shabse Tzvi and his followers. S"T used this as "proof" that G-d approves of him. The Gedolim of those days told the people that miracles prove nothing and G-d allows miracles for bad people as well as good ones, for numerous reasons, but we have no idea what G-d's cheshbonos are. Miracles are not proof of validity.

And now the Zionists are using the arguments of the Shabse Tzvi.


Miracles prove nothing. The Gemora says that G-d allows idol worshipers to perform miracles for their constituents as a Nisayon. Miracles have been done for evil doers throughout the ages. For whatever reason, G-d wants Arafat alive now, G-d chose to allow Hitler to do what he did - none of that means G-d agrees with them. And because Israel wins a war doesn’t mean G-d agrees with them.


The miracles that are described, are (a) not relevant, and (b) negligible as miracles. They are not relevant because miracles are made even for evil doers, and even to assist people in doing aveiros. The Bnei Efriam, for instance, left Egypt before the Golus was over, and as a punishment they were all killed in the desert. We know that it was impossible for anyone to escape Egypt (real mem/mem sofit etc.) and so their escaping from their successfully escaping from that superpower was a clear and unquestionable miracle. Yet it helped them leave the golus early which was a terrible sin for which they were all killed.

And, as I said, the Palestinians have experienced an equal and opposite amount of "miracles" as well, which they use in their Palestinian schools to "show" that Allah is on the side of suicide bombers.

But those miracles weren't real miracles at all. As I explained elsewhere, "great success" and blessing is not the same as a miracle. Documents from the Truman administration (posted in the Zionist section on Frumteens) state that US intelligence said that in '48 although the odds are in favor of the Arabs in a war against the Jews, it is quite possible that the Jews, due to much greater organization and Arab lack thereof, would win. They said it would be no more surprising than the victory that Russia had over Hitler.

And at the outset of the 6 day war, President Johnson had predicted that Israel would win within a week. The Satmar Rebbe ZTL commented on the Zionist claim of miracles, "If the victory was a miracle, then Johnson must be a Navi!"

If you see or hear people using the term "nisim" in the context of our survival in Israel, it is to be taken in one of two contexts: either as a "loshon mushal" - not really meant literally, such as when we say "I had nissim today when my car broke down and the tow truck happened to arrive 2 minutes later", which is of course not a miracle, or in the general sense of Jews surviving among the nations as a sheep against 70 wolves, which is true with or without the state of Israel ,and has been, for 2,000 years.


Relating stories of miracles is not really the best way to be Mekarev people, since even evil doers and other religions have similar miracle stories, which may actually be true -- Hashem allows the Satan to make miracles for evil people as a Nisayon, so miracles don’t really prove anything. So if a person becomes frum because he heard of a miracle done for a Rabbi, what’s going to be when next month he hears about a better miracle done for a Muslim?


I do not agree that the wars were Nisim. Nisim are not things that happen against tremendous odds. Nissim are when something happens against the laws of nature. So in other words if someone falls off a roof and lands on the only bush on the block, that's not a Ness. If he falls off the roof and starts flying, that's a Ness. The odds of the NY Mets winning the 1969 World Series was a lot less than the IDF winning their wars. Yet nobody would claim that was a Ness.

But that is really not the point. It doesn't matter if the victories were Nissim or not, because Nissim do not prove anything. The Gemora in Avodah Zarah says that sick idol worshippers used to get cured through miracles done by their priests. The Gemora says that Hashem allows it because "haba l'tameh poschin lo" - someone who wants to do wrong is given opportunity to do so.

Sometimes, as in the above case, miracles are designed as Nisyonos - tests to tempt us to go off the derech. These Nissim are usually done on behalf of evil doers, and our response is supposed to be "Even though a miracle was done for these people, it is the Yetzer Horah that has been allowed to perform this miracle, and I am not impressed."

When the opponents of the Ramchal heard about his supernatural experiences, they were not impressed. "Maybe the miracles are from the Satan", they said.

The Ramchal answered that the Satan's miracles are designed to seduce people into believing in ideals that are against the Torah. Therefore, if a miraculous revelation of Torah knowledge happens - which is what the Ramchal experienced - it makes no sense that such a miracle would come from the Satan.

But chas v'shalom, we should never ever use the fact that a miracle wa done for someone as "proof" that G-d supports them. That's precisely what the Satan is trying to make you do.

Throughout history, evil doers have had miracles performed for them. I remember shortly after the Gulf War I was in Israel attending a Kiruv session, where a representative from one of the largest Baalei Teshuva Yeshivos spoke for a group of non-frum Jews.

He spoke about the "Nissim" of how the scuds fell on Israel but didn't kill anyone, and that they should be impressed by this.

It was the wrong thing to say, and he got his head handed to him. A little guy with a mustache visiting Israel from Australia raised his hand and said that before coming to Israel he was visiting Saudi Arabia, and there he attended an Arab "kiruv" session, where they also spoke about "miracles."

They mentioned a time where Arafat's little private plane crashed, blew up, and killed every single one of the passengers except him. He walked out of the wreck.

There were numerous such incidents where Arafat was miraculously saved from his blown up boat, and where he evaded a fleet of fighter jets by losing them by driving away in a Volkswagen.

At least some of these stories I know to be true.

So what's the point?

The Arabs' point was "See? G-d is on our side!"

The answer is that G-d allows evil doers to have their share of miracles, too. Not through Kishef, but through Nissim. But these are Nissim, as the Ramchal says, performed by the Satan to seduce us into believing anti-Torah ideals.

Miracles do not prove what side Hashem is on.


Everything that happens in the world is a "ness", but it is not the same as a "ness" that breaks the rules of nature, and even within that category of "ness" there are different levels.

The miracle of Chanukah of "rabim b'yad m'atim" was not merely the underdog army beating the stronger army. The Chashmonaim consisted of about ONE DOZEN people, who routed the entire Greek-Syrian army. That's a miracle.

There are other opinions of the quantity of Chashmonayim army, as well as opinions about our being assisted by non-Jewish troops as well. But everyone agrees that it was more than just a weaker army beating a stronger one, but rather a ridiculously impossible espisode that could not have happened al pi derech hatevah.

On Purim, too, it wasn't the unlikelihood of what happened that told us it was a Ness, but rather the Neviim and the tradition that Chazal say we had throughout the generations that Hashem would make a Ness for us on purim that told us that what happened was a Ness. Meaning, it was not supposed to happen according to the way Hashem set up the world, and Hashem "changed His plans" in order to save us.

When people say "it was such a ness" it is a figure of speech, not really a Halachic ruling. Often in our lives the Hand of G-d is clear as day. There are things that happen to us that make it clear that Hashem runs the world. But that does not constitute a Ness. Not the l'mmalah min hatevah type of ness, anyway.

You don't want every unlikely episode in your life to be a Ness. We try very hard to make sure that our life is NOT governed by such Nissim. Nissim, Chazal say, reduce a person's merits. When Hashem, makes a ness for you, you have just lost lots of reward for Mitzvos. It's a very expensive proposition when Hashem bends His own natural laws for us. So if it saves lives, it is worth it. Others say that is the Ness makes a tremendous Kiddush Hashem, the merit that we incur by being inspired to be more frum cancels out the merits that we lose from obtaining the miracle. But like when someone gets a job in a very unlikely manner and they say "it was mamesh a ness", he doesn't mean a real ness, and he doesn't want it to be a ness, hopefully.

Even regarding the Ness of Chanukah, this principle applies. The Ramah rules that if you forget to say Al HaNisim in Bentching on Chanukah, you should instead add after bentching the words "Harachamon hu yaaseh lanu nissim" - May the Merciful One do miracles for us."

The Tevuos Shor disagrees. It's wrong to say such a thing, he says, since we do not pray for Hashem to make us miracles. His proof: The Mishna states that if a man prays for his pregnant wife to have a boy, it is a useless prayer, since the gender of the embryo is already determined in the mother's womb.

Asks the Tevuos Shor, but why can't he pray for the gender to miraculously change? Obviously, he concludes, we do not pray for miracles to happen.

The Yeshuos Yaakov defends the Ramah against the Tevuos Shor's claim. It's true, he says, that we don't ask for miracles. And the reason is because miracles reduce person's merits.

But that's only miracles like a supernatural sex change of an embryo in a mother's womb. It's not worth losing so much Olam Habbah to have a boy instead of a girl, which is all anyone gains from this Ness. But a ness like that which happened on Chanukah, which was public and obvious to everyone, and therefore created such a Kiddush Hashem and such an inspiration that whatever merits we lost from the Ness we gained back on our own merits.

So it’s a Machlokes whether to say that Horachamon. But everyone agrees that we do not recognize, nor do we want, our everyday lives to be governed by supernatural miracles. Every day, "natural" miracles are fine, but the miracles that disrupt nature need some kind of justification for it to be worth the price.


Taking over Israel was not "almost impossible". The procedure was quite natural: The Zionist movement was looking for a homeland for the Jews, supposedly to protect them from anti-semitism. Some of them considered Uganda, and even a place in Texas. The most popular idea was Palestine, which eventually came under British rule. The British, for many reasons - primarily in order to find political favor in the eyes of the Jews of America and Russia, so that those countries would join Britain as allies - decided to give part of Palestine - not all - to be a Jewish homeland. That's not impossible.

But even if it was a Ness, that's not the point. A Ness does not necessarily mean something good. Idol worshipers also made Nissim. Yes, there is a lot of good, and a lot of bad, as you say, that the existence of Israel provides. But the creation of the state was a violation of the Torah, so how could an aveirah be a Kiddush Hashem? Never mind the fact that the creators of the State of Israel denied the existence of Hashem. And never mind the fact that Zionism was for many people not a way to become frum but a way to throw away frumkeit, and replace it with a new brand of Judaism that does not involve Hashem.

The founders of the State of Israel wanted to make the Jews into just another middle-eastern nation without Hashem or religion.

But never mind the fact that the Apikorsim who founded the State of Israel were the worst enemies of Hashem and His Torah. The point is that the creation of the State was against the Torah, against the will of Hashem, and you are saying Hallel to celebrate it????? That doesn't work.

All the good that the State did was clearly known to Hashem. Nevertheless, he made us swear not to do it. By saying Hallel you are celebrating something that was against the will of Hashem. That is not what Hallel chas v'sholom is for.


A ness, in this context, means something that could not happen even against great odds. If someone wins the lottery, that’s not a ness, even though the chances were 1 in millions. You would not make a Brachah on a ness ("sh'asa li ness bamakom hazeh") because you won the lottery.

If you won the lottery without buying a ticket! - that's a ness.

The war of '48 was not a Ness. In fact, the American government predicted the very real possibility of the Arabs losing the war, even before it started. When President Truman asked his "advisers" who would win a war between Israel and the Arabs, the answer came back "it's impossible to predict". Equally unlikely victors have proven victorious in the recent past, such as Hitler in Russia, they said. Arab disorganization and ill-preparedness was cited among the many reasons for the doubt.


And what's winning a war mean anyway? It means, like in the War of Independence, that 6,000 Jews were slaughtered - a total of one out of every hundred Jews in the total population - but the "war" was "won". Such victories hardly proclaim Divine approbation.




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