Thursday, July 23, 2009

Defeating the King of Calculations

Rise up, take your journey, and pass over the valley of Arnon; behold, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land; begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle.
This day will I begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the peoples that are under the whole heaven, who, when they hear the report of you, shall tremble, and be in anguish because of you.'
(From this week's Torah portion, Devarim, Deuteronomy 2:24-25)

In the Torah verse above, the word 'Heshbon' is the name of an Amorite town. But the word 'heshbon' also means calculations. If read with this meaning in mind, the Torah is directing us to do battle with the King of Calculations.

Israel suffers from the plague of calculations. We are so busy with our calculations, that we have forgotten what we are doing here in the first place. True, we live in this world and must act within its physical parameters; economy, politics, security and more. But all of these calculations must be enlisted to foster Israel's metaphysical reality - the fact that everything is directed by the Creator of the world.

As we devote ourselves to creating Jewish leadership for Israel, we must take concrete action in a reality that seems impossible - motivated not by political calculations but by Israel's destiny and our faith in G-d.

When the pioneers of Gush Emunim began to settle in Judea and Samaria, they created physical reality on the ground. Their actions were entirely in the realm of the super-rational - based not on politics but on faith in G-d. As time went on, though, it became clear that the Gush Emunim ideology was afflicted by an insidious time bomb. It based its moral authority first on the secular Zionist pioneering spirit of the past and only then on Jewish faith. Nonetheless, their love of the Land prevailed and in its merit, the settlements in Judea and Samaria and what is left of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel exist today.

Last week, Gush Emunim leader Benny Katzover wrote an article in the Makor Rishon newspaper, in which he predicted that "Feiglin will be prime minister only after Mashiach comes." Katzover is a dear Jew who has tremendous merits. But when he came to settle the barren hills around Shechem, against the will of Israel's government and the entire world and without any Jewish towns nearby, why did he think that he would succeed even before the Mashiach would come? And why, now, after Manhigut Yehudit has reaped major political success in the Likud and was the decisive factor in the make-up of its Knesset roster, does Katzover think that this dream won't happen in the world as we know it?

The answer is the time bomb inherent in Gush Emunim's ideology. It is the time bomb that allowed Gush Katif to be destroyed, that is now threatening Katzover's home in Elon Moreh and that prevents good people like Benny Katzover from understanding Manhigut Yehudit's strategy.

Katzover and his friends brought their direction, dedication and fortitude from Rabbi Kook's ideology and from their pure and simple faith in G-d. But they brought their sense of moral justification from practical Zionism - the activist wing of the Labor party. Gush Emunim would not have dared to settle those barren hills if they hadn't felt that deep down, Labor party leaders Galili, Alon, Peres and Gur were with them.

At the time, their analysis was correct. The Labor leaders did have a soft spot in their hearts for the Gush Emunim pioneers. But as soon as the party turned its back upon them, the settlers were transformed from an elite force in the service of Zionism to an irritation - surplus weight or a wart that must be removed. The settlers became a sector of protestors that consumed security resources; obstacles to peace and to normalcy.

Manhigut Yehudit is struggling to lead Israel. It will never gain the approval of Israel's current leadership. For Benny Katzover, Manhigut Yehudit is an impossible dream. He has been defeated by the King of Calculations.

Our strategy is really quite simple and completely within the realm of reality. We must register for the Likud, gain political power, win the Likud primaries, lead the Likud and then lead Israel. We don't even have to get out of breath climbing the hills of Samaria. We don't have to be dragged from our homes time and again by riot police. All that we have to do is to register for the Likud - and to defeat the King of Calculations.

But despite our proven success, people who cannot overcome the King of Calculations continue to ask the same questions: What will you do if Bibi leaves the Likud and forms his own party (great!)? And what will you do if they change the results of the elections again? And what will you do if this and what will you do if that? If all those questions had been asked before Gush Emunim began to settle Israel, not even one house would have been built.

Then, they knew how to defeat the King of Calculations. Now, even though we have excellent answers for all the questions, the King of Calculations is very much alive and well.

Now is the time to register for the Likud and to register your friends and family, as well.

It is time to take urgent action. After the simple act of registration, we can analyze the situation and determine how to use the realistic tools that we have at our disposal. And above and beyond that, we will continue our struggle for Jewish leadership for Israel, keeping in mind that we are fulfilling our Jewish destiny and faith in the G-d of Israel.

Shabbat Shalom,

Moshe Feiglin


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