A Jew comes to this world to bring light. That is the purpose of every human being, but especially a Jew, a member of a nation that is a light to the nations.

If so, what are we doing fighting a war? This is not who we are.

Yes, we are forced to fight—given no choice but to fight in a dirty, ugly battle for our existence. If we show weakness to one form of terror, we take an almost certain risk of threat from much greater powers of terror. But that itself is the question: G‑d runs the world. He put us here with a purpose. How does destruction and violence match our mission as a people of light, wisdom and peace?

How does this match our mission as a people of light, wisdom and peace?

It must be that in this darkness is hidden a very great light. Sometimes, the most precious treasures are redeemed only by coming face to face with the most hideous monster.

Hijacking Paradise

It’s been a long haul for us Jews, and we thought we had seen every sort of enemy. But each of them had some sort of substance aside from its hunger to destroy us. Even the Nazis had a platform of social development for the betterment of their fellow Aryans. Even Stalin had a five year plan to bring progress to the USSR.

For the first time I know of in history, in the current Gazan conflict we are faced with an evil that has no objective in this war, no purpose, no meaning, no substance, no platform whatsoever, other than destruction—wreaking its own destruction, and the destruction of everything that surrounds it. One begins to ask: Is its only platform death itself?

From the Charter of Hamas:

From the preamble before the introduction: “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.”

Article Eight: The Slogan of Hamas. “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.”

Article Thirteen: Peaceful Solutions. “Peace initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.”

The Gaza Strip is a lovely piece of land. Because it is situated at the crossing of multiple trade routes, many pundits have observed it has the potential to be the Singapore of the Mediterranean. With its lovely beaches and near-perfect climate, it could be one of the world’s most popular resorts. In the past, its soil has produced the most prized fruits and vegetables of the Middle East.

Into this land, the EU, Turkey, Arabic lands and the US have invested billions of dollars in redevelopment and humanitarian aid. And yet the people—almost all literate, many of them well-educated and highly skilled—remain impoverished.

Paradise wasn’t lost. It was abducted.

With the estimated one billion dollars worth of concrete, steel and technology Hamas used to build its tunnels—a virtual underground metropolis of terror—it could have constructed paradise. One typical tunnel used about 350 tons of concrete—enough to build a three story hospital. When asked how Hamas managed to remove the sand from the tunnels without Israeli air-surveillance detection, Col. Grisha Yakubovich explained, “Fighters emptied bags of flour—humanitarian food aid from the United Nations—and then used them to remove dirt from tunnel construction sites.”

Paradise wasn’t lost. It was abducted—to build a new hell beneath the ground.

Purpose Held Hostage

Why are we here? We are here to bring light into the world.

We are here to take a land and show how it can be a holy land. To live a human life and show how it can be a G‑dly life. To take a business and show how it can be run ethically, humanely and sensibly in such a way that through this business, the world becomes a better place, and life becomes more valued.

Some things are easily used for good purposes. Others present greater challenges. But we have faith that, “Of all that G‑d created in His world, nothing was created in vain.” (Talmud Shabbat 77b)

Everything has purpose. Everything has a spark of the divine. Sometimes it’s buried very deep.

The Ari, the great 16th century Kabbalist, explained yet deeper: Everything that was created exists by virtue of a spark of the divine within it. That spark is its meaning, its purpose. Our mission is to reveal that spark, by discovering that purpose and placing it within the context for which it was meant. Even those things forbidden to us have some purpose, some place in G‑d’s world. Their divine spark may be buried very deep, perhaps even impossible for us to conceive, but it must be there. Otherwise these things simply could not exist.

But what purpose could there be in terror? In terror that fires missiles from kindergartens and makes it headquarters in hospitals? In terror that cynically uses its own bloodied children, murdered by its own missiles, as telegenic propaganda to generate yet more hate in the world? In terror that only knows to fight, not by courage, not by morale, but by drugged, dehumanized beings trained only to blow themselves up?

There must be a spark of the divine there, but it is held deeper than the deepest cavern of their tunnels, more captive than any hostage their evil hands could abduct. Only that its redemption lies not in what we do to them, but in what we do with ourselves.

Standing Up To Fear

This mess, we all now realize, came upon us because we were afraid. Not because we were afraid of our enemies—they had much greater fear of us. We were afraid of our friends—or more accurately, what our friends among the nations had to say about us. So we ripped out ten thousand of our own from their homes in Gush Katif, amid tears and heartbreak, almost tearing apart our nation, so that our friends would like us, knowing full well that we were placing ourselves in grave danger.

We created this evil out of our own fear, our galut-mentality that we are still subject to the whims of foreign rulers and their people. We shlepped that galut into our land of freedom, and with it we created a monster.

The solution is simple: If the only substance of this monster is our fear, we must cease to be afraid.

If so, the solution is simple: If the only substance of this monster is our fear, we must cease to be afraid. Because the true enemy is not Hamas, not the UN, not the media, but terror—our terror of what the world will say.

And in truth, what does the world want from us? The USA, the EU, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and every country in the world that desires some sort of stability wants only one thing from Israel. In 1982, during the Lebanon War, the Rebbe put it very clearly: Despite all that they say publicly, what they really want is that Israel will be strong, that one country in the world will show that we really mean it when it comes to eliminating terror.

The same applies to each of us as individuals. The most common obstacle to a Jew moving forward with his or her mission in life is fear—not so much fear of the challenges involved and the effort required, but fear of “what will people say?”

It’s another fear that has no clothes. We create a social construct of our own imagination and chain ourselves to it. The world will respect you for acting as a proud Jew, continuing in the ways of your eternal people. The world needs your Shabbat, your clientelle will respect you for the mezuzah on your door, your customers will appreciate the charity box on your counter, and your children will thrive in Jewish schools.

When we shake off our fears of what the people at work or school will say, we make it easier for our leaders in Israel to drop their fears for what the diplomats in Europe, the White House and the UN will say. Because, as I explained in last week’s essay and the essay before, we are a single entity. When one of us shifts attitude, the entire ship changes direction.

It is G‑d’s world, not a world to fear. As soon as we shake off our submission to this world and instead do what we know is right and good, this raw darkness that has no clothes will dissipate into the ether. For it will have fulfilled its purpose. It will have told us who we are.

Based on the Maamar Natata Lirayacha Nes, 5736.