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World Cup Final – Israel vs. Hamas

Thursday, 10 July, 2014 - 3:02 pm

World Cup fever has overtaken the world. When I ask congregants to help make a minyan, they tell me, "Rabbi, Italy's playing, I can't come!" And then when I ask them to join a Torah class it's "France is playing..." Fortunately, the final is right around the corner and then we'll have our congregants back.

I belong to a South African Whatsapp group which is normally pretty quiet. Over the last few weeks, however, it has been buzzing virtually non-stop as people comment on every aspect of every game. I was forced to mute the group because after every game I had hundreds of messages! Now, maybe if Zimbabwe's team had made it to the World Cup I'd be more interested... 

The World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event in the world, but as the chosen nation we are currently playing a very different and much more dangerous "game." Israel vs. Hamas. And we are not spectators. We are active participants!

Hamas has fired more than 365 rockets into Israel over the last 72 hours. Because of Israel's amazing "goalie" - the Iron Dome - most of those have been intercepted. Miraculously, when a rocket scored a direct hit on a home in Southern Israel, the family was away in Eilat and nobody was killed.

Unlike the World Cup which began in 1930, Israel has been playing its soccer game for over 4,000 years. And there have been many captains over the years - Moses, David, Joshua, Gidon, etc.

If there's one thing we can learn from soccer it's this:

To win, you cannot play defense.

Israel has played defense for far too long. The country is currently in crisis, being barraged by Hamas rockets at all times of day and night. Most of the country is being forced to run to bomb shelters multiple times a day - at work, at camp, at home, in the middle of weddings, bar mitzvahs and brit milahs - and they have only 15 seconds to reach shelter. This cannot continue!

We need to end this situation, and in order to win you cannot play defense.

In this week's Torah portion, the Jewish people were involved in another "World Cup." This time it wasn't Hamas, it was their Midianites enemies, and G-d instructed, "You shall smite them." And they did. They went all out and destroyed the evil Midianites. When facing enemy attack, the only way to win is to play offense and make sure they will never dare attack again.

Since its inception in 1987, Hamas has launched terror attacks against Israel, and Israel has never played offense. We have defended ourselves and destroyed a few targets. But in order to finally win the "game" we have to give them such a powerful blow they will never attack us again. That is what Moses, Joshua, Gidon, David and all the other captains did when they played against our enemies - the Emorites, Egyptians, Ammonites, etc.

In this week's Torah portion Pinchas kills two perpetrators, and G-d says, "I hereby give him My covenant of peace." The only way to true peace is to obliterate the enemy.

The same holds true of our spiritual lives. We can help Israel by playing spiritual offense. Come to shul this Shabbat, put on tefillin today, light Shabbat candles, go to a Torah class. All these acts will help us win the war.

Let's hope and pray that the current government in Israel will do the right thing, will do what is necessary to once and for all win the game against Hamas! Ultimately we know that we have the best goalie in the world. It is not the Iron Dome, certainly not the USA, but the almighty G-d. The G-d of our forefathers has saved us and protected us for the last 5000 years, and we know that he is protecting us right now!

"Hinei lo yanum velo yishan shomer yisrael!"- The guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers.

*Thank you to the South African Whatsapp group for some of the ideas in this article!

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