By Alexander Zushe Kohn
Though we’ve bombed the daylights out of the Taliban and
closed in on bin Laden’s suspected hideouts, intelligence reports have it that
his royal horrendousness may very well have slipped thorough the talons of the
great American eagle. Frustrating, eh?
Actually, I think there’s a real bright side to bin Laden’s
elusiveness. Think for a minute: If G-d wanted to ensure that President Bush
would do good on his promise to uproot all terror, wherever it may be, what
better way to do it than to turn the President against the dictators of
oppressive Arab regimes? If G-d wanted, once and for all, to put an end to the
game of make believe in which the State Department pretends that countries like
Saudi Arabia and Egypt are our allies in the fight against terror, wouldn’t it
be just perfect if He arranged for the U.S. to discover bin Laden enjoying the
warm hospitality of some "moderate" Arab nation?
And while we’re on the subject, a friend of mine brought to
my attention the Malbim on Yechezkel 32:17. Malbim explains that at the time of
the war of Gog U’Magog, Eisav and Yishmael together will ascend to Yerushalayim
in order to wrest the land of Israel, and Yerushalayim in particular, from the
hands of the Jewish people. Upon their arrival, the two peoples, ascribing to
two separate faiths, will become embroiled in a war against each other. While we
don’t have a clear picture as to the exact nature of the Gog U’Magog war - as
the Rambam puts it, "No one knows how it will happen until it happens" - it is
interesting to note that the current war between America (which includes, in
varying degrees, all Western countries) and certain Muslim elements has greatly
hampered their joint effort to take the land of Israel from the Jews. (The fact
that the Israeli government has failed to notice, or more accurately, chooses to
ignore, this amazing development, is of course, deeply troubling, but should
come as no surprise.) No less noteworthy is the fact that this whole shenanigan
has erupted at a time when the burning issue is the "question" of Yerushalayim.
Add to the mix the Rebbe’s reference to a connection between events in
Afghanistan and the war of Gog U’Magog, and we have ourselves an interesting, if
somewhat vague picture to reflect upon.
To add to the special effects, G-d has hardened the heart of
Arafat, causing him to disregard the advice of his own aids, who recommend, that
for the sake of the Palestinian cause, i.e., his cause, he should (very)
temporarily halt terrorist activity. This brings to mind Pharaoh, who rejected
the cries of his servants when they begged, "Send out the men... Do you not know
that Egypt is lost?"
Parenthetically, when written in Hebrew, the name Arafat is
made up primarily of the letters Ayin, Reish, Fei, the primary letters of
the name Pharaoh. As explained in holy books, these letters spell "oref,"
which refers to the back of the neck, the symbol of obstinacy. How can we
overcome the evil stubbornness of Arafat-Pharaoh? With "holy iron," a term used
by our Sages to describe Moshe, Pharaoh’s nemesis. More than anything else,
Moshe represents Torah. By increasing in our study of Torah, we slice through
the evil "orefs," decapitating the various Pharaohs and Arafats of the
world. Moreover, a spark of Moshe’s soul inhabits the body of every Jew. Indeed,
of all the phrases G-d could have chosen to describe us with He opted for, "You
are a stiff-necked people."
So it’s us against them. We know what the outcome will be.
What we need to do now is to make it happen sooner than later. In the Rebbe’s
words (paraphrasing G-d), "You are a stiffed-necked people, in the positive
sense; therefore, to quote Moshe’s appeal to G-d, ‘You will pardon our
iniquities and our sins, and You will forgive us.’"