‘And None Shall Make You Afraid’ - Parshat Bekuchotai and Current Affairs

Let’s face it, the October 7th attack shattered the world of the majority of Israelis, who had rightfully gained a certain sense of confidence in their extraordinary military and fairly stable government.  Since 1948 Israel has won no less than 15 wars/conflicts, all of them initiated by enemies, and it seemed as if the protective hand of Elohim was always over the nation.

The current Israeli-Hamas war changed everything.

Hamas not only attacked Israelis in the most brutal massacre in Jewish history since the Holocaust, but its military and government was sadly found completely unprepared and outsmarted by - who was thought to be - a much less powerful enemy.

While Israel’s defense ministers severly miscalculated their enemies and citizens rested with a false sense of security (no doubt enhanced by technology like Iron Dome and electrical fences), Hamas terrorists were planning, storing weapons and using billions to build tunnels of death and destruction in plain sight.  

When Hamas terrorists finally implemented their sinister plan, no one could have calculated the magnitude nor the level of cruelty and sheer evil, by far surpassing Isis and remoniscent of Nazis or the KKK.

We all felt traumatized by the news reports as we sat in our homes glued to the TV broadcasts of the horrible atrocities inflicted upon innocent men, women, children, the elderly happening right at our back door.  Equally tramautizing was seeing citizens fight for their lives and plead for the IDF to come save them hour after hour to no avail - many of them not surviving the wait.  This trauma continues with the daily news of hostages and casualties.

I think each and every Israeli citizen felt unsafe on October 7th as we saw thousands of terrorists pour across the border from Gaza with no other aim than to ‘kill Jews.’  As a resident of Ashkelon, just 21 kilometres (13 miles) from Gaza, we were especially anxious as our city was constantly bombarded by rockets and for the first time we watched from TV and windows as terrorists tried to infiltrate our city from the air, land and sea.  As people of faith, we are watchful, prayerful and give thanks for His protection.

Yet still, the mental health of the Israeli population still suffers from experiencing these events, even remotely through television or social media.  It’s no surprise that in the months following October 7th, at least 60% of Israelis were suffering from ASD - an emotional and mental disorder caused by direct or indirect (i.e. media) exposure to traumatic events and causes anxiety, fear, depression, nightmares, increased heart rate and an intensified release of stress hormones according to a study from Haifa University.

How can we recover and achieve that confidence and sense of security in light of these overwhelming challenges?

In last week’s Parshat Bekuchotai (Lev. 26.3-27.34), we are reminded that the peace and safety we all desire as well as that mental sense of security, is a gift and a blessing from Elohim alone - not our military strength or weapons of war.  Whenever Israel is in sync with the Almighty and keeping His mitzvote, we are kept safe, strong, victorious over our enemies as well as have peace of mind as proclaimed in Lev. 26.3,5-8: 

‘If ye walk in My chukkot, and be shomer over My mitzvot, and do them,... (v.3)

  • Ye shall dwell in your land safely (l’vetach)
  • I will give shalom in haAretz (the land)
  • Ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid (harid)
  • I will rid the savage beast (hayah ra-ah) out of HaAretz
  • Neither shall the cherev (sword) pass through your land
  • Ye shall chase (radaf) your enemies, and they shall fall (nafal) before you by the cherev
  • Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the cherev

This parsha not only speaks of the blessings of physical protection and security within our borders, but also emotional and mental security, i.e. being able to sleep comfortably without worry or fear of attack.  

For further clarity, two of the key words vetach and shalom, convey both physical and mental security:

  • Betah is a place of refuge; safety - both the fact (security) and the feeling (trust).  From the root of vatach, to trust in, have confidence in, hope.   https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h983/kjv/wlc/0-1/ 
  • Shalom - completeness, wholeness; soundness (freedom from injury, damage, defect, disease, etc.; health or good condition), welfare, safety, health, prosperity; quiet, tranquillity, contentment; friendship; peace as opposite of war. from the root shalam, to be complete or free from injury.  https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h7965/kjv/wlc/0-1/ 

No doubt, when a person is at peace (shalom), they are complete, whole, free from injury in body, mind and soul.  Likewise, when we have vetach, we have literal security and a feeling or sense of trust in our mind that all is really well and will be well.  Bechukotai reminds us that peace and peace of mind are gifts from above and Yah word has left us the keys as to how we can experience these blessings.

This is a time for Kol Israel to seek the Almighty and return in teshuvah to His laws.

Let us pray for peace, a return of the hostages, an end to terrorism and war in Jerusalem (Ps. 122) and all war torn places of the world.

Thanks for your support, prayers and feedback!

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Footnote 1 - https://www.ynetnews.com/health_science/article/hy8qocpu6

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