I write as a 72-hour cease-fire comes into effect between Hamas and Israel, following four weeks of Operation Protective Edge.
Our precious IDF soldiers, fighting this war on the front lines, were faced with a new frightening threat, a challenge that didn’t exist before: the network of tunnels dug by Hamas to infiltrate into Israel and cause havoc. While other wars were fought above ground, in this one, the focus was on the underground tunnels. In addition to watching what is being fired above ground, Israel has to take precautions now to deal with this new threat below.
As King Solomon wrote in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), “God has made one corresponding to the other.” God created the world in a way that good and evil have an equal counterpart. Kabbalah teaches that every force in the world, even the most evil and heinous force, has its counterpart in goodness and holiness. In light of this, there exist tunnels of goodness and holiness, tunnels that are the total opposite of the ones our soldiers have been working hard to destroy.
The Maharal of Prague, one of the greatest Jewish thinkers of the 16th century, explained the symbolism of tunnels. He wrote that, in each of us, there are hidden powers beneath the surface. Digging a tunnel allows us to discover and access them. We may look at ourselves, or at our fellow man, and observe that, on the surface, there seems to be a great disconnect with who we really are, with God, with our fellow man, and a lack of purpose and happiness. If we dig deep inside, however, and we excavate what lies beneath, we will discover the oneness that organically unites us with God and our fellow man. We all have a spark of Divinity, our core power, our essential wholesomeness and happiness, which can never be damaged or broken. Our core may be covered up by layers of dirt and stones, by mountains of skepticism, ignorance, insecurity, resentment and confusion. But, if we can go into our tunnel, into our true essence, we will realize it is all really one.
This hidden power has indeed been unearthed during this challenging period. Despite our differences, Jews throughout the world have united to stand strong with Israel, to strengthen each other and to offer support. This crisis has brought to the fore an underground truth: that we are indeed Am Echad (one nation). Whether it was the thousands of people attending the funeral of a fallen soldier or delegations of Jews from around the world who travelled to Israel to offer their support, it is clear we are one. And when we are united we are strong.
Another subterranean truth revealed is our organic connection to God. In the past few weeks, Jews of all types gathered for prayer, for study, to perform mitzvot in honour of Israel. The underground sense of Jewish belonging and connecting has emerged.
As our soldiers work hard to ensure the Hamas tunnels are destroyed, let us pledge to make sure our tunnels of goodness, holiness and oneness stay clear and open. Am Israel Chai Vekayam.