It just doesn’t seem to end! First the UNESCO vote that the Temple Mount doesn’t belong to us, then the U.N. vote that Jerusalem and many parts of Israel that we inhabit are stolen from the Palestinians, then Kerry’s exit speech rebuking Israel.
And finally, 70 nations join together — not to deal with the world’s real problems — but to proclaim that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the source of the world’s problems! Any thoughts?
— Diane K.
One night this week, at a community dinner, I was discussing this final point with a friend and was pointing out that anyone with their eyes open after this recent meeting in France would have to become a complete believer in the Torah! The concept of 70 nations opposed to Israel is a thread which runs throughout the entire Torah. (I believe 72 ended up attending, but it was billed as a 70-nation conference.) As always, if we look deeply we find the answer in the Torah.
The scheming of this conference and the thinking of its participants was best summarized by the statement of Hollande that of all the bloody conflicts in the Middle East, Iraq and Iran, Syria and ISIS and more, none of them could be resolved until the source of all troubles in the Middle East — of course the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — is solved. And, of course, one of the main impediments to that resolution is Israeli settlements. So what’s really causing the death of half a million Syrians and ISIS slitting the throats of thousands is some Jews extending their balconies in Jerusalem?
As to your point that, not at all for the first time, the nations of the world seem to have no other business to attend to than to take shots at Israel — this is not a new phenomenon, as we find in the timeless words of the Midrash: “… the Jews proclaim before God: ‘Master of the universe, look how the nations make trouble for us! They have no other preoccupation than to sit and scheme against us, as the verse says, in their sitting and their standing I see their plots.’ God answers them, ‘What do their plots really accomplish? They enact decrees and I nullify and break them…’” (Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Toldos 5)
In this beginning of this coming Shabbat’s Torah portions, as Jews in synagogues around the world begin to read the Book of Exodus, the parsha begins by recounting the number of Jews going down with Jacob to Egypt: the number 70 (Exodus 1:5). This number of 70 Jews going with Jacob to Egypt was already related near the end of Genesis (46:27). Since no word in the Torah is for naught, why this seeming redundancy, why does the Torah emphasize this number of 70?
The answer lies in a verse near the end of the Torah, “When the Supreme One gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the children of man, He set the borders of the peoples according to the number of the Children of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:8). Rashi, the classical commentary, explains that the time God “separated the children of man” is referring to the incident of the Tower of Babel, when all of the world spoke one language (Hebrew), and they used their unity to build a tower to stage a war against God. God responded by separating them by the barrier of language, mixing up their language into many tongues and thereby annulling their plot and separating them, by language, into different nations whom he dispersed throughout the land.
The verse in Deuteronomy reveals, says Rashi, that the number of languages, and nations that were separated at that time, was 70. That number corresponds to the foundational number of the Jewish nation when they interface with the nations: the number 70 who went down to Egypt and began the first exile. The deeper sources explain that each nation was assigned its own “patron angel,” its spiritual emissary in the upper worlds, the total number equaling the number of Jews interfacing with those nations who control those very spiritual powers with their actions.
Hence, we bring 70 offerings on the holiday of Sukkot, equivalent to the nations of the world; those offerings that we bring are what actually provides the nations with their spiritual power and essence. Hence, says the Talmud, if the nations had realized how much benefit they receive from the Jews’ worship in the Temple, not only would they have not destroyed it, they would have put guards around it!
This explains, in part, why our tradition is that the final world war, which will be an uprising of the 70 nations against Israel, will be fought on the holiday of Sukkot.
As the footsteps of the Messianic time march nearer, we stand back in awe to observe that 70 nations of the world stand up to Israel, and we take comfort in seeing the signature of the Al-mighty behind world events, inspiring us to wake up, take notice, and do our part to bring the final redemption.