Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Teves 5764 - January 21, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
How to Cope with Suicidal Frogs

by Y. Wurzel

One of the most fundamental traits of all earthly creatures is the survival instinct. Every creature yearns to survive and devotes its full attention to the battle for existence it is forced to wage against all perils that pose a threat to its well-being. All living creatures have this trait in common: animals, beasts, birds, creatures that creep on the earth, and of course humans.

Palestinian suicide bombers are a notable exception. They are willing to sacrifice their lives with an easiness that defies human understanding. People who look perfectly normal behave in the least normal manner conceivable. They knowingly -- and even with unconcealed joy -- strap on the explosives belt and set off to blow themselves to bits, as if making their way to a family simchah.

A survey of the long history of war worldwide reveals no other people that has sent its sound-minded sons to commit suicide -- if the notion of a sound mind can be applied to suicide bombers. In fact, throughout the generations, the nations of the world strove to defend their warriors, lives as far as they could, investing great resources into ways of reducing casualties as much as possible. Weapons experts around the world have been busy for years and years doing research and experiments designed solely to invent new methods and devices and to perfect protective measures for combat soldiers in order to provide them with the most sophisticated survival tools possible.

Some people used to delude themselves into thinking that suicide attacks by Palestinians were a peripheral phenomenon. According to their assessments, the suicide bomber had very little ability to cause real harm because he was part of a small band of terrorists suffering from a certain degree of retardation, making it relatively easy to brainwash the members to keep them from realizing the real significance of committing suicide. According to this assessment, terrorist attacks were supposed to end as soon as the short list of volunteers was depleted.

Today, however, the whole world knows that not only is the list of potential suicide attackers not limited, but it is growing from day to day. Completely normal people without mental problems or impaired intelligence contact terrorist organizations on their own initiative to try to win the "privilege" of being placed at the top of the list of suicide bombers. These terrorists are not necessarily ignorant or primitive; they hail from every layer of Palestinian society including the rank-and-file, young people with an academic education, family men with respectable professions and regular income. The female terrorist who carried out the attack at the restaurant in Haifa was neither insane nor ignorant, and was not even driven to despair by financial distress. A lawyer by profession, she was an intelligent woman who successfully passed through the academic track. The woman who blew herself up at the Erez crossing last week was a 22-year-old mother of two children.

Indeed there is no more salient case of abnormal conduct by an entire people than this frightful phenomenon of suicide attacks and the entire religious- nationalist cult branching out from it. The human mind cannot comprehend such abnormal behavior. After every "successful" suicide attack, friends and acquaintances of the attackers who just blew themselves to smithereens go out into the streets to celebrate by shooting into the air and shouting in exultation. Their "spiritual" leaders shower the suicide bombers and their families with praise. Bereaved mothers receive the news of their own offspring's suicide by bursting out in displays of joy. Such behavior defies explanation.

To make some sense of the enigma, remarks made by a prominent darshan in Eretz Yisroel should be kept in mind. He described at length the great astonishment prevailing in Egypt when a new breed of frogs was suddenly discovered -- suicidal frogs. Instead of acting like all other frogs in the world and like every other creature that fears fire, the frogs in Egypt altered their nature and jumped fearlessly into everything, including ovens. Anybody who contemplates this wonder immediately comes to the singular conclusion that this is no mere coincidence, but etzba Elokim. Pharaoh, too, would have realized this had HaKodosh Boruch Hu not hardened his heart to prevent him from reaching the obvious conclusion.

Had a frog expert appeared on the scene and offered the Egyptians a normal solution, such as to close off the frogs' access with a fence, all of Egypt would have mocked him. When so many frogs suddenly pop up out of nowhere and jump into various places normal frogs are afraid to go near, it becomes clear that this abnormal phenomenon cannot be solved with a simple solution, such as setting up buffer zones and high fences. Had someone proposed confronting the problem through "focused preventative measures" they would have had him committed to a locked facility. How is it possible to strike fear in the hearts of frogs that do not know what fear is? How is it possible to use conventional means to deal with a phenomenon that is highly unconventional? How is it possible to think such an unnatural thing is a coincidence?

When an entire people loses the drive for self-preservation ingrained in every creature we must examine our ways in search of the reason why this evil has befallen us. Of course we must also employ every possible means of physical hishtadlus as well, to reduce the danger as much as possible; this is not the right forum for critiquing steps the government has taken as part of its hishtadlus, but even these efforts are merely ways of handling the manifestations of the problem without addressing the root cause -- like building a first-aid clinic next to a rickety bridge to treat the people who fall off it.

When we see how all of the frogs suddenly start to go crazy it is incumbent upon us to realize He Who created the frogs and brought them to Egypt and commanded them to become suicidal frogs, He alone can change everything from one extreme to the other in an instant.

In our present state, when so many dear Jews are asking, "Mei'ayin yovo ezri?" this is the right time to start spreading the news: "Ezri mei'im Hashem, oseih Shomayim vo'oretz."

All of the various declarations and remarks that the solution will be reached when the Palestinians sustain terrible blows or after a political solution appears on the horizon or after Arafat is expelled from the Mukta'ah, etc. -- these are all haveil havolim. We are not suffering because the Palestinians have lost their humanity, rather the Palestinians lost their humanity because we have to suffer.

Only He Who turned the Palestinian terrorists into an enemy capable of acting in such an abnormal way can bring them back to what they should be. Heavenly salvation is the solution to all of the problems and crises, and it will arrive, besiyata deShmaya, in the blink of an eye. All we have to do is strive to be worthy of it.

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