Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Adar II 5763 - April 2, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
One Man

by Chaim Walder

Nearly half a million soldiers in the Gulf. Thousands of planes, ships, cruise missiles, smart bombs -- the whole world is watching.

Not watching the country or its citizens and not even its soldiers are of interest. Just one man stands before this great production, a man who could be killed with a 0.9 mm bullet worth less than a dollar. For years unsuccessful efforts have been made to get rid of him, while everyone knows if he went away, even into exile, there would be no need for war.

This man, Saddam Hussein, by name--a country bumpkin just like millions of other people who live and die without managing to leave even a scratch in the history books, if they even know what history is--rose to power driven by raging feelings of anger, hatred and revenge, according to the psychological sketches.

After he rose to power through an amazing building process, he set up a huge human apparatus entirely designed to insure that no 0.9 mm bullet would reach him. And that any mouth that spoke of such a desire would speak no more, and that any hand that might reach out to cause him harm be severed, and that a family in which one of its members entertained an evil notion regarding the ruler be wiped off the face of the earth.

Through a combination of unimaginable cruelty and cunning, he surrounded himself with an apparatus comprised of 70,000 men in which every division oversees and spies on the others, and in which one wrong step means death. All in order to preserve the stability of his regime.

And now the strongest and largest nation, together with other nations, is trying to overpower him, and it cannot do this with a single bullet or grenade or shell or bomb.

In order to reach him part of the country has to be destroyed, killing hundreds and perhaps thousands of civilians and soldiers, and even so it remains uncertain whether they will succeed in killing him.

Even now, when the Iraqis are well aware they face an onslaught the likes of which have never been known, they are not rushing to oppose Saddam Hussein, and if this seems illogical to someone, apparently he has not really grasped what Saddam Hussein has done to his people--he has managed to make them fear him much more than they fear an atom bomb. And perhaps more than death itself.

Saddam knew how to make use of the most effective weapon. Fear. Because regular weapons kill some people and the rest remain healthy and well. But fear kills some people . . . and keeps the rest quiet.


The well-known remarks above are brought merely to highlight a fact to which nobody has been paying attention:

How much power is contained within a single man. A country bumpkin.

And he's not the only one. Hitler was the same, Stalin was exactly the same, as well as Chmielnicki, Pharaoh and Haman.

A few individuals who, had they not lived, the world would have looked very different, and history would have taken an entirely different course.

Without them hundreds of millions of people would have lived happy lives, raising families and living to a ripe old age. And one man stood against all of these hundreds of millions. Hitler, Stalin or Saddam Hussein.

A man like everyone else. Flesh and blood, physically no different than anyone else. He doesn't even have an extra finger.

Note how much power one man has.


And why is it important for us to know this?

Because just as one man, a country bumpkin, is capable of doing so much evil--engineered, organized, effective, precise, powerful and historical evil--by the same token one man can do tremendous good, building and bettering, inventing, organizing, founding and making history.

People are stunned by the idea they could change the world. They don't believe in themselves and in their own ability. But in reality they do have it in them. A single man can unite the entire world by doing and spreading good.

Throughout the generations of the Jewish nation, as we learn in the Tanach, were people who changed the world, starting with Avrohom Ovinu and through the gedolei hadoros in our own times.

Let's take, for example, the work of Maran Hachazon Ish, zt'l. While once a yeshiva student was perceived as second fiddle to anyone else, through the revolution the Chazon Ish effected in a single generation, this situation was entirely turned around. Today only someone who learns in yeshiva is rightfully admired according to the true value of a Torah hashkofoh.

Is this not remarkable?

The outcome of this revolution affects the entire world and is beyond measure or understanding.

And who did it? One man whose light lit other torches that lit hundreds of thousands of candles that eventually became torches and lit other candles.

Let it be clear: None of the other residents of the city of Tikrit (the hometown of Saddam Hussein) imagined that this orphaned, clumsy boy would turn into one of the cruelest tyrants in history and would make them afraid to utter his name. To them he was just a pitiful, foolish boy and those who hurt him eventually paid with their lives.

Lehavdil, we also do not know who is the child that will grow up to be the next Chazon Ish. It could be anyone. This demands something of us. For if one man can create such drastic changes for good or bad, it demands that we at least give our very best.

Even when Saddam Hussein is overpowered during the present campaign, his survival so far against the entire world, due to the reign of wickedness and fear in the hearts of the people he rules, will remain an instructive lesson. To teach the world how much raw power a single man has. For bad, but also for good.

One man. An entire world.

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