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Jews and War

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The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is one of the world’s top fighting forces. This is not so surprising when one recalls that the Bible is filled with references to military might. Even Abraham the patriarch has a military battle recorded in the Torah:

“And when Abram heard that his brother (referring to his nephew Lot) was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan.
And he divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and smote them, and pursued them…” (Genesis 14:14-15).

Hundreds of years later, the Jews conquered the Promised Land with a brilliant military campaign. In fact, many of the great national leaders listed in the Book of Judges were also military leaders (Gideon, Samson, etc). Additionally, one must not overlook the military genius of King Saul or King David, both of whom were renowned for leading the armies of Israel to victory.

The Torah includes laws that pertain specifically to times of war and also advocates a philosophy on victory. The Jewish people can, and do, involve themselves in war. But a true Jewish army will always remember that both victory and defeat are in the hands of God. This lesson was taught to the Israelites in the infancy of their nationhood, when their success in defeating the attacking Amalekites depended on whether Moses held his hands high in the air (Exodus 17:8-13), signifying the army’s focus on God’s power, not just on military might.

Unfortunately, each miraculous victory of the IDF, came at a tremendous cost in human lives. Today is Yom Hazikaron, Israel Memorial Day, and Jewish Treats honors the great sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the Jewish nation.

For more on Yom Hazikaron, click here

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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