Torah is Israel’s first line of defenseParshat Shofteem Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Torah is Israel’s first line of defenseParshat Shofteem Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Most Jews are concerned with Israel’s safety and security, but what is the mostessential element of that security?

Is it a well-trained and well-equipped Israel Defense Forces? Perhaps the Shin Bet, Israel’s intelligence agency is the most important piece? Some might argue that international support, especially the support of the United States, is key.

There is no question that each of these is exceptionally important, but none of them is the most essential component. In fact, all of these put together will not give us security if we are missing the most important ingredient of all.

There are many reasons that G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people. A number of those reasons are provided in the first 10 chapters of Devarim (Deuteronomy). The Almighty gave us the Torah to make us a wise and holy people. He gave us the Torah so that by following it we would behave as G-d’s Children should. G-d gave us the Torah because He longs to bless us, and keeping his Torah opens the floodgates of G-d’s blessings.

One of the reasons G-d gave us his Torah is echoed throughout Tenach and throughout Jewish history. He gave us the Torah because its observance is a prerequisite for living securely in the land of Israel. Without Torah observance we are living in Israel on borrowed time. No  matter how strong, how smart or how supported we appear to be by the nations, we will not live long in the land without Torah observance. In this parsha we read, “You will appoint judges and officers in all your gates … to judge the nation according to the Torah … so you may live and possess the land which Hashem your G-d is giving you.”

Torah observance is the most critical element of Israel’s security.

If you want to defend Israel against Iranian nukes and Hamas terrorism, by all means write your congressman. Go to Israel and volunteer your time on an IDF base. But the best defense Israel has is the observance of Torah in the land whose purpose is the observance and learning of Torah. If you financially support Torah observance in Israel or better yet, if you go there yourself and keep mitzvot you are a mighty soldier on the front line of Israel’s defense.

(This column is a service of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association.)