WHAT IS GAZA?
There is never “coincidence” when it comes to the weekly Torah Portion.
Each week, it is decreed in Heaven that words of Torah come to give us insight into whatever is going on at that exact moment in our lives or the life of the world.
Last week was the second week in which Israel was subjected to a rain of rockets and rioting from our enemies, all emanating from a place called Gaza.
What is this Gaza?
Amazingly, last Shabbos, we read a Haftara from Sefer Shoftim which discusses this exact situation, the threat of our enemies emanating from Gaza.
But this story took place three thousand years ago!
The Judge named Shimshon (“Samson”) was from the Tribe of Dan. In the words of Rabbi Dovid Feinstein zt”l, “The portion of … Dan bordered on the Philistine territory, and his hometown of Tzar’ah was near the Philistine cities of Gass and Azah….” (Kol Dodi on the Haftaros, page 153)
“Azah” is “Gaza!”
The Torah is all about today!
Our ancestors dealt with the evil in Gaza and we are still dealing with the evil in Gaza!
There is something about the nature of certain places. Eretz Yisroel is the location of the greatest kedusha in the world. Places like S’dom are associated with evil to such an extent that they destroy themselves. Gaza is another place from which evil has emanated for thousands of years.
The angel who announced the birth of Shimshon told his mother that her son would “begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” The passage continues, “The spirit of Hashem began to resound in … the camp of Dan”with the birth of Shimshon.” (Shoftim 13:5-25) Rabbi Feinstein comments, “The task of battling the Philistines began with Shimshon, but it did not end with him. It was continued by the judges who succeeded him … and by the Prophet Shmuel ….”
The Written Torah describes the Creation of the world until the end of Prophesy, but it is not over. Our Prophets anticipate a time when there will be a Third Bais Hamikdosh and Moshiach ben Dovid will usher in the era of universal peace and redemption from evil.
It seems that the story of Gaza, that bastion of evil, will not be complete until our own days, when the evil will finally be eradicated. “Thus said Hashem, for three transgressions of Gaza [I have looked away], but for four I will not pardon them.” (Amos 1:6) According to Abarbanel and Malbim, the fourth transgression was their persecution of the Jews. (Artscroll commentary)
Gaza was not conquered during the lifetime of Yehoshua. In light of current events, this seems to hint that the final chapters are even now being written, at the end of history.
During Shavuos, we read the amazing saga contained in Megilas Rus, which describes the birth of Oved, grandfather of Dovid. Dovid’s cousin was the giant Golias, grandson of Rus’ sister Orpah.
Please listen to the words of Golias: “I am the Philistine!” (I Shmuel 17:8)
Golias challenged all of Israel and blasphemed the Name of Hashem. B’nai Yisroel were terrified. Only Dovid had the courage to face him. Dovid stood there in his shepherd’s garb and said to Golias, “You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin, but I come to you with the Name of Hashem, Master of Legions, the G-d of the Battalions of Israel, that you have ridiculed.” (I Shmuel 17:45)
“Dovid stretched his hand into his sack. He took a stone from there and slung it, and struck the Philistine in the forehead. The stone penetrated his forehead and he fell upon his face, upon the ground … and there was no sword in Dovid’s hand.” (ibid 17:49)
Almost every day in Yerushalayim I go out to gaze at the Kever of Shmuel ha Novi, the great Prophet who anointed Dovid. Hashem said to Shmuel, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he [the King of Israel]. Shmuel took the horn of oil and anointed him from among his brothers and the spirit of Hashem passed over Dovid from that day on.” (ibid 16:12)
My friends, it is all going to happen again. The prophet will come soon b’ezras Hashem and anoint the Son of Dovid as Melech Yisroel. The threat from Gaza will end forever with the coming of Moshiach ben Dovid, may we greet him soon in our days!
Kever: Burial place
Sefer Shoftim: The Book of Judges
Shimshon: The Judge Samson
Shmuel ha Novi: Samuel the Prophet