Tuesday night, October 11, 2016, Yom Kippur begins. This is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. On this day, we come to understand how frail man is when compared to G-d.
It is also, for Israelis, a day that reminds us of war.
Forty-three years ago last week, the armies of Syria and Egypt launched a massive, coordinated attack against the Jewish Israel. Syria sent perhaps 150,000 soldiers into Israel at the Golan Heights border. At that border, Israel had perhaps 1,500 soldiers. You can imagine what happened.
In the south, Egypt at that same moment sent perhaps 80,000 soldiers into the Israeli-held Sinai, crossing the Suez Canal to attack Israeli border units. Israel had held the eastern side of the Canal as its border since its win in the 1967 Arab war.
At that Suez Canal border, Israel had stationed perhaps 500 soldiers. You can imagined what happened when 80,000 Egyptians attacked.
On that day forty-three year ago, Syrian and Egyptian forces overwhelmed those Israeli border units and began their invasion. They had set out to destroy Israel. They had easily breached Israel's border defences. They had a clear shot at Israel's heartland.
Egyptian and Syrian soldiers on the front lines cheered. Soon, they believed, they would destroy Israel.
That day was October 6, 1973. It was a Saturday, Shabbat. It was also the Jewish Yom Kippur--the holiest day of the Jewish year. It was a day when most of Israel's army was at home and, for most, fasting according to Jewish tradition.
Israel had been caught with its proverbial pants down.
The combined forces Egypt and Syria sent against Israel that day added up to the same number of soldiers all of NATO had in Western Europe ("The Yom Kippur War", historylearningsite, August 16, 2015). Jewish border units, manned mostly for patrol, were overrun.
Within two days, Egyptian forces in the south had crossed the Suez Canal and penetrated 15 miles into the Sinai desert. Syrian forces up north had advanced almost the same distance into Israel (ibid).
By the end of day two (October 7, 1973), everyone in Israel knew they were in deep trouble. Everyone also knew what lay ahead if these Arab attacks were successful against the Jewish state.
Sixteen days later, the war was over. Although Arabs had, once again, started a war to destroy the Jewish state, Israel had, once again, won. Once again, Arabs had lost what they had started.
Since that war, Israel has grown strong. Its Jewish population has doubled, growing from app 3.0 million (1973) to more than 6.4 million (September, 2016). Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen astronomically, from app 9.3 billion USD to 298 billion USD.
Over the years, Israel has become a high-tech world leader. It is the world's water superpower. It's become a world-class magnet for innovation. Its scientifically ingenious irrigation technology helps millions of people around the world to feed themselves in climates which, historically, have allowed little food to grow. Israel has also become a world leader in medical research.
Arabs around Israel, meanwhile, have also become world leaders--in terrorism, corruption and Arab-on-Arab oppression. They fester in poverty. In Syria, they have proven to be the unanimous world leader in bombing a state (Syria) into the Stone Age. In the Palestinian Authority, they demonstrate what happens when Arab leadership promotes only one ideal, the destruction of all things Jewish.
'Palestinian' Arabs contribute to the world nothing constructive or life-giving. Their creative efforts focus exclusively on different ways to murder Jews: the knife intifada, the car intifada and the child intifada.
This last effort is the most ingenious--and evil. It motivates children, some as young as 13 years of age, to attack Jews with a knife. If they die in their attempt, they are honored as national heroes. Then, 'Palestinian' leaders accuse Israel of killing 'innocent' children.
The armies that attacked Israel on Yom Kippur, 1973 are no different than the teenage Arabs who today attack Jews in the streets of Jerusalem. Their goals are the same: to exterminate the Jew.
But the armies of 1973 and today's teen attackers are indeed very different. For one thing, Arab leaders in the Palestinian Authority don't have the courage to raise an army to attack us. They know such an attack would be suicidal.
Instead, they send (it is said) their own children to schools overseas and then incite other people's children to kill for them. They incite other people's women to kill for them.
Then they go to the United Nations and call Israel, 'brutal'. To its everlasting shame, the UN believes every word 'Palestinians' say about Israel.
As someone has already said, the UN acts as if it's never seen a bad 'Palestinian'.
We must never forget that Yom Kippur War. We must never forget that the purpose of that war was to annihilate Israel. We must never forget that that war hasn't ended. We must never forget that we survive here only by the Mercy of our G-d.
On Tuesday night, October 11, 2016, Jews around the world will begin their annual Yom Kippur. On this day, we will fast. We will pray. We will ask HaShem, the G-d of Israel, to help us, to protect us, to be kind to us and to give us life, not death.
When we pray on Yom Kippur, we must never forget why we pray. We must never forget how our very existence hangs by a very thin thread. We must never forget that, for Israel, that thin thread is nonetheless woven to be strong by the All-Powerful Hand of G-d Himself.
We must never forget what Yom Kippur means. It means prayer. It means we take time to remember how we depend upon the All-Powerful One.
Yom Kippur also reminds us we once fought a desperate war for survival. Many Jews died in that war. They died so that we could live.
On Yom Kippur, we must never forget that reality. We must never forget that war.
May HaShem seal your name into the Book of Life.