December 16, 2018

“Above and Beyond,” the story of miracles

I just saw “>“Above and Beyond,” about the U.S. pilots that fought in Israel’s War of Independence. Although I was raised modern orthodox and had been taught a lot about the creation of the State of Israel, there were many things in this movie that I hadn’t known before.  What struck me most was the extreme improbability of the whole enterprise.  I had already known that the story of Israel’s War of Independence involved a people vastly outnumbered and out-armed by their enemies, but details provided in the film were mind-boggling. The very first two pilots in the air force that was essential to Israel’s success said that to initially get to Israel with its first one-engine planes, they each flew 11 hours straight over nothing but water.  One of the pilots said that, as far as he knew, the only other people to do that were the Wright brothers. The movie went on to discuss how, due to the U.S. arms embargo, Israel had to create its “air force” by using various scrap pieces from different planes to essentially put together “Frankenstein” concoctions as fighter planes.  One pilot told of flying a plane in which he received so little training he did not know where the various controls, including the gun controls, were, when he took off.

As I heard the stories, I increasingly felt that I could actually see the hand of God in Israel’s creation.  There were too many coincidences, improbabilities, and, in some cases, incidents that sounded like outright miracles to be anything else.  While that feeling gave me a real sense of pride and gratitude for Israel’s creation, it gave rise to another thought in the back of my mind.  If God’s hand was so clearly there in the creation of the State of Israel, where is it now, in what should be the next phase in the creation of the Jewish state – the peaceful existence of the inhabitants of the state, both Jewish and not, and its peaceful coexistence with its neighbors.  After all, wasn’t safety and peace for Jews the whole point of creating the state in the first place?

There are many different opinions on this topic among people who live in Israel. For this post, I’d like to focus on the orthodox.  A recent