In a heartbeat, everything changed.
Before October 7th, Israelis could not agree on anything. Judicial reform, the possibility of peace with the Palestinians, the role of religion in Israel’s public square – everything was hotly debated.
But ever since Hamas launched its sickening and brutal attack on October 7th, slaughtering over 1,400 Jews and taking over 230 hostages, everything has changed. There is a clarity of vision in Israel, shared among every sector of the population, that I have never seen before. Though the Western world has lacked the moral vision to universally condemn Hamas and support Israel, the people of Israel themselves have awoken from their stupor. Our people finally understand the truly evil enemies who seek our destruction – and we are acting as one to destroy them.
“And on that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and out of the obscurity and out of darkness shall the eyes of the blind see” (Isaiah 29:18).
This is not the first time the people of Israel have learned to see. Like so many of the extraordinary events of our time, this has happened before: in the Book of Samuel.
“And the child Samuel ministered unto Hashem before Eli. And the word of Hashem was rare in those days; there was no vision.” (I Samuel 3:1)
What does it mean that there was no “vision” in Israel?
The great medieval Biblical scholar, Gersonides (1288-1344), explains: “’And the word of Hashem was rare in those days’: This means that prophecy was very difficult to attain, and so prophecy at the time was not opened up; there was no one capable of prophesying.”
As a young man, Samuel witnessed the end of the era of the Judges of Israel. During the long era of the Judges (close to 400 years), the people of Israel grew distant from God, and their leaders, though periodically heroic, were deeply flawed. For generations, the people were unworthy of prophecy. As Rabbi Eliezer Kashtiel writes, “The people of that generation failed to reach the level of prophecy, and the path to prophecy was not clear. There was no one to guide them and show them the way. Prophesy has two aspects – communal and personal. Sometimes, there are people who are worthy of being prophets, but they live in a generation that is not worthy of receiving prophecy. And sometimes, people like this do not exist, for prophecy demands wholeness in several ways: in one’s character traits, awe of Heaven, and attachment to God; and sometimes this is difficult to attain. In Eli’s generation, [the generation of Samuel], they struggled with both of these problems.”
Samuel changed everything:
“And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of Hashem. And Hashem appeared again in Shiloh; for Hashem revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of Hashem.” (I Samuel, 3:19-21)
Like an unexpected cool breeze on a hot summer’s day, Samuel reinvigorated his people. God appeared again in Shiloh! A nation that had forgotten its mission as God’s chosen people was once again infused with prophecy. After generations without prophecy, after hundreds of years without vision and understanding, Samuel opened the gates of prophecy. During his lifetime, prophecy flourished throughout the land. Thousands of Israelites began to prophesy, and the people once again learned to see with God’s eyes.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 3:1)
It has happened before, and it is happening again, today, as the people of Israel rise up like a lion to destroy Hamas and all those who darken the eyes of the world. May the nation of Israel illuminate the world with truth, and teach the rest of humanity to see.