What Is Our "Protective Edge"?
By Rabbi Areyah Kaltmann

Historic events can be interpreted in dramatically different ways. And the history of our people, in particular, is marked by extraordinary undulations, from soaring triumphs to sorrowful devastation. What meaning do we draw from these events, from the Biblical to today's Operation Protective Edge?

In 1967, the tiny nation of Israel wielded a powerful slingshot that left a massive amalgam of Arab nations crippled in the Middle East. Wildly outnumbered, a bullied Israel crushed its foes. This reality was clear and unequivocal, but its implications were decoded in disparate ways.

Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall, in his book Swift Sword: The Historical Record of Israel's Victory, June 1967, proclaimed that there was no way of understanding the Six Day War other than as a miracle. Yael Dayan, on the other hand, in her Soldier's Diary, wrote about visiting the Tomb of Rachel shortly after its liberation in 1967: "They were thanking their G‑d and I was thanking the Yorams and Uris." So today do we pray to G‑d for miraculous strength, or do we direct our fervent hopes, in a more earthly manner, toward the strength of the Israel Defense Forces?

There is no doubt that the "Yorams and Uris" fought with stunning courage and remarkable military prowess. There is no doubt that Israel's army was driven by the reality that to lose the battle would be to lose the nation, but we believe there is far more to the story.

Let's fast-forward 47 years. There is no question that the Iron Dome has been a game-changer in Operation Protective Edge. The Iron Dome has been shielding millions of vulnerable Israeli civilians from thousands of rockets, and, in fact, the Iron Dome certainly enabled the IDF to delay retaliation until doing so was imperative. If the greatest resources in technology and military strategy have created this life-saving solution, where is G‑d in this modern-day Chanukah story?

As Jews, we believe it is G‑d who not only enabled the Iron Dome defense system, but also permeated so many aspects of  this operation. Is G‑d found in the solidarity of the Israeli nation and a people overwhelmingly united in support of military action? In the stirring of a nation's conscience that led 30,000 mourners to attend the funeral of a lone soldier? In the resolve of wounded soldiers who have refused to stay in the hospital and have returned to combat with spirits ablaze? In the countless Israeli citizens who are flocking to hospitals to offer treats to the wounded?

Is G‑d in the deeply concerned watchfulness of world Jewry as we follow what is happening in Gaza, and now, in major European cities suddenly home to open displays of anti-Semitism?

Just what is it that gives us our protective edge? It is our faith that G‑d is still at our side, just as in the time of the Exodus and of the Maccabees. It is our faith that animates our unity as a people and our determination to prevail over centuries of misunderstanding and bigotry. We are shielded by an Iron Dome of faith in our Creator and our love for each other.