They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the LORD your God is giving you. — Deuteronomy 28:52
The Torah portion for this week is Ki Tavo, which means “when you have entered,” from Deuteronomy 26:1–29:8, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 60:1–22.
The Bar-Lev Line was a chain of fortifications placed along the Suez Canal. The year was 1973, and Israel had to protect herself from the possibility of an Egyptian invasion. The solution: A $300-million wall made out of sand and concrete that was, on average, 80 feet tall and spanned about 100 miles. The line, named after the Israeli Chief of Staff Haim Bar-Lev, was expected to keep invading forces at bay for 24 to 48 hours. However, when the day did come and the Yom Kippur War began, it took Anwar Sadat only two hours to break through the wall and launch an assault. When it was most needed, that great barrier, the wall of security, was useless.
In this week’s portion, when we read about the curses that will come upon the children of Israel should they disobey the Lord, we read this: “They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down.” Should the Israelites be disobedient, they would be attacked by enemies and thrown out of their land. The pivotal moment would come when the “walls in which you trust fall down.” Once those walls were down, the Israelites would be vulnerable and open to attacks.
Jeremiah, the prophet who warned of the exile that would soon come to the disobedient Israelites, said: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh . . . But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him” (Jeremiah 7:5–7). Those who trust in man or anything physical are doomed. They will be let down, disappointed, defeated, and demolished. However, the one who trusts in God will be secure forever.
During the Yom Kippur War, after the great wall fell, after stunning defeats, and against incredible odds, the Israeli army realized that they had only one true line of defense: God. And indeed He produced miracles, and the war was won!
Sometimes in life, God makes our walls fall down. Because it is only when we lose hope in our trusted physical and material defenses that we truly learn to trust in God.
What are the great walls in your life? Are they people whom you depend upon? Is it money in the bank? Is it a strong army or a good president? None of these are capable of protecting us or are worthy of our trust. Let us remember that it is God Who fights our battles and it is He Who gives us shelter – now and forevermore.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President