Rabbi Shlomo Cohen
We often need a reminder of who really is in charge. Overt miracles are rare, yet, if we were to really be aware of reality, they are all around us. We see this reflected in the Yiddish saying “a mon tracht un Gott Lacht’, a man plans and Hashem laughs.
Saddam Hussein is a card-carrying member of the International Anti-Semites Association. He begins a war with Kuwait. Envision a map. Kuwait borders Iraq on the south. While he is at war anyway, he decides to kill some Jews. Why not? Israel is west of Iraq with Jordan and Syria in between creating a barrier of several hundred miles. He shoots SCUD missiles into a densely populated area.
Scud missiles are 40 feet long, weigh eight tons and have a 600-pound payload. They were designed to be accurate to within 1.25 miles and to flatten buildings in an area of 1/2 million cubic feet. Superheated fragments smash through buildings for blocks around. Glass shatters up to 1,400 feet away creating a wall of knives blown in all directions.
Greater Tel Aviv has a population of 1.5 million people with an additional 300,000 people in nearby Ramat Gan and Bnei Brak. Things are looking up for Saddam. It sounds like a duck shoot. Let us examine what actually occurred.
How long was the Gulf War? The coalition forces began bombing on January 17, 1991 and their attacks ended on February 28. That is seven weeks. Now, seven is a meaningful number.
How many SCUDS were sent in? Forty were fired at Israel. One missed the country and landed in the ocean leaving 39. Arboim chaser achas is how the Mishna in Shabbos enumerates the Avos Melachos.
How did Saddam time the bombing? Most of the Scuds were sent in on Friday Nights. The connection starts to become clearer. Shabbos, 7, 39.
Tel Aviv prides itself on being a cosmopolitan city. It is hardly a bastion of orthodoxy. For seven weeks the Jews of Tel Aviv spent Shabbos wearing gas masks and sitting in sealed rooms where they could only listen to the radio or television [which was permitted due to Sakanas Nifashose].
A total of 11,727 apartments were damaged, 2,122 of them were totally destroyed. 289 people were wounded. 1,035 were brought to hospitals, 900 of them were released on the spot, 60 were sent home in a day or two and only 5 required a stay of two weeks.
Saddam set out to kill Jews. How well did he do? Only 4 Jews were killed as a direct result of SCUDS. Three were killed in Ramat Gan on January 22 and one in Tel Aviv on January 25.
On an ordinary Friday night in Tel Aviv one would expect the death rate from car accidents, barroom brawls, lover’s quarrels etc. to exceed four in seven weeks!
So, let’s see what happened. Saddam throws 40 highly explosive warheads into a densely populated area and kills four people. Just to show he’s not merely a bad shot, he also bombs American lines in Saudi Arabia killing 28 American soldiers and wounding hundreds.
However, in Israel, he not only saves Jewish lives, he actually caused the city of Tel Aviv to keep Shabbos for seven weeks in a row. 1.8 million people x 39 Melachos x seven Shabbosos = the amount of extra S’char accruing to the Jewish people through one of Hashem’s more unlikely agents — Saddam Hussein.
“ A mon tracht un Gott Lacht.”