Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza are giving out candies on the streets and dancing in joy. Why? For the first time since 1982, the IAF (Israeli Air Force) lost an aircraft in combat. An Israeli F16i "Soufa" (Storm) fighter jet was hit with shrapnel from an exploding SA-5 or SA-17 Russian anti-aircraft missiles launched at them from Syria. The plane was already back in Israeli airspace when it was hit. The pilot and navigator safely ejected and parachuted to safety, but the pilot was badly wounded and the navigator slightly wounded. Thanks to Hashem, the pilot is already out of life-danger and intensive care and the navigator has been released from the hospital.
An IAF post-mission probe determined that Syrian anti-aircraft missiles locked onto another of the eight planes carrying out the strike, but that plane was able to evade the missile. They surmise that had the downed pilot react differently, he too may have avoided being hit. We reject such hindsight, because the plot and the navigator reacted exactly as Hashem wanted them to react. Hashem wanted the plane to get hit, but in His mercy, the pilots' lives were not only spared, but they landed safely inside Israel.
So here's the emuna debriefing: Hashem did tremendous miracles this past Shabbat. Let's see a few of them:
- Although Hezbollah and Hamas are ruining their people's teeth with candy, Iran is silently suffering, not yet recovered from the knockdown blow it received from Israel. Israel hit such super-sensitive and secret Iranian targets within Syria, including the military air base in Mezzeh, where the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force are stationed to supervise the transfer of military equipment from Tehran to Damascus and from there to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Another target was the T-4 air base in the Homs province east of Palmyra. This tremendous Syrian military air base in Syria houses IRGC air force teams and was being groomed to be the staging base for an Iranian attack against Israel. The base was damaged so bad that it was put out of commission. It lost its radar, tracking and communication facilities, its control tower and 54 runways. The miracle: all this damage was inflicted by eight Israeli F16 warplanes only!
- Hashem gave the Syrians a bone with the downing of the Israeli F16; Hashem knows how Arab pride works. Were it not for this face-saving measure, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah would have started an all-out missile war.
- Hashem showed Israel that they are not invincible, but dependent on Him. Yet, in His mercy, the plane came down in Israel rather than in hostile territory, Heaven forbid. The pilots are home, alive.
- The downed F16 landed in a field within Kibbutz Hardouf in the Galilee. Had it crashed in a populated area, it could have caused many casualties, Heaven forbid.
- Shrapnel from Syrian anti-aircraft missiles fell inside Israel but no one was hurt. This is no joke, for the shrapnel are heavy, jagged chunks of metal that fall from a tremendous altitude. (A chunk of shrapnel from an intercepted Hamas missile once landed on my neighbors balcony and put a hole in the 8"-thick concrete floor.)
Hashem, You are so great! Thank You for Your miracles - the ones we can see and the many ones we don't see.
As of this writing, the situation on our northern borders is very volatile. Now is the time to strengthen emuna and to take on some - any - commitment in strengthening our relationship with Hashem. This is the message that Hashem wants to convey in our emuna debriefing. I'll be the first to commit: with Hashem's help, I want to be especially careful about saying "amen" every time I hear a blessing. This is something we all can do; it's easy yet it's tremendously cogent. Every "amen" has the power of knocking an Iranian, Syrian, Hezbollah or Hamas missile out of the sky. G-d willing, this coming Wednesday, I'll give an entire lesson on "amen". Meanwhile, may Hashem protect our country, our soldiers and our people, amen!