|Ruins of the Roman Empire|
His argument was that one must not be naive. When we see a non-Jew doing good, building bridges and the like, one must realize that they built these for their own benefit in order to raise taxes. Rashbi [shortened form of name Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai] knew that since we are in exile we need to make efforts with the nations that they contribute to our welfare. The Talmud states that when there was a need to annul a decree, the Rashbi himself journeyed to Rome to make the effort to bring about its annulment.
The Rashbi knew that Jewish people are reliant on G-d. Nevertheless he knew that it is the intention of G-d that we take natural precautions.
Should however this would not help, the Rashbi was prepared to undertake the use of powers beyond the natural. The Talmud relates that when the Emperor of Rome refused to annul the decree, the Rashbi brought down an angel. When this also did not help, he went so far as to bring down a demon.
In the first instance it is the desire of G-d that we operate in the natural way. If this does not help, other avenues are available...
This is a message also for our time. There are times when it is appropriate to travel to Washington as the Rashbi journeyed to Rome to make the effort with the Emperor. Yet at the same time it is vital that the ambassador be seen as a faithful Jew who conducts himself according Torah and Mitzvos.
Should the gentile ask, ‘you believe in G-d, you can even bring down an angel or demon, then why do you need my help?’ To this, one replies: ‘since the Jewish People are in Exile, it is the Will of G-d that we act in a natural way (this is why we pray for the peace of the country).’
However, if the natural approach does not help, we will bring down a demon, and it will do what ever has to be done, as was done by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, since we walk with the power of the Holy One Blessed be He.
The gentile continues to ask: ‘Are you really in exile? You find yourselves in the Land of Israel of which it is written in Scriptures, ‘continuously do eyes of G-d gaze towards her (the Land of Israel) from the beginning of the year till the end of the year?' To which the Jew replies: ‘on the contrary, there in the Land of Israel the exile is far more severe. There, there is a Jew who considers that since he is Minister, he can do whatever he pleases.’
This talk continues into the next posting. Public discourse Shabbos Parshas Emor 1974