I saw in a sefer that the Am Yisroel during the time of the Beis Hamikdash were self-confident warriors. Why did the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash change the Jew to his present humble and weak condition?
The question is, when did the Jew stop being a fierce warrior and why?
The answer is the Jew never was a warrior per se, because of itself. The nations loved war – to them it’s an ideal. But the Jew on the other hand hates war – and they always did. They went to war only when it was necessary for self-preservation or to defend the Torah.
But after the Romans finally conquered our nation in the war of Beitar, it was all over. It was such a complete destruction that it didn’t make sense anymore to fight against Rome. And therefore, for self-preservation it became necessary to live in peace with Rome.
And since then, that has been the case. Jews survive by being humble. And if you think that you can put up a good show by being a fierce warrior – let’s say you’re walking on Benson Avenue and you want to be a fierce warrior so you’d better reconsider and be a fierce warrior only when you’re sitting home and nobody’s home. But when you go among tough goyim it’s best to be humble and that’s the way you’ll probably survive.
Our nation has learned from centuries of experience that it doesn’t pay to show bravery for nothing. Bravery was useful only when there was some hope of accomplishing something with it – either the self-preservation of the nation or defending the Torah.
TAPE # 108 (January 1976)