On Sunday, Meir Dagan took leave of his post as head of the Mossad. His words to the Cabinet were poignant and touching; they deserve fuller exposure. They fill us not only with gratitude, but with concern. Where will the State find such devotion in a new generation in which altruism is hardly one of its received values, at least outside the observant community?
His final words remind us of the Yom Hadin, and challenge us to introspect as to whether we will be able to say the same.
I hereby finish over 43 years of service to the state. I have had the honor and the privilege of leading the Mossad for the past eight years. With your permission, instead of discussing myself, I would like to say a few words about those who serve in the Mossad.
They are an excellent and unique group of both women and men, who act with originality and daring, who are imbued with a sense of mission, and who work unselfishly night and day. Usually, they do not have backing and support as a group, nor do they have tank or air assistance, and, in most cases, there is no possibility of rescue. They operate with the sole protection of their sharp wits, their cover story and their courage. They cannot even tell their loved ones about what they are doing, and seclusion is their constant companion. What motivates them is the need to protect the Jewish People and the State of Israel.
I was appointed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. I worked under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and I received from them, me and my people, their encouragement, support and backing. I would like, Mr. Prime Minister, to thank you for your support and backing, and I would like to wish you and to the Government of the State of Israel the wisdom to guide the country through stormy seas, and that you will bring Israel to the safe harbors of peace and security, and will see to the needs of its citizens. Work to strengthen the ties between the Jewish Diaspora and the State of Israel so that we may uphold the verse in Ezekiel (11:17) ‘I will even gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the Land of Israel.’
I did the best I could. Thank you very much.
In his response, Prime Minister Netanyahu reflected upon a moment of clarity in Dagan’s office:
I cannot tell about all of your actions but I can tell ministers about a conversation we had in the Mossad offices, approximately one year ago. I sat in your office and I saw on the wall the picture of an elderly religious Jew, on his knees before Nazi thugs. This picture caught my eye and I asked you about it. You said that that was your grandfather. I asked you what happened to him. You told me: They murdered him. Then I said, Meir, I understand you; now I understand you. I understand your deep commitment to ensure that nobody could ever again be able to implement the threat of annihilating the Jewish People. This is both a personal and national order and you acted in accordance with it.
The Meshech Chochmah (Devarim 30:2) speaks of how the Torah can treat the return of Klal Yisrael to Hashem as a certainty, a given. “Ahavas Yisrael is etched into its heart. This causes it to listens to what is engraved there from Har Sinai; it thus remembers its original thoughts, and returns to Hashem its G-d.”
May everyone find that pure font of Ahavas Yisrael within, and use it to reconnect with their Creator.
Hat tip to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for sending the two statements.