“The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.”
Those words were not uttered by a pacifist, but by a legendary World War II general, a man who commanded 1.3 million men, the largest body of American soldiers ever to serve under a US field commander. They are the words of General Omar Bradley.
Bradley’s warning echoes through time and reverberates throughout this month’s cover story, where we interview a grandson of Harry Truman – who authorized the dropping of the atom bomb — and the grandson of a Jewish air force lieutenant who flew on both atom bomb missions. The larger purpose here is not to question Truman’s decision, which was made under unique, arguably once-in-history circumstances. Rather it is to give context to current events that haunt us today.
As rogue states with unstable leaders guided by fanatical ideologies brandish their nuclear arsenal or are very close to coming into possession of them, r’l; as terrorist groups vie to get – or get more — weapons of mass destruction; as terrorist attacks strike closer to home, we feel increasingly concerned and helpless. Even if we turn back a threat from one quarter there always seems to be another madman waiting in the wings.
The world appears to be edging closer to the very last navuah in Tanach: “Hinei anochi sholeach lachem… Behold, I will send you Eliyahu HaNavi before the coming of the great and fearsome day of Hashem… lest I come and smite the Earth with utter destruction.” (Malachi 3:23-24)
Can we do anything about it? The last words of Tanach indicate that we can: “And he [Eliyahu] shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler suggests that the deeper meaning here is that there will be a gilui Eliyahu – a “revelation of Eliyahu” – that will precede the “great and fearsome day of Hashem.” Gilui Eliyahu refers to a deeper and more profound level of Torah knowledge. The proliferation of Torah will counter the proliferation of WMDs.
How apropos, then, that we go to print with this story just before Shavous, the day commemorating the giving of the Torah, emphasizing generations returning to Torah. Sadly, far too many Jews do not see the connection between proliferation of Torah and the proliferation of peace. If only we had the opportunity to tell them that it is not just a Jewish perspective, but also the perspective of men who knew the meaning and horrors of war, men like General Omar Bradley, who said at the same speech quoted above, “We have too many men of science, too few men of G-d.”
In the post-atomic world, the urgency for every Jew to discover and fulfill his portion of Torah is more pressing than ever.
Yaakov Astor, Editor-in-Chief