Throughout the second half of the 20th century there were two rivaling superpowers in the world: the USA and the USSR. Whereas the Communists endeavored to promote an ideology of atheism and to stifle human rights and freedom, the Americans stood at the forefront of preventing their expansion.
The Rebbe declared on numerous occasions that the United States of America is a “Kingdom of Kindness” with a divine mission to promote a global awareness in emunas Hashem, as stated on every piece of U.S. currency: “In G-d We Trust.”
In an era of technological advancement, discovery and innovation, one of the most valuable commodities is oil to supply energy. Without it, society as we know it cannot operate. For over half a century, the United States has imported oil from foreign countries to meet the demand of energy that resulted from the post WWII economic boom.
This dependence on other nations for such a vital resource has, on numerous occasions, compromised America’s ability to assert its power to ensure that justice, morality, goodness and kindness prevail throughout the world.
On Yom Kippur 5734 (1973) Egypt and Syria declared war on Eretz Yisrael with a devastating surprise attack. During the first week of the war the situation was so desperate that many were certain that it would end in assured catastrophe. On the second day of Sukkos, U.S. President Richard Nixon authorized Operation Nickel Grass, a strategic airlift to deliver weapons and supplies to Eretz Yisrael.
In retaliation for the overwhelming U.S. support to Eretz Yisrael during the war, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)—an international group of twelve oil rich countries (which included seven Arab countries)— agreed to an oil embargo on the United States. The price of oil greatly increased, causing a major oil shortage in the U.S., which eventually triggered a major stock market crash.
To end the embargo, America pressured the Israelis to make devastating concessions to their mortal enemies, compromising the security of millions of Yidden to this day. This is one example of how America’s great diplomatic weakness was exposed due to its dependence on foreign powers for energy.
In a sicha during the historic farbrengen of Yud-Aleph Nissan 5741, the Rebbe emphasized the urgency of this matter and advocated for an immediate remedy.1 The following is a summary of the various points of the sicha.2
Recently, the Soviet Union’s policy of expansionism is causing a deterioration in relations between many countries and disrupting the world order. At the same time, Hashem bestowed the United States with the mission and the power to counter this evil. This will not only benefit other countries, it will also result in increased justice for the people of the USSR itself. The freedom to practice their religion, and especially so that the Yidden have the ability to serve Hashem in spiritual and physical tranquility. Isolationism is an inappropriate policy for this powerful and consequential nation.
To succeed, America must be free of economic pressure from immoral dictatorships. As long as we rely on them for oil, our strength and influence is compromised. Recent events have illustrated that acquiescing to the demands of these rogue dictators and regimes has caused great harm to Eretz Yisrael and in turn harmed the physical and material wellbeing of the United States as well.
Freedom from this pressure will be accomplished only if this country utilizes the full potential of its resources. It is inconceivable that in this modern era, when oil is such a critical resource, the nation charged with the mission of bringing true peace, justice and morality to the world should depend on and be manipulated by lowly nations.
In truth, beneath American soil there is an abundance of natural resources of energy. If we would only develop our abilities to mine our own oil and coal, we would have long been freed from this irrational reliance on other countries, whose capabilities for exporting oil throughout the world were, ironically, developed by Americans! There is such an abundance of these resources that we can even export energy to others! Failure to do so is blatant ungratefulness to Hashem for the gifts he has bestowed upon us.
This is not simply in order to wield U.S. strength, or increase U.S. power. Hashem placed these resources in this nation’s soil, so that, ultimately, it will be able to spread Torah’s justice throughout the world, primarily the observance of the sheva mitzvos b’nei Noach.
Defeating the arguments of those resisting the development of these domestic resources (for personal gain, etc.3 ), or effectively ignoring these elements, will take a very long time. Even when this roadblock is finally cleared, it will take a significant amount of time to develop these resources to the point of full energy independence.
There is, however, a clear solution to America’s energy crisis: Solar Energy.4 To harness the light and heat of the sun as a source of generating energy. Solar technology requires far less time to develop than other energy sources and the southern region of this country is saturated in sun-light. The solar energy that can potentially be generated in those regions can provide ample energy for the rest of the country and even a surplus for export!
The development of this vital resource has already started, albeit on a very small scale5 and it should be greatly intensified. Doing so, based on belief in Hashem and in observance of the command to fully utilize the resources He provides, will make us fully energy independent in a very short while.
What can be accomplished by discussing this topic during a farbrengen, in a shul and beis hamedrash, in the presence of Yidden that have no direct impact on governmental policies?
As U.S. citizens we have an obligation to be concerned for the welfare of this country. More importantly, this issue concerns the Yidden behind the Iron Curtain, that they should be able to learn Torah and observe mitzvos under better conditions than they were able to until now.
The Rambam rules that even a single statement based on Torah, has the power to tip the scales for salvation, and past experiences have shown that issues discussed here have reached Washington.
When hostile nations can no longer use oil to manipulate U.S. policy, America’s influence will increase, without having to use force. The mere knowledge of our energy independence will nullify foreign pressure. Hashem has blessed this Nation of Kindness with plentiful sources of energy to accomplish a divine mission—to promote true goodness throughout the world.
It is interesting to note, that during the year of 5741, construction of the very first large scale solar power plant, Solar One, was completed in the Mojave Desert, California, USA.
1 While the U.S. and USSR are not specifically named throughout the sicha, the Rebbe was clearly addressing the recent turmoil caused by Soviet aggression and the ability of the U.S. to intervene.
2 See the full sicha in Sichos Kodesh, 5741 vol. 3 page 120 – 126.
3 The campaign to prevent the development of domestic energy resources is significantly funded by the oil monies of these foreign countries!
4 A week before this farbrengen, on 4 Nissan, Yidden around the world observed birkas hachama (see “Moments” column in this magazine). According to nusach Chabad, Kapitel 19 in Tehillim is recited, and it includes the words
“ואין נסתר מחמתו – Nothing is hidden from its heat.” This provides a clear lesson for the current discussion.
5 See the end of this article.