Yossi Cohen, who last Monday was appointed head of the Mossad, Israel’s chief intelligence agency, gave a speech at his synagogue during the Sabbath acknowledging God’s role in establishing the State of Israel and the continuing need for divine help in modern times.
Cohen, who was raised in an Orthodox family in Jerusalem and now considers himself traditional, spoke during prayer services at the synagogue in Modi’in where he regularly attends prayers. The synagogue was full of worshipers who came to hear Cohen’s speech.
In the talk, Cohen recognized divine providence in Israel when he stated, as reported by Walla, “Without siyata de’shamaya (“heavenly aid” in Aramaic), the State of Israel would not have been established.”
He continued, “That was true then – and today too, we need siyata de’shamaya.”
Cohen’s speech also touched on the weekly Bible reading. He related that the reading, which recounts Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt as Pharoah’s second-in-command and his meeting with his brothers after many years, to his own experience in intelligence and strategy.
“We can see the importance in the strategy that the brothers took in their descent to Egypt,” Cohen said, using the parable to demonstrate the importance of good intelligence information. “The plan of action of the brothers was good, but what they didn’t take into account was the fact that the ruler of Egypt was none other than their brother Joseph, who was the second-in-command to the king of Egypt.”
Cohen jokingly referred to his 2011-2013 position as the deputy Mossad chief when he said, “I know what it is to be second-in-command – it’s better to be in charge.”
He concluded with a Biblical quote from Proverbs 11:14 which also serves as the slogan of the Mossad: “Where there is no wise direction, a people falls; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named Cohen, who is his national security advisor, as the next head of the Mossad earlier in the month. Cohen joined the Mossad 32 years ago, serving as head of the organization in Europe and head of operations.
Netanyahu said of the appointment, “Yossi…has a wealth of experience and achievements, as well as proven abilities in the various aspects of Mossad activity. He has leadership skills and a professional understanding, which are both necessary for one who is to lead the organization.”
Cohen will take over operations when current Mossad head Tamir Pardo leaves office at the end of January.