Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jewish spirituality - the secret weapon

Two soldiers made their way through the winding streets of Gaza City, carefully watching for booby traps. Their objective was to hunt down Hamas terrorists and locate caches of Kassam and Grad rockets and other arms.

As they deliberated whether to turn left or right at an intersection, a woman dressed from head to foot in black appeared from out of nowhere.

"Go this way," she said, pointing to the right. For some reason, the two soldiers listened to her.

After proceeding for a few seconds, the pair heard a large explosion behind them, in the direction they had almost taken. A rigged house blew up, destroying everything in the vicinity.

The two soldiers asked the woman dressed in black who she was.

"I am the Matriarch Rachel," she said, referring to the beloved wife of Jacob.

This story, whether true or not, is being circulated in religious circles - via Internet forums, SMS, e-mail and word of mouth - and is fast becoming an urban legend.

There is a tendency among the faithful to introduce metaphysical dimensions to the fighting in Gaza. Two-and-a-half weeks into Operation Cast Lead, religious faith has been integral to many soldiers' morale.

"We are being swamped with demands, from religious and secular, kibbutzniks and yeshiva students, Sephardim and Ashkenazim," for the names of soldiers to pray for, said Rabbanit Grossman, director of the Jewish Information Center in the capital's Mea She'arim neighborhood. The haredi organization has created a special "prayer hotline" for

The initiative, backed by the Bostoner rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Horovitz, and Rehovot Chief Rabbi Simcha Hakohen Kook, pairs a soldier involved in the Gaza fighting with a supplicant who prays for that soldier's health and welfare.

Only soldiers who are interested in the service - or whose family members or friends are interested - are being singled out for this special spiritual protection from Hamas terrorists.

Thousands, Grossman said, have contacted the Jewish Information Center, which has publicized the service via word-of-mouth and e-mail.

People from all walks of the religious community, from the religious-Zionist Bnei Akiva to the anti-Zionist Eda Hahareidit, have volunteered to pray for the soldiers, said Grossman.

"Our prayer-sayers include yeshiva students at the Mir, Kol Torah, Ponevezh and Hebron, residents of Mea She'arim, students at Beit Ya'acov seminaries as well as national-religious yeshiva high schools and ulpanot," said Grossman, who preferred not to give her first name because "good deeds are best left hidden."

"Soldiers from all walks of life and from a variety of backgrounds, both religious and secular, have asked that we pray for them," she said.

"Just the other day an entire battalion of soldiers, just about to enter Gaza, gave us all of their names. They passed the phone from one to the other, secular and religious - not one of them refused.[...]

1 comment :

  1. pray for the safety of Jewish people everywhere.

    This young man is in my prayers

    for refuah shelaima.


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