By: Aharon Loschak
Rockets are raining down on Israeli cities and towns, and in response, Jewish communities around the world are uniting, doing whatever they can to show support for Israel and its citizens, both materially and spiritually, to strengthen their brethren in peril in the Holy Land.
The Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—repeatedly taught that prayer and increased Torah study and mitzvah observance are critical to the safety of our brothers and sisters in Israel. At other times when Israel and her people were under attack, such as the tense days leading up to the 1967 Six-Day War, the Rebbe addressed thousands of children at the Lag BaOmer parade held in Brooklyn, N.Y., his words of encouragement broadcast to the entire Jewish people:
“Your brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, the Land of Israel, are currently in a situation where G d is protecting them and sending them His blessings, success and salvation in an added measure so that they may emerge—and they will emerge—from their current situation successfully,” the Rebbe assured. “Every time you study … and [perform] another Mitzvah … it brings G d’s increased blessing for salvation and success.”
To that end, Jewish men, women and children will gather in synagogues around the world for the annual reading of the Ten Commandments on the first day of the holiday of Shavuot—which is observed this year from sunset on Sunday, May 16, until nightfall on Tuesday, May 18—just as they stood as one people 3,333 years ago at Mount Sinai.
Gatherings for Prayer and Mitzvahs
“As anyone in the Jewish family, we are shaken by what’s going on in Israel,” said Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov, who together with his wife, Chanie, co-directs Chabad of Northwest Indiana. “So, we organized a Prayer and Solidarity this evening (Wednesday) in the Chabad backyard. We will say prayers and pledge to do more mitzvot for Israel’s safety.”
Other such communal gatherings for prayer are taking place across the United States. At Chabad of Great Neck, N,Y., Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky has invited all community members to the Chabad center for a Rosh Chodesh evening gathering to pray together “for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisroel and for the Israel Defense Forces.” In addition, also harkening to the Rebbe’s call in such times of distress, they plan to increase in other key planks of Jewish practice, namely Torah study, prayer and charity
To aide people in their efforts to increase their mitzvah observance for Israel, Rabbi Yosef Wilhelm of the Chabad Young Professionals of the Upper East Side in Manhattan sent out an email to the community, offering anyone the chance to get in touch and put on tefillin, purchase a mezuzah, or assistance with any other mitzvah.
Moved by the heart-rending images of civilians under attack in the Holy Land, the Chabad Young Professionals community of the UES has adopted the village of Mazkeret Batya, which sits 40 kilometers northeast of Gaza and where schools were all shut in recent days, as a sister city community. They have already sent Shavuot gifts to 1,000 children living there and hope to find more ways to connect and uplift the village’s beleaguered population.
Many have taken to the streets to increase their mitzvah efforts. Rabbi Levi Slonim, who directs the Chabad at Binghamton University told Chabad.org that seeing the images being broadcast from Israel has been difficult. “I couldn’t help but feel a sense of hurt and frustration.”
The Rebbe famously launched his landmark tefillin campaign encouraging Jews of all backgrounds to do this important mitzvah before the Six-Day War, stressing the words “Then all the peoples of the earth will see that the name of the Lord is called upon you,” which the Talmud explains refers to tefillin.
“We touched base with students here and immediately coordinated a campus-wide campaign to reach out to every single Jewish student and help them wrap tefillin and say a prayer,” said Slonim. So far, 30 students have participated in the tefillin push.
“The Jewish people are like one body,” Slonim explained, recalling the Rebbe’s teaching, “so every mitzvah we do anywhere in the world strengthens and impacts Jews wherever they may be.” (Chabad.org)