While the Missiles Fly
What does a Jew in Israel think as the missiles shot by terrorists in Lebanon keep coming closer to the center of the country?
First of all there is profound sympathy for the families whose loved ones have already been victims of these barbaric attacks upon innocent civilians.There is sincere empathy with those recovering from wounds suffered in those bombings and for all the people whose normal routine has been radically disturbed because of the need to seek shelter.
But as murderous missiles fly in the direction of one Israeli community after another there are other life-saving missiles flying in the direction of Heaven.These are the prayers which are being said in synagogues and yeshivot throughout Israel and the world.Prayers for the success of our brothers in their heroic efforts to defeat the enemies pledged to the destruction of the Jewish State.Prayers for the quick and complete recovery of all the wounded.Prayers for the speedy return home of our kidnapped soldiers.
This is the truly Jewish way of responding to danger.When war comes to your land, says the Torah, you must cry out to G-d so that you will be remembered by Him and be saved from your enemies. (Bamidbar 9:9)
The purpose of crying out to G-d in prayer when danger faces us, explains Rambam, is to demonstrate our belief that everything that happens is determined by G-d and not the result of circumstances or coincidences.Attributing our perils to natural causes alone, he adds, is an exercise in masochism for ignoring the early warning from Heaven to improve our ways and invites further tragedy.
All of us who live in the holy land of Eretz Yisrael and who have lived through several wars have been privileged to see the merciful Hand of G-d save us from our enemies time and again.We feel a powerful debt of gratitude to the soldiers risking and sometimes giving their lives to defend our homes and families.But we are fully aware that their success will also be determined by what is done on the home front.The courage of people resisting the natural desire to flee from their communities is certainly to be admired.Even more important, however, is our response of sending missiles Heavenward in the form of teshuva resolutions to become better Jews and in our prayers and increased Torah study.
On this last note, we must recall the words of the Talmud commenting on the passage (Tehillim 122:2) “Our feet stood in the gates of Jerusalem.”King David, the author of the statement who was an expert on warfare thus explained his military success:
“What made it possible for our feet to stand victorious in war — the Torah, which was studied in Jerusalem!”
As I look upon my hundreds of students in their Beit Midrash, their “gates of Jerusalem,” studying without interruption as the missiles fly all over the country, I am comforted.For it is the missiles of Torah study along with prayer and a resolution to beome better Jews which they send heavenward, together with the heroic military efforts of the Israel Defense Forces that will surely bring a satisfactory end to this hour of crisis.
We conclude with the traditional prayer said at such times.
“Our brothers, the entire family of Israel, who are delivered into distress and captivity, whether they are on sea or dry land – may G-d have mercy on them and remove them from stress to relief, from darkness to light, from subjugation to redemption now, speedily and soon.”
Rabbi Mendel Weinbach, who resides in Jerusalem with his family, is a founder and Dean of Ohr Somayach Institutions. He is the author of the critically acclaimed “Love of the Land,” book on Israel and Judaism (Targum/Feldheim) and other works. He is a world-renowned speaker and educator.