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November 28, 2015 / 16 Kislev, 5776
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The Collective Heart Of Am Yisrael

Different factions of Jewish observance.

Different factions of Jewish observance.

Those of us privileged to live in Israel are experiencing extraordinary achdus –unity.

I’d like to share with you what it’s like to be here at this time.

The News What’s happening to our fellow Jews, both soldiers and civilians, is of constant concern to us. Is everyone safe? Did anything, chas v’shalom, happen to anyone? I listen to a religious station, Radio Kol Chai, and the news reports are clearly different from other news outlets.

When told of a soldier who has fallen, we are given his name, rank, age, place of residence, and where and when his funeral will be.

When two “lone soldiers” – which means they had no family here – were killed, newscasters urged the public to come to the funerals. Tens of thousands of people of all types and from all sectors came to show appreciation and love to young men they had never met.

When the newscaster reports that in a specific rocket attack no one was killed or injured, he says: “B’chasdei Hashem [by Hashem’s kindness] no one was hurt.” When military and police correspondents are interviewed, they also often speak of miracles and Divine providence.

At the end of the hourly news broadcast, a chapter of Tehillim is said for the sake of the army’s success, the wellbeing of the soldiers, and the complete healing of the wounded.

The Home Front Jews of all kinds and all ages are doing what they can to help soldiers and civilians in danger.

Elef La’Mateh, headed by Meah Shearim resident Rebbetzin Yocheved Grossman, matches up names of thousands of soldiers with men who want to pray and dedicate their learning to their specific soldier’s wellbeing. The organization is also encouraging secular Jews throughout the country to do a mitzvah, such as lighting Shabbos candles or using an electric shaver instead of a razor, for the welfare of soldiers and civilians.

Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, Yad Eliezer, and other organizations send copious amounts of food daily to the soldiers and to families in the south who are confined much of the time to shelters.

Men, women, and children have been taking on more mitzvahs and good deeds, from improved tznius to refined speech, for the sake of the soldiers.

There are daily radio programs for children – to keep them occupied and entertained, to talk about and listen to their anxieties and fears, and to offer comfort, suggestions, and solutions. There are also programs to teach parents and teachers how to deal with the children’s concerns.

There’s a hotline adults can call to privately discuss their own fears and anxieties.

Children and teens are sending soldiers letters of thanks, love, and blessing.

There are prayer gatherings in shuls, yeshivas, and study halls throughout the country. Rabbis are telling their congregants, talmidim, and followers that just as there is fire at the front lines, so must there be fire in our prayers, Torah learning, good resolutions, and good deeds. Prayers and learning in yeshivas and kollelim have taken on an added fervor and intensity, with many of the men and boys forgoing breaks for meals, making do instead with a quick sandwich. Many are learning throughout the night.

It is said that tzitzis give protection, and so individuals and organizations have been sending them to soldiers. Cartons with thousands of dark green or khaki talliyos ketanim were brought to the Mir Yeshiva, along with the special tzitzis strings that have to be inserted and strung in a special way according to halacha. Hundreds of yeshiva boys sit and string and tie the tzitzis for the soldiers. Soldiers have been requesting what some call their “spiritual flak jacket.”

About the Author: Naomi Brudner, M.A., lives in Yerushalayim where she writes, counsels and practices Guided Imagery for health, including for stroke patients.

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