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From the author’s trip to Israel.

I have just returned from an awe-inspiring and emotional three-day trip to Eretz Yisrael, accompanied by the well-known Torah askan Mr. Binyamin Pruzansky. I was sent to encourage, inspire, uplift and hearten the soldiers, including some who have been very seriously injured, and their families. We visited a few of the hospitals and treatment centers and, in truth, it was the soldiers and their families who inspired and strengthened us.

The incredible wellspring of emunah and bitachon the soldiers displayed is enviable, and a desirable virtue for all to strive to achieve. The Torah teaches (Chabakuk 2:4), “The righteous person shall live through his faith.” No matter his pain or injury – and some of them have a very long road ahead to healing – each soldier was overflowing with emunah and suffused with simcha. They were gratified that they were able to help protect Klal Yisrael, to participate selflessly and with mesiras nefesh, without a care for themselves, personally sacrificing themselves for the benefit of Klal Yisrael’s existence.


On the first day we met a patient with very serious injuries that will alter his life at least for the time being. He sat in a wheelchair on the patio, with one foot extended, as we engaged in a warm conversation and offered words of Torah and chizuk. We had brought with us a young man, R’ Michoel, who sings and plays the guitar, and asked the soldier what music he would like to hear. The chayal was obviously not religious. Neither he nor the two visiting family members seemed to have much affiliation with Yiddishkeit. We were certain that he would choose either a secular song or one that had little Jewish orientation.

We were stunned when he requested Koh Echsof. The guitarist – thinking that it was perhaps a modern song he didn’t know – asked in amazement, “Koh Echsof, the famous Stoliner niggun?” and the chayal nodded in affirmation. The guitarist began to play, and the soldier, his brother, and his father began to sing Koh Echsof with sincere intensity and devotion. They knew every word of the four-paragraph zemer perfectly and sang the song twice. Those who could stood up together with their arms around each other. Voices broke as they sang the notably poignant words, “V’yiheyu rachamecha misgolelim al am kodshecha – May Your mercy overflow on Your holy nation,” and by the time we finished, there was not a dry eye in the room.

I thought to myself at that moment: Do we realize what is doing within the neshama of another Yid? Do we realize their level of spirituality? Do we have any understanding why an unaffiliated soldier and his family would choose Koh Echsof from among all of today’s popular songs?

The next chayal we visited was extremely moved that we had come. He seemed to be a very refined and sensitive young man. One of the army staff members in the hallway told me that he was one of the strongest fighters they had. As we sat with him, he recounted the traumatic events that led to his hospitalization. He had been caught under heavy fire in the battlefield, and he saw the bullets coming directly toward his head. He doesn’t know what happened, but miraculously – although he was badly wounded – his head remained uninjured. He attributed his salvation to the fact that his father is a daati, and he therefore continued to put on his tefillin daily.

“Because I had donned my tefillin shel rosh that morning,” said the soldier, “my head was protected.” Shlomo HaMelech tells us (Koheles 8:5), Shomer mitzvah lo yeida davar ra – He who obeys the commandment will know no evil.” Someone who observes the mitzvos merits an extra level of protection.

A ruach teshuva is palpable in the air wherever you go in Eretz Yisrael. People are seeking direction, they are thirsting for chizuk, for inspiration, for Torah. I saw an elderly patient lying on a bed in the hallway and wished him a refuah shleimah. Two chayalim sitting nearby stood up and came to thank me with the utmost respect, introducing themselves as relatives of the man.

Bikur cholim is a very powerful medium, and its benefits are outlined in the Talmud (Nedarim 39a). One who visits the ill person takes from him 1/60 of his suffering and causes that he should live. In contrast, says the Talmud, one who does not visit the ill, it is as though he is spilling blood. The Talmud expounds upon this that by not visiting he is not moved to pray for him. Since he might have saved the person with prayers had he visited, his failure to visit is tantamount to causing his death.

We visited a young soldier who had attended yeshiva; he sustained serious injuries that will impact his life. When we entered the room, he was sitting soberly with a guitar leaning against the wall, his mother seated next to him. He played at our request, strumming niggunim that expressed great emunah and bitachon. As the sounds of music floated out of the room, a young group of high school boys, also visiting, joined us and began dancing around the chayal. The soldier’s spirits were raised, and his face lit up. For a few minutes the power of niggun had transported him to a different place.

Amichai Shindler from Kibbutz Keren Shlomo is another courageous soldier we visited. On that Sunday morning, October 7, he heard the rockets and then the sirens. He realized there was great danger in the area. When he heard people speaking Arabic in his own house, he quickly ran with his wife and six children to the safe room, where he held on tightly to the door for hours, fending off the terrorists. The assassins eventually threw an explosive at the door, and the blast seriously injured Amichai, blowing off one of his forearms and badly breaking his other arm. Unfortunately, it also crushed part of his face and his jaw. The IDF soldiers reached the kibbutz approximately three and a half hours later and found him bleeding profusely, but he miraculously survived. We spoke for a while, and as we were leaving his chavrusa arrived to learn with him. I thought to myself, “Torah magna umatzla – the Torah shields and protects.” Indeed, he was saved and he now has a smile on his face.

We were zoche to see many soldiers on our visit who were recuperating, baruch Hashem. We said many Mi Sheberachs that day. The day was over, and we had just begun our drive back to the hotel when we received a call from Hadassah Hospital in Har HaTzofim with a specific personal request from a soldier for a visit. We turned around and drove to Har HaTzofim to spend some time with the young soldier, his wife and a two-year-old toddler. The chayal then launched into a beautiful shiur in emunah, which was followed by a spirited discussion of the differences between a milchemes reshus and a milchemes mitzvah. I saw that he was not merely well-learned but deeply immersed in Torah studies. I turned to his wife and asked, “Is he really a soldier in the IDF or is he an avrech in the kollel?” Everyone began to laugh.

My great rebbi, HaGaon R’ Simcha Wasserman, zt”l, noted that if a spark is ignited in a room filled with pure oxygen, it will go up in flames. Similarly, in today’s times, if one will make the slightest move to be mekarev another Yid, to bring him closer to Yiddishkeit, he will be successful. A very strong spirit of teshuva is present in the world today; it is an auspicious time of hisorrerus, of awakening and inspiration.

As we parted that evening, I asked the guitarist, R’ Michoel, if he could please join us the next day. He took me aside and, with a bowed head, he said, “Please forgive me, Rebbi, but I cannot possibly come tomorrow. It’s too much for me. I am too overwhelmed after meeting these soldiers and hearing their stories. I just can’t do it.”

I highlighted the amazing impact he had on all the patients we had visited and told him that I was not sure there was anyone else who could do what he had done. But R’ Michoel insisted that he just could not do it.

“I’ll call you later,” I said. R’ Michoel thanked me for my kind words and left.

When I called later in the evening, begging him to please accompany us the next day, R’ Michoel said, “After contemplating what we did today, I knew it was not right for me to refuse you when you call. I’ll be there,” he promised.



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Sure enough, the next morning, Michoel was there bright and early.

Many of the parents and family members of the chayalim shared with us their particular challenges. We must remember that it’s not only the chayalim who need our support; it’s their parents, their wives, their husbands, and their children who are also experiencing great need and challenges.

All of Klal Yisrael has united with the realization of the importance of our partnership in lending a hand in any and every way that we can. Our Tehillim, our Torah study, our tzedakah, our mitzvos, our tzitzis, our hafroshas challah, the supplies that we send to the soldiers or their families – everything that we can do, creates zechuyos that will definitely make a difference. Many of the chayalim we spoke to emphasized that they are counting on our limud Torah, our mitzvos and good deeds to ensure their successful in battle.

We read in Hoshea (2:1), “The number of Bnei Yisrael will be as the sand of the sea, that cannot be measured and cannot be counted.” The commentaries note that Bnei Yisrael are also compared to the stars in the heavens. What is the difference between the two comparisons?

In the heavens, each star is a world of its own, and these stars must be separated from each other. If one star bumps into the other star, worlds could chas v’shalom be destroyed.

On the other hand, the sand of the sea cannot continue to exist unless all the grains are attached. Otherwise, when the ocean washes ashore it could completely wipe out each grain of sand. Because all the sand comes together in one mass, they are able to withstand the mighty waves of the sea.

So, too, the existence of Klal Yisrael is dependent on us all banding together in unity, as one cohesive nation. Then with Hashem’s help we can stand up to any power in this world.

With a tearful tefillah to Hashem that all the members of the IDF are successful in all of their missions, that they all return home safe and sound, that all the wounded who are currently recuperating should have a refuah shleimah b’meheira and regain their former strength. With siyata d’Shmaya may we hear of the immediate release of all the hostages and their return home safe and sound b’karov. May we see the fulfillment of the verse in Yeshaya (35:10), “Then the redeemed of Hashem will return and come to Tzion with glad song, an eternal gladness upon their head. They will attain joy and gladness; sadness and sighing will flee.”

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Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, a prominent rav and Torah personality, is a daily radio commentator who has authored over a dozen books, and a renowned speaker recognized for his exceptional ability to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide.