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Thank You for Your Protection

Thank You for Your Protection

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This morning as the sun rose over Jerusalem, my wife Leah gave birth to a beautiful baby girl at the Hadassah Medical center. A few hours later I drove to the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Malachi where my wife's parents live.

After packing several personal items that my wife will need for her hospital stay, I set out to drive back to Jerusalem. As I passed the central bus station in Kiryat Malachi, I saw an Israeli soldier waiting to get a ride. I rolled down the window and asked him where he needed to go. He said his base is near Jericho, but if I can take him to Jerusalem that would be great help.

I was in a particularly upbeat mood today--after all, we were blessed with our fourth child and third daughter--but the reality around me in the holy land is down and worrisome. Israel is being attacked by its neighbors and we are fighting a war to defend ourselves.

As fighter jets from the nearby air force base roared overhead, we cruised down the highway, and I get acquainted with Shachaf Raviv of Beer Sheva. His story gives a face to and direct association with the soldiers fighting for our land and people today.

Shachaf, 21 years old, is a medic in the IDF. He tells me that yesterday his senior officer sent him home for one night to spend with his family because today he and his unit will be leaving their base near Jericho and heading up north to the battlefield on the border of Lebanon to be part of a team of doctors and medics who will be giving critical first aid to the wounded soldiers and civilians.

His officer said he will not have any weekend breaks for a while and therefore sent him to bid farewell to his family.

Shachaf told me of the feeling in his house last night, "no one slept, they surrounded me with love and care for hours. My father immigrated to Israel from Portugal in the late sixties and fought in the Yom Kippur War and my mother came from Tunisia to the promised land around the same time. They spoke of their dreams for themselves and our future.

"I am the third of four children and currently the only son in the army. My parents named me Shachaf which means "seagull" in Hebrew but this morning when my mother said goodbye she held me for a long time and was crying, she kept calling me Rachamim--the Jewish name they gave me at my Brit ceremony, which in Hebrew means ‘mercy’ and ‘compassion.’ She cried and said ‘Rachamim today you will need G‑d’s compassion and protection--We all need G‑d’s rachamim.’”

As we continued to drive I encouraged Shachaf and spoke to him about the great role he has in protecting the land of Israel and the Jewish people in Israel and ultimately Jews all over the world.

At 12:00 PM I turned on the radio to the headline news. "Eight troops from Golani's 51st Battalion," the announcer said, "lost their lives on Wednesday during heavy fighting with Hezbollah terrorists in the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbail. Another officer was killed in a clash at Maron a-Ras. Over twenty soldiers are wounded..."

Shachaf asked me to turn the radio off and give him spiritual inspiration instead before he heads to the front lines.

I shared with him thoughts that I heard and learned from my Rebbe and teacher, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. During past conflicts in the Land of Israel, and during times of danger for the Jewish people, the Rebbe made practical suggestions of good deeds, mitzvot, that would elicit G‑d's blessings and protection. I quoted him from the Torah that speaks of G‑d protecting the land and we discussed the need for us to understand the deeper truths as to why we have our permanent homeland specifically in Israel, as promised to us in the Torah.

Shachaf was very grateful to hear how Jews and non Jews all over the world are praying for them and thinking of them every day now and wishing for their success and G‑d’s protection.

When we came to Jerusalem I opened my briefcase. I had a new Mezuzuah in a plastic case and I gave it to Shachaf. I told him, “I am giving this to you for protection, but you must return it to me when you come back and I will go to Beer Sheva and put it up in your bedroom.”

Shachaf liked the idea. I said, “It says in the Torah ‘Emissaries of a good deeds are not harmed.’ You have a Mezuza--it will protect you.” Shachaf put the mezuza in his front left pocket and promised me he would leave it there until he comes back, he will also tell the story of our meeting to his fellow medic soldiers and tell them they have added protection.

I then pulled out an envelope with $500 that a member of my community gave me yesterday to give to distressed Jews in the north, and asked Shachaf to be my personal emissary to distribute these funds to wounded soldiers and civilians.

At first he refused to take it, but after we exchanged e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers he agreed and promised to report to me exactly how he gave the funds to people who really need it.

We only met an hour before, but we suddenly were deeply connected to each other. We embraced, the Mezuzah protruding from his pocket and his rifle strapped across his chest. I looked at him with tears in my eyes and said, “Rachamim, thank you for your protection”; and he looked me back in the eye while placing his hand over the mezuzah I gave him, and said “Avraham, thank you for your protection.”

I am writing this article on my laptop while sitting in the room at Hadassah Hospital while my wife rests. I look at the beautiful face of our little newborn daughter and thank G‑d for His blessings and pray for His protection for my child and all the rest of His children.

As the Jewish world will pray this Shabbat for the protection of the soldiers of Israel, I will have in mind Rachamim Raviv. Please think of him and thousands of more like him who need G‑d’s rachamim, mercy, and full protection.

Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz works at Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn, NY.
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Lynn Reed Augusta, GA September 5, 2006

Roi Rachamin Does anyone know how he is doing? I too was very moved but now wanting to know about his safety and where he is as he moved so many of us, as did all the soldiers.
Is there anyway to find him? Reply

Julie Fajgelzon Montreal, Canada via yichabad.com August 25, 2006

Very heartwarming tale. Also frightening when you think of all the endless battles around and about this one little country that the Jews want to make their own. Reply

Alexander Nathan Reading, UK via oxfordchabad.org August 11, 2006

Prayer and Support for IDF I am moved by the stories of these brave soldier's of ours and their determination. My heart and prayer goes out to the soldiers who are defending the Holy Lland against the enemies of Israel and the neighbours who are constantly attacking us. God's mercy and protection be with the soldiers (IDF) and us. We will continue to pray in the synagogue this shabbat and following days as always until peace comes and our enemies are defeated, made powerless and stopped from their deadly hatred and onslaught against us. May G-d's rachamim remember the IDF, the guardians of the Holy Land, protect them from all distress and anguish and send blessing and prosperity upon on all the work of their hands. May this be G-d's will and let us say, Amen. Reply

Mish Sutter Sarasota, USA via yichabad.com August 8, 2006

What a heartfelt story - I cried for the young soldier going to protect his country - so young & brave. I pray that G-d will protect him & others like him & keep him from harm's way.
I pray that one day there will be peace. Reply

Eliezer Punta del Este, Uruguay August 8, 2006

To Dovid Shlomo The source for a Mezuzah protecting a person who carries it is in Mishnayos Keilim 17:16 and Tosfos Yom Tov and Tosfos Anshei Shem there.
Also see Yerushalmi Peah 1:1 (quoted in Breishis Rabah end of chap. 35)
See Likutei Sichos Vol. 19 pages 121-128.
Obviously it is not the same level of protection as when the Mezuzah is properly affixed to the doorpost, but it is a source of protection, nonetheless.
Thanks for asking. Reply

Aileen Friedman Rockville, Maryland August 7, 2006

Soldier in Israel-thank you! I was very moved by your story. I can only hope and pray that my son is included and your good wishes as well as all the soldiers fighting right now.

My son was in golani 51 and he is now fighting with the miluim up north. I am so sad that I wasn't able to give him the send off that other soldiers can get from their families.

My son is a chayal boded and he doesn't have any family in Israel. When he got his call up notice on Friday morning July 21st, he packed
his bags for the last time from his apartment in Tel Aviv.

No one knows when this will be over! I so wish that I was there to be of service to him and the other "boys"!

Thank you for being there and giving the midot and kovod that all of these soldiers deserve. I wish them all a safe journey and hope they
all get to go home soon! Reply

Chanita Mevo Modi''im, The Moshav, Israel via yichabad.com August 6, 2006

beautiful Yes, Avraham's story was unbelievable, but even more so, I find the comments everyone left even more touching.
Everyone touched in a different way, straight to the heart, so many have cried, being moved in their very own heart-purifying way.
Thank you everyone for your support of Israel and may we all bind in togetherness, supporting each-other in every way.
Thank you Hashem for your kindness and Rachamim. Reply

Paul Wickberg August 5, 2006

IDF, Thank You. Reply

Anonymous culver, CA August 4, 2006

Rachamim Thank you this beautiful, heart warming story. Reply

Rikki Shutel Brooklyn, NY via yichabad.com August 4, 2006

very touching story and i am impressed in the dedication that a person can have for their country Reply

Denise Lein Toronto, Canada via yichabad.com August 3, 2006

RE: Thank You for your protection Your message was very moving. Everyone we meet, and everyone we encounter is predetermined by Hashem. How wonderful for you to have been given this opportunity. May your daughter grow up knowing that her Father did a wonderful thing for someone else, and we, the readers, are getting chizuk from him in turn.
Mazel Tov to you , your wife, and family. Reply

Rabbi S R Lewis London, UK via yichabad.com August 3, 2006

Thank you for your protection Thank you for your uplifting article. The Rebbe told us countless times that the protection of Eretz Yisroel and the Jewish People comes through increasing Torah and Mitzvos. The Rebbe emphasised especially mezuzah, tefillin, tzedokoh and children learning Torah. May these days be transformed into simchah with the coming of Moshiach, speedily now. Reply

Kevin Gilad Benyamin Smith August 2, 2006

A voice of sanity... If the editors will permit, with a link to a video clip, I wish to share a voice of reason I just listened to. It is a video clip of an Middle Eastern psychologist on a TV show refuting much of an islamist's statements by emphasizing in a highly impassioned manner what a debt the world owes to Israel...and how the Islam Israel fights has no place in a civilized world. It is refreshing, emotional and compelling.

The link is
http://switch5.castup.net/frames/20041020_MemriTV_Popup/video_480x360.asp?ai=214&ar=1050wmv&ak=null Reply

Meir Einecho via yichabad.com August 2, 2006

I'm sure you doned the TEFILIN on Rachamim, as the Rebbe says is so crucial Reply

Mushky August 2, 2006

Thanks for sharing this story. It is beautiful to hear personal stories of faith and it gives added meaning to my prayers. Reply

Anonymous Southfield, Michigan via yichabad.com August 2, 2006

Mazel Tov on the birth of your daughter. May you have lots of nachas from her!
This story really touched me, and it brought tears to my eyes to read about someone like Shachaf who is risking his life for the safety of Israel. my prayers are with all of our brave soldiers who are fighting for us and defending our land.
Thanks so much for this amazing article! Many thanks to all of our soldiers! We are constantly praying for you! Reply

Dani Landau Brooklyn, NY August 2, 2006

thanks for the article, its realy nice I really enjoyed that article. Tears came down from my eyes while reading it. Mazal tov on the new baby girl, you should have a lot of naches and continue to write more articles like this.
We all pray for the soldiers they should all come back safely. Reply

Dovid Shlomo August 2, 2006

A very heartwarming article. However, I was wondering what the source would be that a mezuzah carried in one's pocket povides protection to its wearer. Reply

Dovid via yichabad.com August 2, 2006

That is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. Reply

Zahava August 2, 2006

Thank you for your story. How can we offer words of thanks and encouragement to our soldiers from afar? Do you know of any sources that can recieve letters addressed to soldiers? Reply

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