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Spiritual Security

Spiritual Security


It was May 1967. Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser had mobilized his troops and was threatening to "drive the Jews into the sea." The United Nations Peace-Keeping Force was dismissed and sheepishly left the region, prompting Abba Eban, Israel's eloquent Foreign Minister, to question the purpose of an umbrella if as soon as it started raining one closed the umbrella. Syria and Jordan, too, were preparing to join the war and Israel was once again threatened with annihilation by its neighbors.

I was in New York. Lag B'Omer that year fell on a Sunday, the 28th of May. Thousands of Jewish school children assembled on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn for the Lag B'Omer Parade. The highlight of the event was the address to be delivered by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe spoke passionately about the mortal threat to Israel and her people. But his talk was filled with a fiery faith and unambiguous optimism about the outcome. He assured us that Israel would prevail. Previously, he had instructed American Yeshiva students in Israel to remain there and not return home although their parents were extremely—and understandably—anxious. At the same time, he urged Jews the world over to do something practical to help Israel overcome this dire threat to her very existence.

What could we do? Besides material support for the war effort, and in addition to tanks and fighter jets, Israel also needed spiritual support. There is a spiritual defense system, too, said the Rebbe. It was then that he launched the International Tefillin Campaign. By as many Jews as possible observing this hallowed Mitzvah, it would contribute in a tangible way to Israel's security. He called upon Jews around the world to encourage their brethren to begin putting on Tefillin, even if they were not religious or hadn't done it since their Bar Mitzvah, or ever in their lives. People responded instantly and Jews, in unprecedented numbers, embraced the campaign.

Nine days later, the battles began. Israel made military history when it decimated the Egyptian Air Force and defeated the armed forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in lightning speed. Jerusalem was reunited under Jewish sovereignty and the Six Day War would be recorded for posterity as Israel's finest hour.

Without in any way minimizing the heroic efforts of our brave soldiers or the brilliant military strategies of our High Command, this amazing, miraculous victory surely pointed to a higher force. I firmly believe that the protective cover of G‑d was inspired by the many thousands of new mitzvahs performed by our people.

But why tefillin? Of all mitzvahs, why should the Rebbe have chosen tefillin specifically to ensure Israel's security?

The answer is in the Parshah (weekly Torah reading) of Ki Tavo: And all the nations of the world will see that the Name of G‑d is upon you and they will fear you (Deuteronomy 28:10). What does it mean that "the Name of G‑d is upon you"? The Talmud (Brachot 6a) quotes Rabbi Eliezer the Great who explained that the verse refers to the tefillin worn on the head, which bear the letter Shin symbolizing G‑d's name. These are visible to the eye and have the spiritual power to inspire fear in the hearts of our enemies. Indeed, one of the most powerful images of the Six Day War, still vivid in my mind, is of the Egyptian soldiers fleeing the Sinai in total disarray.

They may not be massing armies on our borders today. But no one can deny that Israel's security is still at very high risk. Thank G‑d, since its launch the Tefillin Campaign has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of our brothers. If tefillin are not yet part of your daily routine, may this story inspire you to begin observing it now. If you are already a regular, then share the mitzvah with a friend. Besides all the wonderful traditional reasons for wearing tefillin, contributing to the spiritual security of Israel adds one more important motivation. In its merit, may Israel be safe and secure until the ultimate era of peace on earth with the coming of our righteous Moshiach speedily in our day. Amen.

Rabbi Yossy Goldman was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1976 he was sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, as a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to serve the Jewish community of Johannesburg, South Africa. He is Senior Rabbi of the Sydenham Shul since 1986, president of the South African Rabbinical Association, and a frequent contributor to His book From Where I Stand: Life Messages from the Weekly Torah Reading was recently published by Ktav, and is available at Jewish bookshops or online.
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Sheldon Steinlauf Park Ridge, IL August 21, 2013

The Hand of Hashem There is no question that The Six Day War victory was because of Hashem's blessing. Never underestimate the power of prayer coupled with the observance of Mitzvahs. Reply

george jimenez, sr. Escondido, Calif-U.S.A- August 25, 2010

spirirual security-Israel- The six day war still baffles me to this day...G-d will always protect His people...He is and always will be our rod and our staff... Reply

virginia m. mitchell farmington hills , mi. September 19, 2008

Light a Candle "Through its association with Chanukah The Menorah has come to typify spiritual conquest, and that spiritual conquest is achieved neither by might or by power, but by God's spirit...the gentle agency of light illuminating the darkness." p. 605 The Pentateuch and Haftorahs edited by Dr J.H. Hertz,C. H. Reply

Likeable non Jew. Leeds England. , England. UK November 3, 2005

Driving Israeli's into the sea. I'm beginning to think the Arab leaders think Americas the Garden of Allah. Here's the game plan as I see it. 1st you announce you're going to destroy Israel and drive its population into the sea. The correct answer to this threat is to inform the maker, "Check your history books and be warned under no circumstances try it". But, having made this announcement you [the Arab leader] then sit back and wait for someone to fly into your country from the USA State Dept with his proposals for peace in the region and a cheque book. You then hold a peace conferance and banquet and later that evening a USA aid & peace cheque passes under the table. The Arab leader pockets it ands on the way home in the gold plated new Cadillac he's just bought, he admits to his wife. "Attack Israel - do you think I'm nuts - we wouldn't last 5 days". The cheques banked and peace is restored in the region. Everyone's happy and the price of oil drops 12 cents a barrel to recover the cheque monies. Reply

Rabbi Yossy Goldman johannesburg, south africa September 21, 2005

spiritual security Dear Thomas,
When our enemies attacked us G-d protected us miraculously. I do believe that tefillin and moshe dayan's brilliant strategies are a great combination. But G-d never removes our freedom of choice. Whether we build on His miracles or squander them is entirely our decision. Please G-d, Israel's leaders will choose wisely. Reply

Thomas Karp September 20, 2005

Yes and no: There are many things in this thread of yours which are true; the truest being when you said that Israel needs not just material support, but spiritual support, too.

So, yes, the wearing of tefillin does and can play a role in Israel prevailing.

It is a mitzvah decreed directly from Torah.

But would the wearing of tefillin be equal with, say, Moshe Dayan's brilliant plan of counterattack (and brilliant, it was; a 'gaon' he most definitely was), which, I do believe literally proved the divinity of both Torah and Ne'vim (David defeating Goliath is applicable here)?

Unfortunately, no.

Rabbi, the campaign to encourage Jews to wear tefillin has continued since '67.

If that was so 'key' to G-d granting Israel's gains from the '67 war, then since then why has Israel in turn given most of these gains back? Reply

Rabbi Yossy Goldman johannesburg, south africa September 20, 2005

Poem Thank you Eric for that beautiful poem. Reply

Eric S. Kingston via September 19, 2005

BIND Inspired by Yossi Goldman:

Bind them as a sign upon your heart and your mind
for the Signs of G-d go beyond all moments of time
remember your past, remember the cause
and bind in your heart the highest of Laws

bind them on hand, bind them on arm
and the N-me of the Holy One will protect you from harm
bind them love, with faith and with worth
for this will help to bring Heaven to Earth
that will help bring Heaven to Earth Reply

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