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.