A soldier prays during the Yom Kippur War. - Photo courtesy IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
A soldier prays during the Yom Kippur War.
Photo courtesy IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

In the summer of 1973, weeks before the surprise outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, urgently requested that thousands of Jewish children gather at the Western Wall and other locations across the globe to pray and recite words of Torah, in fulfillment of the verse, “Out of the mouths of young children You established the power . . . to neutralize the enemy” (Psalms 8:3).

Days before Yom Kippur, the Rebbe wrote a letter “to the Sons and Daughters of our People Israel, everywhere,” emphasizing the qualitative edge gained by the Jewish people adhering to G‑d’s commandments over the sheer quantity of other nations. The Rebbe’s Yom Kippur prayers that year were particularly tearful and urgent.

Read: Israel on the Brink of War: The military and spiritual strategies that preceded the Yom Kippur War

Watch: The Rebbe talks about quality versus quantity:
Part 1 | Part 2

Behind the scenes, the Rebbe spent months urging Israel to take preemptive military action, rather than sacrifice the lives of thousands of Jews for the sake of world sympathy. The Rebbe also urgently decried the dangerous fallacy that the then-hailed Bar-Lev Line would withstand enemy forces. Unfortunately, the Rebbe’s prescient concerns were well-founded, as evidenced by the terrible losses of the war.

Despite the tremendous losses, the Rebbe continued to do all in his power to infuse optimism into the Israeli populace and the Israeli Defense Forces, proclaiming clearly that Israel would be victorious.

And as the war miraculously turned, the Rebbe urged Israel to continue marching toward Damascus, if only to hold it for a few hours, to serve as a deterrent against further bloodshed and a catalyst for lasting peace.

Watch: The Rebbe said: “Conquer Damascus!”

During the painful months of Israeli soul-searching after the war, the Rebbe advised Israeli generals about deterrent strategy, military hardware upgrades, and more. The Rebbe also repeatedly pointed to the miracles of the war as a source of comfort and inspiration.

The Rebbe also labored to provide support and encouragement to the widows and orphans of fallen soldiers, as well as to assuage the pain of the wounded and captured soldiers.

While no account can possibly be exhaustive, and indeed most of the Rebbe’s efforts in this realm will probably never be known to us, we hope that these links provide at least a small peek into this largely unknown history.

Half a century later, let us try to apply the Rebbe’s teachings and example to our daily lives, as well as to the current security of the Holy Land.