Finding Grandfather's Prayerbook

Friday, 20 June, 2014 - 3:32 pm

They say a story about a Rabbi on an airliner that was in danger of crashing. The captain gets on the PA system and announces, “Ladies and Gentleman, we are about to crash…everyone DO SOMETHING RELIGIOUS!”

The Rabbi gets up and makes…an appeal.

I read something today that inspired me; it touched my heart to the point of tears. Since last Friday ‘The Boys’ – the three innocent children who have been ripped away from their families by savage and heartless evil men – have been on our collective minds. We have all been moved to do something “religious”, to do something in the merit of these pure and innocent souls who are in the face of danger.

An Israeli Government official said the following to the family of “The Boys”: “I haven’t prayed in six years. I haven’t gone into a synagogue since my son’s bar mitzvah. When I heard what had happened to your sons, I turned my house upside down to look for my grandfather’s prayer book. I sat down and prayed.”

Who was this official? Yair Lapid -- someone who has been accused by his opponents of waging a war with the Jewish religion.

Why, as a nation, do we care so much about three individuals? Why does this calamitous event, which will surely end positively with Hashem’s help, move us to such an extent? Why does a self-avowed secularist feel the need to pray?

I’d like to suggest the following:

The world around us uses words like “collateral damage”, “inevitable civilian causalities”, “regrettable deaths” without skipping a beat. However, in Judaism, three souls have shredded our collective heart, as we worry and we prayer for their well-being together with the families of the “The Boys”.

Why? Because when we peel back the onion-skins of individuality that separate us, we discover a vibrant and pulsating Jewish Soul. Thus, as members of the Jewish People, we are not merely a unified people  – we are ONE. One heart, one soul, one people.

We care for each other despite our differences.  Beneath the layers of indifference and division, our Jewish Heart beats strongly as ONE. Touched so deeply -- our Jewish soul is bared, and it drives to do something because we care.

What can we do? Let us do a Mitzva in their merit.

The father of Ayal Yifrach, one of captives, has asked that every Jewish household throught the world ensure that Shabbat Candles are lit. [Shabbat Candles are to be lit before 8:14pm today] for more information

It is well known that the symbolism of the Shabbat Candles represents the power of positive and spiritual influence on the world. Let us create a spiritual fortress of Good – and let us pray to G-d, in the merit of our unity, to grant freedom to “The Boys” and to all of your People Israel.

Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Yisroel Hecht

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