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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dead Sea Chabad: 'Tefillin to Protect Us in Battle'

A team of Chabad activists led by Rabbi Shimon Elharar has begun a new initiative to protect Israel from her enemies: encouraging Jews to use tefillin (phylacteries). Jews are responsible for each other, Rabbi Elharar explains, according to the verse, “The entire people of Israel are guarantors for each other.”

A mitzvah (good deed) performed by one Jew can provide spiritual protection not only for the one performing it, but for all Jews, Rabbi Elharar says. “In our current situation, we must help our soldiers on the front of mitzvot and good deeds.”

Tefillin in particular is known for providing Divine protection and casting fear on Israel's enemies, Rabbi Elharar's team reminds the men they encounter as they work the crowds in the shopping malls at the Dead Sea hotel strip. The rabbis quote a verse from Devarim (Deuteronomy): “And the people of the land shall see that G-d's name is upon you, and they shall fear you.”

Activists tell a story from the Yom Kippur War that illustrates this principle. Following the war, an Israeli soldier wrote to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the head of the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement, describing an incident involving Egyptian soldiers.

In the middle of the war, Israeli soldiers saw a group of Egyptian soldiers approaching their position. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the Egyptians dropped their weapons and began a hasty retreat. The IDF commander was so surprised that he chased the Egyptian soldiers to see what had happened. The Egyptian commander said he had seen the Israeli soldiers wearing their “secret weapon”--a black box centered in the middle of their foreheads.

The Egyptians had mistaken the soldiers' tefillin for a secret weapon, the soldier told the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Tefillin is the soldiers' secret weapon, the Rebbe replied.

Rabbi Elharar is calling on all Jewish men to put on tefillin in order to provide Divine protection for the IDF soldiers and all Jews, and to cause Israel's enemies to flee in fear. He adds that Jewish women, who traditionally do not use tefillin, should light Sabbath candles and perform other mitzvot (good deeds) on behalf of the IDF and the Jewish people

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