In the first of this week’s Torah portions, Matot, the
Torah relates the War with the evil Midianites, the nation that caused the
Children of Israel to sin in the dessert.
In preparation for this war, the verse states in Chapter 31,Verse 3: “Moshe spoke to the people, saying: ‘Arm men
from among yourselves for the army and they will be against Midian, to bring
revenge of Hashem against Midian. Verse
4: One thousand from each tribe, one thousand from each tribe, for all
of the tribes of Yisroel, you shall send into the army.
The Midrash tells us that 3,000 men from each tribe were
conscripted into the army to fight Midian (12 tribes = 36,000); 12,000 men to
fight in the army, 12,000 men to care of the weapons and another 12,000 to pray
for the success of the warriors in battle. An equal number of men were reserved
for prayer as was sent out to battle and they were required to leave the camp
of the Israelites and stand in prayer in close proximity to the battlefield!
First, why should this have been necessary? The Children of
Israel fought this war as a Milchemes
Mitzvah – it was a war commanded by G-d - to eradicate the evil
influences of the Midianites. Therefore, G-d would surely bring them to victory
since the war was fought exclusively to defend His honor. Second, why were
these prayer-men required to be near the battlefield? Wouldn’t it have
been better for them to stay in the security of the camp and carry out their
prayer vigil from there?
The answer is that the Torah is teaching us an important
lesson in the nature of man; whenever man reaches a level of success, a feeling
of my strength and the
power of my hand have acquired this wealth (success) for me overcomes him
and he is reluctant to ascribe his success to G-d, the true source of all his
accomplishments. Therefore, the Israelites needed to have a “prayer
battalion”, since even though the war was fought for the glory of G-d,
when they would emerge victorious, they might still harbor the feeling of
my strength and the power
of my hand” brought about this conquest. It was also for this reason that
the “prayer battalion” had to be in close proximity to the
battlefield, so that the soldiers could see with their own eyes the power of prayer
at work, and ascribe their entire success on the battlefield to the prayers of
This conviction that prayer works is what needs
strengthening in our times. Do we earnestly believe in the power of our own
prayers?Do we feel secure that
prayer can “turn around” a bad situation?
The Talmud tells us: “Prayer reaches to the very
heavens, yet people belittle it”( Talmud Bavli, Brachos 6b), because we
know that every prayer that is uttered leaves its mark in heaven, but so often
it seems that prayers go unanswered, people do not have much value for it (Meam
Loez quoting Yekar Paz).
The first thing we must know is that G-d created the world
with a built-in mechanism that nothing is achieved without praying for it. (A
discussion of this concept appears in the Tehilim Hotline Newsletter Print
Edition Vol. 3, Issue 1,under the title “The Obligation of
Prayer”.) Of course, the primary requisite for prayer is to have a faith
in G-d; otherwise to whom are you praying and who is supposed to answer your
In 1948, at
the end of Israel’s
War of Independence, The Brisker Rav zt”l heard some people discussing
the war and its victorious outcome. Sensing that these people were impressed by
the strength and power of the military, turned to them and remarked: “Do
you actually think that the missiles and tanks won the war? It wasn’t the
firepower and weaponry that triumphed, but the pure Tehilim and prayers of the
wise and the tzaddikim (the pious) of our generation that prevailed!”
the Jewish people, the front lines are not on the land, sea nor air. . . they
are in Heaven.The question is:
will our prayers and entreaties be accepted in Heaven? Will the Heavenly
accusers be overcome by our repentance and good deeds? Or G-d forbid, the
the war is won on the true battlefield, the one in Heaven, the victory is
certain here on earth, but if G-d forbid, the war is lost above, it is surely
truth is, that all that occurs here on earth is mere child’s play.We have no choice but to make the
necessary efforts, but the “true battleground” is above. So it is
not the military or air force that wins the war, it is Rav Chechik, Rav Bloch
(these were contemporary Rabbis at that time) and their like, that brings about
Brisker Rav added: “If we have won the battle in Heaven, then there
should not be even one casualty, so why were there so many human sacrifices?
Because there are among us those that believe in the “strength and might
of my arm has brought about this victory” it is because of them that we had
to pay the hefty price of so many young souls!”
Jews of Eretz Yisroel learned of the extent of the horrors of the Holocaust,
Rav Salman Mutzafi Zt’L (a great Rabbi and Kabbalist of that era) convened
special rallies at Kever Rochel (Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem). At these rallies, he would
conduct a Torah study session for half the night, and a prayer rally for the
sake of his brethren in Europe for the other
field marshal Erwin Rommel`s troops were at the gates of Eretz Yisroel, Rav
Salman one of the renowned Rabbis of Jerusalem at that time, decreed a fast
day. He then assembled a large group of people. They donned sackcloth and spent
the entire night at Kever Rochel, sitting on the ground and studying Torah.
Standing alongside Rochel`s grave, Rav Salman pleaded with her to entreat
Hashem to spare His children.
morning, the group traveled to Chevron, where they davened at Me`aras Hamachpeila (the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron). From there, they
proceeded to the Kosel (the Western Wall), where they continued to pray. Soon
thereafter, Rommel and his forces retreated and left the holy city.
Now, the nation of Israel is in great danger from the
Hezbollah, yemach shemam, and the
forces of Lebanon, it is up to us to assume the role of the prayer battalion standing at the side of the Israeli Army
and all the endangered Jews around the world. We should also serve as the prayer battalion for all Jews who are in the midst of
their personal battles, those in need of salvation; the patients in hospitals,
those that find difficulty in finding shidduchim, parnassah, estranged
children, those awaiting the blessing of children, and all the myriad challenges
facing the Jewish people.
May it be the will of the Almighty, to bring salvation and
relief to all his children, the Jewish nation, wherever they are found.
DEDICATED AS A MERIT FOR THE COMPLETE RECOVERY OF:
Mordechai ben Chaya Sara
Esther Fruma Chaya bas Tauba
Yocheved bas Rochel Leah
Reuven Moshe ben Chana
Nechama bas Yocheved
Aryeh Micha ben Shaina Kreina
Liba Faiga bas Bracha
1 888 44-TEHILIM (1-888-448-3445)
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