|PRAYER FROM THE DEPTHS
by Eliyahu Misgav, from SHABBAT BE SHABBATO
|The following happened during the Lebanon War to a platoon of soldiers from a Hesder yeshiva, in the "Alon" battalion. At a very tense and difficult moment in the fighting, one of the officers sent an unusual request to the deputy commander of the battalion.
He said that his gunner, Moshe Zelikowitz, had asked for permission to read a prayer over the radio.
The "radio" was a battalion-wide signal link, so that all the tanks for many km around would hear. But there was a short lull in the fighting, with a very unusual period of quiet all across the battle field, including the radio. And so Zelikowitz turned to the platoon commander with his request.
According to the platoon commander, "It was a bit strange, because the rule in the network is to be very brief, using a bare mini-mum of words. Prayer on the radio? It sounded mad. I felt that I did not have authority to approve the request, so I asked the deputy commander." The deputy, Kravitz, later explained: "I needed the radio for important communications. It was not easy to free it for other purposes. I considered answering that every tank should pray on its own. But then I understood how this prayer might help my friends, my soldiers. I began to feel what it might mean to them. Since if necessary I could stop it at any time, I gave my approval."
And Kravitz finally said, "Just get it over with fast!"
For what seemed like a very long time, the army signal network was filled with the ancient prayer of the priest who accompanied soldiers into war, recited throughout history to thousands of warriors before they left for battle. In the background, the soldiers could hear echoes of nearby artillery, and in the tanks the men stretched their muscles in reaction to their tension and exitement. And on the radio they heard:
"Listen Yisrael, today you are approaching a war with your enemies, do not have faint hearts. Do not be afraid, do not be faint, and do not panic before them, for G-D accompanies you to fight your enemies, and to protect you... G-D, be with the soldiers of the IDF, messengers of your nation, who are about to wage war on their enemies. Make us strong and give us courage, fight our battle, help us in our war.... Please, G-D, help us; Please G-D, save us; Give us help from our oppression" And he went on and on...
Kravitz, the deputy commander, was completely overcome. His eyes clouded up with tears. "I felt as if a tremendous wave of water had washed over me, from head to foot. There I was, the deputy commander, standing in the command post, stunned,
and I could not move. Our signalman, Moshik, did not remove his hand from the receive button, out of excitement.
The prayer had finished, but the communication line remained open. And then Moshik yelled out, 'Well, say amen!' and he
released the button. So I said, 'This is the commander: Amen!' And the other tanks followed, one by one. "Number 1: Amen! Number 2: Amen!' This continued until they had all responded, just as if we had been waiting for the acknowledgement of an order."
(Source: Yisrael Wallman, "Alon in Storm")
|JERUSALEM INSIGHTS: A Project of Shorashim of the OLD CITY, TIFERET ISRAEL #3, JERUSALEM 97500