A gaggle of rabbinical figures took to the South on Wednesday to give
encouragement to soldiers and civilians alike and to witness first-hand life
under rocket fire.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar made several stops
close to the border with the Gaza Strip, to visit IDF bases and meet with
soldiers from the Givati and Golani Brigades as well as reservists who have been
“Just as the pillar of cloud separated the People of Israel
from the Egyptians, so do you defend the People of Israel from murderers,” Rabbi
Amar told the assembled soldiers in reference to the Exodus of the Israelites
The IDF’s offensive against terrorists in the Gaza Strip is
called Operation Pillar of Defense in foreign languages, but Operation Pillar of
Cloud in Hebrew.
“Just like the People of Israel did not travel while the
pillar of cloud was in the encampment and rested above the Tabernacle, so too
today the People of Israel feel safe because of your presence here, and will not
wander or escape while you are guard the people dwelling in Zion,” Amar
Amar praised the soldiers, calling them “the example of the
people, our heroes behind whom we march,” and concluded his comments with the
traditional prayer for the welfare of soldiers.
“Do not be afraid because
the Lord your God goes with you to fight with you against your enemies and to
save you,” he intoned.
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger was also in the
South and made various stops during a tour of the region, visiting the situation
room of the Ashdod Municipality as well as the Iron Dome anti-rocket battery
outside the city.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Metzger noted the
spiritual ramifications of the current hostilities.
categorized all of Israel’s enemies as Amalek,” an ancient biblical enemy of the
Jewish people, Metzger said, “and compared Amalek itself to a fly.
are to be found around dirty places, where there is trash or filth, and if
someone is dirty then flies will bother him. If someone’s actions are dirty, if
he doesn’t behave like a mensch, like a decent human being, then his enemies can
“This is an allusion for us to conduct ourselves in a more
‘clean’ manner toward our fellow man and towards God. If we do this then Amalek
will have less power,” Metzger concluded.
During his tour, the chief
rabbi also paid a visit to families in Kiryat Malachi who lost relatives in a
rocket attack last Thursday, and dropped in on soldiers gathered at the border
of the Gaza Strip.
In addition to Metzger’s visit, a delegation of 20
rabbis from the Rabbinical Council of America, an association of Orthodox rabbis
in the US, also spent the day in the South visiting Sderot, Soroka University
Medical Center in Beersheba and several other locales.
“Soon after the
hostilities began we felt a need to come to Israel to get a sense of what’s
happening, and also to show the citizens of Israel that the Jewish people around
the world are with them to give them strength and support,” said Rabbi Leonard
Matansy, vice president of the RCA.
Matanky described the three-day
solidarity mission as “a statement to Israel, as well as Jewish communities in
the US, that in times of trouble we should be together, to support Israel and
not to feel that it’s too dangerous to be here or that its too difficult to
“We need to do whatever we can from near or far to support Israel
by any means possible,” he said.