The leader of the non-hassidic haredi world Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman has called on the public to recite prayers and increase its observance of religious law in opposition to the hostilities in Gaza, while numerous other ultra-Orthodox leaders have made similar comments.
“Because of the severe situation prevailing in our holy land, I request the Jewish people to increase their prayers for our brothers, the people of Israel who need great mercy,” said Shteinman in a notice published on the front page of the Yated Ne’eman haredi daily newspaper. “It is a time of distress for the Jewish people. We must strengthen ourselves in observance of the Sabbath, guarding against negative speech and observe the laws of modesty.”
In Friday’s Yated edition, both Shteinman and Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, another of the most senior haredi leaders in the country, both called for special prayers to be said before Shabbat in synagogues and yeshiva study halls.
Although the notices do not explicitly mention IDF soldiers, the purpose of the prayers is for the well being of soldiers fighting in Gaza right now.
Hassidic leaders have called on their communities to increase their prayers, including the grand rabbis of the Belz and Sanz hassidic dynasties.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said that “each and every person is obligated to pray, recite Psalms and intend the merit of their good deeds for the success of the soldiers who are endangering themselves for the sake of defending the Jewish people.”
Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Cohen said that “the Jewish people must implore through prayer for the IDF soldiers who are going out [to Gaza] in self-sacrifice, defensing the nation that dwells in Zion against those that have risen up against it.
“May God be with them and return them in peace to their families,” the rabbi said.
The dean of the prestigious haredi Ponevezh yeshiva in Bnei Brak Rabbi Baruch David Poborsky led prayers for his students in light of the security situation, while hassidic newspaper Hamevaser reported that the grand rabbi of the Boston hassidim and Rehovot Chief Rabbi Simcha Hacohen Kook have initiated a program of prayers whereby individual members of the community recite prayers on behalf of a specific soldier by name.
At a mass prayer service on Saturday night at the Western Wall, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, former Sephardi chief rabbi, led a large gathering of worshipers and spoke passionately about the situation.
“God has brought us this fierce blow, he wants us to call out to him from the depths of our hearts that we should feel the pain that the Jewish people finds itself in...
they are firing thousands of rockets at the Jewish People, against women, children and now against our soldiers who are in the most dangerous place, among the cruelest people,” Amar said.
“Who does not feel their pain? Everyone of them has children and family waiting for him at home,” he continued. “We know that it is not with power or strength but You God are the savior of the Jewish people and that in a moment everything can be turned to the good. God should destroy the designs of the enemy and save our people.”