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Chief Rabbi praises IDF soldiers on Gaza border
By JEREMY SHARON
11/22/2012
Amar: You defend us ‘as the pillar of cloud defended us in the Exodus from Egypt.’
 
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 called up.

“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 from Egypt.

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 continued.

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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.

“The rabbis 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.

“Flies 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 bother him.

“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 help.

“We need to do whatever we can from near or far to support Israel by any means possible,” he said.
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