Synagogues, yeshivas and religious communities of all types around the country conducted the Yom Kippur Katan prayer service on Thursday afternoon, in accordance with the requests of several senior rabbis, as a special plea to God for the safe return of Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel, who were kidnapped while returning home on June 12. Yom Kippur Katan, a “minor Yom Kippur,” is a kabbalistic practice instituted by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero in 16th-century Safed. Ir is observed on the eve of every new month other than Rosh Hashana as a day of fasting and repentance.
This month, the eve of Rosh Hodesh is Friday, but since fasting is not permitted before Shabbat, the Yom Kippur Katan service was observed Thursday.
Special Yom Kippur Katan prayers were recited in religious services in haredi yeshivas, national religious synagogues and other congregations around the country, including the three towns and cities where the boys live, Nof Ayalon, Talmon, and Elad.
Rabbi Haim Druckman, one of the most senior figures in the national-religious community, said the prayers should be said to prompt divine assistance in saving the boys.
“The heart of the Jewish eople beats as one, together with the families whose children were kidnapped by unjust people,” said Druckman.
“What is required from us is to pray, and everyone can pray to God to assist the security services and the IDF soldiers to reveal where the abducted boys are and to free them, and for this we are increasing our prayers.”
Earlier this week, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the most senior rabbi in the non-hassidic haredi world, called for the Yom Kippur Katan prayers to be recited around the country for the safe return of the kidnapped boys, as did Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, another leading Haredi rabbi. The daily newspaper Yated Ne’eman, which reported Shteinman’s request, said, however, that in addition to praying for the teenagers, the prayers were also being said because of the “terrible religious persecution in the Holy Land” and for the abolition of a recent exemption for haredi military conscription.
Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the dean of the prestigious Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and one of the most highly regarded haredi rabbis, called on his students to increase their Torah study and prayers especially on Friday and Shabbat “as a merit for those kidnapped [boys] who are in captivity and distress.”
And on Thursday, Chairman of the national-religious Tzohar rabbinical association Rabbi David Stav called on all Tzohar- affiliated rabbis around the country to hold and join Yom Kippur Katan prayer services before the afternoon prayer.
“We join the call of Rabbi Shteinman and Rabbi Kanievsky to participate in the public prayer of Yom Kippur Hakatan before mincha [afternoon prayer services] on Thursday, even in places where it is not the custom to conduct this prayer,” wrote Stav in a letter to Tzohar rabbis.
“We join the prayers of our brothers in every place and from every communal sector for the return of our beloved sons and the well-being of the IDF soldiers who have been mobilized to bring the boys home.”