Chabad drafts tefillin, charity in war effort

Kfar Chabad, the administrative center of the Chabad hassidic sect, has been transformed in recent days into a situation room with a two-pronged offensive: encourage as many Jewish men as possible to put on tefillin (phylacteries) and comfort and provide for the needy and bereaved. "Our 'soldiers' are positioned all over the North," says Rabbi Menachem Kutner, a young hassid who heads Chabad Terror Victims Project. "In Kiryat Shmona our emissary Rabbi Yigal Tzipori has a soup kitchen that has been turned into a food distribution outlet. In Nahariya Rabbi Yisrael Butman makes regular rounds at all the bomb shelters. This past Shabbat he brought wine for Kiddush and bread to families who did not have a chance to go shopping. Kids got candy and toys." Chabad spokesman Menachem Brod said Russian billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak was a major financial supporter of Chabad's activities in the North. In addition to the tangible aid provided to the residents of the North, Chabad is encouraging as many Jewish males as possible to put on tefillin. "Although it is important to put on tefillin all year round, in times of war tefillin have a special importance," said Kutner. The Book of Deuteronomy, when mentioning a series of blessings bestowed upon the Jewish people, says, "And all people of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord and they will be afraid of you." The Babylonian Talmud states that this verse refers to tefillin seen by the nations on Jews' heads and arms. "From this verse we learn that in times of conflict with the nations of the world we must be diligent in the wearing of tefillin," said Kutner. Chabad hassidim have fanned out in all the major cities, their numbers boosted by dozens of Chabad Yeshiva students evacuated from Safed, a city recently pummeled by Hizbullah attacks, to encourage as many men as possible to put on tefillin. Rabbi David Druckman, a Chabad emissary in Kiryat Motzkin, said that checking mezuzot is another means of spiritual protection against our enemies. "A kosher mezuza is known to protect the dwellers of the house from harm." He said that the words "move from death" (in Hebrew zaz mimavet) are contained in the word mezuzot.