Rabbis call for worldwide prayer rally

Chief Rabbinate's governing council meets in Haifa in show of solidarity.

metzger 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
metzger 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Chief Rabbinate's governing council announced a worldwide prayer rally on Tuesday, the eve of the new Jewish month of Menahem-Av. At 6:00 p.m. Israel time, three verses of Psalms that the Rabbinate has recommended be said every day - verses 83, 130 and 142 - will be recited simultaneously by Jewish communities all over the world. The Chief Rabbinate's governing council convened Sunday at the Haifa's municipality in a show of solidarity with residents of the North. The council also decided to establish a special team of rabbis, called Rabbis on the Front, who would answer war-related questions. Anshel Friedman, rabbi of the police force's Northern Division and head of ZAKA's operations in the North, presented several halachic questions to the council during Sunday's meeting. Friedman asked what emergency personnel who are in the process of treating the wounded or evacuating the dead should do if a warning siren is sounded. Friedman also asked about evacuating the deceased on Shabbat. Friedman said he did not receive a clear answer from the council yet, but added that ZAKA and police remain with the wounded and dead throughout the course of treatment and evacuation even when there is a warning siren. Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger called on synagogues to concentrate more during prayer. He quoted from a verse in Exodus describing the Jewish people's flight from Egypt, "The Lord will fight for you and you will remain silent," saying that it teaches the importance of refraining from idle talk during prayer. The 12-member council also visited the wounded at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. Rabbi Ratzon Arussi, a council member, said that despite the life threatening dangers of missile fire in the North, the rabbis felt it was necessary to travel to Haifa to strengthen morale. "Psychological support is a type of weapon," said Arussi. "The mayor [Yona Yahav] and others said our visit was encouraging. We met with civilians and soldiers who are hospitalized at Rambam." He said that numerous halachic questions were discussed among the rabbis, among them treating the wounded during a warning siren and evacuating the dead. Arussi said his personal opinion was to direct emergency personnel to continue to treat the wounded and to allow evacuation of dead bodies. "Treatment of the wounded takes precedent because it is an immediate danger while the siren signal a more distant danger. On the issue of evacuating the dead, I believe the Shabbat should be desecrated to remove the dead because abandoning the dead would be a horrible blow to morale." Arussi said there was a precedent for evacuating the dead on Shabbat from the Yom Kippur War. He said that the bodies of soldiers killed in action were a devastating destroyer of morale for soldiers who remained in action. The same held true for civilians.