Sunday, July 27, 2014

Jerusalem Post July 30: Pray for the IDF, not instead of it!

Sir, - Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the successor of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef as the spiritual leader of Shas, has demonstrated a grievous lack of sensitivity, a gross ingratitude, and an offensively mistaken appreciation of Jewish priorities when asserting that "Israel doesn't need an army because prayers protect it." 

At a time when tens of families are crying over the loss of those most dear to them, and when almost the entire people of Israel are united in sharing their heartbreak for the fallen precious fathers, sons, and brothers – all members of the IDF, who gave their lives in order to defend us from annihilation – , Rabbi Cohen, instead of issuing some message of comfort and hope chooses to make a declaration that offends us all.

While praying is of extreme importance at all times, happy and sad, Jewish history bears no record of their being sufficient in themselves, neither for warding off evil nor in Heaven's appreciation. The great European centers of Torah and piety were obliterated despite the oceans of tears and the myriads of fervent prayers. When the Bible confronts the Israelites with an attack by Amalek, Moses orders Joshua to choose men to go out to do battle. He does not suggest that they pray or sit and learn.

As a spiritual leader, Rabbi Cohen should indeed be praying by leading prayers of Hallel and Thanksgiving to the Almighty for the miracles He has wrought for us through the agency of the IDF's valiant soldiers and its brilliant technology.

Petach Tikva

[Image credit: Youtube, Israel Defense Forces]