Praying For Peace


In the Haftorah reading in synagogue last week, Ezekiel prophesizes a united Holy Land: “And they shall no longer be divided into two kingdoms.”

For lovers of Israel, for residents of the Jewish state, for anyone fearing the threat of a two-state solution advanced in the peace process, for this soldier saying his morning prayers this week overlooking Gaza, the ancient promise has contemporary resonance.

Three years after the Israeli Army evacuated the remaining Jews from Gaza, leaving the seaside strip of territory in Palestinian hands — Hamas eventually supplanting the Palestinian Authority — and hoping for a quiet border, the army returned.

With their prayers and with their arms, they fought the Hamas terrorists.

As members of religious units, or as a lone observant soldier, they continued their daily routine of tefillah.
And Israel as a nation prayed for their welfare.

On Sunday, as troops were about to be deployed, the Israel Defense Force’s Chief Rabbi Avi Ronsky recited a special supplication for their safety.

On Tuesday, the fast day marking the 10th day of Tevet,a public prayer service took place at the Western Wall. Prayers were offered as well for Israelis within range of Hamas rocket attacks, people injured in previous shelling and abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.

And two prominent Israeli rabbis — Simcha HaCohen Kook, of Rehovot, and Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, the Bostoner Rebbe — initiated a “Prayer for Every Soldier” campaign, encouraging Israelis to add soldiers’ names to their regular prayers and Torah study.

Those who heard the Haftorah chanted last week likely found resonance in other prophetical words uttered by Ezekiel: “The Children of Israel … shall dwell in the land that I gave to Jacob. I will make a covenant of Peace with them.”