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4 Teves 5768 - December 13, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
The Importance of Tefilloh in Our Day and Age

Excerpted from a Collection of Commentaries from Otzros HaTefilloh by HaRav Avraham Nishri

Part 4

Our Power is Only in our Mouth

"And I have given you one portion over your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Emorite with my sword and with my bow" (Bereishis 48:22). Rashi explains: "With my sword and with my bow" -- "I.e., his sharp wisdom and his prayer."

Why did Yaakov cloak his meaning in hints and not simply say clearly that he took from the Emorite with his prayer?

This teaches us an important principle in the proper perspective on life, which is illustrated by an incident that occurred at the end of the War of 1948 in Israel. A number of people close to Maran HaBrisker Rav ztvk'l spoke with too much exuberance about the heroism of the soldiers and the might of the army in their victory over the enemy.

Maran HaBrisker Rav said: Do you think the rifles and cannons, the tanks and the planes won the war? Not in the least! It was the Tehillim and the tefillos, the bakoshos and the techinos of the tzaddikim and chachomim that won the war! (The Rov mentioned a number of Jerusalem's tzaddikim, such as HaRav Zeev Chechik zt'l, and HaRav Shlomo Bloch zt'l).

It is a simple matter. Concerning Am Yisroel the front is not on the land or sea, nor in the air. All these things are behind the real `front lines,' which is Shomayim. There is only one front! It is in Shomayim!

The whole question is: Were our tefillos and bakoshos accepted? Did our teshuvoh and ma'asim tovim vanquish the accusers and prosecutors? Or did they win, G-d forbid?

If we win on the real front, the salvation comes down below automatically. If we lose Above, G-d forbid, we fall down below as well.

The truth is, concluded Maran HaBrisker Rav, that whatever happens on earth is only child's play. We need to play the game like any other effort that we must do, but the real front is Above! It was not the army or the air force that won, but rather HaRav Zeev Chechik , HaRav Shlomo Bloch, and the ones like they who won!

One of those present asked: If the tzadikim won on the front Above and therefore the enemy was vanquished below, why did so many Jews fall in the battles?

The Rov answered with a story. One of the Beis HaLevi's sons became engaged, and the young man's head swelled due to the size of the dowry. The Beis HaLevi sensed this, and told his son: The big dowry you got was because you are my son and not because of your good deeds. He meant to say, it was in my zchus and not yours.

The son, who was very sharp, answered immediately: That is not so, father. For if it was due to the honor of father, the dowry should have been much greater, doubled many times over than it is. Therefore, it must be because of me, and that is why it is not so much.

The Beis Levi answered: In truth, for my honor the dowry should have been many times more. But what can I do that you are in the middle, and that is why it was not so big!

The same applies here, explained Maran HaRav. In truth, the front is in Shomayim, and there they truly won. In fact, it should have been that not one Jew would be hurt. But what can be done? The Zionists are of the mindset: "My might and the power of my hands." They think the cannons and the airplanes are what wins the wars. Because of this there was a heavy price of killed and wounded! They ruined it!

These are the words of Maran HaBrisker Rav. This is the light he poured on the matter of the war with the Torah perspective and the clear truth. We win with tefilloh! Not with rifles and tanks! This is what Yaakov said to Yosef: With my sword and with my bow, which is tefilloh. Only with tefilloh can we win, and there is nothing else! Tefilloh is the most effective sword, more than all the latest tanks and jets!

This is not only true in regard to the war with the Emorite or the War of 1948. In each and every detail of life, in each and every matter, we have to know this principle: "Where is the front?" When a person encounters some trouble, or some danger, G-d forbid, or he wishes to succeed in a business venture, he must remember that the front is Above, and the first thing is tefilloh! Only afterwards he should make the necessary practical effort.

This is the meaning of the posuk: "These trust in chariots and these in horses, but we--we mention the name of Hashem our G-d" (Tehillim 20:8). The nations of the world fight with chariots and horses, but we, "our power is only in our mouth." We mention the Name of Hashem. Am Yisroel has only one front, Above in Shomayim. When a person knows this he automatically knows that he must first turn to the real front, and there, the language is tefilloh and ma'asim tovim. Afterwards, he turns to the `home front' -- a little effort!

(Lev Sholom, HaRav Sholom Schwadron zt'l)

The Tefilloh of that Rosh Hashanah was Completely Different from the Tefillos of the Other Years

World War I had broken out. When the Yeshiva was still in its place, in Mir, an awesome event happened on Rosh Hashanah. Since they were all together for the tefilloh, the entire student body of the Yeshiva gathered in the Beis Knesses Hagodol of Mir. Suddenly, Russian soldiers arrived at the Batei Knessios Courtyard, the Shulhauf, surrounding the entire courtyard and imposing a search for `draft dodgers' from the Russian army.

In fact, virtually all the students of Yeshivas Mir were `draft dodgers.' Not one of them had reported for the enlistment. They were in great danger, especially since they were together in one place and could be taken straight to the front. They thought that it would be better to split up the students into smaller groups and scatter them amongst the various shuls in town. In that way, they would not stick out so much as they did amongst the elderly congregants of the Beis Knesses Hagodol. If the soldiers were to come into the Beis Knesses Hagodol and see a large group of young men together, they would seize them and the entire Yeshiva would be in their hands.

Admor (Maran HaRav Yeruchom Levovitz zt'l, the Mashgiach of Mir) decided at that point that everyone should instead remain together and pray together with greater strength, trusting entirely in Hashem that He would save them from this travail.

All the students of Yeshivas Mir from those days remember well the uplifting inspiration and the thundering prayers of the Yomim Noraim in the Yeshiva every year. But the tefilloh of that Rosh Hashanah was completely different from the tefillos of the other years. The uplifting flame of energy was tremendous.

The soldiers searched all the other shuls, but they never set foot on the doorstep of the Beis Knesses Hagodol, where the entire Yeshiva was praying. It was a miracle.

(From the Kuntras HoOdam Bikor, written by Maran HaRav Yeruchom Leibowitz's disciple, Maran HaRav Shlomo Wolbe zt'l)

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