Chabad.org has put a special web page on the crisis in Israel, A Call To Action. It’s theme? What each person can do to help:
The Rebbe taught us the power of a mitzvah.
On the eve of the Six Day War in 1967, when the entire world predicted Israel’s demise, the Rebbe initiated the tefillin campaign, and assured us that great miracles are in store. He quoted the Divine promise that in the merit of the mitzvah of tefillin, “all the nations of the world will see that the name of G-d is called upon you, and they will fear you” (Deuteronomy 28:10).
In the summer of 1973, shortly before the surprise outbreak of the Yom Kippur war, the Rebbe asked that Jewish children gather to pray and say words of Torah at the Western Wall and other locations in Israel, in fulfillment of the verse, “Out of the mouths of young children You established the power… to neutralize the enemy” (Psalms 8:3).
In 1976, during the Entebbe hostage crisis, the Rebbe encouraged the fulfillment of the mitzvah of mezuzah and emphasized the protection it brings. As our Sages have said: “A human king sits inside his palace and his servants guard him from the outside. But you sleep on your beds, and G-d guards you (i.e. through the Mezuzah on your doorposts) from the outside.”
In 1982, during the Lebanon War, the Rebbe initiated a campaign to have every Jew acquire a letter in a Torah scroll to foster Jewish unity.
On numerous other occasions, when the people of Israel faced threats from their enemies, the Rebbe urged us to respond by increasing in Torah study, prayer and charity.
A mitzvah, a G-dly deed, has the power to reach deep into the core of our being–where we are all one, and the physical distance between us is of no consequence. At this core, a positive deed on our part will help bring salvation to a brother and sister in distress.
During past conflicts in the Land of Israel, and during times of danger for the Jewish people, the Rebbe made practical suggestions of mitzvot that would elicit G-d’s blessings and protection (see insert above).
Let us not underestimate the power of good! With a single good deed on our part, here and now, we can each contribute toward the victory and safety of our fellow Jews in Israel.
Take a minute to do one or more of the following. You can make a difference!
• Torah study (suggestion: our Daily Study page contains selections from the Torah)
• Say a prayer for the safety of Gilad ben Avivah Shalit, Eldad ben Tovah Regev, and Ehud ben Malka Goldwasser; for the soldiers of the IDF, and for all residents of the Holy Land (suggestion: Psalm 20 is traditionally said in times of distress)
• Charity and acts of kindness: Put a coin in a charity box, give a gift of money to a fellow in need or to a charitable cause, or extend a helping hand to someone who needs it.
• Tefillin: If you already put on tefillin every day, encourage a friend to do so. If you don’t yet, now is a good time to start! Click here to find out how to put this important mitzvah into practice or contact your local Chabad center for assistance.
• Mezuzah: If you don’t yet have a mezuzah get one now! If you already do have one, it may be time to have it checked to ensure that the words on the parchment have not faded.
You’ll note the list is long on spiritual things – learn a little extra, say more psalms, pray, check your tefillin, etc. – and very short on necessary physical things (i.e., tachlis) like ensuring the hundreds of thousands of displaced Israelis have food and shelter.
My friend in Sefat has left there and is now in Jerusalem. She tells me hundreds of remaining Sefat families are without money or food, and that local food shelves and soup kitchens – like Collel Chabad – are meeting only a very small portion of this need. Families with 10 children are lucky to get 2 TV dinners for all to share. There is no public transportation, no way for many of these people to get to a doctor, the food stores are for the most part closed, and the soup kitchens too far away to walk. This scenario is being repeated throughout the north.
Further south, cities like Jerusalem are being flooded with refugees, refugees that are for the most part being fed and housed by private individuals. But these private parties cannot feed dozens of refugees forever. They too are not wealthy and will soon not have the funds to continue. And no infrastructure is in place to deal with this situation.
If you know refugees or individuals hosting them, send them money. If not, tell any of the dozens of charities helping out (Collel Chabad, Meir Panim, etc.) that you will give money but hold them accountable. You will be checking up on their claims and, if the organization’s reach turns out to be far less that the organization’s PR, you will not give again. We cannot allow this relief effort to operate like a Brooklyn haredi school’s “hot lunch” program.
Calling your elected officials and expressing support for Israel’s defensive actions, especially stressing Hezboalla’s role in the bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut that killed hundreds of Marines, is very important. So are brief, well-thought out and well worded letters to newspapers and calls to talk radio and cable shows.
Buy Israeli products and encourage others to do so as well. The extra demand created will lead to new orders which should help the economy and keep the spirit of the country strong.
And, by all means, pray. Just make sure to take copious real-world action as well. And, if you need to choose between prayer and action, action comes first.