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Regarding this terrible attack and subsequent war on October 2023, how would our Sages say we can help Israel during a war like this? I’m not just looking for answers like “pray”, but rather maybe more specific stuff that perhaps some commentaries have written about during hard times for the Jews in the past that would apply to todays case. Any special deeds/mitzvot that have some segula for a situation like this? Are any deeds in particular stressed?

Am Yisrael Chai

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HaRav Asher Weiss shlita sent out a clip (in Hebrew) with divrei chizuk and hisorerus on his WhatsApp group (to join - https://chat.whatsapp.com/JSImuTgfWWlEGjwwqgvFSO). It is also now on Torah Anytime here.

He suggested the following points:

  • The first call to action is to strengthen our emunah and bitachon
  • To understand, no matter how difficult, that G-d loves us - the Klausenberg Rebbe lost all his family in the Holocaust, and he never once questioned Hashem's middos despite the incredible nisyonos (challenges/tests) he had to endure. In difficult times it is very hard to accept, but we must know that G-d loves us.
  • There's nothing better than tehillim. In his beis hamedrash, they are saying three kapitlach tehillim word by word, after every tefillah.
  • Bnei Yeshiva should focus on learning and the zechus (merit) should help those fighting.
  • Finally, he called for achdus. He noted a midrash that says how in the dor (generation) of Dovid HaMelech, even the youngest child knew how to learn Torah at a very high level, and yet the soldiers lost in war. However, in the dor of Achav, where the people openly served idols, they were successful. Why were they victorious in combat? Because that generation had achdus - they were completely united.

Rabbi Avi Wiesenfeld - Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Beis Dovid has a shiur on what our response should be here.

I know you want more specific details, but it is an extremely powerful listen - he stresses do not underestimate the "small" things we can do. We can't let the moment slide - we have to do something. And even a more general act like just praying has a huge impact.

The main points as follows (starts from 11.23 mins in - although v powerful divrei pesicha):

  • Focus on the power of a mitzvah and what an opportunity it is. He spoke to a soldier who was in a very dangerous area and not in a situation where he can put Tefillin on. The soldier requested that the boys put on tefillin with him in mind - "Do a mitzvah for me!". The soldier then told the Rosh Yeshiva, "You guys in the Beis Hamedrash are fighting this war". Rabbi Wiesenfeld responded - "No we're partners - we're doing our hishtadlus, you are doing your hishtadlus - the rest is up to the Ribono Shel Olam."
  • Another soldier asked that the boys of the yeshiva daven. We cannot underestimate the strength of tefillah. There is a very limited amount of things we can do from a physical perspective, but there is a lot we can do from a spiritual and emotional perspective. It is a distinct wakeup call that the events unfolded specifically on Shemini Atzeres when Hashem says, "קָשָׁה עָלַי פְּרֵדַתְכֶם" - "It is so hard for me to part with you!” (see Rashi Vayikra 23:36)
  • We have to strengthen our Emunah - even the most difficult trials and tribulations come from G-d. If we internalize that we are ultimately under the shelter of Hashem, even in the hard times it adds more purpose to our lives.

Rav Menachem Nissel said the following points here:

  • Rav Dov Landau suggested to say chapter 91 of tehillim as the main perek to say but obviously we should daven whatever is meaningful for us.
  • Need for introspection - look at ourselves and ask what can we fix.
  • The tragedy began on the Shabbos that fell on Shemini Atzeres / Simchas Torah. Hashem chose the day - not our enemies. The Aruch LaNer writes that Shabbos is more powerful than Shofar, more powerful than the Arba Minim (i.e. it overrides the mitzvah). Thus, when you have a day as powerful as Shabbos, a day that is me'ein olam habah, and it falls out on Simchas Torah - this is a call to be mechazeik (strengthen) ourselves in Shabbos. The avoda has to be to make the day more kadosh (holy) - what can we do to elevate the day more? Make our meals, our tefillos more kadosh? Can we perhaps introduce more elevated levels of kedusha into our Shabbos.
  • It was specifically on Shabbos Simchas Torah - not on Shavuos which is Zman Kabbalas HaTorah. Simchas Torah is where the emphasis is happiness. It is a reminder to recognise the pure joy that we have to our Torah and our attitude towards all our Torah institutions.
  • Simchas Torah marks the end of our journey from the beginning of Elul where we made commitments to improve ourselves and fix things. If there is something that we honed in on - we have to ask ourselves, is it time to be mechazek ourselves further.
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HaGaon HaRav Moshe Shternbuch spoke about the recent events to his talmidims. He said that:

“Each one should go learn because every little bit of limmud Torah can provide salvation. The danger is very great – not just for them [those on the front line] – but for us as well. The danger is becoming worse and worse and it’s not yet possible to know what will be here.”

Similary, Chabad-teachings teach us that there are several mitzvos we can do. See here:

Help every Jewish man and boy over the age of 13 to put on tefillin today, and every weekday.

Encourage every Jewish woman and girl to light Shabbat candles every Friday before the onset of Shabbat and on the eve of Jewish holidays.

Check your mezuzos

Dedicate a daily prayer for our brethren in Israel. Psalms are especially appropriate for times like this. (Chapter 20)

Give tzedakah

Have emunah and share it to others

Purchase letters from a Torah scroll

I saw in a post (have no original source) that the Chabad Beis Din of Eretz Yisrael have issued an official call to do mitzvos such as emunah (believing that G-ds eyes are always upon it), reading Tehillim (chapters 20, 22, 69, 122, 150, 81-90).

HaRav Shaul Alter of Ger recently delivered a "divrei chizuk"- words of strength on what one should do know to help the ones in war. He says:

[...] when we are concerned about the welfare of yidden in Eretz Yisroel, we must remember that Torah is our life, and the greatest shmira.

The Medrash says, based on a possuk in Sefer Shoftim, that a talmid chacham who learns Torah has the zchus to save 40,000 yidden. The Tana Devei Eliyahu adds a point, that this refers to a talmid chacham who is mechadesh chiddushim in learning.

The extra effort a talmid chacham invests to delve into the depths of torah, with ameilus and amkus, this is what saves us from all evil. Talmidei chachamim here in Lakewood, and all over the world, who immerse themselves in Torah be’iyyun, have this great zchus, they are our defensive line.

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    Regarding Tzedakka, see MT Hilchot Teshuva 2:4, and Yishayahu 1:27 specifically for Israel, (Taanit Yerushalmi 2:1)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Oct 9, 2023 at 15:32
  • @RabbiKaii the Rebbe actually wrote a maamar explaining what it means that tzedakah will redeem Zion.
    – Shmuel
    Oct 10, 2023 at 7:41
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Rav Michoel Sorotzkin https://youtu.be/F_XmSeR23OA quotes Rav Chaim Kanievsky Zt"l who would always tell people to learn something that has to do with the problem.

For example, during the Gulf War, Rav Sorotzkin went to Rav Chaim with someone who's wife was unable to tolerate the pressure of the war, running in and out of the sealed rooms, etc. Rav Chaim told them that Iraq is Bavel, and Bavel is mentioned in Tanach 242 times. Rav Chaim said that the person who had just visited him immediately prior to their visit had told him that the American president said the war was expected to last at least 8 months. Based on that, Rav Chaim said to learn one entire perek that contains the word Bavel each day.

After relating this story, Rav Michoel gave a shiur about places where Azah is mentioned in Tanach in the hope that it will be a zechus for everyone.

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