Weekly Chasidic Story #870 (s5774-48 / 1 Menachem Av 5774)
Linking Battlefield and Yeshiva
As an officer he felt concerned for his soldiers, so he requested that the boys in the yeshiva in Safed should pray and study for them..
Connection: Current Events–The Gaza War
Rabbi Yekutiel (“Kuty”) Medovnik teaches at the “Machon Technologiya” (“Technical Institute”) of Tsfat, a school for older yeshiva students where they study Torah topics in the morning and the rest of the day study those subjects which will qualify them for a career in technology. A man living in the South district of Tsfat whom Kuty had befriended and influenced to increase in mitzvah observance telephoned him to inform him that he had been summoned for milu’im (reserve duty) and would be leaving soon for the Gaza war front. As an officer, he felt concerned and responsible for the soldiers in his unit and asked that the boys in Kuty’s yeshiva should pray for them and study extra Torah for them.
Kuty agreed immediately, of course, and asked the officer to supply the Jewish name and mother’s name of each of the boys in his unit (about 30). Armed with this information, he then posted the list on the yeshiva bulletin board and asked the students in his classes (about 30) to each sign next to one of the names and keep that soldier in mind in their prayers and dedicate to them the merit of their Torah study.* All the yeshiva students were excited to do so.
A few days later the reserve officer called Rabbi Kuty Medovnik again. He was upset and frantic. One of his soldiers had just incurred a life-threatening wound from a fragment of a bomb that had pierced his skull. Please, the yeshiva boys should pray and study more and harder for this endangered young soldier!
Kuty made the announcement in the yeshiva to the entire student body, and then went to check his list of names. When he went to speak privately to the boy who signed next to this particular soldier’s name, he found out that this very morning, unusually, the student had slept late, and thereby had missed the morning minyan and first study session!
The boy was momentarily paralyzed with grief and guilt. But grief and guilt never helped anybody. He leapt into action. He took upon himself the responsibility of organizing extra Torah study and Psalm-reciting sessions throughout the day, and exhorted his fellow students to do so with extra feeling and concentration. Every two hours he called the hospital to check the status of “his” injured soldier.
Finally, later that day, they received word received word that the soldier was out of danger. In the evening, the soldier’s parents called to thank the yeshiva staff and student body and to request that the boys continue the special prayers and Torah study on behalf of their son, because clearly it was having a beneficial effect.
That was the situation as of a few minutes before candle-lighting on Friday last week. I’ll send around an update bulletin when more becomes known this week.
Source: My son, Yehuda, and other friends and acquaintances of Kuty Medovnik who heard the story directly from him.
* Editor’s note:
This pairing arrangement is the norm in yeshivas in Israel. Sometimes it is on a yeshiva to military division basis, rather than individual student to individual soldier, and more often it is initiated by the students, although in the above case it was requested by the soldiers. This particular war seems to have tugged extra hard on soul strings, and perhaps the widespread use of internet and cellphone technology plays a part, for now we see these individual pairings springing up everywhere, not just in yeshivas in Israel but abroad also, and for that matter not just with yeshiva students but with lay people too. Anyone who is interested to join in and help to spiritually protect our dedicated young heroes can receive an IDF combat soldier name via //shmiraproject.com.
Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.