On Tuesday, November 14th 2023, Rosh Chodesh Kislev, tens of thousands of us will travel to Washington, DC, to rally for Israel, for the hostages, and against antisemitism. We will be there in our nation’s capital to raise our voices and encourage our political leaders to lead the way on all three of these critical issues. We will be there as Americans and we will be joined there by tens of thousands of other Americans, but we will approach this critical moment firm in our identity as Jews, guided and inspired by our faith and our Torah.
How does that tradition guide us in this moment? It tells us to make our case to those in power as Queen Esther once did, having prepared for the encounter by gathering the Jewish people – unifying the Jewish people – in fasting and prayer. Before she approached the king, she needed to approach the King of Kings.
This attitude is expressed neatly and succinctly in another Torah story, where Nechemya (2:4-5) was given the opportunity to advocate to the Persian king. The verse describes his response as follows:
ואתפלל אל אלקי השמים ואומר למלך. “I prayed to the God of the heavens and I said to the king….”
The commentaries offer a variety of understandings of what exactly happened there, but one thing is perfectly clear: Nechemya would only turn to the king after approaching Hashem in prayer for the success of that mission.
Since Simchas Torah, Jews have opened their hearts, intensifying their davening, adding extra tehillim after every minyan, with their WhatsApp chats, in the middle of their day’s work, and at innumerable communal tefillah gatherings. Those prayers will power our efforts in Washington as we stand together for truth and for life and work to chase away the darkness that has been spreading over our world.
This Tuesday, rally day, is Rosh Chodesh Kislev. That makes Monday Erev Rosh Chodesh, Yom Kippur Kattan, a day traditionally dedicated to an extra measure of prayer. Many fast on Yom Kippur Kattan for all or for half of the day. Each and every one of us – privately and together in our shuls – can make the tefillos of that day especially meaningful, praying to the God of the heavens before we raise our voices in the nation’s capital.
Daven on Monday. Rally on Tuesday. Your voice needs to be heard – in heaven and on earth.