Getting Tired, Giving Strength

What could anyone like me possibly say to this group? 

Dear Rabbi Hauer,

Hope BZ”H all is well. 

Long story made short…. We have a son on the front lines in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) – like 360,000 other parents. As parents, we started a WhatsApp support group for parents who have IDF soldiers on the front lines – these are parents of IDF soldiers who live IN Israel as well as parents of IDF soldiers who live OUTSIDE Israel (parents in the United States, UK, South Africa, Australia etc.). These hundreds of parents in the group are extremely proud, but also extremely worried – and many cannot sleep.

We were wondering if you may be amenable to sending a personal video message/divrei chizuk to this group – for which I know the parents would be most appreciative.

Every day in Israel there are thousands of people, fathers and mothers, spouses, children, and siblings of those actively serving in Gaza and the north, experiencing something that I cannot possibly imagine. Every moment of every day and night they wait in dread for the feared knock at the door from those charged with delivering the darkest possible news, while virtually every day they hear of those they know for whom those fears were realized. How do you live like that? How does someone awaken to the pictures of 21 shining faces of their child’s newly fallen comrades and then somehow go about the rest of their day and sleep the following night?

Whatever the contributions the rest of us may be making to the war effort, be it financial, spiritual, or political, we do not share the unimaginable ongoing anxiety of the families of soldiers on the front lines. Whatever challenge or grief anyone has experienced, witnessed, or studied, we cannot truly empathize and identify with their worry and uncertainty. What guidance and advice can we possibly hope to provide?

Probably none, but way better than guidance and advice – now and always – is to simply offer support, chizuk. I shared with the group how from city to city, we see in every shul and school and at every simcha and communal gathering, in every corner of our community and every part of the communal spectrum, ultra-Orthodox to ultra-liberal, everyone is davening for their children, adding chapters of Tehillim and prayers for the soldiers and the hostages. I told them how, since 10/7, the 12-minute midday mincha in our office had become the 16-minute minyan due to those extra prayers. I shared how several of our grandchildren have for all these months joined with many thousands of other “Inkredible Kids” every weeknight at 6:00 in the “Tehillim Army,” where they get a dose of inspiration and then daven together for the chayalim.

When people hear this, whether the soldiers themselves, their families, or the families of the hostages, they feel profoundly supported. The prayers, the Tehillim, that our community is offering every day is not only an impactful spiritual effort but an incredible source of personal support.

It is profoundly strengthening to know that someone is praying for you.

That is how Moshe Rabbenu strengthened the Jewish soldiers in their first war. As Yehoshua and his men were in the valley below battling Amalek, Moshe stood on the hilltop with his arms extended heavenward in prayer. Moshe’s prayer was a critical spiritual effort and a reminder to the people of God, but it was also essential that Yehoshua and his men were able to see that Moshe was praying for them as that gave them the strength to continue.

Yet, we should notice that even Moshe got tired of praying. The Torah tells us how his hands became heavy, and that he too needed support. With the help of Aaron and Chur, Moshe refreshed himself with the combination of a stone-cold reminder of the urgent situation facing the Jews for whom he was praying and the warm and supportive hands of his brother and nephew.

We are also at risk of getting tired of davening. We need to find rocks to sit on, ample reminders of the unfathomable difficulty facing our brothers and sisters in Israel, the hostages, the soldiers, and their families. But we also need to be there standing by each other to hold each other up, reminding ourselves and each other of both the inestimable spiritual value those Tehillim are bringing to the battle effort and the incredible support they are providing to those on the literal and figurative front lines. As the soldiers move forward on the battlefield and their families try to go about the business of living, the knowledge that we are praying for them is keeping them going.

Let us strengthen each other to continue to provide strength to those who need it most.