On Monday night, October 9, the Young Israel of Queens Valley overflowed with community members gathering in support of Israel to recite T’hilim together and to hear words of hisorerus from Rabbi Herschel Welcher, Rav of Congregation Ahavas Yisrael, and Rabbi Doniel Lander, Rosh HaYeshivah of Yeshiva Ohr HaChaim. The event was hosted by the Vaad Harabonim of Queens and Rabbanei KGH.
Rabbi Shmuel Marcus, Rav of the Young Israel of Queens Valley, greeted everyone.
Rabbi Herschel Welcher shlita spoke first. He shared that t’filah tzibur is always heard in Shamayim. Hashem never rejects t’filah of the rabim. He shared how the losses in Israel in proportion to the population are devastating. He drew a comparison to the losses in America after 9/11. He related that his great-grandfather on his mother’s side faced gangs in the Ukraine in the early 1900s. They stabbed his great-grandfather and kidnapped his grandfather. He then spoke about the terrible things happening now in Israel. It is sheer brutality, throwing firebombs into homes.
The Torah says that, at the End of Days, all the nations will bring korbanos on Sukkos. It speaks of a brutal war of terror before this.
Every Shabbos, we recite a pasuk that states that Hashem performs nisim for us that we don’t even realize. We recite in Hallel that the nations of the world will proclaim the greatness of Hashem. Rabbi Welcher explained that we are living in this world with the illusion of relative tranquility in Israel – that that is the norm. Terror events took place that are an exception. We have it backwards. In fact, we live in a world of people who hate us. The other nations are wealthier and more populated, but they don’t succeed. Hashem places a special cloud around us. One day he removed it, and we saw awesome korbanos. We should recognize that the norm is that Hashem gives us special protection.
He spoke about two challenges of the mann in the Midbar. The first challenge was feeding three million people in the desert with no food or water. The second challenge was even greater. We took it for granted that it was part of nature to receive the mann. “We have to realize that it is beyond teva (nature).” We see from what happened recently what a brachah we have from Hashem that He protects us.
Rabbi Welcher added that he thought he would never experience the type of war like the Yom Kippur War again. “We have to realize that anything we have and any protection we have is Hashem’s brachah that He bestows on us.” We are not trained soldiers. We come together because t’filah heard from many together is awesome. The koach of one person’s prayer can mean the entire t’filah of the tzibur is accepted. Our soldiers are in tremendous peril. The z’chus of our t’filah should protect klal Yisrael.
Next, Rabbi Doniel Lander spoke. He shared that in the days of the Six-Day War, a rav gave chizuk, saying that each of us can tip the scales with small mitzvos. “In a time of tzarah, each person much feel his impact personally; doing a tikun in our avodas Hashem can have profound ramifications.” He mentioned taking on the mitzvah of Sh’miras HaLashon. These days of fear should be days to see siyata diShamaya.
He shared that now, in the absence of reciting T’hilim 27, the Ponevezher Rav said that we have the opportunity to demonstrate to add mitzvos and to do them with emunah and bitachon. Rabbi Lander suggested that we should work on maintaining focus during Sh’moneh Esrei.
Then, everyone recited T’hilim together. The first perek of T’hilim was led by Rabbi Peretz Steinberg, Rabbi Emeritus of the Young Israel of Queens Valley. Other T’hilim were led by local rabbis.
It was an incredible feeling to see so many community members gathered together and reciting heartfelt prayers for our brothers and sisters in Israel. You felt that Hashem was right there listening, and we pray that our t’filos will bring protection and shalom. We should be able to gather for joyous events.
Following that, Rabbi Marcus concluded by saying that Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz taught that 1,000 went to fight and 1,000 went to daven in 1973. We all carry responsibility for every Jew fighting on the front lines. We all have an awesome responsibility. Kavanah in Y’hei sh’mei rabbah and in Sh’moneh Esrei can make the difference for a soldier’s life. Hashem should accept our t’filos and bring y’shuos now.
Shabsie Saphirstein coordinated with Deputy Inspector Kevin Chan, Commanding Officer of the local 107th Precinct, to ensure that a police detail would be available to provide added protection at the venue. Queens Borough Safety Patrol Shmira also had a number of members on hand, including coordinators Shiue Alter and Moshe Vatch.
By Susie Garber