Dvar Malchus

They Declare Open War Against G-D And His Torah

Moshiach & Geula

Everything’s Under Control

Shleimus HaAretz
The Rabin Legacy Everyone Tries To Forget
Our Secret Weapon
Mivtzaim Story
Quite The Gentleman
Sheva Mitzvos
"Here’s My Messiah"

Our Secret Weapon
By Shai Gefen

The car moves slowly along the winding and dangerous roads of Yehuda-Shomron. In the car sits a few activists, enthusiastic about their mission. This time they are heading for the blockade at the entrance to Beit Lechem. The Lubavitchers sitting in the car, led by Rabbi Zev Ritterman, don’t pass up a single soldier, even in the hottest spots.

The reports on the radio come one after the other, one more frightening than the next. "At the Karnei junction in Gaza strip, a battle between terrorists and the I.D.F. lasts for hours. The Arabs shoot at the soldiers. The Palestinians have even shot a missile at the tanks. There are more exchanges of fire in Yesha. In the Genin area and at the Ayush junction our soldiers are being shot at. Additional violent incidents are taking place at the Aram junction south of Ramallah in the industrial area of Neve Dekalim and at the Erez blockade. There is an attempt at wresting control by hundreds of Palestinians from Jilzon of the yishuv Beit Eil, north of Yerushalayim..."

Rabbi Ritterman listens to the reports while gripping the steering wheel. He is full of bitachon and emuna and he travels about sharing his bitachon and emuna with Israeli soldiers who are in the midst of these battles.

It’s been a while now since he began this special campaign of distributing booklets to I.D.F. soldiers. The booklets discuss the mitzva of t’fillin and contain chapters of Tehillim for protection, as a segula, and for bitachon. Since the uprising on Rosh HaShana, Rabbi Ritterman has stepped up this campaign. Nearly 50,000 booklets have been distributed on the different trips he has made, accompanied by two or three other enthusiastic activists.

Rabbi Ritterman, what inspired you all of a sudden?

In light of the serious situation, I decided to raise the morale of our soldiers. I didn’t come up with this idea; credit must be given the Rebbe MH"M, who in 5704 (1944), at the height of World War II, printed booklets of encouragement for Jewish soldiers. The booklets contained a compilation of letters of the Rebbe Rayatz with words of encouragement to the soldiers, in addition to chapters of Tehillim.

Based on this idea, I also compiled letters the Rebbe wrote to the I.D.F. soldiers and to various generals about the importance of Mitzvas T’fillin, especially for the soldiers. The Rebbe gives warm blessings for the safety of the soldiers. I included the same chapters of Tehillim that the Rebbe printed, along with Krias Shma and pertinent laws of t’fillin. This is what I distribute among the soldiers as protection from the enemy.

When did you start this project?

It began five years ago, when I distributed thousands of booklets on t’fillin to the soldiers entering Lebanon. There was a great demand for it them.

At first they were printed in a large-sized format, but when I saw that the soldiers needed to put them in their pockets for personal shmira (protection), I printed them in a pocket-size edition with a picture of the Rebbe on the cover.

And after they left Lebanon?

At that point, I got involved in other things.

Then things started happening Erev Rosh HaShana. How did you manage to get organized so quickly?

It was really an incredible act of hashgacha pratis. One day at the beginning of Elul, I was with Rabbi Tzvi Slonim, the shaliach in Mitzpeh Rimon, and I showed him the booklet. He loved it, and on the spot he promised his help in getting 10,000 more copies printed. Although it was quiet at the time, we printed 10,000 additional booklets, and remarkably, the booklets arrived at my house on Erev Rosh HaShana.

On Motzaei Rosh HaShana we began receiving reports about the uprising and the next day I was ready to travel to where the soldiers were stationed.

Describe what happened.

We went around to the bases and various military posts, and saw soldiers thirsting for encouragement in their intolerable situation. I saw their longing for a good word, and when I gave them the booklets I could see the joy in their eyes.

This period reminds me a great deal of the time before and during the Six Day War, when there was great fear and confusion. Chabad Chassidim went to the soldiers and put t’fillin on with them. But what was most important was that they lifted their spirits and gave them hope. The soldiers are in the line of fire with despair in their eyes (in no small part thanks to the policy of restraint forced upon them) and are thrilled when they see us show up. They thank us with all their hearts for coming. Some of them said not to forget them around Chanuka time...

Rabbi Ritterman’s team consists of Rabbi Yaakov Tzirkus, Rabbi Elimelech Kobalkin, and Rabbi Yeshaya Isaacowitz. They travel together fearlessly, putting on t’fillin with the soldiers, giving out booklets, and inviting others to join them in joyous dancing. They put their hands on the soldiers’ shoulders and dance. At times they see the Palestinians in the distance.

They distribute Actualia, which contains statements of the Rebbe about the danger in giving away land, and what will happen as a result of doing so – which we are seeing come true every day, r’l. They also sign up soldiers for a letter in a Torah as a segula for protection.

How do the soldiers react?

I’ll tell you what happened last Sunday. We went to the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, where thousands of soldiers were on their way to various bases around the country. I went over to one of them and offered him the booklet. He smiled in response and began searching his knapsack. A moment later he had withdrawn the very same, though worn out, booklet. Seeing the surprised look on my face, he proceeded to tell me that I had given it to him two years before, moments before he had entered Lebanon. "In the merit of this booklet I managed to get out of Lebanon alive," he said.

That’s one example of many. I think of that soldier who received the booklet from me, sitting on his own in a free moment and taking out the booklet and reading some chapters of Tehillim, or the Rebbe’s comforting words written with boundless love for our soldiers.

Last week a Jew from Afula called who regularly orders booklets from me. I asked him why he was so enthusiastic about them, and he said, "Zev, you have no idea what your booklets are doing for the soldiers. I personally know soldiers who began putting on t’fillin after reading the booklets."

Do all the soldiers gladly accept your booklet?

Nobody refuses to take it, especially not those who are in dangerous areas. Just yesterday I met a soldier who is a new Russian immigrant, and I offered him a booklet. He told me that although he was Jewish, he was not shomer mitzvos (observant, though the word shomer literally means to guard or protect). I replied, "But this booklet will protect you," and I saw his eyes light up. He took the booklet and blessed me for it, too.

Have you heard any stories about soldiers being saved as a result?

I can tell you a story we see as an amazing miracle as a result of the booklet. We went to Beis Lechem and distributed the booklet and put t’fillin on with the soldiers. They didn’t let us go to Kever Rochel, because the entire area was closed off. We asked the soldiers at the military post at the entrance to Beis Lechem to give additional booklets to the soldiers who were at Kever Rochel, and they promised to do so. We saw a tremendous amount of inspiration there.

The next day, at the same spot where we had been with the soldiers, a bomb exploded, though miraculously it blew up early, together with the terrorists who had set it. I was certain that putting on t’fillin there had protected the soldiers.

* * *

These days, when even old, established Yerushalmi neighborhoods such as Gilo are on the front lines, the team of Lubavitchers was there to encourage the residents and distribute the booklet. "Actually, more than we encouraged them, they encouraged us," said R’ Ritterman. "People read what the Rebbe said and are amazed that the only one who correctly foresaw what would happen was the Rebbe. They see how the Rebbe’s prophecies are taking place before their very eyes."

Rabbi Ritterman has spent many years instilling the mitzva of t’fillin within the non-religious population. He published a book, suitable for all types of people, about the mitzva of t’fillin, and various booklets on the subject. These days he is focusing on the soldiers.

To date, 50,000 booklets have been distributed. But that isn’t enough, for the demand continues to grow. Anash are asked to help print another beautiful edition and to distribute it.

Rabbi Ritterman, what pushed you to leave everything else you’ve been busy with and to devote yourself to this project?

I’d like to tell you a story which taught me the importance of Mivtza T’fillin and how it helps bring salvation to the soldiers. When I was a member of Kibbutz Shaar HaGolan, I once went to pick bananas with a friend, in the course of which we got into a heated debate about religion, with my friend being in favor...

That friend, a pilot in the air force, suddenly stopped and said he had to tell me something. He told me about his group leader in HaShomer HaTzair who was a commander of a tank. "One day, after the Six Day War, he took us to the Kosel. When we got there, a Lubavitcher came over and asked him to put on t’fillin, saying that the t’fillin shel rosh would protect his head. Despite his pleading, the youth leader refused to put on t’fillin. A week later he was drafted and at some point when he put his head out of the turret, he took a direct hit."

My fellow banana picker, raised in HaShomer HaTzair, told me this story because he realized how important the mitzva of t’fillin is. As Chassidim trained by the Rebbe, who encouraged us to put t’fillin on with the soldiers, based on the verse, "And the nations of the land will see that the name of Hashem is called upon you and they will fear you," we don’t have to elaborate on the importance of putting t’fillin on with the soldiers, especially these days.

It is the privilege and obligation of every one of us to intensify this mivtza and to publicize the Rebbe’s besuras ha’Geula and the shocking prophecies about the situation we are currently experiencing in Eretz Yisroel.

Despite the tremendous amount of work you do, how can you possibly reach everyone?

We are assisted by others. Last week, with the help of the Yesha council, we sent a large quantity of booklets to 140 yishuvim throughout Yesha, so that the security forces can distribute them to the soldiers serving there. Many residents in the line of fire received the booklet and we have received great feedback. This past week, with Rochel Imeinu’s yahrtzeit on 11 Cheshvan, we stepped up our work in the area of Beis Lechem.

These days, when we are at war, Anash must get involved by quoting the Rebbe, visiting our soldiers, and putting t’fillin on them. In the merit of t’fillin we will vanquish our enemies.

More Manpower Needed

Rabbi Isaacowitz adds, "We travel around and see the tremendous his’orerus with our own eyes. We have to take advantage of this opportunity when the Jewish people want to hear the truth. It’s a pity we don’t have enough manpower, for the more people who go out, the more soldiers we’ll reach.

Besides the booklet, we also distribute kits which contain a small Tehillim and a pushka. Last week we gave out a thousand of these kits to soldiers, and the demand is growing. We hope to fill the demand with the help of the meshaleiach, the Rebbe MH"M. (See Beis Moshiach issue #270)


Rabbi Zev Ritterman






He proceeded to tell me that I had given it to him two years before, moments before he had entered Lebanon. "In the merit of this booklet I managed to get out of Lebanon alive,"
he said.





The next day, at the same spot where we had been with the soldiers, a bomb exploded, though miraculously it blew up early, together with the terrorists who had set it. I was certain that putting on t’fillin there had protected the soldiers.


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