SHLICHUS UNDER CONSTANT FIRE
January 27, 2016
Beis Moshiach in #1006, Shlichus

Under a barrage of stones and Molotov cocktails, outbreaks of violence, stabbings and attacks on a daily basis, the shluchim of the Rebbe operate with mesirus nefesh in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. * RYosef Nachshon, shliach in Chevron, gives us a glimpse into what it is like to work in the Chevron area. * About Mivtza Tfillin for every soldier, the hurdles, the miracles and wonders, and about the special connection to Avraham Asher Hasano Hyd.

 By Zalman Tzorfati

This morning, when I drove the children to school in Beitar Ilit,” said RYossi Nachshon, shliach in Chevron, “We passed the Beit Anun junction.  I was amazed to see soldiers there without a jeep.  There is a huge Arab school at the junction and the soldiers always stand there in front of a jeep with their backs to it so as not to be surprised from behind while securing the area.  Today, they stood there without the protection of a jeep.

“When we returned, the entire stretch of highway at the junction was strewn with stones, rocks, and bottles.  There were many soldiers there and we realized there had been a stabbing just then.”

“Then you got out to do mivtzaim and encourage the soldiers?” I asked.

“Are you crazy?” asked R’ Nachshon.  “It was clearly dangerous and in such cases we make haste and try to leave the danger zone as quickly as possible.

“A few hours later we were in the area of the Meoras HaMachpeila and once again there was a stabbing attempt.  Thank G-d, the soldiers overpowered the terrorist before he managed to cause serious harm.  We got out and circulated among the soldiers to raise their morale.  T’fillin here, a good word there, a hug.  In the craziness going on here, every bit of encouragement strengthens the soldiers.”

DAILY MESIRUS NEFESH

The third Intifada, this current wave of terror, or however you want to refer to the lunacy that prevails in our streets, does not differentiate between the Green Line, red, purple or any other imaginary line.  Arab bloodlust has stricken Yerushalayim, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Raanana, Beer Sheva, Afula, Hadera, Netanya, and even Ramat Beit Shemesh.  Wherever Jews live and Arabs can move about freely.

Even when things seem to have quieted down a little, things are still volatile in the Chevron area.  Since back in 1929, the Arabs of Chevron are known for their hatred toward Jews and their cruelty, and the entire area is known as one of the strongholds of Hamas in Yehuda-Shomron.

Amid all this security and political chaos, the Rebbe’s shluchim work with mesirus nefesh on a daily basis.  Every time they go on mivtzaim, each time they put t’fillin on with someone or offer a drink to a soldier, it entails danger.

We read constantly of stabbings, attempted stabbings and violence in the Chevron-Kiryat Arba area, so we opted to focus on the positive activities taking place there which aren’t often written about.  The original idea was to present a photo essay on a “day in the life of the shluchim in Chevron.”  We wanted to tag along with R’ Yossi Nachshon for a full day of activities and bring you an authentic report of the sights and sounds of Chevron.  But when I suggested the idea to R’ Nachshon he asked whether I live in Eretz Yisroel. 

“Tell me, where do you live? Do you know what is going on here? Whoever doesn’t have to be here doesn’t come here.  People don’t leave their homes for unnecessary reasons.  And you want to come here with a photographer to write an article?!

“As for personal matters, whatever is not a must, I try to postpone to quieter times,” says R’ Nachshon.  “But when it comes to outreach, not only are we not doing less; on the contrary, there are more soldiers here, the people who live here need more chizuk, and there is more work to do than ever.”

CAUTION – NOT FEAR

Tell me honestly – are you not afraid?

Afraid, no.  But careful, definitely.  Fear is paralyzing.  We try to think positively, to trust in Hashem, and are definitely very careful.  We try to be exposed as little as possible.  When we go out to the soldiers, we get as close as we can to them with our tank which is armored.  When we get off the tank we always try to have something behind us so we are not surprised.

Unfortunately, in this latest wave of terror we see that you don’t need to be connected to terror organizations or go through training in order to attack Jews.  Any kid with a kitchen knife can wound and kill, G-d forbid.  This is why every Arab is suspect.  We try to be careful as much as is normally possible and Hashem does His part.  Boruch Hashem we constantly see miracles.  It’s not an infrequent occurrence for us to be hit with rocks and Molotov cocktails while on shlichus.  On our visits to soldiers we go to places that ordinary Israelis don’t dare go to. 

On Sukkos, for example, we went to the Halhul Bridge which connects Chevron and Halhul.  Israelis don’t go on this bridge; they have no reason to.  There is only a military position there.  Last Chol HaMoed we had a mobile sukka and the Arabs were sure we had lost our way and began congregating.  The soldiers were in shock when they realized we had come especially for them.

A number of families of shluchim join the work of the Chabad House of Chevron and work together with mesirus nefesh and beautiful harmony.  The outreach extends over a large area which extends from the outskirts of Kiryat Arba to the Mount Hebron area.  A typical day of work at the Chabad House of Chevron includes all the work of your average Chabad House in addition to the special challenges of this area.

We operate throughout the area.  Our work includes shiurim, home visits, checking t’fillin and mezuzos, koshering kitchens, t’fillin stands, activities for children and women, shuls, farbrengens, and all the seasonal-holiday programs.  This is in addition to our work with the security forces.

When R’ Nachshon talks about outreach to soldiers, he is speaking about a significant proportion of the total activities of the Chabad House.  That includes driving around with the mitzva tank every day among dozens and even hundreds of soldier positions, and special activities geared for soldiers, starting with “Chabad Run” and “Mivtza t’fillin for every soldier.”

One of the special programs of Chabad in Chevron is called “Ratz Chabad Chevron (the Chabad of Chevron Run).”  It is the initiative of the Chabad Hhouse of Chevron.  It is a sort of roving patrol of bachurim who visit all the bases, outposts, positions and checkpoints every day, wherever soldiers can be found, and providing them with gashmius and ruchnius. It consists of mivtza t’fillin by day and conversations and farbrengens at night, food and drink, Evenings with Chabad, and social events for soldiers in a Chassidic, joyous atmosphere.

In addition to his wide-ranging activities, R’ Nachshon also serves as rav of the Chabad shul in Givat Mamreh (Charsina).  In his position as rav, he needs to support the congregation in times of tragedies.

“Whenever terrorism increases, or there are tragedies, people come and ask and want to know what the Rebbe said about this kind of situation.”

The murder of Avraham Hasano in cold blood, when he was run over by an Arab, is the most painful blow to the residents of Kiryat Arba in this latest wave of terror.  He was a familiar personality in Kiryat Arba and Chevron, a close friend of the Chabad community and the shluchim, and a neighbor of the Nachshon family.

“The murder of Avraham was a shock to us all.  This isn’t a big place, especially Givat Charsina, and everyone knows everyone.  Avraham was a big, impressive person, opinionated with a strong presence.  We were neighbors and close friends.  He sometimes davened in the Chabad shul and even when he didn’t, we would meet after davening and talk.  He was a special person, a man of chesed, of action.  He came up with all kinds of programs for kids.  On Shabbos he had a T’hillim group and he would consult with me a lot about his activities with children.  After his murder, we just couldn’t believe it; he was part of the very fabric of the town and everyone loved him.”

Beyond the pain and tragedy of the murder, there was also the anger at the government who at first refused to recognize Hasano as a victim of terror.  “They claimed it was an accident,” says R’ Nachshon.  “There were people who photographed the whole thing, but they did not want to disclose their pictures to the public.  Finally, the establishment began to admit and talk about a deliberate act of murder.”

T’FILLIN FOR EVERY SOLDIER

One of the projects, and perhaps the flagship project, of Chabad in Chevron in its outreach to soldiers is “T’fillin for every Soldier,” in which thousands of new pairs of t’fillin have been given to soldiers.

“Every soldier who commits to put on t’fillin daily receives new t’fillin from us.  The Rebbe often quoted the statement of Chazal on the verse, ‘and all the nations of the world will see the name of G-d called upon you and will fear you – these are the t’fillin of the head,’ and spoke about t’fillin as a segula to deter the enemy.  That’s the thing we need most here, deterrents.”

There are numerous soldiers who committed to putting on t’fillin and do so every morning since their army service.  It is a leveraged form of the t’fillin campaign; instead of going to a soldier once a week to put t’fillin on with him, you give him a pair and he puts them on every day even when on vacation, even when he moves to a different sector, and for many who finish their army service – the t’fillin are still in use.

T’fillin for every soldier? Isn’t that an astronomical cost? Where is the money coming from?

True, this campaign is not one of the cheaper ones, but thank G-d good people are constantly helping.  From abroad too, people hear about the campaign and participate.  It’s quite a z’chus to be a daily partner in the t’fillin laying of a soldier.

Do you have a message for your fellow shluchim? For Am Yisroel?

My message is mainly for Hashem.  We plead that He bring the Geula already.  Am Yisroel is a holy nation; we are all children of the King of kings.  Every second that someone suffers in galus is too much.  We are sick and tired of seeing Jews as mourners.  We are sick and tired of seeing the wounded and hearing of more and more suffering.  Wherever we go, with whomever we speak, we hear the cry of the Jewish people to Hashem, enough of this terrible galus! Send us Moshiach immediately.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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