The news came from a most unlikely source. Og, the feared giant, came to Avram (Abraham) and informed him that his orphaned nephew, Lot, was captured and taken hostage in a war. Avram felt compelled to do something. Avram, the man of peace, was thrust into war, battling likely the most powerful kingdoms on Earth. Yet he emerged victorious. He propelled the five kings to a victory that was unprecedented in history. And Lot was returned to his family unharmed.
The Talmud (Taanit 21a) relates that Avram didn’t have weapons, ammunition or heavy artillery to take with him. He took his trusted aid, Eliezer, and with a tremendous level of faith, he threw sand and dust at the enemies. Miraculously, the sand turned into swords and spears, leading to the astounding victory of mission impossible. (This strategy, as related in the Talmud, many years later, saved the famed Nachum ish Gamzu from near death at the hands of the powerful emperor).
Maharal (Netivot Olam, Netiv HaBitachon 1) comments that these weren’t open miracles that took place. Avraham didn’t turn dust into weapons. Instead, he could take materials that were barely passable as a weapon and use them as if they were high-quality weapons. This is what Hashem does for those who have bitachon – complete trust in him (like Nachum Ish Gamzu) to mask miracles in disguise.
Over the past three weeks, we have witnessed a tremendous amount of negativity from the media, spreading fear and helplessness. Unfortunately, we are often not exposed to the countless daily miracles occurring in Israel. It’s crucial to remind ourselves of these moments of divine intervention and the unwavering spirit of faith that keeps us going.
I want to share a short story I saw this week from a soldier on the front lines who wrote a message of divine intervention amid the chaos of battle:
“It’s been a couple of weeks, but I have some time now, and I wanted to write about a nes (miracle) that happened to me during those first few days of hell. My unit was called in on Shabbat morning. No Tzav 8, no ishurim, no official order, nothing. Our brigade commander saw that the south needed a battalion to respond asap, and he told us to come in. 4 hours later, we got on Humvees and headed straight to Kfar Aza. Our weapons had been handed to us on the spot; We had never shot them, didn’t have time to clean them, we had no idea if they worked, and the sights definitely weren’t zeroed in. The weapons in the Reserve units are notorious for being unreliable and usually don’t even shoot properly before a good clean or, in some cases, a visit to the armoury. That’s how we went into combat.
We walked into the yishuv and were engaged by terrorists within the first few minutes of walking. A few minutes later, we encountered one hiding in a bush with an AK-47, waiting to ambush us. My rifle worked perfectly, firing every shot, cycling every round, hitting what I aimed. Not a single jam. I thanked Hashem for giving me a rifle that worked right off the bat. After three days of fighting, I had learned to rely on my rifle completely. On Tuesday night, we finished clearing Kfar Aza, were switched out by another battalion, and were sent up to a base so we could rest, shower, and finally clean and check our weapons. We went to the range. Immediately, I got a jam. Another round, another jam. And another. They were getting worse. I had to start taking out the pliers on my utility knife to clear them. We ended up having to take it to the armoury so they could switch out all the internal parts to basically rebuild it from the inside. The gun just didn’t work. It was a broken rifle. It was broken from the moment it was handed to me on Shabbat morning. But for me, in those few days in Kfar Aza, it worked to perfection. So we could do what we needed to do. I heard similar stories from many other soldiers in our battalion.
I look forward to the day when I can stand in my shul on Shabbat, at קריאת התורה, and recite Birkat HaGomel for this miracle and the countless others that Hashem performed for us.
הנה לא ינום ולא יישן שומר ישראל.”
May we draw strength and resilience from the unwavering spirit of our forefather Avram and take inspiration from these stories of hidden miracles from our soldiers. With Emunah and Bitachon, faith and trust in Hashem, we can face any challenge that comes our way.
Rabbi Shlomo Gabay