Some 200 family members of hostages gathered Monday evening at the Ohel—the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory—to pray for the safe return of their loved ones still being held in Gaza by Hamas. They were brought there by Chabad in Israel, as part of their ongoing efforts towards the freeing of the hostages and providing aid and comfort to their families.
The families gathered in a prepared space near the Ohel, where they heard from speakers including Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel; and Rabbi Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia.
Rabbi Berel Lazar shared that for many of the activists working towards the freeing of the hostages, this was something with which they had experience. After Russian Jewry was held against their will behind the Iron Curtain for decades, the Communist regime fell almost overnight. “Many of the [activists] are from Russia; they saw what happened with the Jews of Russia … they saw the miracles, they believe in the miracles,” He said. “The Jewish Nation was in a very difficult situation in Russia, and they suddenly went from darkness to bright light, from exile to redemption.”
What enabled this? Rabbi Lazar retold the story of the previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, who was imprisoned by the Soviets, with little hope from his life. “The Previous Rebbe said, ‘They can imprison our bodies, but never our souls.’ Our souls will always remain free. Our souls will always be stronger than any enemy of the Jewish People.”
“And that is what brought about the miracles.”
Rabbi Krinsky described the hallowed ground upon which they stood, visiting the place where the Rebbe himself prayed—at the resting place of the Previous Rebbe—for countless people. He invoked the miraculous and light-filled month of Kislev, which begins today, praying that it would see miracles now, too.
“My dear brothers and sisters, we, and all of Klal Yisrael [the Jewish community] join you in this time of terrible trials. Our days and nights are focused in prayer, demanding that your loved ones–our loved ones–come home to you, safe and sound, physically and spiritually,” Krinaky said.
“Tonight is Rosh Chodesh [the first day of the month of] Kislev, a month of great miracles and light. May this be an auspicious moment for a miraculous outcome, when each of you and all of us will say, ‘she-asah lanu nissim bayamim ha-hem b’zman hazeh! [A blessing thanking G-d for performing miracles]’”
Then they gathered at the Ohel, where name after name of their beloved ones still in captivity were read aloud, in prayer for their safety and imminent miraculous return.