Across the Jewish world, thousands of shuls, yeshivot and minyanim are saying the prayer for the IDF soldiers. Now – more than ever – this prayer is meaningful, significant and very emotional. As I say these words each day, I see faces of beautiful young men who will never be returning home. Each morning, as I turn on my phone and look at the news, my heart breaks. A young father from Yitzhar. A medical student from Tel Aviv. A lone soldier from France. A new immigrant from New Jersey. A 53-year-old IDF commander from Petach Tikva and a 19-year-old new recruit from Eilat. Every city in Israel, every demographic group, every level of observance… A dear friend told me that these soldiers are today’s “Korbanot” – unblemished sacrifices who have been offered on the altar…
Every one of us is asking the same question: When will it end? You want the answer? Look at that IDF prayer. It’s right there… but often overlooked. Yes, it is true that the prayer asks HaShem to protect our soldiers; “May the Holy One, blessed be He, protect and rescue our soldiers from every trouble and distress, and from every plague and illness…” but it doesn’t end there!! The prayer then says the most powerful words imaginable; “May He grant them salvation and crown them with victory” That is when the war will end… when our holy forces emerge with victory.
Based on that, let’s change our question from: When will it end? - to - How do we win? Simply put, that’s the only question to ask… and I will answer it directly: We will win when the enemy surrenders.
Let’s pause for a moment and go back in time to 1941. Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, which killed 2,471 American soldiers and civilians. It was an attack they would later regret. America entered WWII and, among other things, went to avenge that attack and defeat Japan. America dropped 2 atom bombs on Japan in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – killing over 160,000 Japanese civilians in one day. (Note: an estimated 100,000+ died later from illness and injuries) The reaction of Japan can be summed up in two-words: Unconditional surrender. Japan did not make even one demand. They completely and utterly surrendered and admitted defeat. Since that day, there have been hundreds of wars across the world, but Japan never took part in any of them. The American army in WWII – of which my father z”l was a proud soldier – can definitely say that they were “crowned with victory”.
That is how to win a war – by doing whatever it takes to bring the enemy to its knees and having them beg you to stop. You do not win a war with tough talk, empty threats or ridiculous time-outs. You hit your enemy hard, without mercy and without worrying about world opinion… and then you hit them again… and again. There is an expression that “you don’t hit a man when he’s down” but in war, that’s exactly when you hit him. The IDF soldiers are fighting with amazing courage, strength and fear of HaShem. They are prepared to do what must be done to utterly and completely destroy Hamas. They want one thing: To win! They want HaShem to “crown them with victory”… nothing less than that!!
Let us daven for this victory! No ceasefire until our enemy feels the wrath of HaShem and surrenders unconditionally. When that happens, we can truly say the words: Am Yisrael Chai!