Manpower or G-d-power?

Thursday, 22 February, 2024 - 4:45 pm

This message comes to you from the quaint New England town of Suffield, CT, a town now filled with the sounds of Torah learning since the establishment of a Chabad Yeshiva in Suffield last year. My son Murdechai is a student here. This weekend I have the pleasure of spending Shabbat at the Yeshiva along with other fathers and relatives of the boys.

Earlier this week we had the privilege of hosting IDF Lt. Col (res) Yaron Buskila at Chabad of Louisiana. As one who was on the ground in and around Gaza on October 7, his account was both mesmerizing and shocking. There were moments of horror and moments of heroism. His message was From Crisis to Victory. After describing the extreme circumstances in the aftermath of the terror attack, he then began to lay out the hope for victory. He expressed how uplifted he was when he saw the endless convoy of vehicles carrying soldiers who took the initiative and headed towards the crisis in the 48 hours following the attack. He articulated how the country had become united in purpose. He articulated how valuable the outpouring of support from Jews worldwide is for those fighting on the ground. He shared how, in contrast to the hate graffiti that was scribbled on the walls of the Jewish homes in the villages around Gaza, he and the soldiers under his command taped messages of hope for peace written by Israeli children to the walls of Gazan homes. He took some tough questions and was not afraid to address some of the difficult issues.

I would like to share one message that he conveyed through a personal anecdote. While still on active duty, he was a commander for a special ops unit that dealt with terror threats in Judea and Samaria. They received word of shots being fired at a town. The unit advanced to the town and, based on the intelligence that they had, they proceeded towards the edge of town near a factory on the outskirts of the town from which they presumed the shots were fired. They advanced and started shooting, only to discover that the terrorists were behind them. He was shot and wounded. After a harrowing attempt to crawl on his elbows towards the home from where the shots were fired, he arrived to find that a mother and daughter were killed in the attack. The husband was crying and blurted out “you were not in time.” Yaron was taken by helicopter to the hospital to undergo surgery. He was very down by the botched operation and decided that he was going to get out of the military.

When he regained consciousness following the operation, he opened his eyes to find a Chabad Rabbi sitting near his bed with a guitar playing a song with lyrics from the Torah, “You shall remember the L-rd your G-d, for it is He Who has given you the strength to achieve success.”  This was a Eureka moment for him. He realized that all this time he was relying on his own strength and talent for success. But it is Hashem upon whom we must rely. He resolved to return, energized by this new conviction, which has been his guiding light ever since.

This is a powerful message that pertains to each of us in our lives. When we remember from where our strength is derived, we go with the power of Hashem to achieve success in all good things.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Comments on: Manpower or G-d-power?

jill halpern wrote...

thank you for this reminder, many times, i vascilate between relaying on my own strength and hashem's.