Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, recovering from a life-threatening disease, prayed several times at the Tomb of the Biblical Matriarch Rachel before the recent war in Gaza. Informed that an “old woman” saved IDF soldiers’ lives in Gaza, he said, “Did she mention that I sent her?”
The story was first told by Rabbi Lazer Brody, a rabbi in Ashdod who “devotes his time to spreading faith around the globe via Breslov Israel and the Emuna Outreach organization” that he founded. Rabbi Brody told Israel National News that he receives many phone calls in the framework of his work – including a particularly noteworthy one about two weeks ago. “The caller, an Israeli man, was clearly knowledgeable about how IDF infantry troops operate,” the rabbi and former IDF special-unit veteran said, “and this is what he told me:”
‘My son is in the Givati Brigade, and his unit’s job is to clean out areas around Gaza City. Outside one house, a woman dressed in black appeared and started yelling at them in Arabic, ‘Ruchu min hon – Get out of here! It’s dangerous!’ The troops thought she might be trying to protect her family, but they didn’t want to take chances; the company commander called the regiment commander, and they went on to their next target. There, too, the same woman appeared and gave the same warning. The soldiers thought she probably came somehow through the tunnel network that Hamas had set up between houses, and one of the soldiers even yelled at her… Then they went to a third house – and the same woman appeared again. This time, all the soldiers froze.
‘The soldiers then hooked up with a Golani Engineering force whose job it was to blow up houses that were found to be booby-trapped. My son’s unit asked them to check these three houses – and they found that all three of the houses that the woman had warned them away from had been booby-trapped.”
The story did not receive high-level confirmation, though it made the ranks of the rumor mills - and many dismissed it as just that. Then, on Monday night of this week, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat and son of former Chief Rabbi of Israel Mordechai Eliyahu, was teaching students in Machon Meir in Jerusalem about the sublime level of soldiers fighting on behalf of Israel. In this connection, he said:
“There are soldiers who have been telling that in some places where they went in, there was a woman who told them not to enter certain buildings because they were booby-trapped, and that she said her name was Rachel... I asked a certain Yeshiva dean about this story, and he told me that it wasn’t a ‘made-up story,’ but that he actually knew one of the soldiers involved, and he told me his name.
"Then the Yeshiva dean asked me if it was in any way connected with the fact that my father, Rabbi [Mordechai] Eliyahu, had left the hospital before the war and went to pray not once, not twice, but three times at Rachel’s Tomb, and went nowhere else to pray? I told him I didn’t know, but that I would ask.
“In truth, I was a little bit afraid to ask him, because he usually dismisses these kinds of stories… But I decided to go, and I asked him, ‘Do you remember that you told us one time about Rabbi Shalom Mutzafi, of blessed memory, during World War II, when the Germans seemed about to enter the Holy Land, and he prayed at Kever Rachel against the decree, and he said that he actually saw Rachel praying. [My father] said yes, he remembers.
“So I told him about this story that I had heard, and I asked him, ‘Should we believe it? Is it truth?’ And he said, 'Yes, it’s true.’ I asked him to explain, and he said - in these words: 'I told her: Rachel, a war is on! Don’t withhold your voice from crying [based on Jeremiah 31,14-16]! Go before G-d, and pray for the soldiers, who are sacrificing themselves for the Nation of Israel, that they should strike - and not be stricken.'
"I told him, “Well, you should know that she really did that.” So he asked, “Did she mention that I sent her?”
“Everyone should then make his own calculation,” Rabbi Eliyahu the son then continued. “If this is the great level of the soldiers, and if this is the great power of prayer, then how can anyone say anything against them?...”