Thursday, June 10, 2010

Protection From Harm

Sometimes, we underestimate the power of one small mitzvah. We may think to ourselves, "How important is it to do something that seems so small? Does it really make a difference if I kiss the mezuzah every time I pass one in the doorway?"

But the mitzvos we do really are important. They really do make a difference. Even the ones that may seem small are much greater than we imagine.

Here are two stories that illustrate the power of one small mitzvah and how it can truly save lives.

Prior to the Israeli Army’s last incursion into Gaza, an effort was made to purchase pairs of tzitzis for not yet religious Israeli soldiers. The Army agreed that if the tzitzis were made to specific specifications, e.g. “non slip”, and special material, they would allow the soldiers to wear them. Funds were raised and numerous soldiers asked for and were given tzitzis, for many this was the very first time they were zocheh to this mitzvah. A division of the elite Golan brigade is known as the Yalom force. This team of ten elite highly trained soldiers is assigned the riskiest covert operations. They have a support staff of sixty soldiers, including spotters, reconnaissance, etc. supporting their efforts. Camouflaged as Chablonim, terrorists, they were assigned the mission of penetrating the enemy front lines and preparing for the Israeli incursion to follow. It was in middle of the night, they were lying on a rooftop in enemy territory, shooting down at the enemy, when suddenly Israeli warplanes spotted them from above and began raking the rooftop with machine gun fire. Communications were down, and there was no way to notify the planes that these were “our boys”. Suddenly, a few of them jumped up, tore off their shirts and began waving their tzitzis that they were wearing. The soldiers in the plane saw the tzitzis and flew off. The mitzvah of tzitzis saved their lives.

This story was told by Rav Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Shlita, at last week’s Pirkei Avos shiur. He was told the story by a mispallel
of his Shul in Minneapolis, whose son was one of the soldiers on the rooftop.

* * *

The following story was submitted by a reader of the Hakhel daily emails.

My father's tzitzis saved his life. He was once mugged by a young person who was very nervous and obviously "new" on the job. At the time, my father was very strong and could have easily overpowered the mugger except for one thing--the mugger had a gun pointed to my father's head and my father was afraid that the shaking mugger would shoot him just out of nerves even if he did not intend to shoot. The mugger held one hand on the gun pointed directly to my father's head and with the other hand he went through my father's pockets, all the while it was obvious that the mugger was nervous. When the mugger pulled out my father's tzitzis he asked what they were. When my father replied that they were “holy strings" the strangest thing happened. Something overcame the mugger and he calmed down. He told my father to lie down on the ground...and promptly ran away!

Look at how powerful one little mitzvah is! The tzitzis these people wore were a protection for them and saved them from harm!

You never know how your little mitzvah can really affect the things that happen to you. One extra inch, covering your hair, knees, elbows or any part that should be covered - these are very big in Hashem's eyes!

When you are careful with saying brachos properly, washing your hands before you eat bread, kissing the mezuzah, remember that although these actions may seem small in your eyes, they are not small at all-they are big!


  1. I once read somewhere that the reward of even one mitzvah is better than all of the joys in this world!
    "The wise man seizes the opportunity to do mitzvos." We are CONSTANTLY confronted with opportunities to do mitzvos,and it can be even something as "trivial" as giving someone else a smile, or davening one pasuk with true kavana. Who know how much the mitzvos are probably treasured in shamayim?! And we must always remember the PURPOSE of ALL the mitzvos- to acknowlege Hashem, and recognition of His presence.

  2. My friends and I were once discussing that age-old skeptical question "Does Hashem really care about the minutia" and one girl was asking "Why is it such a big deal if I pick the split ends of my hair on Shabbos? I'm a spiritual, growing person, but that's ridiculous." And another girl responded "Each time you refrain from picking that split end, you are telling Hashem 'THAT is how special I think your Shabbos is, I care that much about Shabbos not to do that little thing.'"I thought it was a really great point

    As the Chafetz Chaim says- if you sold apples at the market and your basket spilled and theives were grabbing at the apples- would u sit and sigh "Oh well there they all go" or would you grab back as many as you could? The mitzvot are our tickets, our parnassa, to Olam Haba, grab as many as you can while you're here in Olam Hazeh, big and small, to rack up your account in Olam Haba (obviously we don't only do the mitzvot for Schar ViOnesh- ultimately each mitzvah you do createss you into a better, higher person, big and small)

  3. "Coincidentally" I read a Dvar Torah on Parshat Korach that was about how every little miztvah counts. Here's the link- If you value each mitzvah and commandment form Hashem as valuable in and of itself, independently, then you won't be jealous that another person seems to be doing greater, loftier mitzvot because you're seemigly small mitzvot count just as much for you asn their big opportunities for them

  4. I really like the mashal the choftez chaim gave, thanks!

  5. luv-Yes, that is so true. We should view the mitzvos as big in our eyes no matter how small they may seem, because one never knows how great they are in Hashem's eyes!

    Tamar-Along the same lines, in a relationship, it's the little things that count. It's those little thoughtful gifts from friends that mean so much.
    And thanks for that mashal! I've heard the same mashal in connection to tefillah-that no matter how far into shmonah esrei you are, you can always "grab another apple", have kavannah in the last few parts, lines, words. Don't despair when you see you davened a whole shemona esrei and had so little kavannah, instead, focus on what's left and increase your concentration so you'll end it off nicely!
    And thanks for that link with that dvar torah on the Parsha-that's such an important point to remember. Every mitzvah is important big or small!


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