Magen Avraham; davening for the Hostages  Part One

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    • Partners in Prayer 5 months ago

      The Rambam in Mishneh Torah states, “There is no mitzvah as great as the redemption of captives.”[1]    I believe all of Klal Yisrael can participate in this great mitzvah through tefillah.  I would like to look at the first hostage situation in the Torah, when Avraham redeemed Lot, to see how he handled the situation to hopefully offer guidance as to how we can daven for the hostages based on our Torah.

      Avraham is described as having defeated the kings who took his nephew in captivity and was victorious in miraculous ways.

      Rashi teaches that Avraham when Avraham heard the terrible news of the captivity of his nephew, he responded with alacrity and girded himself with armor, with his sword, and also [his trained servant] Eliezer. וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָם כִּי נִשְׁבָּה אָחִיו וַיָּרֶק אֶת־חֲנִיכָיו, When Avram heard that his kinsman’s [household] had been taken captive, he armed his trained servants.. Rashi also describes how the word, חֲנִיכָיו, trained, is describing him training his servant with Mitzvos.  He explains how the word חנך signifies introducing a person or a thing, for the first time, to some particular occupation in which it is intended that he will need to use for some particular purpose.

      Rabbeinu Bachya teaches us how there are times Hashem entrusts a Tzadik with His special Sword.  His Sword is referring to Hashem’s Attribute of Justice and is described as a sixteen sided blade for which the wicked will be judged. [2]

      Before he went out to war, he first girded himself with a sword, a sword that would be used to defeat the enemies, and he taught mitzvos,  as brand new to Eliezer and pursued the enemies immediately.

      The Tzadik is considered someone who is righteous in his deeds.[3]  Avraham Avinu was praised for his Tzidkus, as it says about Avraham, “he [Avraham] will direct his children to do tzedakah and mishpat”. [4]The tzadik is someone who attaches himself to Hashem.  Such a person will have constant Hashgacha which will protect him from harm.[5]

      I want to introduce one idea about the Mitzvah of Pidyon Shevuyim, as taught by the Gmarra Basra, to hopefully be girded so to speak by Avraham Avinu, by learning about this mitzvah, in a whole new way, to prepare our hearts when we daven,  as did Avraham do for Eliezer as his [Avraham’s] first response to hearing the terrible news of the captivity of Lot.

      The Gemara Bava Basra teaches us the reason and the source for why the mitzvah of redemption of captives is considered the greatest Mitzvah.[6] Captivity is worse than famine, the sword, and death, as it includes all of them.

      There is an urgency required therefore in this mitzvah that we can hopefully use when we daven.

      We can use the Bracha of Avos in our Amidah, and focus on Elokei Avraham,  who Hashem helped to free his nephew, Lot in spectacular ways. The Brachah of Avos cannot be used as a request, but we can celebrate Hashem in these Brachos.

      When we say the bracha of Magen Avraham we can have the following in mind to praise Hashem as Magen Avraham. We can remember that Hashem allowed Avraham to defeat all the enemies, the captors, without harm to himself, the captives, and was able to return the possessions stolen to the rightful owners, despite how on a physical level it would seem impossible to defeat many trained warriors with only himself and his servant Eliezer (according to some).  There is nothing impossible for Hashem, The Magen Avraham.  He can make it so that our captives are redeemed, saved,  without delay despite all the traps, tunnels, and seemingly impossible conditions.

      It is possible for Hashem to release the captives without harm to them or our nation in any way.  It is possible for the fear of Hashem to return to all our enemies, so no one would ever contemplate doing such a thing to our nation ever again. It is possible for Hashem to destroy all those who came and come to harm His nation, Israel.  It is possible for Hashem to use this Mitzvah to activate our final redemption for all.


      May Hashem, Our Redeemer,  grant us success in the return of the hostages to us without delay, safely, without harm to anyone in the process.  May this lead to the final redemption B’mhaira.



      [1] Mishneh Torah, Gifts to the poor, 8

      [2] Rabbeinu Bachya, 32:41

      [3] Ibn Ezra, Noach

      [4] Bereishis, 18:19

      [5] Malbim, 27:11

      [6] Bava Basra, 8b, Eicha, 4:9

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