It's tough living in Israel right now. Missiles are falling and a huge section of the populace has left their homes for safety.
But in one respect, it is more frustrating to be sitting thousands of miles away – in America or South Africa or London – and feel that there's nothing you can do to help.
Well, there is plenty each of us can do.
Not only does it work, but it helps us cope with the situation, by talking it out with God.
When you pray, be specific. If you have a friend or family member fighting, pray for his/her safety. If you know somebody living in Israel, plead with the Almighty to keep them out of harms way.
Pray that the Israeli weapons work, and that the Hamas weapons don't.
Pray that the leaders will gain (and maintain) the clarity they need to fight this war, despite international pressure.
Pray for the protection of IDF soldiers as they root out every last terrorist.
Ask God to heal Israel's wounded soldiers and civilians and to thwart future terrorist attacks.
Pray for the Arabs to realize the true nature of their leadership and doctrines that teach hate and murder.
Most of all, pray intensely, frequently, and sincerely.
You can send prayers via the Western Wall at www.thewall.org.
There is a time-honored custom to recite Psalms in times of distress. King David wrote stirring words that seem to be for our exact situation today. Recommended are Psalms 20, 83, 121,130 and 142.
Click here for the text of the Prayer for Israeli Soldiers.
It is difficult to truly care about people and situations from which we are distant.
So, to overcome this difficulty, try the following exercise for three minutes a day.
Look at pictures of soldiers standing in a tank. Stare at a picture of a soldier who has been killed in action.
Now imagine that it was, God forbid, your son, husband, or your best friend.
When you are watching the news and see missiles hitting Israel, picture it as your house being struck. How would you act differently?
By harnessing the power of imagination, we will care more deeply and be propelled into action.
If you know someone living in Israel, pick up the phone and call them. Assure them that you share their pain and understand what they're going through. Send e-mails of support to any Israelis you know. Let them know they are not alone!
Whether you live in Israel or abroad, reach out to the soldiers and the residents of southern Israel with your time, money and other resources.
Here are a few initiatives you can participate in:
- Yad Eliezer is sending thousands of gift packs to our soldiers near Gaza.
- Yad Ezra v'Shulamit is sending tons of food to Israeli families being attacked by Hamas rockets.
- United With Israel is helping to build bomb shelters in Israeli communities under attack.
- Thank Israeli Soldiers supports our troops by delivering your personal letter of thanks and a care package of items soldiers need.
If you're not in a position to donate, you can ask others to do so, or collect money and forward to one of the above organizations. Most importantly, get involved.
4. Protest bias in the media.
The media has a powerful influence on public opinion and government policy. When you discover a piece of bias, immediately contact the news agency and complain. Keep your remarks respectful and stick to the facts. You can join a media watch email list at HonestReporting.com which has 150,000 subscribers protesting biased news against Israel.
5. Increase Torah study.
In Jewish thought, nothing can compare to the spiritual effect of learning Torah. Make a commitment to a specific increase in the amount of time you learn each day. Attend a class about Judaism, or pick something from the recommended reading list. The impact of a few extra minutes of Torah learning is enormous.
6. Get the facts.
Bombarded with claims of excessive force?
The next time you hear something that puts down Israel, know how to respond. Be a roving ambassador for Israel by explaining the true facts to everyone you meet. Even the cashier in the supermarket needs good information. You never know how your contribution may affect someone else's views. The worst thing is to remain quiet at times like this.
- See "What Really Happened in the Middle East," a 10-minute multi-media presentation on the history and background of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- Read "Defending Israel's Operations in Gaza", a quick guide to some of the big issues.
- See the short film, "Missiles from Gaza."
7. Recognize the God factor.
With all the practical efforts to help Israel – media watch, education, economic assistance, political lobbying, etc. – don't forget the spiritual component! The very existence of the Jewish people after 3,500 years – and the return to the land after a long exile – is miraculous. Understand the significance of Abraham's covenant with God. Each of us, on whatever level of observance, must strive to connect.
Remember: God is in ultimate control. He has done miracles before and will do them again.
Ultimately, reviving our devotion to the Almighty is going to bring about the revival of the land, and our people as a whole. Pick one area of your life to improve in, or one additional mitzvah to perform. When you do the mitzvah, have in mind for God to use the merit of the mitzvah to help protect Israel and its people.
When we stop arguing amongst ourselves and work together, then we can stand united against the enemy, and the Almighty with us. Get a group of friends together and spend one hour brainstorming for more ideas how you can help Israel. Now is the time to lay down our differences and work together.
Through all of our combined efforts, may the Almighty protect the Land of Israel and its people.