The Rebbe’s Entebbe Raid

45 years ago today, as the IDF launched its daring mission to rescue the hostages in Uganda, the Rebbe did something unusual in 770.

The Edah Hachareidis and the Twelve Pesukim

On 6 Tammuz 5736-1976, the IDF launched one of its most daring missions – the rescue of the Jewish hostages held by terrorists in Uganda.

Throughout the entire hostage crisis, Yidden all over the world gathered together to beseech Heavenly mercy for the plight of those captured.

One of the largest gatherings to be held was on Thursday, Gimmel Tammuz, called by the “Badatz – Eida Hachareidis” of Yerushalayim, where tens of thousands of Jewish school children gathered to Daven for the safe return of the hostages. What was most surprising was that at this gathering which wasn’t organized by Lubavitch, was that the children recited the twelve Pesukim that had recently been chosen by the Rebbe!

How so?

Rabbi Avrohom Boruch Pevzner, one of the “Shluchei Kodesh” sent by the Rebbe to Eretz Yisroel and today the Rov of Anash in Paris, relates:

“The Shluchim to Eretz Yisroel at the time had a very warm relationship with many of the Rabbonim there, and especially with Harav Yitzchok Weiss, the Av Beis Din of Eida Chareidis.

“On the morning of the grand gathering, we went to his home and met with him in his study, requesting that he allow the twelve Pesukim to be recited at the gathering. We explained that since the purpose of the gathering was to bring about salvation against our enemies, and Jewish children have the special power to do so, it would only be appropriate to recite these specific Pesukim selected by the Rebbe which surely carry extraordinary power in that regard.

“The Rav read through the list of Pesukim that we had handed him. After some thought, he asked us: Do these Pesukim have special powers to bring salvation or did the Rebbe choose them because of their educational value, but for salvation any Pesukim recited by the children could do the job?

“We told him that although we didn’t hear from the Rebbe that these twelve Pesukim are especially effective for salvation, we could be certain that they are, now that the Rebbe had chosen them.

“To our delight, a short while later, the Rav notified us that the twelve Pesukim would be recited with the entire crowd!”

Mysterious Recital…

On Shabbos afternoon, the Israeli airplanes took off on the rescue mission to Entebbe, landing there late Motzaei Shabbos and bringing the hostages home safely in a spectacular operation.

News of the miraculous story spread quickly around the world. When the Chassidim in 770 heard the about what had happened, some suddenly recalled a strange thing they had witnessed that Shabbos afternoon: in the middle of davening Mincha, the Rebbe suddenly grabbed a Tehillim and began reciting a few Kapitlach…

Miracles In Our Time

On the following Shabbos, Yud Beis Tammuz, the Rebbe spoke for a long time about the miracles that the Jewish nation had just experienced.

Towards the end, the Rebbe said that indeed it was a great miracle, as he would speak more at length on Sunday (at the larger Yud Gimmel Tammuz Farbrengen). The Rebbe said that we must try to learn a lesson and think: Why would Hashem do such a thing? Why put the entire Jewish world into a state of fear for so long a time? The Rebbe concluded: We must therefore heighten awareness of the Mitzva of Tefillin and Mezuzah, which are especially said to be protective of their bearers.

Check Their Mezuzos

The next day, at the Farbrengen of Yud Gimmel Tammuz, the Rebbe dedicated almost all the Sichos to this subject, particularly mentioning the power of the Jewish children’s prayers and again encouraging them to learn the recently selected twelve Pesukim by heart.

Additionally, the Rebbe asked that the Mezuzos on the homes of all the hostages be checked to ensure their Kashrus, and to see if they need any fixing.

[It should be noted that over the next few days, Shluchim in Eretz Yisroel went about checking the Mezuzos of the hostages’ homes and indeed found that each of them had some deficiency. After receiving this report, the Rebbe would mention it at future Farbrengens.]

These Pesukim Only!

Rabbi Pevzner concludes his story:

“One will notice that during that Farbrengen on Yud Gimmel Tammuz, the Rebbe elaborated on each of the twelve Pesukim, explaining how they each possess special powers for us to overcome our enemies.

“What may be a bit less known is that on the morning after the incredible rescue, we went again to visit HaRav Weiss to thank him for allowing the twelve Pesukim to be recited at the grand gathering. The Rav was in very good spirits, and he told us that he is very happy for having had them recited; only he asked that we convey the question he had asked us earlier (whether these Pesukim are special for salvation, or just educational) to the Rebbe – which we obviously did.

“You can imagine how thrilled we were to hear on the hook-up of the Rebbe’s next weekday Farbrengen that he was addressing exactly that! Later, we passed on the Rebbe’s words to the Rav, and he was very pleased.”

From A Chassidisher Derher, Pinchas 5772

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