- from Rabbi Shisler online
"Just before the outbreak of the war, an active campaign to push observance by Jewish males over 13 years of age to do the "mitzvah" of tefillin was launched by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the "Lubavitcher Rebbe" of New York - leader of a Hasidic sect with branches throughout the world.
Since the Six Day War in June which resulted in the creation of a united Jerusalem as part of Israel, more than 400,000 members of the Jewish faith are estimated to have observed the commandment to wear Phylacteries - tefillin In Hebrew - at the city's Western, formerly known as the 'Wailing' Wall. "
- The Boston Globe November 24, 1967
It has now been 40 years and the Six Say War still captivates the minds and imaginations of people all over the world.
Military strategists still cannot quite explain how, with the odds stacked so heavily against them, the Israelis successfully routed the Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians and their allies in six days.
Israel’s army was outnumbered and vastly outgunned. As Egypt vowed to push Israel into the sea, nobody could afford to be optimistic.
Well, almost nobody.
Just a few days before war erupted, the Lubavitcher Rebbe announced that Israel was guaranteed Divine protection. He launched an overt campaign to enlist Jewish reserves around the world, and a secret weapon that would change the tide of the war.
The Rebbe approached the war from a distinctly Jewish perspective. He understood that the direction each battle would take is determined by a Higher Power. He appreciated that every Jew’s actions contribute to the success or otherwise of other Jews. He knew that a united approach to pulling the right spiritual strings would turn the tide in Israel’s favour.
So, he launched the Tefillin campaign.
Jewish unity in serving G-d, he said, would empower the Jewish people. He quoted the Talmud, which terms Tefillin the “Mitzvah that strikes fear in the hearts of your enemies”.
It was controversial. It challenged Jews to confront their Jewish identity, often in public. It challenged religious Jews to reach out to their secular counterparts.
It succeeded. By the end of that year, about half a million people had donned Tefillin.
Within six days, Israel had a miracle.
It’s now been 40 years since that revolution. In that time, people have come to expect to wear Tefillin at the Western Wall. Nowadays, you may be stopped at a bus station in Tel Aviv, on an Ivy League campus, on a plane or in your own office, and be offered to put on Tefillin.