In light of the situation in Eretz Yisrael, and following a call by Gedolei Yisrael for atzros tefillah around the world, thousands of residents of Antwerp gathered Thursday, on Yom Kippur Kattan, for a tefillah rally in the Osten shul.
The atzeres was organized by the Badatz Kehillas Machzikeu Hadas, following a decision by the city’s Rabbanim.
At a quarter to seven in the evening the shul filled with thousands of men, women and yeshivah bachurim from across the spectrum of Orthodox Jewry. Even the hallways were packed, as was the adjacent street, with the overflow crowd.
The Pshevorkser Rebbe, shlita, graced the event with his presence, along with the other Rebbes, Roshei Yeshivah and Rabbanim of Antwerp.
The Mara D’asra, Harav Aharon Schiff, enveloped in a tallis, delivered words of heartfelt hisorerus, and then recited the kinah of Ezkerah Elokim V’ehemayah. “They are trying to restrict Torah, to humiliate lomdei Torah, they have enacted laws that make hefker of conversion, they rob children of bread and milk, in an effort to reduce Torah and religion,” he said.
“The Sar Shalom of Belz, zy”a, would say that the most difficult galus is the one among Jews, and we are pleading for a final redemption from this terrible galus.
“Regretfully, those making the decrees are our brethren, Jews, and they have no idea what Torah is, and they also have no knowledge of history of how Yidden battled with mesirus nefesh to keep Torah, passed down from generation to generation since Har Sinai, with no changes. We are all with the residents of Eretz Yisrael in this struggle they are facing.”
He then cited words of the Sfas Emes, zy”a, on the passuk in Va’eira, “Hen bnei Yisrael lo shamu eilai v’eich yishma’eini Pharoah — Klal Yisrael didn’t listen to me; how will Pharaoh listen to me?” Moshe Rabbeinu said it is all one chain, in which one link affects the other: If the Jews don’t listen, that causes Pharaoh not to listen, and the opposite: If we will appreciate lomdei Torah, that will have a wider influence even on those who are far from Torah and mitzvos, and we must strengthen this aspect, he said.
Then the Rosh Yeshivah of Eitz Chaim Wilrijk, Harav Chaim Aryeh Shpitz, shlita, recited Tefillas Yom Kippur Kattan and Selichos, followed by Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shamayim, Shema and Hashem Hu Ha’Elokim.
The Raavad of Machzikei Hadas, Harav Eliyahu Sternbuch, shlita, then recited Tehillim. He also asked that anyone who is able should daven together with the main rally in Yerushalayim on Sunday.
Deeply moved, the crowd dispersed quietly, confident that hen Kel Kabir lo yimas tefillas rabbim and that the harassment of Torah observant Jews in Eretz Yisrael would come to an end.