By Mark Ellis –
IDF soldiers were advancing forward in the area of Al-Bureji, Gaza, and, unbeknownst to them, had passed a hidden tunnel entrance controlled by Hamas. It was only because one soldier stopped to pray – facing Jerusalem – that the enemy’s surprise attack was foiled.
“This event ended with no casualties to our forces and the elimination of the terrorist because a reservist named Malchiel ben Yosef who went to pray Mincha (afternoon prayers),” Yanon Magal, a journalist and politician, posted on Twitter, along with a video of the ensuing firefight.
After the IDF soldiers passed the tunnel and had stopped moving, Malcheil decided he should pray. He turned backward to face Jerusalem and saw the terrorist exit the tunnel and begin to advance on them, carrying a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).
“He wants to ‘sew’ us from behind!” Malcheil yelled to his fellow soldiers.
A firefight broke out and the terrorist was killed. The IDF soldiers then dropped a grenade into the tunnel to make sure future threats would be neutralized from that location.
Afterward, Malchiel stated that the terrorist attempted to fire the RPG at the soldiers but experienced a misfire.
“He tried to fire but it didn’t fire,” he said. “It was pointed right at us!”
If Malchiel had not turned to face Jerusalem – and the weapon had not misfired — it could have resulted in a much different outcome.
In Judaism, the practice of facing Jerusalem while praying is known as “kavod ha-makom.” While there is a tradition of facing Jerusalem during prayer, it is not a strict legal requirement in Jewish law (Halacha).
In the Talmud, there is a discussion about the proper direction in which to pray, and it is mentioned that Jews outside Israel should face towards Jerusalem, based on verses in Daniel and the Book of Psalms.
The Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem is considered a particularly significant location for Jewish prayer, and many Jews around the world choose to face that direction during their prayers.
And he said, Listen you, all Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem…Thus said the LORD to you, Be not afraid nor dismayed…for the battle is not yours, but God’s. (2 Chronicles 20:15-23)