Anecdote from the Past (4 January 2016, 23 Tevet, 5776)
A good number of years ago a soldier in Israel found himself near the Poleg Junction close to the city of Netanyah.
In Israel ca. 60 % of the males and 40% of the females serve in the IDF for 2 to 3 years. After that many do annual military service for about a month a year.
In addition a large number of others are employed professionally in the armed services in some capacity or other. Soldiers traveling between bases or going on leave usually carry their rifles with them. The sight of a soldier with a gun traveling alone is a common phenomenon. The Poleg Junction is close to several Arab villages. Attacks on Jews, some resulting in death,Â in this area are not infrequent. The soldier was attacked by five Arabs wielding knives.
The soldier offered a short prayer and raised his rifle. He fired, and shot four of the Arabs directing his aim in an exact manner that resulted in their deaths. The fifth Arab fled. The soldier finding himself alone also left hurriedly, catching aÂ rideÂ from aÂ passing vehicle on the road nearby.
Meanwhile the Arab who had fled returned to the scene, gathered up the knives, and took them back to the village where he hid them.
Shortly afterwards the soldier was arrested by the police and charged with four counts of deliberate homicide.
The claim was that no weapons on the dead Arabs had been found and they had been killed in a manner that suggested premeditation, as if they were victims of a planned ambush. People who are suddenly attacked usually reply by shooting instinctively and rather haphazardly. They do not stop to take careful arm and hit their targets as if they were at a shooting range. Other factors and supportive evidence may have been involved as well. The soldier was sentenced to four life sentences. In jail he was denied basic considerations and treated like a wretched murderer of innocent citizens.
The soldier spoke to the local Prison Rabbinical Chaplain. He said he did not understand the ways of the Almighty.
"First HE saves me, then HE does not prevent them from putting me in jail!"
"How do you know HE saved you?" asked the Rabbi.
"I prayed to HIM and HE gave me the power to act as I did," was the answer.
The Rabbi continued his questioning, "You do not look like someone who is used to praying."
The soldier explained, "My grandfather used to say that God hears the prayers even of they who are not close to HIM."
The Rabbi related the incident to Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman. Rabbi Shteinman is a major Rabbinical personality in Israel. It is the custom among many of the religious to visit known rabbis, and take counsel from them.
Rabbi Shteinman said the soldier had prayed when he was in danger and had been saved. He should continue to pray with all his might.
Shortly afterwards the Rabbinical Chaplain was walking in the street when he saw the same soldier walking towards him. He was surprised and asked whether or not he had broken out of prison.
The soldier related that the fifth Arab had been arrested (apparently on another matter) and in the course of his interrogation the whole matter had come out. The Arab even took the investigators to his village and showed them where the knives were hidden.
The soldier was immediately released. Instead of suffering four life-sentences his period of incarceration had lasted only four months.