Chabad’s mobile ‘mitzvah tanks’ have become well known on Israel’s streets for their successful activities aimed at bringing the Torah and its commandments closer to people.
This week, the tanks helped bring the spirit of Lag BaOmer to Israel’s citizens. The tanks were visible in nearly seventy centers, including neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Yehud, Lod, Herzliya, Petah Tikva, Azor, and many other cities in central Israel. The tanks, which were specially decorated and set up for Lag BaOmer, also visited the Samaria community of Nachliel and the other towns in its vicinity and then went on to southern Israel, including Netivot and Ofakim. They even had a special meeting with IDF soldiers at the IDF base in the Negev.
Chabad reported that exciting telephone calls were received in many of its offices from its various emissaries, who reported that the preparation and the effort invested in decorating the tanks for Lag BaOmer proved themselves. The colorful tanks, which played music through their loudspeakers, served as a catalyst for many children and their parents to participate in processions in honor of the divine sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, whose holy life is commemorated on Lag BaOmer.
Many Chabad emissaries said that news of a tank's appearance in the Lag BaOmer procession brought many children and their parents to the celebrations. Rabbi Shimon Biton, a Chabad emissary in Lod, noted that his many years of experience have proven that the presence of the tank in the Lag BaOmer celebration brings with it record participation. He noted that this year, with the tank present, more people showed up than in the year when a helicopter took part in the procession.
Gearing up for the Shavuot (Pentecost) Holiday
Rabbi David Nachshon, who chairs the mitzvah tanks initiative, noted that now that Lag BaOmer has ended, his team is beginning to prepare for the holiday of Shavuot. Already this past week, he began to travel to schools throughout the country with a special workshop on the subject of receiving the Torah, the main emphasis of the holiday of Shavuot.
As part of the workshop, explained Rabbi Nachshon, students get a chance to witness in person a Torah receiving ceremony with a real Torah Ark located inside the tanks. In addition, students will learn the procedures for preparing and writing a Torah scroll. This part of the program will be integrated with a video and a meeting with a scribe. At the conclusion of the program, each student will have the opportunity to write a letter in the Torah.
Rabbi Nachshon added that many school principals choose this workshop as it offers them an opportunity to bring a mobile synagogue, located in the tanks, into their schools. This, he said, brings the ceremony of receiving the Torah to many children whose schools did not allow them to do so until now, due to lack of funds or the sometimes impossible logistics involved with the process.