Israelis Take to the Desert to Cry Out to G-d
Hundreds of Israelis gathered this week for prayers, dancing, and singing in what has become an annual event. “The Tza'aka” (crying out to G-d), an event where Israelis of all ages and backgrounds go out to an isolated areas and raise their voices loudly in prayer, is “communicating with G-d on a very basic level, without the need to dress it up with speech or actions. In essence it is like blowing a shofar,” organizers of the event said. “As a result, the prayers here are more concentrated and directed.” The events have genrally been held in the Judean and Negev deserts.
Eldad Eilat, one of the event's organizers, said that the event was the result of the need for prayer under unusual and pressurized circumstances. “We learn about the concept of crying out before G-d from the Exodus, where we see that the Jewish people cried out. G-d heard their cries, and redeemed them. Since then, our rabbis – including Maimonides, the Chafetz Chaim, and Rabbi Nachman of Breslov - have recommended that we conduct prayers in this manner,” he said.
Eilat said that the idea for the “Tza'aka” was born several years ago, when war appeared to be on the horizon. Seeing the situation, he and a group of friends decided that this kind of activity would be an appropriate response. The event was a major success, and as word spread several well-known rabbis, as well as hundreds of people, sought to participate. An event that was held last week, at the request of a well-known rabbi, drew some 2,000 people, Eilat said.
The events attract people of all backgrounds, he said – religious, secular, and otherwise. “There were many deeply religious people at recent events, many teenagers and young adults, well-known rabbis and individuals from the religious world, and some who don't fit any category,” Eilat said of the last event. “It is a wide-ranging crowd. What unites them is their caring and love for the Jewish people.”