Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar visited IDF soldiers at the border with Gaza Wednesday as the military continues preparations for a possible ground offensive to stamp-out rocket fire on Israeli civilians.
Many of the soldiers have been waiting anxiously at the border for as long as week, and Rabbi Amar - who is considered one of the leading Sephardic rabbis - sought to raise morale by offering words of encouragement and blessing the troops.
Rabbi Amar visited several IDF positions along the border with Gaza to meet with soldiers, and was received warmly by officers and local rabbis alike. Immediately after arriving at each place, the rabbi made a point of blessing the soldiers.
"I have come here in the name of the entire Nation of Israel in order to strengthen and pray with you," he said. "You should know that all the people of Israel stand behind you and pray for your success."
At each stop Rabbi Amar was mobbed by hundreds of soldiers who asked for personal blessings for safety and success in light of their potentially dangerous position. The rabbi had brought with him books of tehillim (psalms), tzitzit and a special prayer for soldiers going out to battle which he distributed among the soldiers.
He was visibly emotional as he led the soldiers in reciting psalms and prayers, as even secular soldiers donned kippot (skullcaps) and prayed together with him, many of them with tears in their eyes.
Commanders and soldiers alike thanked the rabbi for his visit at such a difficult time, which they said helped uplift their spirits amid the tense and anxious wait along the border.
Some soldiers told Arutz Sheva that they had been touched by the "warmth and love" Rabbi Amar had conveyed in his visit and said the rabbis words had "given them strength" to enter Gaza if necessary.