Rescued hostage Shlomi Ziv donning tefillin (Israel Select) (Photo: Israel Select)
Shlomi Ziv

“God, if you get me back home alive, then I promise to put on Tefillin every day.”

By United with Israel

It was 8 months of a living hell — and then it was over. After being taken hostage on October 7th by Hamas terrorists, 41-year-old Shlomi Ziv was heroically saved on June 8th by elite soldiers of the Israel Defense Force.

What kept Shlomi from losing hope throughout those dark months in the hands of evil terrorists? An unwavering faith in God, he says.

In the depths of Gaza, as other hostages around him were murdered, Shlomi refused to give in to despair. He reminded himself, over and over again, that if G-d willed he be taken captive, G-d too can bring him safely home.

“Even though I had only said the Shema prayer a few times in my life, I said it every day while in Gaza. I also made a big promise to G-d. I said, “God, if you get me back home alive, then I promise to put on tefillin every day.’”

Shlomi, a non-religious Israeli, is not the type of person who dons tefillin every day. Yet he instinctively understood the power they hold.

Tefillin (phylacteries) are two black leather boxes with straps that Jewish men are commanded to wear on their head and arm during morning prayers.

They represent the Jew’s connection to the Creator and the conviction that He alone decides our fate. While wearing tefillin, the Jew proclaims his faith in the Lord with the declaration of the Shema prayer (Deuteronomy 6:4): “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”

Shlomi had not heard of the Israel Select Tefillin Campaign of Rabbi Josh Friedman.

He had no idea that around the tiny country of Israel, thousands of IDF soldiers were drawn to observe this mitzvah (commandment).

Shlomi was totally cut off from the world for the last 8 months. He only knew what the evil terrorists told him in their twisted mind games.

Somehow his soul was crying out to be tied to G-d through the straps of Tefillin.

That’s why, when Shlomi was tearfully reunited with his family in a Tel Aviv hospital, the first thing he said was: “I need Tefillin.”

If you want to link arms with Rabbi Friedman’s mission to help connect Jewish men and soldiers to God through Tefillin, click here to learn more and donate.

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