Demand for religious Jewish garments surges in IDF as soldiers seek spiritual protection

This rise in demand has led to the launch of several initiatives aimed at supplying Israeli thousands of soldiers with tzitzit.

By Mindy Rubenstein, World Israel News 

Tzitzit, the traditional fringes or tassels worn by religious Jewish men on four-cornered garments, are in steep demand in the IDF following the outbreak of war on October 7th, with thousand of soldiers who otherwise wouldn’t be considered religious have been requesting tzitzit for spiritual protection.

The four-cornered garments serve as a means of fulfilling the biblical commandments found in Numbers 15:37-41 and Deuteronomy 22:12.

This surge in demand has led to the launch of several initiatives aimed at supplying Israeli soldiers with tzitzit. One such campaign, titled “Spiritual Armor,” is led by an American rabbi affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement.

Rabbi Shmary Gurary, the director of development at Bnos Menachem Girls’ School in Crown Heights, New York, initiated this fundraising drive, providing thousands of pairs of tzitzit to IDF soldiers.

“We know that tefillin [phylacteries] and tzitzit are our spiritual armor, which provide special protection,” Gurary explained. Many soldiers conveyed their desire to wear tzitzit while on the battlefield, even if they do not typically wear them in their day-to-day lives, he said.

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Additionally, the Israel-based Ptil Tekhelet organization, claiming to have rediscovered the long-lost blue dye used in tzitzit, is also providing IDF soldiers with tzitzit. The organization reported an unexpectedly large number of requests for these religious garments since the conflict began, having already supplied “hundreds” of soldiers with tzitzit.

“We are out! There are no army Tzitzit left in the whole country!” said one tzitzit supplier, according to Bruria Efune, a Chabad rebbetzin in Be’er Sheva.

“We don’t give up here, so I contacted a friend from Meaningful Minute, and she came through, connecting me with Donny,” Efune shared on social media. “Donny had a whole group of young yeshiva students and retirees who were tying tzitzit specifically for soldiers. He told me about a whole network being set up of yeshiva teens tying Tzitzit for soldiers.”

One problem—the lineup for them was “huge,” she added, as soldiers all over the country were asking for Tzitzit.

Maybe it was because they heard about a soldier named Guy Madar, whose life was saved because of his tzitzit.

Madar had been in the synagogue celebrating Simchat Torah when he heard about the terrorist infiltration into the Jewish communities next to Gaza. He grabbed his gun, hopped into his car, and drove straight towards the border. He arrived in Re’im and instantly got caught up battling terrorists.

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Madar eliminated multiple terrorists, before collapsing from gunshot wounds. For two and a half hours he lay side by side with the dead terrorists, praying to be rescued.

But Madar was wearing his civilian clothing, so when the IDF arrived and saw him lying with the terrorists, they assumed he was one of them, and started to walk away. Guy tried to scream that he was a soldier, but he was too weak and barely a sound came out.

Then one of the IDF soldiers looked back and shouted, “he’s wearing Tzitzit! He’s one of us!”