In the chill, still hour of early morning, there was an atmosphere of anticipation and solemnity, as bus after bus filled with women charged with a mission: to pray at the holy gravesites of tzaddikim in the North on behalf of the many ill and distraught of our people.

No onepr Day of T'fillah 2013 1605_ne_photo_stories1_33b9c was more fit for the task than they, the women who give selflessly of their time and energy throughout the year to assist those in need. As Ezer Mizion volunteers, their presence is felt twelve months a year: in hospitals, where they distribute meals and take over shifts sitting with patients, in homes of seniors where they come to brighten the lives of the homebound, in the Ezer Mizion kitchen, where they package food for the ill and their families.

And on this day, they are entrusted with the most important mission of all: to pray for all of us to the Supreme Healer.

This year, a record number of thirty buses brought women from all corners of the country – Jerusalem, Modi’in Ilit, Ofakim, Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, and more – and from the entire spectrum of Jewish society. Though the women were of a wide range of ages and affiliations, they were all members of one “family” – the Ezer Mizion family, whose common trait is to seek the welfare of others above their own comfort.

With exquisitely organized logistics, the buses made their way smoothly to the gravesites of the Shelah, the Rambam, and Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes in Teveryah, and to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron, where the women poured out their hearts in fervent prayer. In the early afternoon, the buses gradually converged in Tsfat, at the burial site of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair. Each of the women received an esthetic and tasty packaged lunch, which they ate at gracefully set tables, and then took their seat in the neatly lined rows of chairs set up under a huge tent.

The climax of the day was the warm address of Rabbi Chananya Chollak, International Chairman of Ezer Mizion. Rabbi Chollak quoted from the letter of Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wozner, that “We are witness… to many young families torn by the terrible illness… in numbers never seen before… This is the time to awaken… and beg His mercy.”

Rabbi Chollak pointed out that on Shavuopr Day of T'fillah 2013 1605_ne_photo_stories2_d6e02t, in addition to receiving the Torah, we also received “arvut,” responsibility towards our fellow Jew. That is the purpose of our lives: to give of ourselves to others. In addition, “If one prays for his fellow, then, when he or his family is confronted with the same misfortune, Hashem shall deliver him.” At the Giving of the Torah, all the sick and disabled were cured, because when the Jews were unified, they were able to achieve full atonement. Today, as well, Rabbi Chollak quoted Rabbi Aharon Shteinman as saying, were it not for the massive chessed that is being carried out, we would not survive; this is what saves us!”

At the conclusion of his rousing words, Rabbi Chollak led all assembled in a moving prayer of Minchah and Yom Kippur Katan. In this spirit of unity and giving, the crowd boarded the dozens of buses and headed home, inspired and determined to keep up their holy work.