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Home » Events in the News, Ki Tavo, Military

Ki Tavo: The Ice Bucket Challenge

Submitted by on September 8, 2014 – 9:41 pmNo Comment | 3,044 views


An amazing thought struck me. When ice buckets started to rain down on North America, rockets stopped raining down on Israel. I was curious to see if this was true so I went on line to research it.

What I found was uncanny. No one really knows when and how the Ice Bucket Challenge began, but one thing is known. It was June 30 when personalities on the Morning Drive show from the Golf Channel performed the Ice Bucket Challenge on air, bringing the challenge to the attention of North America. Chillingly, it was also June 30, when the missing Jewish teenagers, Eyal Yifrach, Gilaad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, were found slain in Israel. This brought closure and mourning to the families and a nation that had been searching for the missing teens for days.

Mat Lauer garnered even more media attention when he performed the challenge on July 15. This was the same day that Israel accepted a unilateral cease fire, which was followed up two days later by a humanitarian cease fire. These were small hiccups in the course of the war, but they were the beginning of a process that culminated with the cessation of hostilities for the time being.

On July 31, Peter Friates, a former captain of the Boston College Baseball Team and an ALS sufferer, posted a video of his challenge online and the Ice Bucket Challenge took off. On that same day, a three day cease fire was announced in Israel. Sadly, this was shattered shortly thereafter by the killing and capture of Lt. Hadar Goldin, which led to intense fighting, but within the week, the shelling slowed down and another cease fire was announced.

The Ice Bucket Challenge really went viral in mid August. On August 12, USA Today reported that the challenge had thus far raised 2.3 million dollars. By the end of August it had raised more than a hundred million dollars. While several celebrities lent their name to the cause in the early part of August, it was only later in August that the Ice Bucket Challenge became a household name.

Correspondingly, a cease fire was announced on August 10 that held for a little more than a week, at which time, news of a long term cease fire agreement was announced. During this week, celebrities such as former President George W Bush, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and actor Charlie Sheen further extended the reach of the campaign by taking the challenge online.

This cease fire lasted only several hours before intense fighting broke out again, but by August 26, a month long cease fire was announced that has since held.


Is all this merely coincidental or is there something deeper at play? This is a question you and I will never answer. Some will argue that the correspondence of dates is merely statistical phenomenon. Others will argue that it clearly demonstrates Divine reward for good deeds. Yet others will point to alternate world conflicts that continue to rage.

I won’t go on record either way, but I will say this. The very fact that we are talking about this is wonderful. That philanthropy is rewarded by G-d, is to us a matter of faith. That peace returned to Israel, is a matter of fact. Whether peace in Israel was in reward for our charity is a matter of speculation. But speculation raises discussion and discussion raises awareness and this is a good thing.ice bucket challenge - innerstream

The fact remains that the news cycle this summer was dominated by two large stories. First, the conflict in Gaza, second, the Ice bucket Challenge. There are many other serious and ongoing stories, such as the crisis in Ukraine and the growing threat of ISIS, but the media, for their own reasons, chose to highlight these two stories and for us, it is an opportunity to discuss charity.


The Torah makes the following statement. “When you have finished tithing all the tithes of your produce… you shall give [them] to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, so that they can eat to satiety… Then you shall say before the Lord, your God, “I have removed the holy [portion] from the house, and I have also given it to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow… Look down from Your holy dwelling, from the heavens, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground which You have given to us, as You swore to our forefathers a land flowing with milk and honey.”[1]

Let’s explore the words of our Talmudic sages. “When we fail to support the poor and tithe properly, rain and due are diminished, Israel falls to its enemies, inflation skyrockets and profits plummet. Many pursue their livelihood, but fail to succeed.”[2]

Elijah, asked Rabbi Nehorai to explain the spiritual cause of earthquakes. The Rabbi replied, “When the Holy One Blessed Be He observes that Israel fails to tithe correctly, earthquakes come to the world. But when Israel fulfills the Divine will and tithes correctly, G-d protects the land and they come to no harm.” Elijah later confirmed that this is indeed the heavenly truth.[3]

Our sages further stated, “If you tithe, you will merit to work your fields and prosper. If you don’t, you will contend with Esau, man of the field.”[4] “The only reason we were exiled from our land is that we failed to tithe correctly… it is therefore vital that we tithe properly today.”[5]

“It is forbidden to test G-d to see if He will reward us for good deeds, but charity is the exception as it is stated, “Test me with this, says G-d the Lord of Legions.” [6]

The Torah posits a clear link between charity and the prosperity and security of Israel. Our sages elaborated on this link and stated clearly that our wellbeing in Israel depends on charity across the world. This is not just an ancient truth. According to our sages, it is a contemporary truth; supporting the needy anywhere in the world, enhances the economy and security of Israel.

Ice bucket Challenge

So long as the rockets fell, the Israeli economy, particularly in the realm of agriculture, was paralyzed and Jews, particularly in the North, were driven from their homes. I don’t know if the Ice Bucket brought Divine relief to Israel, but I will say this. Keep pouring cold water over your philanthropy because charity leads to blessing.[7]


[1] Deuteronomy 26: 12-15.

[2] Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 32b. Avos D R Natan, ch. 38.

[3] Jerusalem Talmud, Brachos, 9:2.

[4] Midrash Tanchuma on Deuteronomy 14:22. Note that Esau refers to Rome, who exiled the Jews from Israel.

[5] Avos D’reb Natan, ch. 20.

[6] Babylonian Talmud, Taanis 9a and Chinuch #395.

[7] That is not to say that immodest videos must be posted online every time a bucket is poured.

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