The Rambam in the Sefer HaMitzvot (Mitzvat Ase- 5) cites the mitzvah of prayer that he derives from the verse, “V’oto Ta’avodu”. In the Laws of Prayer the Rambam writes that a person is obligated by the Torah to pray every day. However, the Ramban in hishasagot (critiques) of the Sefer HaMitzvot proves that prayer every day is not a Torah mandated requirement, but a rabbinic one. Nevertheless, the Ramban concedes that it is possible to say that during times of distress we are obligated to study Torah and to pray. “And our eyes and hearts should be turned to G-d alone as the eyes of servants to their master.” This is in accord withParshat Baha’alotcha (BaMidbar 10:9), “When war will come into your land by the enemy that attacks you, you will sound the trumpets and be remembered before the Lord, your G-d.” (There is a broad halachic discussion as to why today we do not blow trumpets during times of danger and war.) The Ramban quotes from the prayer of Shlomo HaMelech, which he said at the time of the dedication of the Beit HaMikdash (Melachim 1, 8), that during any danger or trouble the Jewish people should pray to G-d.
One should ask if a war we initiate and attack our enemy in his land is considered a time of distress? According to the Ramban, are we obligated in prayer by the Torah just as when the enemy invades our Land and attacks us?
The commentators differentiate between Parshat Baha’alotcha (BaMidbar 10:9), “When war will come into your land…” andParshat Ki Teitzei, “When you will go out to war against you enemies…” The verse in Parshat Baha’alotcha is stated in the plural language of “coming”. The war comes to our Land and in this context the requirement of prayer prior to the salvation is mentioned. Whereas the verse in Parshat Ki Teitzei is stated in the singular language of “going out” and makes no mention of prayer, only that “and G-d will deliver (your enemy) into your hand.”
When we analyze the prayer of Shlomo there appear two sections that deal with war. The verse 33 (of Melachim 1,8) Shlomo mentions the Jewish nation being attacked, their sin, and repentance. Whereas, the second verse describes their “going out” to wage war with their enemy. However, there is no mention of attack and sin. The Radak derives from this distinction that in verse 44 there is no punishment. Even so there is room for prayer as Shlomo demonstrated. The prayer is for all the soldiers who are on the front lines and in mortal danger. The prayer is for salvation, as Shlomo concluded, “and You will do them justice.”
Further, one may analyze if the current war satisfies the definition of the Rambam of, a required war- a Milchemet Mitzva – that would include a war which provides “Assistance for the Jews from the enemy that comes upon them.” The present war has not seen a direct attack upon Israel. Nonetheless, the Gulf War twelve years ago and the real threat that Iraq will attack again with missiles and biological and chemical weapons is sufficient to oblige the “King of Israel” to wage war in order to remove this horrific threat.
Therefore, everyone needs to strengthen their tefilot and focus their thoughts. One may even add an additional prayer in the blessing of Shome’a Tfilla. By doing so one will fulfill the Torah requirement of prayer according to the Ramban. According to our original explication of the Ramban one should also increase one’s Torah study at times like this. May G-d accept our Torah study and prayers for the sake of the peace of all the soldiers on the front, the peace of Israel, and the peace of the entire world.