I know you are used to me writing on matters of health, fitness, lifestyle, nutrition and the like. But now I am going to take advantage of my column space and tell you about something else entirely.
My wife and I will have lived in Eretz Yisrael for 29 years this August. We have raised a large family B”H and we are, of course always proud of our children and derive nachas from them. Over the past three weeks, my family, which is pretty diversified and pretty much a microcosm of Am Yisrael, has really come through—just like all of Clal Yisrael has.
Three weeks ago, my son Yisrael got his Tzav 8 to go to milluim (reserve duty) immediately. Yisrael served in the Nachal Hareidi during regular service, but for his milluim, he switched to being a soldier attached to an armored unit. After two days of training in a base in the north, his unit was put on buses and taken directly south. The Thursday morning before the ground incursion into Gaza, he was let off for 24 hours but told to stay with his phone at all times. He was supposed to return from his brief visit with his wife and twin girls (ages 1) Friday afternoon but contacted me early in the morning as he needed to return immediately and needed someone to drive with him and then return the car to his wife in Givat Ze’ev.
Enter my daughter Suri and son-in-law Moishe. They, like all of my kids are great Baale Chesed. Moishie is an avreich and gives a shiur in a Yeshiva for English speakers. That Friday morning they were hosting a chesed bris milah in their apartment in Neve Yaacov. I called Moishe and told him of Yisrael’s predicament. He left the impending simcha, met my son, drove with him to the south (with rockets falling in that area often) and brought the car back, all on a Friday while his wife, due in one month, took care of the bris, making Shabbos, and taking care of her four children.
My son Gershon is a very popular musician. He plays with popular stars in Jewish music, travels all over the world and gets paid well. The week before this, he took any free time he had and went down to the south to play music for soldiers and help instill some ruach and chizuk. With all of his traveling, he doesn’t get to spend as much time with his wife and children as he would like to sometimes, but for him, this was duty calling.
My youngest son Donny is in Nachal Hareidi in the army and recently finished basic training. He is not yet ready for battle, but because of the situation, he isn’t getting off for Shabbos at all as they are replacing other soldiers by doing guard duty at other bases. He is complaining a little, but that’s okay. The bottom line is that he is doing what needs to be done.
All of my other children are doing what they can. We have all increased our learning, bettered our davening, added Tehillim every day, and we are trying to help anyone who needs it when we hear about it. We are trying to the best of our abilities to give Yisrael’s wife the support she needs.
Yisrael entered Gaza two Shabbatot ago. He was in for 6 days straight before coming out for a respite and has been back again. Now, he and his unit are right on the border and patrolling looking for possible infiltrators coming out of tunnels. He may yet have to go in again.
For me personally, I get up every morning, go to davening and then straight to work. Things look normal, but they really aren’t. We are all doing our jobs as best we can, but a good portion of our thoughts are always elsewhere.
It is now 6 weeks since the awful kidnapping of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad. It has been a very long 6 weeks, and a lifetime’s worth of events has happened. We have seen achdut in Clal Yisrael that is unprecedented. We have seen some of the most amazing nisim and niflaot, miracles and wonders you can only imagine. Tens of thousands of people have come out to bring lone soldiers to their kvura. Chareidim, Datiim, non-religioius, Ashkenazim and S’fardim, old and young, men and women and kids.
When I look at my own family these past three weeks, I am amazed, but we aren’t different from anyone else in Eretz Yisrael right now. We are, like everyone else, just trying to do whatever we can to make a bad situation better.
May our tefillot and chesed lead to Hashem bringing our kedoshim to victory over the enemy and bring all of them home safely. May the scores of wounded have a refuah sh’leima and may all of the families of those who gave their lives have a Nechama. And all of us should remember what achdut can bring.
Mi K’amcha Yisrael!
Oh yes; I guess I would be negligent if I didn’t remind all of you how exercise is a great way to cope with stress—so consider yourself reminded and get some.