Letter to the editor,
Erev Shabbat: It was such a nice feeling.
I could say, “Todah Rabbah.” Thank You to an Israeli soldier and salute. I was returning from the supermarket near my senior residence, at 12 noon Oct. 7, Friday morning. I was about to enter the tunnel which makes it so much easier to reach, by walking, where I live. Suddenly two cars pulled up, blocking the way for me.
Two other cars were parked just beyond the two just arriving.
From each of the two cars, an IDF soldier hopped out retrieved his duffel bag in the trunk, said thank you to the driver and began to walk to one of the cars already parked.
I looked at one of them with such a smile on my face. As he began to move in the direction of the first car, quickly, I raised my voice, “Todah Rabbah, thanks.” I saluted him; he smiled and walked on.
Another soldier came out of the second car, I saluted him too as he passed. What a privilege for me to be able to see and honor these two soldiers-chayalim, protecting me on their way home for Shabbat.
The Israeli army, Tzahal, has a policy. Even in the midst of a war, as we are experiencing today, soldiers can receive 24-hour leave. They get a ride from their base, sometimes via a bus; they arrive at their home, often times to their wife and children, for others their parents await them.
How happy, I am personally, when I hear that one of my almost half a dozen grandchildren serving is home. When the Israeli army fights close to home, and the way back is not blocked by the enemy, the individual soldiers are permitted to have such a leave. As you can imagine, no one goes home unless there are enough soldiers to cover for him or her.
I salute the ability of the Israel Army. I salute the men and women who serve.
I salute the Haredim, ultra-orthodox, who are accepting their responsibility. I was moved when I saw on TV this week, 5 early middle-aged bearded men, each with his rifle, guarding Meron. Proudly, all had been soldiers in their youth. They volunteered for duty immediately and were being restrained by a woman soldier who was also shown on the screen.
My friends and family, please pray for the Israeli soldiers. Please let their spirit inspire you. Please recognize the danger they face every minute of every day.
Please thank them for showing us how precious Israel is to them and am Yisrael the Jewish people. Let God know – he or she – must play a role too. When divine and human energy merge, a deep commitment to protect our people becomes very real.
Rabbi David Geffen, Israel – formerly Atlanta