Gifts, Prayer and Soldiers

27 Nov

As the leaders of several countries in the Middle East were making their way to the Annapolis conference (which has just gotten underway at the time of my writing this blog entry), I was sending my son off to take his place in the Israeli army.

It reminded me of Rashi’s comment in last week’s Torah portion, where he suggested that Yaakov covered his bases as he prepared to meet his brother, Eisav – the last time he had seen his brother, Eisav has vowed to kill him.

In preparation he did three things:

 First, he sent gifts. 

It seems to me that the various veiled promises and “painful sacrifices” that Olmert continues to allude to are a form of a gift to the arabs.  In case they might really want peace this time, we must go through the motions of “gift-giving” –  indicating what we will give up if they ever become serious about living together with a Jewish State…..most Israelis have lost interest in this whole peace-making endeavor, feeling like we all have been down this road before, and it just has never paid off – in fact, it has consistently made things worse.

Next, Yaakov prayed.

Despite all that has happened over the last couple of years.   Despite the painful disengagement, despite the failed war in Lebanon, despite the corruption charges and scandals, we continue to ask God to protect the leaders of this government, to direct them to do what is right, what is best for the Jewish people and our homeland.  I have heard that there are people and places that have stopped reciting the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel – that is upsetting. In the end, this is our governemnt, these are our leaders, they need our prayers…and how!

And third, Yaakov was a realist – so he divided up his family and he prepared for war.

Annapolis or no Annapolis, Israelis soldiers are being trained and prepared to defend the State of Israel and to protect her inhabitants. 

And we are proud to say that our son, Naftali, has become one of those soldiers.

We pray that there will be peace, we pray that we shall know no more war here, and yet, we prepare for all scenarios.

I heard a man who returned from a trip to Poland with my son, Yoni, and his senior class, speak about his expereiences there.  He said that after visiting the death camps of Poland, he now had a new realization.  He offered a new spin on the rabbinic maxim: The world stands on three things: Torah, Avodah, and Gemilut Chasadim.

From his perspective, Medinat Yisrael stands on three things:

1. Torah – for it alone gives us claim to this land

2. Avodah – work and contribution to society

3. TZAH”AL -The Israel Defense Forces.  Never again will Jews be at the whim of other nations and their national interests.  Jews will not be defenseless. 

He encouraged our young men to see the army as a privilege -as difficult as it may be to do so. 

I pray that Naftali will be safe, I pray that he will find positive experiences awaiting him, friends that he will have forever, and a sense of great pride in the invaluable contribution he is making to the Jewish people here in Israel and throughout the Diaspora, today and forever.

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5 Responses to “Gifts, Prayer and Soldiers”

  1. ellen Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 12:02 am #

    Of course our congregation still does and always will recite the prayer for the State of Israel. We will keep Naftali in our thoughts.

    Yasher Koach to you and Deena for giving Naftali the chance to serve Israel.

  2. Janis Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 12:48 am #

    Our prayers are with Naftali also. Thank you for sharing such a personal moment, I will pass on your message and continue to say the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel with renewed fervor.

  3. Barry Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 1:02 am #

    There is perhaps nothing that unites the Jewish people into one communal family more than the young men and women serving in the IDF. I’ll be thinking of Naftali each time we recite:

    “Strengthen the hands of those who defend our Holy Land. Deliver them; crown their efforts with triumph. Bless the land with peace, and its inhabitants with lasting joy.”

  4. Ed Porter Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 1:25 am #

    Our prayers are with you and your son. We also pray that the Annapolis meeting will produce something positive..

  5. yvonne Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 4:28 pm #

    I don’t know you but your letter brought tears to my eyes and I hope you son goes and returns as happy and healthy as he is today. May we all continue in saying the Prayer for the State of Israel and the Israeli Army. I will pass this magnificent and emotional piece on to others, as it should be read by all. Shabbat Shalom

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