Thursday, June 23, 2016

Facing the Enemy

When you think about an army and soldiers, your first thought might be about war. Soldiers fight wars, right?

But the reality is that soldiers do so much more, especially in Israel. Here, they are an integral part of our society and the army not only knows this but encourages these thoughts. Yes, God protect them, they fight in wars. But they also patrol the streets and roads of our country, not just our borders, our skies, our seas.

They are often used to help - one day during basic training, David and his unit were taken to a farmer nearby to help him prepare the ground for planting. What's the connection? Pretty simple - they work the land...the land they are going to be protecting. They are doing physical work, perhaps using muscles that are different than the ones they have been developing for the last six months. More, they are doing good, showing that farmer, his community and beyond, that the army and soldiers are a fundamental foundation of our society.

Two weeks ago, we traveled south to Givati's home base for the closing ceremony for his basic training. That's it...he's a soldier, fully trained and, God help him (and me) ready for combat. This week, for the first time, the army ignored the soaring temperatures. During training, commanding officers watch the weather and change their plans accordingly. At a certain temperature, soldiers are not allowed to train; at a higher temperature, they are restricted to virtually no activity beyond resting and drinking. If possible, they will train through the night when it is cooler and sleep during the day.

Last week, as the temperatures reached into the upper 30s C (high 90s F), Davidi's group did what it had to do, regardless. They drank more, they took smaller breaks, but they had to continue. That's what it's like when you are stationed at a check point. There is no stopping because of the weather. For the next while, David will be subjected to intense heat in the summer, and then the cold of Israel's winters. Rain when it comes, though probably not snow. Wind, dust storms...more than a mother can bear to think about.

This all starts next week for real. Last month and for the last six+ months, it was all about training. This week, it was about simulating, learning, preparing. Next week, my son will be at a check point "somewhere" in Israel. The first is a relatively quiet one; for this I can be grateful, at least.

But starting next week, I can no longer pretend he isn't in danger, that but for the weapon he carries, his fellow soldiers, and the Ever-Watching God of Israel, he is "out there."

This is the time in a soldier's service I have come to dread.

For Davidi, it is a relief, a break from the strenuous training schedule. They won't make him walk tens of kilometers a week, though he will be standing for hours and hours at a time. Where once he called his commander by the formal address of "Mifaked," (Commander), now they are addressed by their first names. They are all soldiers of Israel.

For me, he has passed through another door - further out of reach than he was before. Closer to our enemies, those who mean him harm. My phone will always be near me; my heart always on alert and afraid. My brain will once again look to the heavens and wonder why hearts are so illogical.

It is a contradiction of life in Israel - that you raise your son to be where he is, only to wish desperately that he wasn't.

May the God of Israel look after my son, watch over him, protect him. Him and all the soldiers of Israel.


Harold Ullman said...


Our prayers are with you, your family, and your son, and all are sons, serving or soon to be serving, in Tzahal.

A Soldier's Mother said...

Thank you, Harold! Regards to everyone in Livingston!!!!

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