It’s Friday morning in Israel. I need to get moving to finish cleaning the house and preparing for the Sabbath, which begins tonight. My oldest daughter is sleeping a short distance away in the home she makes with her husband. My youngest daughter got up this morning, I made her lunch, and she caught the bus to school a few minutes ago. My daughters amaze me. I look at them and understand that it is through the strength of the Jewish woman that our nation survived. They are grace and beauty and sensitivity…and since I’m completely impartial, it must be true, right?
That leaves my sons.
My oldest is upstairs, asleep. Elie. I couldn’t even begin to find the words for what I feel for him. He’s at a hard point in his life; harder even than the army. The army was a part of the road he had to take. I knew, growing up, that I would go to university in America. It was inevitable. Elementary school, junior high school, high school, university. Here in Israel, it is a bit different, in that last place, they have army. So going to the army is as inevitable as university was for me.
There is no choice, no wondering if there is a different path. It is accepted, expected, inevitable. Elie flew through the army in so many ways. It wasn’t easy for him, but he simply took each challenge and truly made the best of it. He let the army shape him because he liked what was being formed. Now, as they warned him would happen, he doesn’t have the structure, the routine, and so he is struggling to find the path, to know that he has taken the correct road. I keep wondering if he will go back into the army, if that would be best for him. He keeps saying no and yet the army remains a vibrant part of him.
Shmulik is upstairs, asleep. The army was harder for him initially, but he has found his place and is enjoying the ride, the service. He didn’t let the army shape him and I’m not sure it changed him that much but he has always been the quieter, more internal of the two. He is the gentler one who lifted weights to make himself stronger. He is the one who clowns around a bit, makes us all laugh. He is such a blessing to our family. He is getting married in just six weeks. I can’t believe it. I’m beginning to get nervous. We need to do so much to get ready and I have to get moving. We’ve just about finished phase one of the apartment below our house where he and his bride will live. We still need to paint it and put in a kitchen. I have to get clothes for everyone. The costs are overwhelming, but it has to get done. The clock is ticking away.
Davidi is upstairs, asleep. It is hard to believe what he looks like. The body is that of a man, or close to it. He towers over me. Like his two older brothers, the baby fat is gone. He’s more solid than either of his brothers and is slowly inching his way up to reach Elie’s height. At only 15, I’d say he has a good chance of passing him. He’s changed since he started school this year. He’s more mature, more aware. He’s more active, more considerate.
And me…I’m sitting here happy that this is my life, here in this amazing land. There are threats on the horizon, coming from all directions – from the north, from the south, from the northeast and even further to the east and perhaps even from the west. Scary things – we have identified several nuclear sites in Syria – again. Yesterday, Iranian warships docked in Syria, probably carrying weapons for Hizbollah on our northern border. A war with Lebanon is almost inevitable now that Hizbollah has raised its interest and participation in the Lebanese government.
War with Gaza is likely as well. This week, they shot rockets into Beersheva, again. By the grace of God, no one was injured, though a home was destroyed. Iran continues its drive towards nuclear weapons and the world fiddles. If I let myself think of the tomorrows to come, I would quickly become disheartened. A friend on Facebook asked if it wasn’t time for me to consider bringing my family back to America.
I can’t blame her. She has never been here and understands little of our life here, our commitment to this land and country and more, the firm belief that I have that this is our only stand. Not just our last stand, but our only one. This is the only land that has truly been our home and we will not be taken from it ever again.
For this reason, we send our sons to our borders and pray each day that they will return safely. Israel wants peace more than anyone can imagine. We have done more, time and time again. In the book of Exodus in the Bible, it says that God hardened Pharoah’s heart so that he would not release the Jews from Egypt. The rabbis explain that this does not mean God set Pharoah’s heart against the people of Israel, but that He increased the feelings that were already there.
The truth of the history of this land is so obvious and so clear. There never was a Palestinian state. The population of pre-1948 Palestine consisted of Jews and Arabs. The Arabs chose not to establish a state on the land they would have been given and chose the path of war. They lost. Again and again, they lost.
I can’t help but wonder if God is not again hardening the hearts of others, making them blind to the simplest of truths – the Palestinians, the Arabs, do not want peace. They do not want to settle for a Jewish state in their midst and it isn’t about these borders or those. They do not want us here and will never settle for anything less, in the long term, but our complete obliteration.
And this we will not give them. By right, by might, by history, by love of this land, we are where we belong. So my sons sleep peacefully upstairs, while our other sons defend this land. Two of my sons have served (Yaakov and Elie), three are serving now (Shmulik, Chaim and Haim), and one will serve (Davidi).
Chaim finishes his service in the next few weeks; Shmulik in the summer. Elie finished the army the same week that Shmulik and Chaim entered it. It may well be that Elie will do his first reserve duty service the same time Shmulik finishes his service. It is a circle that seems to never end, a new day for all.
These are the children I brought to this land, that were born here, or came here on their own and joined our family. There are no words to explain the depth of my love for them just as there are no words than can explain the depths of the roots we have here.
The one great reality that comes to me on this day that soon brings the Sabbath, is that with the blessings of God, we will do always be here, in the land of our forefathers, the blessed land of Israel. Shabbat shalom.