Right after the Sabbath ended, Elie got a phone call. In a real war situation, it would be his responsibility to call his soldiers and mobilize them to the front. This is tested, even under non-war conditions. So Elie got a call – tell your soldiers to mobilize “drill”.
This meant that Elie had to call his soldiers and confirm that he could reach them. The phone was busy for one soldier, two others didn’t answer. He continued to call. The busy line returned the call; another accounted for. When Elie completes the list, he will call his commanding officer, who will, in turn, call his. All accounted for; exercise complete.
“What happens if you can’t reach someone?” I asked Elie. He looked at me strangely. Impossible. A soldier has a responsibility to be ready at all times, within reach within a certain period of time.
“They could go to jail if they don’t respond within x hours,” Elie told me. He continued to call – all accounted for; the “mobilization” was successful – not it’s back to a week off.
Tonight, Elie arranged to be on-call with the ambulance squad all night. If there are any problems, they’ll call him and he’ll run out and catch the ambulance as it races to its destination.
Tonight, Elie also checked, like a mother hen, where his soldiers are – it’s an element of his personality – to volunteer, to want to help and an element of the sense of responsibility the army wants its commanders to feel – to know where their men are, to know how to reach them, at all times.
Like a mother who sometimes does an internal accounting to know where her children are, I thought to myself. Breathe deep, relax. All present and accounted for, all within reach, all aware that though they are home, they still remain soldiers responsible for Israel’s safety and should there be a threat, they will be called, they will have to run.
Finally all clear, Elie phoned his commanding officer back. The pretend mobilization behind him, Elie went back to being Elie…on call for the ambulance, playing on his computer, and relaxing in his room.