My daughter’s husband has entered the army – another soldier in the family. It’s a bit different because he’s older than most, having delayed the army for a number of years to learn. Another big difference is that he, like most of the unit with which he will serve, goes in with a wife waiting for him at home. I’m enjoying sitting back this time and watching the army come alive for her as it did for me four years ago. Last time, I was the one who knew nothing. She experienced much of her brother’s time in the army, but she had just gotten married two weeks before Elie went in, so there was a measure of distance.
Now it is all up close with her, closer even, perhaps, than it is with a mother. She’s already experienced the army’s changing its mind. Her husband went into the army as part of a special program for ultra-Orthodox Jews. The basic training was scheduled, changed, changed again, and probably a time or two more than that.
Today as we drove into Jerusalem, she and Elie were talking about initials – army terms that indicate a rank or a responsibility. A Mem-Mem is a commander of a unit. Above that is a Mem-Pay – a commander of a pluga…a bigger unit. I don’t know the English terms.
There is no Mem-Mem-Mem – but my daughter has decided that there always has to be one Mem (for Mifaked, or commander) above another and so she has decided that if things go wrong, her husband should apply to the Mem-Mem-Mem.
So far, he is doing wonderfully. He is motivated, interested, committed. It is also interesting to watch Elie. Elie wants to give advice to his brother-in-law, even when it isn’t really needed yet. I sit back and listen to all this army talk – of Shmulik and Chaim and Elie and now my son-in-law too.
And I can understand my daughter as well – it isn’t easy those first few weeks, adjusting to the fact that she can now only speak to her husband for a few minutes a day. The good news is that as a married man, he is home every Shabbat, even during basic training. He came home this past weekend and it was hard for him to talk. He’d spent most of the week running and shouting, “Yes, Commander!”
I smile when I think of him in the army. It is good for him, good for them, good for their future. The army takes care of its married soldiers and even my daughter laughs when she thinks of her Mem-Mem-Mem creation.
We don’t yet know what he will be doing in the army after basic training, but whatever it is, it serves this land.