He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God, from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.
Each Shabbat this prayer is read aloud and each Shabbat when I hear this in the synagogue, I think of Elie. How can I not? I close my eyes and I listen to each word. Protect them, please, wherever they are. Elie has stood guard close to the desert of Egypt, and near Jordan (the Aravah). He’s been near the Great Sea and in the center of the country, and now, he is close to the border of Lebanon.
I’ve had almost a year where I really didn’t have much to worry about – though, of course, I managed to convince myself to worry nonetheless. Our southern areas are under attack from Gaza rockets on a daily basis, but Elie was stationed at a training base outside the range of these rockets (so far anyway). Sometimes he was cold or hot – he was never hungry, never alone, never really responsible for doing more than following the orders of his commanding officers. I worried because there wasn’t really much else I could do – or I worried because there might have been something happening, or something silly happened (like Elie sleeping on his phone and calling us at 3:30 a.m. by mistake).
One time I worried because I knew something had happened on the Syrian border and Elie was nearby and for a few hours, the country (and the world) waited to see if there would be a war – but even then, it wasn’t about Elie and I knew at each moment that he was ok. I didn’t know if the next day would bring war, but I knew on that day where he was and that he was fine.
After his basic training, he went to advanced training. There was a short period when he was actually “on the line” guarding one of the many necessary check points that help our soldiers prevent almost daily instances of would-be attackers coming into our cities and then it was back for another four months of training to be a commander. I had silly worries when he was training as a commander. I worried about the cold, but that was easy to solve with a couple of extra warm thermal shirts. I worried about the challenges of the course itself but I just knew he’d fly through it. And as I stood and watched him receive the new rank and bars of a commander, I worried about where they would send him and what he would be responsible for when he got there.
That’s it now – he’s trained. He’s ready. He’s on the border of Lebanon.
May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor against our enemies.