When I first began writing this column for YWN, I never dreamed that it would turn out to be a column about war – but our three boys were kidnapped and brutally murdered shortly after my first column appeared and events snowballed as they tend to do in the Middle East. These days my thoughts run in so many directions that I can barely keep up with them myself.
I’m thinking about a letter that a soldier wrote to all of us from Gaza.
I’m thinking about the soldier whose mother insisted that he take a copy of the Sefer Noam Elimelech along with him into the battlefield.
And how she called him up again and again to insist that he carry it on his person wherever he went.
And how she called him up on the night before a terrible attack that would claim the lives of many of his fellow soldiers to ask him whether he was taking her seriously.
And how he told her that he’d switched his outer protective gear with another soldier and had forgotten his copy of the Noam Elimelech inside.
And how she ordered him to track it down.
And how he had no choice but to listen.
And how he was shot the next day and taken into the operating room.
And how the doctor told his parents that the Sefer Noam Elimelech saved his life, because its strategic placement on his body, caused the bullets to miss his vital organs.
I’m thinking about an interview with a Hamas spokesman, which was overheard by someone who understood Arabic. And how, the officer was asked why so many of Hamas’s missiles were missing their mark and ending up in the middle of nowhere. And how the officer replied, that Hamas had never been better prepared for a war then they were this time. But that the G-d of the Jews was helping His people. And how Hamas could only wait until He grew angry at them. (What a statement for a Goy to make!)
I’m thinking about the fact that our brothers in the army are operating on a battlefield with conditions unlike any others they have ever faced before. How everywhere they turn, there are tunnels and holes and wells and they can never know where the enemy will spring from next. And how while our side is taking endless care to avoid civilian casualties, the enemy hides their army bases beneath their hospitals and considers it the finest of strategy. And how our brave officers, carrying on the “Yoni Netanyahu” tradition of “Acharai! After me!” must lead their troops into the most dangerous locations in the world and cannot afford to lead from behind even if they wanted to, (which they don’t) because their experience and expertise are needed to make crucial moment to moment decisions.
And how, many fine, brave, young officers and their troops have been killed and will remain young forever.
I’m thinking that during WW2 the Allied forces obliterated Dresden and Berlin – carpet bombing those German cities into submission – and were unapologetic about their actions. And how the United States of America dropped two atom bombs over millions of innocent people in Japan because they wanted to bring the war to an end. And how, if missiles were to come flying across their borders, the UnitesStates (or any normal country) wouldn’t hesitate to respond in any way they saw fit.
But how when it comes to the tiny country of Israel, the world media’s double standard has never been so evident. Never mind the fact that a passenger plane was just shot down over the Ukraine – John Kerry is in the region and so is Ban Ki Moon. (How lucky we are!)
I’m thinking about the fact that the UN is threatening us with alleged war crimes in Gaza.
I’m thinking about the fact that we are a nation that dwells alone and we must never forget it.
I am thinking about a young boy who asked his parents to set up a meeting with Rav Grossman of Migdal Haemek for his birthday present. And how the secretary wasn’t sure if she could set it up, but when the parents explained that this was their son’s express birthday wish, she managed to find the time for the boy to meet the legendary rabbi. And how the meeting lasted much longer than anyone expected. And how, when Rav Grossman asked this boy why he had so wanted to meet him, the boy replied that he wanted Rav Grossman to explain to him how to do chesed.
The boy’s name was Gilad Shaar.
Is it any wonder that Hashem wanted him back?
I’m thinking about the worldwide Jewish brotherhood of solidarity and how the Jews of France are under attack and about the endless warren of enemy tunnels and of soldiers under fire and of the sound of the air raid siren and how life goes on despite all this for Hashem’s Chosen People.
And of the hope, that when we finally leave Gaza, we will have accomplished everything we set out to do when we went in.
And of our holy brothers who died al kidush Hashem and are assured a place of special beauty for all eternity.
It’s like I told you before. There is so much happening in this tiny strip of land that I can barely keep up.
Well written , as usual.
Although i didnt fully understand the need to add that last statement regarding Gilad Sha’ar Hy”d. We dont understand Hashems ways. Period.
So beautifully written. Thanks so much, Rabbi Seltzer. I was especially struck by the line where Hamas is waiting for Hashem to grow angry at us. Let us never let that happen!