|1 month ago :: Aug 17, 2014 - 8:13AM #261|
The impressions of the fighting in Gaza are still with us, and are often reinforced as we speak with the soldiers who fought there.
Yesterday we had a "meal of thanks" in our neighborhood (not much of a meal, mostly small cakes, watermelon and soft drinks - but a great deal of gratitude) for the accomplishments of the IDF in Gaza and for the safe return of every one of the 40 or so soldiers from our neighborhood. It was held outside, and hundreds of people from the neighborhood came. Someone had made a huge sign and hung it on one of a fence: "Thank God for He is good- His lovingkindness is eternal!" Some psalms were recited, and our rabbi spoke, and a very moving rendition of "Nishmat Kol Hai" (The soul of all that breathe bless you) was recited. Bust most of all, we were all together and our soldiers and sons were home. One young man was engaged on Friday, and people were happy to wish him Mazal Tov.
Another young man who had been in Gaza got married last week - another mazal tov. The previous Shabbat I attended his 'sheva brachot" (7 blessings - the traditional week of feasting for a bride and groom). The young man described where he was two weeks before for the third Sabbath meal - on the roof of his tank in Gaza with another soldier. They had been munching on some pretzels and decided to sing the 23 Psalm, customarily recited at the third Sabbath meal:
1 A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Here are some of his remarks as I remember them:
I saw an interview on TV with "Officer Eitan" - a soldier who had risked his life by running into a tunnel to look for his friend and soldier. In the end, he only found evidence that the soldier was no longer alive. The young man insited he was no hero - just a soldier doing his duty. Before he returned home from the front, he visited the family of the soldier he had tried to save. They were sitting shiva, based on the ruling of the army rabbinate that their son was dead. It was a a very emotional meeting, and "Officer Eitan" returned their son's tefillin and prayerbook to them. The dead soldier had a twin brother - and when he and "Officer Eitan" hugged each other, tears came to their eyes - and I think most of the viewers joined them. In the course of the interview he came across as very brave, determined, devout, modest, sensitive and gentle.
This describes many, many of our soldiers - and I am convinced that the strength of their spirit is what made the amny accomplishments of this war possible.