I had a lot to write about an eventful day of visits, and then everything changed.
I was talking to friend whose son is in a paratrooper unit at the border with Gaza. The son called us during our conversation, and said “Abba, I need to call you now because I probably won’t get to speak to you before the Shabbat”. So with tears in his eyes, my friend gave his son the traditional Friday night blessing. After he hung up, my friend said this means that something is happening.
And now something is happening. Just a few minutes ago Israeli troops, after waiting for ten days, went into Gaza to put an end to Hamas’s attacks; attacks made by rockets and by tunnels, attacks made after an Egyptian brokered ceasefire was rejected by Hamas. And now, despite the hopes and prayers of so many Israelis, the soldiers of the IDF, most of whom are in their teens and twenties, are on their way into the hell of war.
The mood is somber; each soldier is somebody’s son and grandson and brother, young boys who deserve to have long and happy lives. Yes, as the leaders of Hamas like to point out, the Israelis love life. They would rather find a 100 different ways to avoid this conflict, but now have no choice. They have to protect this country, from Sderot to Metullah. One cannot live permanently under an Iron Dome.
So when my friend gave his son the Friday night blessing, he started to have tears in his eyes, the tears of a loving father; and now, as I leave to go home, I have tears in my eyes too. And I too want to bless our soldiers with the very same ancient blessing:
“May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face shine upon you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace.”
When I give my children their blessings tomorrow night, I’ll be thinking of all of our boys out in Gaza too, and blessing all of them at the very same time.