Older Dude reports to base, tomorrow. I am unhappy. On the one hand, it’s a mitzvah to defend the existence of the Jewish state. On the other hand, Madinat Yisrael is not Am Yisrael. Most of our leaders are not Torah scholars. Most of our leaders do not act in accordance with Jewish mores. My little boy is going to be at the mercy of commanders, and of the politicians to whom the commanders report, who are missing some rudimentary ethics.
Nonetheless, it is as much the duty of my family to defend The Holy Land as it is of other families. We must not wait for Moshiach; we must bring Moshiach. We bring Moshiach through actions. When my family made aliyah years ago, we knew our sons, when they came of age, would be drafted.
Yesterday, Older Dude reported to Tel HaShomer, the central IDF base. He, and a few dozen fellows like himself, young adults who had been in hesder programs, but had elected to leave and to embrace three full years of service, met at Bsis Klita UMiyun, the induction center at the central base, for induction. They got "militarized," that is, they received their uniforms, their basic gear, and their assignments. We think some of the swatches of material are for patches. We know the extra bootlaces will come in handy.
My child was assigned to the Givati Brigade, which is part of the Southern Command. I used to like the color purple (purple is the color of that brigade’s berets). I’m no longer sure that I find that hue attractive.
My sweet oleh wanted kravi, combat, as his assignment. In Israeli culture, despite the fact that only about 10% of all enlisted personnel are actually designated as fighters, it’s apparently of “social status” to be among that minority. (No, I don’t regret sending my son, when he was younger, to train in mixed martial arts; kids without that background seek kravi assignments, too).
Yet, I pointed out to my child, to that former little boy, the one who used to hide behind my knees when towering adults bent to speak to him, that he could have tried to get assigned to the engineering corps, which is considered combat support, and as such is still respectable among adolescents, or that he could have opted to be placed in intelligence, which is vital to our nation’s defense, which would have made good use of his aptitudes, and which, by teen standards, albeit a jobnik, i.e. a noncombat, post still gleans deference.
I’m only a mother. He didn’t listen.
So, my new campaign is for him to try out for one of his brigade’s sayeret units. If’s he’s going to be a killer, he might as well be a highly trained killer and he might as well be surrounded by other highly trained persons. Mothers, more than anything else, want their children to survive.
I don’t worry over cold food or cold showers, rumbled clothing or uncomfortable sleeping quarters. Those facets of army life, at some level, are superficial. I did ask him, however, if his issued boots fit properly (he has wide feet) and whether he was going to receive glatt kosher meals. As well, I was glad to hear that he and his fellow new draftees davened mincha while they were assembled at Bsis Klita UMiyun.
Computer Cowboy, Missy Younger, Younger Dude, Missy Older and her husband, and I, will try to be Older Dude’s ground support. I’m not sure what that joisting will look like since we’ve never had a child/sibling in the armed forces before.
I guess HaKadosh Baruch wants my prayers. There will be many of them during the next three years.
I look forward to readers’ remarks on this topic. Please don’t send political comments. No matter which party received your vote in the last election, no matter which stream of Judaism feels like home to you, and no matter how much you think other Israelis could act differently, bashing other Jews, at day’s end, has small utility. Achdut, unity, as never before, is something I want to foster.
Accordingly, I invite readers to write in with their own army experiences, with their memories of parenting children serving in the IDF, and with general statements of emunah, faith. Perhaps the biggest change we can and ought to make is to be available to encourage each other.
Life happens. Expect it. Help another Jew.