Shmulik learned about arrogance as S. asked him why he was driving so slowly, pushed him to speeds that were necessary, and cautioned him to slow when conditions required it. He told Shmulik he was driving “like a girl” – and laughed when Shmulik responded back with a comment about S.’s family.
One of the things that meant the most to me was the fact that in his being this big commander of the base, S. is also humble in his way. At least when it comes to his wife, “she’s the fighter,” S. told thousands of people and it was clear that he meant it. “She’s what lets me be here.” While he is at the army several nights a week, his wife is home taking care of the family, a much harder job, he would have you believe, than his.
He was explaining where he lives, a bit about himself, “I’m married,” he explained, “and I have four daughters.” When he didn’t get the expected laugh, he said it again, “yes, four daughters.” This from a man who spends his life training young men to be fighters. I heard a similar speech a few weeks later when we attended Chaim’s ceremony. He and Shmulik were on the same base for a time and so a similar speech was made to the parents of Chaim’s unit. This time, people laughed right away and he grinned proudly.
The thing about S. was that he pushed his soldiers to find the best in themselves and he did it in a way that inspired them to want to reach down and find more. He inspired Shmulik with his dedication and his love of Israel. This is the land he defends and he treats his soldiers as his sons.
I know he’d like to have a son, but what came through each of the times he mentioned his family is that he is clearly a man in love with his ladies and felt that all children are gifts from God. He thought it was funny, I think, that here he is in a world of men, with a world of women at home. And the respect with which he spoke about his wife, how she is the support of the family, the true fighter, that showed what a man he is.
Shmulik works as a security guard now at the local mall. Several times, he has seen S. come to the mall with his daughters. “They walk behind him like a row of ducks,” Shmulik told me with a smile. “They just follow him and he knows they’re there!” And they remember him. The come running up to him and call him Abba’s chayal – their father’s soldier.
Last week, Shmulik told me that S.’s wife was expecting again – and today, he told me she gave birth to another daughter. Five daughters. Shmulik thinks that is very funny and wants to call him. Somehow, I have no doubt that S. is smiling too. Yup, he’s a man with five daughters and he remains an inspiration to hundreds of sons.
Mazel tov to S. and his wife, the fighter – I don’t know if you will ever truly understand what you give to your daughters…and to your sons.