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September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
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The Last Secular Jew in Israel

Operation Hallel

Yehuda grabbed back the remote control from the paratrooper commander. He flicked the screen back to the map of the world. Nuclear missiles and bombers were zeroing in on the tiny Jewish State, yet his colleagues in the war room were clapping their hands. “Switch it back to the Temple Mount!” they demanded.

With the clock counting down to three minutes, Yehuda returned to the scene in Jerusalem. Four separate views of the Temple Mount appeared on the screen. The Moslem shrine had vanished. In its place, the Foundation Stone jutted up from the earth like the peak of a mountain, as indestructible as the Covenant which God had sworn to Abraham. Yehuda remembered the Bible story from his school days on the kibbutz. His teacher had called it a fable. His parents maintained that religion was a dinosaur of the past – the opium of the Jews of the ghetto. And that’s what he had passed on to his son, Shimson. Where was the boy now, Yehuda wondered? Hiding with his gentile wife in Mexico City, or rounded up in some detention camp in L.A.? When the boy had fled the country, a piece of Yehuda had died. His other son, his Uri, had been killed in a war. His wife, bless her soul, had dropped dead from heartbreak. The only thing which Yehuda had left was his allegiance to Tzahal and the nation. His keen pilot’s eyes stayed glued to the screen as Israeli tanks smashed into the Temple Mount courtyard. Another cheer went up as the voice of the tank commander came loud and clear over the radio. “Har HaBayit b’yadanu!” he shouted.

On screen number two, hundreds of yeshiva students were running up to a corner of the Mount. They came in swarms, singing and dancing, as if drunken with fervor. Their words, the words of the Hallel, sounded over the war room’s speakers. “The sea saw and fled… the Jordan turned back… the mountains skipped like rams….”

On screen number three, a team of Levites and Kohanim were erecting an altar which a flatbed truck had driven into the Temple Mount courtyard. A jeep sped onto the scene, towing a trailer behind it. The ramp of the trailer swung open. Precious time was ticking away as a Kohen tugged on a rope and led out the pure red heifer which Technion geneticists had bred.

And now, up on screen four, the King’s limousine sped toward the Western Wall where thousands of people had gathered. In the meantime, Yehuda flashed the screen back to the space map. Startled eyes watched as the rainbow of lights arcing over the earth began to flicker and fade. One by one, they disappeared from the screen. Another wild cheer filled the war room.

“Screen scan!” Yehuda ordered.

“Screen functions normal,” the chief technician answered.

“Computer check!” Yehuda barked.

“All systems normal,” the programmer affirmed.

“There’s got to be some mistake,” Yehuda mumbled as missile after missile vanished in outer space.

“There’s no mistake,” the Chief Rabbi said softly.

One by one, American and Russian space stations exploded.

“We didn’t do that,” Yehuda said.

“Why don’t you get a drink of water, Yehuda,” the old Rabbi said kindly.

“I’m all right, sir,” the lifetime soldier answered.

The clock read one minute and counting. On the world map, the remaining warheads were converging on Israel from all over the globe. On the Temple Mount, the praying was becoming more and more frenzied. Multitudes sang out in unison, “Why should the nations say, Where is their God? Our God is in heaven. Whatever He desires, He does.” The words of the prayer echoed over the holy city. Masses thronged toward the Kotel. Jews from all over Jerusalem joined together, pressing forward to glimpse the King as he pushed his way to Har HaBayit. “David, King of Israel,” they shouted as he approached. He reached the site of the outer courtyard and gazed up to Heaven. “My vows to the Lord I will fulfill in the presence of all His people,” he sang. “In the courtyards of the House of God, in your midst, Jerusalem, Halleluyah!”

The men in the war room were all strapping on their tefillin. An army commander, a Chabadnik, walked over to Yehuda and invited him to don a pair too. The diehard kibbutznik gazed down at the black boxes and shook his head no.

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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2 Responses to “The Last Secular Jew in Israel”

  1. chavazlotkin says:

    Wow! B’karov b’yameinu!

  2. chavazlotkin says:

    Tzvi, I’m glad you didn’t really go back to Hollywood!

Comments are closed.

Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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