web analytics
October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



This Time It’s Personal

When my daughter first made aliyah she was a student at Hebrew University. After a year she called me and told me she was enlisting.

DSC_1300.jpeg

I still remember, when I was a boy of just seven, walking with my father, early on the morning of 6th October, 1973, to synagogue. He had promised me that I could break my fast shortly after arriving. Now, he stopped me en route and told me a war had just broke out in Israel and the small Jewish nation was fighting for its very life. The situation was dire. I should show God added devotion by fasting longer in deference to the life mortal struggle of my fellow Jews. I was upset, I was starving, but I did as he asked and broke my fast after mid-day.

That Yom Kippur was my first memory of an Israeli war. We feverishly watched the news over the next few days until Israel finally began to turn the tide and push its enemies back.

There were moments of elation as well. I remember being in Chabad sleep away camp in Homestead, Florida on 4 July, 1976, American’s Bicentennial, when an excited head counselor started screaming over the loudspeaker that Israel had pulled off a daring rescue of Jewish hostages in some far-off place called Entebbe in Africa.

Fast forward to November, 1982, when I was a student at Chabad High School in Los Angeles. I traveled on a Friday, at the height of Israel’s war in Lebanon, to witness the arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to the Century Plaza hotel before the Sabbath to show my solidarity with the beleaguered leader. I still remember Begin arriving in his dark limousine looking ashen-faced, having just heard the terrible news that tens of soldiers had died in an explosion when a building had collapsed in Lebanon. Still, he nodded his head in his car to me as he passed. Tragically, even more bad news would await him as his wife Aliza would pass away while he was in Los Angeles a few days later.

There were other pressing moments in Israeli history that I remember well. But none comes near the current action against the terrorists of Hamas which has touched deeper than any previous occurrence. This time, we have a daughter in the Israeli army and her base in just a few kilometers outside of Gaza.

She was standing at a ceremony on Thursday morning when Hamas’ murderous rockets began to rain down near her base. The sirens went off and everyone was ordered to a bunker. They watched as Israel’s ingenious Iron Dome went to work. Tragically, it was not enough to stop a rocket from hitting Kiryat Malachi and murdering three Chabad Chassidim, including a pregnant woman. My daughter heard the explosion. She can still see the hole in the roof of the apartment building easily from her base.

The base was evacuated and my daughter moved to the relative safety of Jerusalem on Thursday night. My wife and I breathed a sigh of relief. But then, before the Sabbath came in, we were informed that she and a skeletal crew were ordered back to the base on Saturday night for guard duty. She would have to remain for a few days thereafter. That Sabbath, I was a scholar-in-residence in Palm Beach, Florida and, during one of my speeches, I asked the Synagogue to pray with me for her safety and the safety of all Israel’s soldiers. Never before had the prayer for Israel’s Defense Forces meant so much or been felt so deeply.

Over the next few days when I called my daughter on the base the phone conversations were interrupted many times as the alarm sounded and she had to rush to safety in a nearby bunker. I was amazed at her courage and sense of normalcy. This was her new life and she would get used to it without panic.

Beginning in 1988 at the University of Oxford I made defending the State of Israel against its enemies a central calling in my life. I have given countless lectures on Israel’s safety, security, and right to defend itself and written even more columns on the subject. But it’s different now. It’s gone from the abstract to the very tangible and real.

I have always heard about parents who have children in the military during a war. You try not to think about it. You tell yourself the chances of God forbid anything happening are negligible as to not be worth worrying about. But you are forever aware that you and your child are in God’s hands. You turn to Him for comfort and safety. Your daughter is an adult. She has made their decision to serve. You honor and respect it even as it engenders serious discomfort and leaves a pit in your stomach at all times.

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “This Time It’s Personal”

  1. Yehuda Cohen says:

    In truth the last sentence should be "our children succeed wherein their parents fail and continue to fail for not moving to and living in Israel.”.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Mu'taz Hijazi
Non-Apartheid Alert: Suspected Shooter Worked in Begin Center
Latest Indepth Stories
Adolf Hitler and the representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, December, 1941.

Palestinian anti-Semitism in 2014 is more extreme and mainstream than German A/S in the 1930s.

Sheldon Silver

Woven deeply through it all is the Jewish obligation to fight injustice.

Cravatts-Richard--new

Only in the inverted world of academia would Jewish professors denounce the AMCHA Initiative report.

Leb-103114

Many poskim were and are adamant about the responsibility of every individual to vote.

Individuals who may have been abused are the “clients” in need and receiving care and protection.

An accomplished Torah scholar and ardent adherent of Bobov chassidus, he was renowned for his self-effacing dedication and skills as an international lawyer and law professor

The fact that the United States government after World War II sought to take advantage of the expertise of German scientists, even those known to have contributed to the Nazi war effort, is well known and largely accepted as having been necessary for America’s national defense. (Wernher von Braun is perhaps the most famous and […]

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

The birth I speak about is to give birth to ourselves, to our full potential.

The extreme hypocrisy, contempt & vulgarity of the attacks indicate more than a policy disagreement

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/this-time-its-personal/2012/11/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: