web analytics
December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Boys To Men: The Fighters Who Gave Us Israel


The early morning air drifting off the port of Haifa passed through the tents housing the sleeping new recruits secretly based at Kibbutz Ein Shofat.

Six to a tent, the recruits woke up to the call of Abrashka, a handsome, athletic, and extremely likeable kibbutznik in charge of training.

“Everybody wake up. In ten minutes we begin the march.”

The Palmach was a fighting unit that emphasized a brand of leadership stressing quality of character – which of course inspired the volunteers to give their utmost. Rank played no part in the Palmach. Officers were called by their first names, uniforms didn’t exist and the things that mattered most were charisma, character and intelligence.

Within fifteen minutes my father and his fellow soldiers were on their first march, crossing over rough terrain. Before joining the Palmach my father had developed his remarkable leg strength by regularly biking up the extremely steep Judean hills, many times with a friend on the back of the bicycle. But now he had to deal with Abrashka, a non-stop running machine.

When Abrashka gave the order to run, the 35-man platoon did just that, doing their best to keep up with him.

Dawn gave way to the sun rising over the eastern horizon, illuminating the majestic landscape and invigorating the platoon to run faster. The whispers of generations of exiled and martyred souls could be heard in the breeze, calling them to make real the dream.

Sweat poured down their faces, but the recruits would never disclose their intense discomfort and pain. Like a master craftsman, Abrashka had begun to mold them. They may have been infused with a strong desire to serve, but the new recruits had no idea just how drastically their lives were about to change.

Dedicated boys were about to be transformed into men of valor.

The inherent qualities the Palmach sought to instill in each recruit were starting to take shape – stamina, stoic outlook, tolerance of pain, selflessness, courage, humility, and a soldier’s honor as opposed to a fool’s pride.

The first march had come to its end and the fatigued men returned to their tents. Morning had arrived, and my father was about to enter the underground life of the Palmach fighter.

The men of the Palmach, stationed in kibbutzim and assuming the role of kibbutz members to avoid British capture, underwent military training while doing farm work 14 days a month to support themselves.

The days were hard – unrelenting work and training – but the nights were a magical blend of stars above and campfires below, Palmachnik fighters singing impromptu songs, drinking coffee, telling jokes, and dreaming of the moment the exile would end and the Children of Israel would return home.

As the weeks passed my father, Motke, and his new companions learned how to handle weapons and mastered face-to-face (krav panim el panim) combat, stick fighting, jumping and rope climbing.

The fighting methods taught were original and geared to the realities of Mandatory Palestine. But before the unit was allowed to undertake its first mission, one more of Abrashka’s runs had to be endured.

The march began early in the morning. Abrashka gave the command to run and the unit responded like a well-oiled machine. Suddenly my father felt something in his foot. The pain was excruciating, but he knew if he stopped or slowed down, morale would be broken.

At that moment, the Palmach spirit Abrashka had so relentlessly worked on kicked into place. Step after step, mile after mile, my father focused on the platoon rather than on himself – a technique all Palmachniks utilized when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Only when the twenty-mile march-run had come to an end did my father allow himself to relax. He took off his shoe. His foot, bleeding profusely, had a nail in it.

The Palmach lived and fought by the motto Po Lo Maznichim Chever – Here We Don’t Leave a Friend Behind. The dedication of these young Jewish warriors was something beyond mere Zionist aspirations. They were ready and willing to part with limbs and even life itself to fulfill the dreams of their ancestors, to redeem the millions of Jews lost in the Holocaust.

It was this phenomenal level of self-sacrifice, this mesiras nefesh, that achieved the victory of 1948 as Jews like my father fought off the Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian, Lebanese and Iraqi armies. It was a mesiras nefesh that resulted in a flourishing state whose yeshivas, hospitals and charities are so great in number as to be unprecedented in Jewish history.

About the Author: Avi Schwartz is a musmach of MTJ. A rabbi, filmmaker, writer and speaker, he is a co-founder of Shomrei HaAm (Guardians of the Nation), an innovative kiruv organization, and Torah Entertainment Productions, a Torah film production company. An earlier op-ed on his father's experiences in the Palmach appeared in the Feb. 5 issue of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at mschw136@aol.com.


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.

No Responses to “Boys To Men: The Fighters Who Gave Us Israel”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Cinema City Iron Man Theater in Jerusalem. (illustrative)
US Govt IDs North Korea in Sony Cyber Terror Attack
Latest Indepth Stories
Greiff-112814-Men

Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof

Two dreidels from the author’s extensive collection.

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.

Sprecher-121914

The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.

Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US

No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?

For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

For Am Yisrael, the sun’s movements are subservient to the purpose of our existence.

Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation

Anti-Semitism is a social toxin that destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy.

Amb. Cooper highlighted the impact of the Chanukah/Maccabee spirit on America’s Founding Fathers

Zealousness has its place and time in Judaism; Thank G-d for heroic actions of the Maccabees!

Israel and the strengthening of the Jewish people in faith and numbers has brought a growing light

More Articles from Rabbi Avi Schwartz

The early morning air drifting off the port of Haifa passed through the tents housing the sleeping new recruits secretly based at Kibbutz Ein Shofat.

Summer 1946. His high school days over, my father, Mordechai Schwartz, was faced with a decision that would affect not only his life but the lives of generations to come.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/boys-to-men-the-fighters-who-gave-us-israel/2010/07/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: