And I, as a grandfather who never served in the IDF and now has lived to see his grandson reach this holy moment, offered this prayer: “May God bless you and keep you and protect you as you protect Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. May your passion to defend Israel be coupled with thoughtfulness and a recognition of all of Jewish history that has brought you to this moment. I am proud of you and love you to the end of the world.”
I keep thinking about what my daughter Elana, who is blessed with nine children – seven boys and two girls, the youngest just a year old – recently said to me. “Abba, I will be the mother of a soldier for the next twenty-two years.”
I offered another prayer: May peace come to Israel and the world well before then.
Rabbi Avi Weiss is founder and president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. His parshah column appears weekly in The Jewish Press.