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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
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Lebanon: Crossing And Possessing


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The parshah continues: “And it shall be that when Hashem, your God, brings you to the land that He swore to your fathers, to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov, to give you great and good cities that you did not build. And houses filled with every good thing that you did not fill, and hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant; and you will eat and be satisfied” (Deut. 6:10-11).

Except for the part about being “satisfied,” all the rest came true. We found cities that we had not built. Some of the houses were, in fact, “filled with every good thing.” We debated whether we were halachically permitted to enjoy the spoils. In the end, the IDF ruled that it was forbidden. I permitted myself only a single souvenir – and it was worth less than “sheva prutah.” It was a decorative Hizbullah charity box in the shape of the Dome of the Rock, which spelled out in minute detail – in both words and pictures – all the Israeli targets slated to receive “treatment” in the merit of these “charitable” funds.

After there was no more bottled water left in the local grocery store, we drank water from private wells. (We purified the wells with the chlorine tablets found in the medic’s kit, and thereby destroyed their natural taste.) Of course, we also ate from the vineyards and olive trees that we had not planted.

Moshe Rabbeinu had instructed the Jewish people the following: “When Hashem, your God, brings you to the land to which you come [Shamah] to possess it; and He will cast away many nations from before you And Hashem, your God, will deliver them before you, and you shall smite them; you shall utterly destroy them; you shall not make a covenant with them; and you shall not show them favor” (Deut. 7:1-2).

Uncanny! Why did we merit this revelation, when we were brimming with sins?

The parshah has an answer for that as well: “Hashem, your God, has chosen you to be for Him a treasured people, out of all the peoples upon the face of the earth. Not because you are more numerous than all the peoples did Hashem desire you and choose you; for you are the fewest of all the peoples. But because of Hashem’s love for you, and because He keeps the oath that He swore to your forefathers ” (Deut. 7:6-8).

Events unfolded just as Hashem had promised. We merited Hashem’s protection, exactly as the verses describe.

And so, with joy and pride, I was reminded of these occurrences – for some 15 months later, after Friday night Kiddush, I set out for guard duty in Gush Talmonim in the Binyamin district.

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About 15 months after the Second Lebanon War, we were called up to reserve duty in the Gush Talmonim region, part of the Binyamin Regional Council. On the second Friday night, I enjoyed the privilege of leading the entire company in singing, “Shalom Aleichem.” Although there wasn’t even a minyan of shomrei Shabbat men, the soldiers pulled out their hats in honor of the song (a handful placed a hand on their heads), and all respectfully rose to their feet – including the Bedouin trackers.

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