Margalit Mogilevsky and I share a carpool to bring our daughters to school every morning. We speak occasionally about technical arrangements, usually light and insignificant talk about accommodating slight changes in our schedule. But this past week, when I called Margalit to ask her if she would talk to me about her son, Levi Yitzchak (ben Margalit) who is currently serving in the paratrooper’s unit that began the ground assault on Gaza, there was no light banter in our conversation.
“My stomach is always in knots,” the strain is apparent and Margalit’s voice sounds far away. “This is something that you live with, but you never get used to. You sleep with it; you wake up with it. It is a feeling that is always there. It never leaves you.” She sighs, but forces herself to continue a few seconds later, this time, her voice much stronger, “But I know that he’ll be ok. G-d is watching him.”
Margalit continues, “I just keep hoping that Israel will do what it has to do – completely destroy its enemies, so they don’t arm themselves again and again. I fervently hope that what Levi is doing will be made worthwhile. Then all this will be justified.”
In almost a conspiratorial undertone, Margalit confides in me Levi’s plans for the future, “You know, Chana, I’ve spoken to him often about his future. After all this is in his past, Levi wants to settle down and go back to yeshivah. One day, he hopes to become a shaliach, a Chabad emissary.”
At only 20 years old, Levi Yitzchak Mogilevsky is barely past his teens. Together with the rest of his family, he grew up in our quiet, almost sleepy, suburban Thornhill community. But there was a passion burning in him. Levi decided to join the Israeli army close to two years ago and trained in the Special Forces.
“Levi was always so passionate as a kid,” describes his older brother, Rafi who is 22. “He always wanted to do everything fully, 100 percent of the way. He translated his passion into the army. He wasn’t satisfied to just volunteer to join a unit; it needed to be the Special Forces. He trained for more than a year, as opposed to regular training of six to eight months. The training was mentally and physically grueling, but he was set on his goal.
“Levi loves people,” Rafi continues. “He is great at boosting the morale of everyone around him, helping them to get to the finish line.
“And he loves the Jewish people. He is passionate about defending his brothers and sisters…his land…our land. Levi`s got such a big heart,” the brotherly pride is evident in Rafi’s voice.
“The last time I spoke to him, Levi was on the Gaza border,” Rafi turns very serious. “He was in good spirits. Of course, he was rightfully nervous.”
Margalit interjects here, “But I sensed he was more worried about us being worried for him than he was about himself. That is Levi.”
Rafi continues, “Levi described how everyone in his unit was praying. ‘But they aren’t praying for themselves,’ Levi clarified. ‘All the guys are praying for one another. They pray that the guy behind him – and the guy in front of him – will come out of this ok.’
He described the amazing connection that they have for each other…the amazing quality only found in the Jewish people.”
And how is a brother who obviously has such love and pride for his younger brother coping right now?
“How do I cope?” Rafi asks. “I keep praying. We have a lot of faith. They’ll be ok. Levi is an avid believer in what he is doing. He wants to have a hand in protecting the Jewish people and G-d will protect him.”
“Levi’s younger brother, Avi, who is 19, is now in a yeshivah in Israel,” Margalit tells me. “Avi and Levi are very close. In every spare moment, Avi’s been going around encouraging as many Jews as he can to put on tefillin, as a spiritual protection for all the soldiers, beside for Avi’s own extra prayers and Torah studies.
“I just spoke with Avi,” Margalit continues. “He gave me so much encouragement. ‘Ma you must be joyful,’ he tells me. ‘We must have optimistic confidence that all will be good. Happiness breaks through barriers.’”
The struggle is almost evident in Margalit’s voice, the tension of a mother worried about her son; she totters at the precipice, vacillating between fear and faith, torn between terrifying worry and confident joy.
But the latter emerges victorious, as Margalit concludes confidently, “All will be good!”
It’s got to be good. Levi has many bright plans in store for his future.
Watch Chana Weisberg’s two minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouch for your dose of weekly inspiration. Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers – Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman. She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.