July 25, 2024
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July 25, 2024
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Paradox and Miracles: A Few Thoughts from Under the Dome

You can touch the Kotel, smell the honeysuckle, see the birds circling Je­rusalem, taste the kaffee hafuch, but you have to pay attention so you will hear the red alert warning.

We have the newest and best technology in the world, but the sol­diers still have to hitch a ride to their bases on the front. The residents of Netivot spend much of their time in bomb shelters but come out to the main road to applaud the army con­voys and miluimniks driving by. The skies are blue and cloudless, marred only by the vapor trails of enemy mis­siles and iron dome defenses.

We warn the enemy by phone, text, leaflets and non-explosive mis­siles to vacate targeted areas, yet many in the world call us immoral. We use our missiles to protect our children and families. They use their children and families to protect their missiles.

We are bombarded with over 1,000 mis­siles, yet can count our casualties on one hand.

In the middle of a war, in the middle of the desert, in the middle of a Golani base, we davened Mincha under a tent (and I was able to say Kaddish for my father’s yahrzeit). Ma tovu ohalecha Yaakov.

The IDF has the iron dome, high tech drones, deployable robots, and sophisticated cameras and listening devices. But it was us, fellow Jews of NY and NJ, who supplied them with clean underwear, clean socks, and clean T-shirts. There are 3,000 soldiers near Gaza wear­ing our shirts with the Beach Minyan and East Hill Synagogue logos.

Our mothers would be proud. You, we, should be proud.

Paradox and Miracles (Part 2)

The missile bombardment continues without letup; same with the coffee drink­ers in the cafés. As the red alert goes off, people calmly put their coffee down and go to shelters. They remain there for five minutes and then return to their seats and continue where they left off. The more the new normal looks like the old normal, the happier they are.

The national unity is the highest I have ever witnessed. There are actually prayer vigils in Meah Shearim for the safety of our soldiers. Aside from a few on the radical left and right, the people are of one mind. Miracle?

Jerusalem has not been red alerted in the past few days and the gentle holy still­ness of Shabbat (kol demama) is setting in.

A lot of Shabbat tables will be without their young men and women who have been called to the army. But the scents of Shabbat cooking permeate the city and the cell phones are ringing from young people on the front line calling home to say, “Shab­bat Shalom, mom, I’m okay.”

The news of a deceased young soldier, per­haps killed by friendly fire, is on everyone’s mind. We are not willing to accept that “bad things happen in war.” The people expect bet­ter from themselves and from the army. It is the holiest and most moral army in the history of mankind.

Once again I say, “Be proud.”

The brave 18-year-olds are aware of their 3,000-year heritage. We adults are keenly aware that they are also the gatekeepers of our future.

Don’t get me wrong. There is still fear in the shelters of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot, et al. We accept fear but not terror. And that’s why we will overcome the enemy.

We distributed clothing and gifts to the soldiers. They were most heart­ened by the fact that we came from America representing our congrega­tions. But they were mostly moved when Rabbi Reichman distributed letters written by young children of Englewood wishing them health and letting them know that they, the chil­dren, were praying for these soldiers.

It may be my imagination but there seems to be a little less horn-honking than during usual times.

Ben-Gurion is famous for saying that here in Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles. Amen.

When you make the mi-sheberah for Is­rael and for the IDF, think miracle.

Shabbat shalom to all.

By Eli Katz

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