Israel Aid

Shalom – Sunday, November 5, 2023

Our rabbi was away for the sabbath and I was asked to give the sermon in our synagogue 

I asked people , how many ever shot a gun. -75 percent raised their hand. 

I asked how many people ever shot a person – One raised his hand ( he was a former policeman) 

My  oldest son  Ben , who has a law degree, worked as a lawyer and then decided he wanted to be a Rabbi so he went back to study in a rabbinical program. He has  5 young children, is married to Ellie and currently  is serving in the Golani 13 brigade up North leaving his family in New York to serve in the country.  He previously served 3 years and has done reserve duty for many years. 

Judah served as a tank driver but in the current was his unit was not called up so he is helping in other ways. 

My youngest son is currently a reservist in a unit that he prefers I not mention but it is in a non-combat role.

The boys all grew up in Bet Shemesh along with most of their friends who all have or are serving in various combat and non- combat units.

They were all brought up by parents with similar values to the ones I tried to teach them. None of us preached violence , hate, or any of the things you have seen from Hamas. In fact, they were all brought up with values of respect, honesty, and to strive for peace. 

Unfortunately , in Israel , everyone has to go to the army and learn to fight and defend the country. Unfortunately , our children end up having to shoot a gun and do things that are the opposite of everything we want for them in life. Some of them have to kill multiple people.  Some have to drop bombs from planes, some have to shell from tanks. 

I can assure you that none of the hundreds of soldiers I know In the army feel good or want to harm any innocent civilians nor to act in any undignified way. They all have kids and families and preach the same values we taught them growing up.

Our soldiers are not like soldiers in other countries. In the United States , the army is made of of people who volunteer to defend the country and mostly have to go around the world in order to protect United States interests.  In Israel , everyone does mandatory military service and then has reserve duty. Those who are in fighting units are future doctors and lawyers and start up entrepreneurs. They are fathers and brothers and children . They left their jobs, their families , their lives to defend the country.  What they do is out of necessity and not because its their job. 

We just read in the weekly portion. that Ishmael used to tease Issac by shooting arrows at his younger brother. Ishmael was 13 years older than Isaac Abraham was convinced by Sarah to send Ishmael away. 

Apparently, Ishmael learned his lesson because rather than continue the hate and the fight over who was going to continue the lineage of Abraham, he matured and focused on his own life.

If fact, the sages tell us that Ishmael accompanied Isaac and Abraham when at age 37 ,Issac was almost sacrificed in a test by g-d . Ishmael didn’t take the opportunity to make sure something happened to Issac. In fact , Ishmael had his own areas of the land that he inherited and co existed with Issac. You don’t read about any continued fighting between the two.

Further in the same weekly reading , we see Abraham was able to maneuver thru problems with various neighbors in the Gaza area  without ending up having wars and killing people. They made a treaty for 3 generations with one of the non -Jewish neighboring Kings, which resulted in the treaty of Beer Sheva (one of Israel’s largest cities in the south today).

We do not want our children to carry guns nor to have to learn how to use them. But when we have to defend our country , our families and our very existence as a people, we allow our children to be trained in all the things that we prefer they would never know. 

I have learned more about supplies and weapons and other military issues than I care to ever know.

But we hope and pray that after we stand strong and win the war, we should be blessed with peace and that the people in Gaza get leaders that invest  in the same education that we give our kids. The education of knowledge, hard work, science , loving kindness , morals, family and respect. 

These are  things that all religions are supposed to have in common. I just hope that the people of Israel learn the lesson of unity and that we can implement some of this in our own internal disagreements after the war.  May g-d give us the strength to fight , but may he give us the strength to be unified after the war and that should be the blessing to have peace both outside to the world and inside among ourselves.

Shabbat Shalom

A Message from Shalom