Sending The Soldier From Shul

This shabbat morning I wandered into shul for my 6:45AM minyanas usual. Well, maybe not completely as usual given last nights air-raid siren during davening (prayers). I was slated to be the acting gabbai (person in charge of deciding who leads the services) today.

Just prior to the Torah reading, a man from the neighborhood, who is not a regular in our minyan, approached me. He said, “could you please call my son up the torah this morning? He was called by the army in the middle of the night and he is going straight from shul to Gaza.” “Of course,” I said.

We called the young man, dressed in his shabbat finest with a white shirt and white kippa, to the Torah for shlishi (the third reader of the torah which is the most honored position). Following his aliya (torah reading), I read the customary Mi Shebeirach (blessing) for the person called up to the Torah. The Mi Shebeirach reads (in translation) “HE who has blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, shall also bless The Person called up to the Torah, because he has honored the Torah, the Shul and the Shabbat.” At this point, I inserted free-form, “and because he is going out to defend The People of Israel and the State of Israel.” The Mi Shebeirach continues, “in this merit, may God keep him and save him from all harm and danger.” We all looked at each other understanding the poignant moment but the young man sheepishly shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “what is the big deal? I am doing what everyone does.”

At the end of shul services, everyone walked up to the earnest young man and wished him the age-old Jewish Blessing of “Go in Peace and Come Back in Peace.” And with that, we sent our young neighbor straight from Shul to change from his white shabbat clothes to his green battle fatigues and hustle off to the front lines outside of Gaza. May God keep him and save him and all of the young soldiers defending our Nation and the Western World.

[Originally published on 17th November 2012 by MIchael Eisenberg]