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Aug 6, 2006

Mi K'Amcha Ysrael! 2 stories from lebanon

Mi K'Amcha, Yisrael!!

I will relate two stories. One I will be paraphrasing from a Hebrew newspaper (and using my free translation and paraphrasing). The second will be a story I heard tonight from my friend whose son is in Lebanon.

Both of these stories, details are fuzzy. I was not there. I am only relating what I read, and what I heard, and neither story has complete details. In both stories, the soldiers were not halachically required to act as they did. In fact, according the straight letter of the law it might even have been better if they had acted differently, but these stories reveal to us the burnign desire in soldiers even in the heat of battle to be concerned with their Jewishness.

1. This story was related as an interview with a soldier recuperating from a "superficial" facial injury in the hospital:
The unit was going out to lebanon on shabbos for a mission and asked Rav Levanon (Rosh yeshiva of elon moreh) about taking their tefillin with them. He said they should not take them with, unless they would be very distressed about not having the tefillin for the following days. Then, it might distract them in battle and it would be a sakkanah and if that is the case they should. Most in the unit did not want to rely on the heter to take the teffilin but 4 people (including the subject interviewed in the story named Aviad) insisted on taking theirs.

They went in and on Rosh Hodesh were in a large Arab house they had taken control of. Things were quiet so they had time to daven. They were all sharing the teffilin. Eventually shooting started and they took their positions. At some point in the battle, Aviad was injured.

The unit doctor came to deal with him and told him that a miracle had happened. He had been an inch from death - A Sager missile had been fired right next to him but he was saved, with only a superficial facial injury.

Injured and interviewed in the hospital, Aviad said he called Rav Levanon to tell him what had happened. Rav Levanon said it is clear he was saved by a miracle because of his hakpada regarding the teffilin. He quoted a gemara and said you were saved because you did not allow your head to be a "karkafta d'lo manah tefillin" - a head (skull) that does not place tefillin. Even though you had what to rely on, because you were extra careful with the mitzva, it saved you.

2. On shabbos my friend was very concerned about his son. He had not heard from him since Tuesday. It seems that when they go into Lebanon they are not allowed to carry their cellphones, lest the enemy be able to track their positions by the signal or tap into the cellular line and find out information or have the ability to track. Because this son was in Lebanon, Tuesday had been the last day they had had contact from him.

Tonight he told me that his son was given a day or two of rest. (He could not come home but was resting in the north with his unit). They would soon be going back in to Lebanon on another mission, but in the meantime he has heard from him and was calm.

He told me that his son and the unit had been in Lebanon (I forget which village). They had taken over an empty house and were using it as a command post. They had not eaten food in a day and a half. I do not know why no food was available, but he told me that they had eaten 1.5 days prior and had not had any food since then and had no rations. They only had water.

So they are in this Arab house. They could have raided the kitchen and taken the food. They (or at least some of them) did not want to eat the food. They were concerned it was not kosher. They did not want to eat even the rice because they would have to cook it in non-kosher pots.

They later found a few vegetables that held them over a bit, but they preferred to go hungry rather than eat non-kosher food. My friend told me it was unnecessary for him to refuse the food, but he was very proud of his son for having done so.

True, in both stories the soldiers did nto need to do do. You could even say they were foolish for acting like that (and I know some people who will comment exactly that). Specifically in the second case, the Rambam says that when going to battle against the enemy, one can eat whatever he finds, even pig. The commentaries state that it is not even referring to when the soldier is in need of food, because if no other food is available and he is desperate to eat, anybody would be able to eat non-kosher food to stay alive. In battle the Rambam means even if he just simply desires some food that he sees he can eat it.

One could then say this soldier was foolish and put himself and others in danger. If he does nto eat, he would not have enough energy and would possibly not be completely alert. A simple mistake could cause people to get hurt or killed.

I do not have the answer whether according to logic and/or the letter of the law they acted properly or not. I do not know all the details to say so, and I am not one to judge others. I would guess he felt he had it in him to go on without eating.

However, these stories show how much, even inthe heat of battle, they went out of their ways to do what they felt was right, with no leniencies.

Mi K'Amcha Yisrael!

6 comments:

  1. Great stories. I get such Chizuk when I hear things like this. Thanks.

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  2. reading such stories does provide such a chizuk. to see some people give up so much for it when they really do not need to, and when it might cause them to lose so much...

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  3. These stories do more damage than good.

    Yeah, yeah it's really nice to hear these inspirational stories of how tefillin or some other mitzvah 'saved' someone, etc. but what about the guy who just left shul and was blown to bits by a rocket or the guy that was involved in some other chessed and had his head blown off.

    We run to attach a mitzva as the reason someone is saved, but when it doesnt work out that way, and the situation just wont 'fit' into these inspirational stories, people conveniently run the other way.

    Most of the soldiers killed in this latest war have been observant God fearing Torah scholars. Go explain that one.

    Read some Plato and Aristotle before posting the next 'miraculous' story.

    D.A.

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  4. I find aristotle and plato boring. I tried to read them a few times. I could not make it through much of the books.. Not my cup of tea.

    I have no (faith) problem with the fact that good people die and all that jazz. I also do not know the reasons why some people are saved and others die.

    The point of the story was not even that the guy was saved (let alone because of the tefillin he chose to take along).

    The point of the stories were how they were willing to risk everything to keep their Jewish spirit and ideals.
    They could just as well have been killed and the story, to me, would have been just as inspirational.

    You read the point being the mitzva that saved them. I read the point as being the sacrifice they made for a mitzva.

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  5. I believe that the chizuk given through these accounts isn't given through studying the physical acts of mitzvot themselves, but through the understanding of the intentions behind performing the mitzvot. Through their following of mitzvot, these soldiers are illustrating their desire to honor HaShem even in the field of battle. In truth, they are honoring the most important mitzvot-- to Love the L-rd your G-d with all of your heart, soul, and strength. That is the main purpose behind following the mitzvot-- to live a life in praise of HaShem. It is not that the mitzvot have the power to save; rather, it is that, in performing the mitzvot with a righteous heart, we illustrate our love for HaShem who is our savior. (After all, righteousness and salvation go hand-in-hand; just read Isaiah 45:8.)

    Baruch haShem, may His eye be over all of Am Yisrael fighting in the IDF at this very moment.

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  6. shanah - very nicely put. Thanks for the addition,,

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