by Ari Abramowitz & Jeremy Gimpel - TheLandOfIsrael.com - May 9, 2007
As summer begins, the dark shadow of war is sending an ominous chill through the Holy Land. As the wounds of last August are open and the pain is fresh, our hearts are still torn for those who we have lost. No one has forgotten Ro’i Klein, whose two little boys will remember as their abba, “father”, who unflinchingly lunged atop a live grenade to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. No one has forgotten Mikey Levin, who’s Holocaust surviving Grandfather will remember as the volunteer paratrooper who forced his way onto the front lines to protect the Jewish People from ever experiencing the hell that he survived. No one has forgotten Yosef Goodman, whose commander will remember as the unflinching hero who cut off his parachute when it became entangled with his own. While our hearts are heavy and our heads low, many of us may look around at the situation we are in and wonder what it was all for.
Our government is on the verge of setting free scores of terrorists with blood soaked hands. The Hezbollah has eclipsed its pre-war strength and is preparing to join a much more comprehensive regional fighting force to take an even more formidable shot at wiping Israel off the map. We seem to be approaching another summer, helpless to stop the further accrual of those for which we must mourn and wondering whether we may be among them.
Day to day life in Israel is no more predictable. Every time you go to the post office, there is that chance that it will be on strike. Every time you check your bank account, there is that chance that you may not have been paid for the past four months. Every time you step on a bus, there is that chance that you may never step off. In Israel, you never know what to expect.
This existence is the highest level of truth. Maimonides, the revered Jewish philosopher, explained that the greatest distance is between the head and the heart. Israel bridges that gap. Everyone in the world knows that, theoretically, each day could be their last. While there is always the chance of a grim discovery at a routine medical checkup or a head-on collision on the interstate, the perception that these are events in the lives of others tends to prevail and the addictive grip on the illusory perception of security endures. In Israel, however, the unpredictability of life is somehow more tangible and mortality is a reality of the highest order. What the rest of the world may know in their head, in Israel, you know in your heart.
On a personal level, this knowledge forces you to assess your priorities and evaluate your life. The overwhelming dedication to the acquisition of money seems futile considering the fact that it has no value underground. The material luxuries of life lose their allure when you recognize their fleeting nature. Introspection is coerced, forcing questions about the meaning and purpose of life coupled with the realization of the paramount importance of family and friends, acts of kindness, and relationship with G-d.
One a national level, delusional thinking a rainbow glasses may prove fatal. In every direction we see our immediate and distant neighbors hastily preparing our demise. Suicidal overtures of peace and quixotic confidence building concessions have merely whet their appetite for our destruction. As our unrelenting search for peace evolves, with a touch of honesty and courage we begin to see that the cause of their hate is not territorial, economic, or political but rather the very fact that we are Jews. Why? What is a Jew? What is our mission? What is our purpose? What does it mean to be “a light unto the nations”?
Israel is a refining fire. It burns away falsehoods and melts away illusions. Mount Herzl, Israel’s military cemetery in the hills of Jerusalem, cradles tens of thousands of the brave young soldiers, who have sacrificed their lives for us to live. Not just physiological life full of eating, sleeping, and breathing – but lives infused with meaning, seeking, growing, and truth.
Man goes to great lengths in the quest for a legacy and the struggle with mortality. There are those who embalm to preserve the physical body while others donate there entire estate in order to ensure their names are attached to the biggest buildings and the grandest institutions. Regardless of how we may fight it, however, our bodies are dirt and our names are no more than titles. The only true legacy we leave is the influence and effect which lives long after we have departed.
Israel is our destiny. She is our past and our future. Ro’i, Mikey, Yosef, and the all the other unsung hero’s who have paid the ultimate price for Israel are inextricably tied to her existence and therefore they, too, will live forever.