This past Sunday was no more or less normal than any other day of the past few weeks. But it was certainly emblematic of what our lives have been these past few weeks.
It began like many of the days these months. Expectations for more news of fighting, much of it intense. Hope for continued victories and perhaps news of hostages. And dreading bad news with the soldiers or hostages. Basically, our new normal.
Our first update came from Mordechai, who reported that he was assigned duty (with several other chayalim) in an area adjacent to an Arab area in which the army was operating. Because of concern that terrorists might attempt to flee through that area, they were assigned to, for want of a better term, catch them. I am deliberately leaving out details.
He sent us a few photos of himself, including his new boots. With the change in the weather, conditions have been wet and muddy. And they were issued new boots, boots that had been supplied by donors in the U.S. So thank you very much for that and for all the other supplies that you’ve been sending. They use it all. We are grateful.
The news was not so good as the morning progressed. First came news from Mordechai that one of his high school classmates (grades 9–11) and very good friends was killed in action. Unfortunately, this is his (to our count) fourth friend to be lost in the war. And there are no words to describe the sadness and pain we feel.
I mentioned to him that it is tragic that this entire generation of our youth will grow up all knowing several people killed since October 7. It is something that should not be part of their experience. Yet it is.
For that matter, it shouldn’t be part of our 4-year-old grandson’s experience to know that his abba is going to the army base for another shift nor for him to be able to casually mention that there was a fellow talking with his Zaidy and when identifying him, he said, “the one with the machine gun.”
Mordechai himself answered, quite profoundly with a quote from the Haggada that our enemies stand up to destroy us in every generation and we have to trust that Hashem will save and protect us. Which reminded me of a comment a rav made during the year Mordechai was born.
That birth year seemed to be overwhelmingly made up of boys. So much so that someone asked a 5 Towns rav (I am pretty sure I remember which one it was, but don’t want to make a mistake and attribute the comment to the wrong person) why there seemed to be such an imbalance of boys to girls during that period. He answered that there is really no way for us to know. But, maybe it’s because we will need more boys and more soldiers when these boys come of age.
I had forgotten that comment until last Sunday’s news.
But the day was not yet done hurting us. Our daughter Aliza called to tell us that one of her husband’s best friends from high school was critically injured in battle over Shabbat. With multiple bullet wounds, his injuries were so serious that they had to ignore some of the wounds until such time as he might gain the strength to deal with the treatment.
The prognosis was not good. And our son-in-law was distraught with the news.
And so we went out that evening to light candle four. And, since we light outdoors, our singing was accompanied by continual booms in the distance. Booms that used to be Iron Dome interception, but which, over time, are more likely to be the sounds of us shelling or bombing them.
And the end of the night? Well, our neighbors made a wedding. And so we gathered in celebration for an extremely lively and energetic wedding. Yet, even there, the war intruded. Before the standard im eshkachech Yerushalayim, the families decided to recite the tefilla for the country as well as the mi sheberach for the chayalim. Because they are always on our minds.
That was our Sunday. How was yours?
Shmuel Katz, his wife, Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July 2006. Before making aliyah, Shmuel was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at email@example.com. Read more of Shmuel Katz’s articles at 5TJT.com.