“Aaron lifted up his hands” …..The strength of a Jewish Army
We are entering into another period of unease around our borders. The Hamas is sending missiles into Beersheba and Ashdod. The Hezbollah is busy arming themselves and the Fatah are cozying up with their more militant allies in the Gaza strip .Murderers are being sent by Palestinian leadership into the houses of innocent civilians .Terror has returned to the streets of Jerusalem. It is a time of concern and edgy readiness..
Therefore it was especially uplifting to see the group of Hesder Yeshiva students being conscripted into army service this week. There was a clear sense by all who were there that these young boys were imbued with ” a different spirit” , a spirit like that of Calev of biblical days. We read how Moshe sends twelve spies to scout the land and ten of them advise against attack because the Caananites are too powerful. Calev shouts above the others: “Let us by all means go up, ki yachol nuchal lah (“for we shall surely overcome it”)(Numbers 13:30)The others though had lost the power to contend with their enemies and declare””We looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them.” (Numbers 13:33) .These young people at the induction center, like Calev , were clearly imbued with that “different spirit / that Ruach Acheret .
It is that spirit that the people of Israel are yearning for so earnestly. Recent studies have shown a dramatic increase in the number of Hesder Yeshiva students taking over commander positions. Yet a recent poll conducted by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies indicated that a large majority of the Israeli public is not at all concerned with the growing number of IDF commanders and officers who stem from the national-religious camp. Over 79 percent of the respondents said they were not “concerned at all” with this phenomenon , in contrast to 1 percent who said they were very concerned.
The Israeli public is aware that within this population lies a power that is both redemptive , liberating and perhaps contagious.
We read in the Torah portion of Shemini that ” … Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people and blessed them. He then descended from preparing the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering. “( VaYikra/ Leviticus 9:22).
The Netivot Shalom asks why do we need to know that “Aaron lifted up his hands”. Knowing that he blessed the people would be enough . Yet our hands represent our “power to do”. They represent our ability to make an impact on the world. Aaron was not only blessing the people , he was giving them and lifting before them his “very essence” and his pro-active strength. He gave of his strength so that the people would be strengthened.
At the induction center at Tel HaShomer ,one had the sense we were seeing the same thing again. Here were young men leaving their yeshivot and their homes and moving into a new and more dangerous role. They were “lifting” their essence and their power for the sake of their people. Clearly they understood the impact of such a moment, as at least three circles of these young men broke into dancing. They were singing songs of praise to Hashem . Others using the words of Isaiah ‘” For I have set watchmen along thy walls”( Isaiah 62) were singing a thankful prayer about being given the opportunity to be watchmen for HaShem and His people. In another corner of the square a Rabbi was giving over words of torah to his students before they began on their journey. These were the ingredients that create the spiritual backbone of the Israeli Defense forces.
Yet there is another secret to the strength and passion of these new soldiers. Just before the last bus was about to leave, a mother came running through the gates and tried to board the bus. She had arrived late and did not have a chance to say good bye to her son. The soldiers with stern faces held her back. Her son came off the buses and after hugs and kisses returned to the bus. Suddenly the mother remembered that she had not given him the cookies and the drinks she had brought. She tried again to board the bus and was stopped by the same determined soldier. A young female soldier came over and offered to bring the food on the bus. Upon hearing the offer, the mother then turned around and brought out three more bags of sandwiches and cakes and piled them on the young woman soldier’s arms. At this point the mother went over to the soldier who had barred her way and was now hesitant to let all this food go on the bus. She came close to him and wagged her finger in front of her face.
“ I know you are in charge” she said” but I am the mother and this stuff is going on my son’s bus” The armed soldier with the large dark sunglasses and the grim expression , then broke into a smile and said ” you’re right Immaleh…of course it will go on”. Then the mother looked at him again and said “remember I am just lending my son to you”
This as well is the secret power of this army.