By Shmuel Katz
I feel like I am on a never-ending roller coaster. (I am not a fan of roller coasters.) Up and down and up and down and . . . it is really hard to maintain emotional equilibrium. Each day seems like it is a week long, and they run one after another after another.
It isn’t a concern about safety. The longer the war continues, the more secure I feel here in Bet Shemesh. We haven’t had an alarm in days; even the alerts we had resulted in shot-down rockets or a hit to an empty field. As I have said before, the Iron Dome and our army make us feel so safe here that we are much more concerned for the chayalim than we are for ourselves.
The difficulty is all emotional. As I wrote last week, it is distressing to see so much hatred for Israel and for Jews throughout the world. The rallies of support are uplifting. But the huge amount of anti-Israel backlash, coupled with the normal media bias against us (which should be proof positive that we do not control the media) weighs upon us, even though we know that it results from simple hate and is not based in reality.
Rumors of cease-fires come out almost every day. We are dumbfounded by the seeming ineptitude of the U.S. government on a daily basis. John Kerry is being portrayed here as a bumbling fool. No one can understand what he possibly could be thinking. And he can only be acting on the instructions and guidance of his boss. They are supposedly close allies. Well, with friends like them . . .
The conflicting desire to see an end to the violence and to the loss of chayalim while also wanting to make sure the army takes the time to eliminate the threat to the people of S’derot and the entire South is stressful as well. We fully support the army and its mission. But, as expected, the casualties and losses are wearing us down.
I think it is all a result of the uncertainty. If someone could tell us how much longer this would be going on and how much of the total mission we would be able to achieve, we would be able to handle things much better. But our fear that this will not suffice and that our government will eventually cede to political pressure makes the flip-flopping on the cease-fires and potential truces and announced truces, etc., so agonizing.
So we continue to mourn each time we hear about another casualty. And we have to comfort our kids and reassure them that our army is doing the right thing in their approach, risking their lives in order to target enemy fighters only (as much as is possible).
Our older daughters have the hardest time. Chaya’s Shaarei Tzedek dorm is practically across the street from Har Herzl, the site of our military cemetery. A couple of times already she has seen a funeral going on and simply goes to join it, out of respect for the chayal who died and to show support for his family.
Aliza knows so many chayalim; every time she hears about casualties she is terrified it will be someone she knows. Her calls to us are filled with concern and worry.
So we pray for our chayalim. We pray for our leaders. We pray that Hashem give wisdom to our leaders and protect our chayalim. And we hope, as we approach Tishah B’Av this year, that instead of again reading Eichah at the Kotel, which I normally do each year (please e-mail me if you are in Israel and would like to join us), we will be celebrating the end of the war and of our galut with the coming of Mashiach and the geulah. May we all join together at the Beit HaMikdash to celebrate the chag of our redemption. ϖ
Shmuel Katz is the executive director of Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah (www.migdalhatorah.org), a new gap-year yeshiva. Shmuel, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July of 2006. Before making aliyah, he was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.