Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tikun Ha'eretz

My mom - a Sabra, born and raised in Haifa - related a story to me recently.
She said that one day, her two yeshiva-learning brothers came home with horrible blisters on their hands. They had dug foxholes for Israeli troops in advance of the six-day war.
Excuse me? What now? Yeshiva boys? Foxholes? What?

Well, back in the day, the army would place a call to the yeshivas. The students would come down, and explain that they were yeshiva boys. The army would confer understanding on their preference, grant them meaningful work, and return them to the yeshiva the next day.

Let's rewind a quarter-century from the six-day war to the second World War. My grandfather did not endure labor or concentration camps. He was in a whole different flavor of hell. It closed with him living a life on the run and with enslavement to the Soviet army, but it began when he and his friends were enslaved by the Germans as foxhole-diggers while the allies fired upon them.

Foxhole diggers.

Under pain of death, my grandfather dug these holes for the enemy.

Twenty-five years later, his sons dug holes for their Israeli brethren.

This is what you call a tikun, a wrong made right, a repair in the torn fabric of the world, a poetic and beautiful poetry of the circle of life.

I wonder if my uncles knew this and understood it and took it to heart as they did their esteemed work. If my family has not yet realized this connection, then I am proud to be privileged to make this revelation.

My prayer on this day is simple: Let us all appreciate, love, and cherish our country of Israel. Let us repair what is broken, mend what is torn, unite what is divided. May each of us contribute, in the most meaningful way possible, each and every man, woman, and child, in the most appropriate ways.

Am Yisrael chai.

Never again.

Yom Haatzmaut sameach.