'Brothers in Arms'

'Brothers in Arms' for Real and not as a Slogan | Rabbi Shachar Botschak

These days, the same citizens who were in the demonstrations of both sides enter the same tank, the same squad of fighters, and fight for weeks when every moment they are shoulder to shoulder, and their lives depend on each other.

The nation of Israel entered the war in one of its greatest periods of rift since the establishment of the state. The period was full of disputes and bickering that caused a rift in the nation, and even security and economic problems. But it was from God, and the war broke out, and right now, out of the great darkness in the fighting, we also have to look at the points of light that exist in our reality.

These days, the same citizens who were in the demonstrations of both sides get into the same tank, into the same platoon of fighters, and fight for weeks when every moment they are shoulder to shoulder, and their lives depend on each other. "Brothers in Arms" fight in the same tank with the settler "Messianic No'ar HaGva'ot". During these weeks, when the citizens wear olive uniforms, they get to connect with people who were on the other side of the demonstration, with people who saw them as the enemies of the people and the next existential danger of the State of Israel. But now, they are brothers. Brothers in Arms for real and not as a slogan.

The camaraderie between warriors is a camaraderie that cannot be explained. A stranger will not understand it. It is impossible to explain the extreme situations where your life is in danger against a cruel enemy and you and your friends fight together to destroy it. Some of the friends return home safely and some do not return at all. Even in the fighting in the kibbutzim and Gaza Strip envelope cities such as Ofakim and Sderot, we saw the citizens fighting shoulder to shoulder.

I was privileged to be one of those citizens who fought terrorists in Ofakim. You come to a street where the terrorists are slaughtering Jews just because they are Jews. The terrorist does not stop to ask who did you vote for in the last election? Or are you for or against the judicial reform? He kills them all. Men, women and children. And we on the other side, citizens, police and soldiers, who produce spontaneous combat to destroy the enemy that has arrived at our doorstep, produce combat squads in a completely spontaneous manner.

You are a Jew and I am a Jew, we are both armed, immediately and automatically we are on the same side, and we both fight next to each other until the last drop of our blood. A holy soldier by the name of Nahorai Said, hy"d, was killed near me, and I was wounded in battle, and a policeman named Itamar Iloz pulled me from the battlefield to a nearby shelter. We did not know each other before, we did not ask each other what their political views were. We are Jewish brothers who they are coming to destroy. This is the summary of the story. Jews.

Therefore, my fellow fighters in Gaza, if I dare and ask you to perform another task, in addition to the holy task you are currently in, after you have gone through fighting shoulder to shoulder with all the different shades of the people of Israel (and also righteous soldiers who are not Jewish), and you have seen that they are not an enemy but caring, and that they are willing to die for you. And you saw that for the enemy you are both a target for murder and a cruel massacre, take with you the brotherhood of a friend in a tank, or a member of the team, who is not like you at all.

The same one you weren't willing to talk to two months ago, and now you laugh and enjoy a coffee with him between the battles, take this camaraderie, these moments of closeness with you to your home, to your family, to your street. Tell them that the monsters on the other side are Zionist brothers who love the people and the country no less than you, religious or secular. Every soldier in Gaza who now returns home is part of the cure for the situation of the people of Israel. Each soldier is another stage of connection and embrace between the sectors, between the parties, between the differing opinions.

These days we hear that the army is preparing for a large release of reservists for a month and returning them to fight for another month, and so on until the end of the war, the end of which is unknown. This means that in the coming months tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands of citizens will connect with their different brothers in the great family called the People of Israel, producing a perfect natural fusion. In honor of the Hanukkah holiday, we get to recognize a point of light in the midst of the war, medicine out of the blow.

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Rabbi Shachar Botschak is the rabbi of the 'Afikei Orot' community in Ofakim.

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