I recently visited a kindergarten in northern Israel. The reason I traveled there was to see the “ganenet” (kindergarten teacher) in action, who happens to be my daughter, Tova. For the past 8 years, Tova has been a shining example for 32 kids each year (minimum) and my wife and I went to see her “home-away-from-home”. Knowing that I have lots of experience speaking before crowds, Tova asked me to teach them a few things about Yitzchak and Rivka – the topic she had been focusing on for several weeks… and I happily agreed.
I sat on one of those mini-chairs and looked at the beautiful neshamot (souls) sitting around me. I immediately thought of the tremendous joy and “nachat” I had, knowing that my daughter teaches these future leaders. These kids – yes, the ones with the running noses and hacking coughs (all 32 of them, by the way…) are Am Yisrael’s next generation of mothers, fathers, educators, farmers, builders, politicians (well, at least the crazy ones…), nurses, computer techies and everything else you can think of. What a privilege to educate these young minds!
Naturally, I made my d’var Torah very “kid-friendly” and even got a few laughs. When I finished, Tova asked them; “Does anyone have something to say to my Abba?” The first girl asked; “Why did you come here?” and the next one asked, “When are you leaving?” (I guess I wasn’t such a big hit, after all…) but it was the 3rd child – a 4 year old boy – who brought tears to my eyes. “My daddy is a tank commander in Gaza.” That’s it. That was his statement. I couldn’t believe what I just heard. I immediately told him that his father is a hero and how proud we all are of him. I told him that we all pray to HaShem for his daddy to be safe and the little boy gave a big smile. If there ever was an “only in Israel” moment – THAT was it! I highly doubt you’d hear that from a kid in a Jewish kindergarten in Australia, Antwerp, Argentina or America. It really hit me… a 4 year old cute-as-pie boy with a kippa bigger than his head, standing proud that his father is fighting the enemy of HaShem.
That little kid’s comment gave me so much energy, I’m still flying high. Some people might interpret it as; “poor kid, his father is away from home, in great danger and the child probably has nightmares”, but I understood it differently.
The mood in Israel – from 4 to 94 – is one of pride, strength, positive motivation and tremendous energy. The people want to win! They want victory and are willing pay the very heavy price to achieve it. We all know what happens in war but the feeling in Israel is similar to how Americans felt in WWII (as compared to Vietnam). My father z”l, who fought for America for over 3 years in WWII, told me that people ran to the war and even covered up physical defects. They wanted to be part of fighting Hitler. Families sent their sons to the war with great pride and conviction and were tremendously proud of them.
Here in Israel, we are experiencing the same feelings and even more! The people want to destroy Hamas. They want to punish those involved in the Oct 7th massacre and they are proud to be HaShem’s messengers in the fierce battle against the modern-day Amalek.
May HaShem give our soldiers strength to defeat the enemy. May He give our leaders the courage to stand against world opinion and may He reunite the 4 year old boy in Tova’s kindergarten with his heroic, tank-commander father.