As I look back on my own personal journey, now close to 12 years of living in Israel. I am relieved yet disturbed. Making Aliyah was the best thing I ever did in my life. I was inspired by a trip to Israel and began to think where do I want my future? I came back to America, graduated college and thought. Wow, at this moment there are guys my age serving a mandatory 3 years in the IDF. Here I am with all the world before me, where does G-d need me. I know it sounds maybe different. G-d doesn’t need anything, but maybe the question was what would G-d want from me in this situation. Where could my strengths be best used. At that moment I realized and was able to focus my path.
The Land Of Israel, yearned and desired for throughout the exile, that was my calling.
Israel is our home and our future. With everything happening in the US, are you still convinced that you belong there? Are you expecting it to get better?
It’s time to come home.
This past week has been disturbing as a father, former soldier, teacher and Jew. Since the light of Chanukah has gone, a soldier has been dismissed from his unit after failing to fire on a terrorist who was attacking him. This same week a murder took place on a woman who lives in one of the most beautiful places in Eretz Yisrael, Samaria.
There’s so many unsettling feelings I don’t know where to begin. People are complaining about being vaccinated, and our country is facing a third national lockdown. After hearing about the murder of a Esther Horgan a mother of six, I had to seek advice from a Rabbi. I contacted Rabbi Menachem Listman, head of the Machon Meir English Department.
We are a nation struggling to identify ourselves, but there is so much work to do.
Under no situation should our soldiers fear repercussions for defending our nations citizens. This unfortunate young man was in the line of duty and totally trained to do his job. But fear from his own future by his own countries court system made him freeze. I can relate, as a soldier off duty I was once caught off guard driving as a passenger to our beautiful complex Ma’ale Zeiteim just outside the Old City. Suddenly I saw rocks being thrown at Jews just a few hundred feet in front of me. I opened up the door and began to run toward those threatening the lives of my neighbors. My rifle was swinging from my shoulder and as I was about to start shooting warning shots, a camera man out of no where wearing a helmet ran into my face and started filming me. At that moment, I too froze, but luckily at the same time so did all the rock throwers.
I met hundreds of soldiers while serving and never met one of them that ever said he enlisted “to kill”. I only heard things like, it’s my duty, or I want to protect our country, things of this sort.
The gut wrenching tragedy of Esther Horgan should only cause us to strengthen our resolve of living and inheriting the land that is rightfully ours as promised in the Torah. No one wants to openly fight, but let’s make the fight to make our own families:
Live Torah in Joy
Make our wives feel more appreciated
Increase our resolve in strengthening our identity as Jews
This photo was taken last week just before the end of Chanukah from Mount Gerizim in Samaria. The blue square located on the left side of the picture is where Yosef HaTzadik is buried. May his merit intercede on our behalf and for all of Israel.
Thank you for the wonderful review about my book Not Alone Soldier!
I appreciate your comment and feedback in getting the word out about my book! Thanks so much! For anyone who wants to know more about Yosef, check him out here at:
Chanukah was awesome, what made it even better this year is that I finally made it out to Modi’in where the Maccabean graves are. Just outside the town of Modi’in there is a forest called Park Canada. When I was in the IDF, they took us here during Chanukah and our tour guide told us that here is where some of the battles took place against the Greeks. Well for the past few years Chanukah has been overwhelmingly been about the doughnuts as wells as stories about the great holiday. But I felt that this year I needed to do something more. So we made the trip to the area of Park Canada as well as Modi’in and had an amazing time.
Something I have noticed is that by just getting out of the house, you can reduce so much stress of the bickering that takes place between siblings. Getting out and seeing new places is also refreshing and builds memories between you and your kids for a lifetime.
Here’s a cool idea: Get a durable bag and wherever you go with your kids for the next month, collect dry wood. After a month of collecting, find a great place to make a small fire, your kids will love it.
Learning Torah is an absolute pleasure for most of us who are trying our best to live our Judaism, but as my old Rosh Yeshiva from Machon Meir would emphasize, it is a mitzvah to know the land. Eretz Yisrael is our inheritance sometimes we need to get out and discover the beauty that resides all throughout Israel, learn and live the Torah.
Raising kids in general is not easy, try adding on 613 commandments and doing it with joy.
Before we continue, you have to realize that what you are trying to do as a father is beyond comprehension in this day in age. It’s a special time indeed, more and more countries are doing peace with Israel, and the Shomron is prospering. More and more Jews are returning to their faith, their roots, their inheritance in the land of Israel.
But what about the next generation, you have all the stress of bills, and making your marriage work, how do you bring the traditions to your own children? Well you are not alone
Now that your pumped up, just remember take it one breath at a time. You and your kids don’t need to be the biggest tzaddikim in one day. Just start by making peace your priority. Try your best to keep anger out of the house, and do what you can. A mitzvah while angry is worthless, while a mitzvah though not perfect but done in peace is worth more than anything.
This past Shabbat we read in the Torah how Yosef was thrown into a dark well by his own brothers. They did so out of jealousy and hatred and thought that what they were doing was just.
Something that must be taught to our kids is that they have power. I remember as a soldier being greeted at the bus stops by small kids passing out treats and thank you blessings to all of my unit. The power that had on us strengthened us greatly.
When a kid hears from his parents that they have power, you give them the feeling that they are big, something they all want. Through last week’s Torah portion, we can teach our children that there are many people in a dark place just like Yosef. They might be someone who feels alone at school, or someone who is in a wheelchair, or someone who is elderly. There are many people who feel like they are in a lone dark cave, with no way out.
Our job as parents is to instill within our kids through a positive example that we can act as the shamash candle of the Chanukah Menorah and bring light to all those in the dark.
It’s now the first night of Chanukah. This year one of the insights that I learned was more of the history between the Greeks that were both in Syria, and Egypt during that time period. They both were at war with each other to dominate the region. The Syrian Greeks were led by Antiochus (the main evil leader of the Greeks who set out against the Jews), fearing the Egyptian Greeks would invade north, and a possible invasion by the growing Roman empire from the coast, Antiochus set his army in the land of Israel, where he came eye to eye with a people who wouldn’t trade their traditions for anything in the world. The Greeks wanted us to leave everything having to do with Judaism and become like them. Chanukah comes from the Hebrew word Chinuch, which means education. It’s our job as dad’s to educate ourselves about the meaning behind our traditions and pass it on to our little candles at home.
Something cool you can do with your kids is try playing with Google Maps and show them where Israel, Syria, Egypt, Greece and Rome are. Then explain to them the dynamics of the story using what I explained above. Happy Chanukah
The drive back home from work can be tough. You just put in a full load of work, trying to do your best and helping everyone along the way. But now comes the most important shift of the day, time at home. Your little ones are waiting for you, it’s not that simple because you too are a human, with an above human responsibility, to raise your kids happily within Judaism in a difficult world.
As you pull in to the drive way, the exhaustion you feel can be overwhelming. What can give us that push that we need for the last 3-4 hours of the day before they go to bed and to make it a pleasurable afternoon and early evening?
I felt this myself, after a full day of teaching and didn’t have the right attitude coming home. Then I remembered a few principles of success that I learned in my NLP course and from Torah studies:
Make a success journal and be committed to filling it in everyday with every positive action you took from the day. Start with 5 things a day and be consistent. By writing down the positive things you did throughout the day, it puts us in a better mood and we are focused on seeing the good in ourselves. That gives us the attitude we need to handle it all at the house.
It’s that easy
Parenting is not the easiest thing by far. I mean it’s got its ups and downs, and tears. Of joy and grief. We can’t predict the night, the morning, the day at the kindergarden, or school. We don’t know how the come back to home will go, or how the vibe in the house will be.
Through the ups and downs, He always is with us.
In short, we have a lot of work to do on ourselves, to improve our character, to soften our hearts and connect our hearts. With all the challenges, turn to Hashem (The Name) – G-d. He is there in the ups and downs and wants us to turn to Him through it all. Hope this song gives you a much deserved boost. Love always- David at Jewish Dad Today.