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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Rosh Hashanna message

Twice each year, just before Pesach (Passover) and just before Rosh Hashanna, I send out greetings to a lengthy contact list of clients, colleagues and friends - many of whom may even be reading this blog. But for those who are not on the list, here is the story I sent out today:

Dear Clients, Colleagues and Friends,

With the New Year of 5768 almost upon us, I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 5768. According to Jewish tradition, all of humanity will be judged tomorrow and Friday, and all that will happen in the new year will be determined, so even if you are not Jewish and/or you do not go to synagogue, you may want to take advantage of this time to evaluate the past year and set goals for the coming year.


As always, I have a story I would like to share with you. It's the story of an Israeli soldier who re-evaluated his life as a result of his participation in last summer's war in Lebanon, and made some changes for the better. It's rather long, so I am only going to put part of it in this email. You can find the rest of it here:
Ari Fuld wasn't surprised when he got his draft call last summer during the Lebanon war. "For me, serving in the Israeli Defense Forces is another puzzle piece in a Jewish person's life." He says. "I literally smile when I get my draft in the mail." He had 12 hours to say good-bye to his wife and four children, including his newborn son. Within eight hours after that he was at the Lebanese border. After one day of intensive training, his unit was going into Lebanon to dismantle a faceless terrorist infrastructure.

"The night before we went in, I wrote out the Torah portions about going out to war. I needed to instill myself with confidence. I couldn't even tell my wife where I was going as the calls were being intercepted by Hizbullah. I told her I was going to France."

On his first day in Lebanon, he walked seven kilometers over craggy mountains into Lebanon carrying all of his gear, as well as a hundred pound guided missile on his back. There he encountered his first fire-fight. "Terrifying is the only word I can use to describe it," he says "Everywhere we walked there were eyes on our backs. We were the underdogs. We didn't know the terrain."

Every day before setting out to battle, Ari and his platoon would recite the Vidui prayer, a prayer of confession usually reserved for Yom Kippur or before one dies. Secular, religious, it didn't matter. They were all Jews standing raw and exposed before God; they literally felt their lives were in the balance.

The Hizbulla guerilla fighters were lying in wait. The next day the Israeli soldiers were moving in deeper.

"We walked 28 kilometers deep into Lebanon," Ari says. "We finally got to the Litani river. It was absolutely beautiful."

Low on food and water, Ari's elite paratrooper unit hid out in an apple orchard for cover and sustenance. It was then that they received warnings that there was a terrorist hotbed of activity around them. They were ordered to go in and clean up the area.

"Our highest commanding officer led off with five soldiers," said Ari. "He said - 'Acharai', you come after me." This legendary characteristic of the Israeli army is no myth. The highest ranking officers stake things out for the underlings, jeopardizing their own safety. "I think the Israeli army is the only army in the world that operates this way," says Ari.

70 yards from where Ari was waiting, his commanding officer was hit in the neck by sniper fire, and missiles were falling all around him and his men.

"We can't let this turn into a kidnapping," said the next-in-command. They sent out a group of evacuation soldiers to try and help the first group, and they were hit by a missile as well. The highest ranking officer who remained turned to Ari.

"Grab four men," he ordered him. "We have to go collect as many bodies as we can. We're not leaving them out there alone."

Ari grabbed four of his comrades. They dropped their gear on the floor and grabbed stretchers. He knew what he was doing. He had made a choice. In moving forward into the inferno of injury and death that lay ahead, he may as well have been walking his own plank. But he wouldn't abandon his comrades.

"We left most of our protection behind, and all of our gear. All I had on me were my Tefillin, a book of Psalms, and some other holy writings. Oh -- and bullets. A whole lot of bullets."

They took only ten steps out of the orchard when they heard the whistle.
I'm going to stop the story here. You can find the rest of it by following this link.

Have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year everyone. Ktiva vaChatima Tova l'Alter l'Chaim Tovim u'l'Shalom. May you all be inscribed immediately in the books of life, happiness, good health and prosperity, and may the coming year be a year of peace for all of us and for all of mankind.


At 6:52 PM, Blogger MaksimSmelchak said...

Hi Carl,

L'Shana Tova!



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