Today my neighbour and another few friends in infantry units received emergency call-up (Zav 8) . It looks like things are intensifying and that next week, troops are going in for a ground assault. Another friend whose son is in army reconnaisance said that the IDF has been watching and observing for months as the Hizbolla have been "digging in". There are no surprises here. I think we just have to be happy that we have done this sooner rather than later. Kudos to Olmert. I just hope that we manage to overcome them quickly.
When neighbours go to war, then it all feels rather close to home. And the worry creeps a little closer.
Many people have said that in this war, the home front feels like the front line, and that there is no difference between the home and the front. This is very true. But this point is driven home by our parsha this week.
Our parsha decribes a war - the War aginst Midyan. There we read about the equal sharing of the war booty:
" divide the prey into two parts: between the men skilled in war, that went out to battle, and all the congregation." (31:26-7)
Here the Torah records a fundamental practice enforced by the army of Bnei Yisrael; the equal share of the Spoils of War between the "Home Guard" and the Front Line. What is the ideological basis of this law? For sure, we are saying that the spoils are far from the exclusive property of the fighting force. Certainly the gesture here is one of the unity of the ENTIRE nation. The Army may not split from the people they are fighting for. They could claim; "we put our lives on the line! What did you do?" But the Torah cautions us to remember that the nation is a unified whole. The cook is as important as the infantryman, the truck driver as vital, as the sharpshooter. The Front Line is inextricably linked to the Home Guard.
I find this interesting when thinking about the story of Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven in the very next chapter. . A close look at Chapter 32 reveals that the entire story revolves around the responsibility of Gad and Reuven to volunteer for the army.
When the tribes of Gad and Reuven outline theri original request to remain in TransJordan, Moses' intial reaction is one of complete rejection, and outright opposition:
"Will your brothers go to War while you sit here (at home)?" (32:6)
Why is he outraged? He is shocked that these tribes expect to sit at their farms while their brothers fight a war. The point that he insists upon is their full participation in the army. As if to say; we cannot allow one sector of the People to be exempted absolutely from the military. How can you sit with your feet up on the couch as your brothers endanger their lives? That is the deepest point of Moshe's objection. And indeed in the final compromise, it is on this point that he stands his ground. His sole demand is that Reuven-Gad serve as the "Halutzim" – the Front Line troops in the conquest of Canaan.
So, once again, the connection between the Home Front and the Front Line. There may not be a separation between the two. Apparently, they are inseparable.
Well, one again, we find ourselves on the home front while others go to war. We find the "home front" becoming the "front line" more than the soldiers themselves. We are reminded that we are all one nation.
And in conclusion, one of the amazing stories that I heard this week was about an Israel celebrity called Ninnette. She is probably the most popular TV personality teenage hearthrob etc. On the Maariv website they had an artcile about how she had SMS'd her entire contacts list to recite Tehillim ch.73. She is far far from being a religious figure and yet, at times like this, we do begin to become something like the people we are supposed to be.
Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom, and praying for success in this war and eventual peace.