You draft next week. Later than you had hoped. In fact, I am sure you wanted to get your army fatigues on the moment you arrived in Israel. But here we are seventeen months later, and the IDF Combat Engineers are waiting for you. Everything happens in the right time.
When you arrived in Israel during Tzuk Eitan, and were on your way to your uncle’s, unbeknownst to me at the time (until you told me last month), you had to take cover in an air raid shelter because there was a siren – it was a scary welcome for you, but you never looked back. You never second-guessed your decision.
Since the moment you breathed Israel’s fragrant air, you have blossomed and flourished. You spent a wonderful year at Mechina where you learned so much about Israel, and about yourself, and about not picking up un-exploded rockets… and where you made some lifelong friends.
You are finally ready to join your brother Aryeh in the IDF, but you will forge your own path, and learn your own abbreviations. Yes, you are the second brother to join Handasa Kravit, but that’s only because you guys love blowing stuff up and I never let you do that as children.
In all seriousness, I am so proud of the man you have become. You are strong and proud, you will be a fierce warrior for the IDF, and for the people of Israel. You have never wavered in your commitment to Eretz Yisrael, and every day I see that your love for your homeland grows stronger and stronger.
I am THAT mother, the one who tells everyone about her sons who are in the IDF, the boys who are my true heroes. And Naftali, you really are my hero. Your journey to this point has been a long one, with many bumps along the way, but YOU, you are the one who worked so hard to get to this point. You have so much to be proud of.
You should know that I will always be cheering you on, supporting you, praying daily for you, your brother Aryeh, and all of your IDF brothers and sisters. You are the future of Israel, and I salute you.
I won’t be there on Sunday to send you off. I know it’s traditional to bless our sons and daughters when they enlist. When I saw you last month in Israel I blessed you at the airport before I left because I knew I wouldn’t be there in person to do so on Sunday. But let me use this opportunity to bless you, even though nothing makes up for being there in person.
Feel my love surrounding you, and the love of all your family.
Yevarechecha Adonai Veyishmerecha – May God bless you and keep you.
Yaer Adonai Panav Eleycha Veechoonecha – May God shine His face upon you and be gracious to you.
Yeesa Adonai Panav Eleycha Veyasem Lecha Shalom – May God watch over you always and bless you with peace.
Serve with pride, serve with dignity, serve with love.