Brothers. It is a word that is repeated here many times a day. ‘Achi’ is a term of endearment here in Israel. When you reach out to an old friend, one often says ?אחי מה שלומך, My brother how are you? Is it slang? Yes, but it is par for the course of Israeli culture that everyone is considered a brother, we are ALL family here….soldiers, teachers, friends, and colleagues are all part of one collective family.
Recently, as I read a eulogy of Max Steinberg, I noted that one of his friends repeated a story. Max was teaching English to one of his friends, as his friend would teach him Hebrew. At the end of each conversation, Max would say אחי אני אוהב אותך (My brother, I love you!), to which his Israeli friend would respond, “I love you too, brother!”
Brotherly love…such a simple and novel concept. Our Bible is riddled with tales of brothers, such as that of Joseph. His brothers’ jealously outcasted him from his family home, and started a tragectory of Jewish relations with Egypt. If it were not for this family’s internal fighting, it is possible that the Nation of Israel would not have had the push towards reclaiming Israel as a land for the Jewish people so many years later.
There are dozens of stories of brothers, and I will not recount them all. There are also tales of friends that were so connected, that they were as if they were brothers. For example, David and Jonathan were a team of friends whose bond helped defend Israel time and again.
And, here we are in 2014 (תשע”ד), with countless tales of soldiers fighting together and supporting each other throughout this Operation Protective Shield. They are the ultimate brothers, uniting in a battle of good against evil. Fighting together, as one. Fighting for our Nation, and fighting for the better good of humanity.
Yesterday, I was privileged to attend a lecture by Rebbitzen Tzipporah Heller for local women in my community. Before Mrs. Heller began her lecture, we prayed. We prayed as sisters, as mothers, as daughters together. We recited Tehilim (Psalms), and read names of injured soldiers. We cried as we prayed for their recovery, and for the safekeeping of our Nation’s troops on the front of this ugly war.
The Psalms were followed by singing a Hebrew song called אחינו כל בית ישראל( we are all brothers, all of the Nation of Israel). As I sang the tune, I cried. I cried for our State of Israel. I cried for the soldiers. I cried for the mothers, wives, and children of the soldiers. And, I cried that it has unfortunately taken this situation to bring us together towards a greater good.
Rebbetzin Heller noted that we cannot disregard the fact that our nation has awaken to a clarity, a clarity of seeing the truth. We must grasp this clarity, and not return to our mundane ignorance. We must achieve the ability to take strength from this situation, and grow. Furthermore, we must take ourselves to a higher level of observance, and of recognition of the daily miracles that occur during this time of war.
This reminds me of a Jerry Garcia song, My Sisters and Brothers, the lyrics of the chorus are as follows:
This world is not our own,
We’re only passing through,
Our treasure’s all laid up
Way beyond the blue,
Let’s do the very best that we can
While we’re traveling through this land
We can all be together,
Shakin’ our hair,
When we make it the Promised Land.
Children, we can
Make it to the Promised Land, (repeat a bunch of times)
We can all be together
For ever and ever
When we make it to the Promised Land.
Brothers and Sisters here in Israel are doing their best to give back to the Land of Israel during this current time of need. We are sending our children, our husbands, and our brothers to war. We are preparing food for the soldiers on the front, and for the wives and children back home. We are entertaining bereaved children. We are working together, as a general collective family with bonds that cannot be broken. For, we are in that Promised Land. It is a land like no other, a land in which we can be together as one collective family, working towards a greater good. We are brothers and sisters who have made it to the Promised Land.
Therefore, I ask of our bretheren throughout America, Europe, Australia, and South America: Why haven’t you joined us yet? We are eagerly awaiting your presence. It is your time to “make it to the Promised Land.” Your brothers and sisters are eagerly awaiting your arrival!