I am emotionally exhausted.
Along with many other people living in Israel and Jews abroad, I have not slept well at all since the beginning of Operation Defensive Edge, almost a month ago now. I was sitting on the couch watching a movie with my girlfriend when I read the news on my phone – the ground troops had gone into Gaza. I have friends, my age, younger and older with businesses, families, classes to attend, lives, who put it all on pause for this war. When the tzav 8 (reserve enlistment) call comes, they pack up and put on their uniforms.
Since July 17th, I literally have not been able to think about anything else.
When the three boys were kidnapped and murdered, my life focused on them and the false hope for their safe return.
When the war began, my worrying for my brothers and sisters in the south heightened exponentially.
When the ground forces went in, I started to worry about and pray for the IDF, but more specifically, many friends and people I even grew up with.
Today we heard the horrific news of another piece of heavy equipment driven by a Muslim terrorist, used as a weapon to murder. Immediately after the machine operator killed an innocent person and flipped a bus injuring another five, another Muslim terrorist riding his motorcycle near Mount Scopus opened fire on an off-duty soldier and subsequently fled into a local neighborhood.
The lifestyle here has become filled with anxiety for many as we never know who will fall in battle or where the next rocket will land and who it may take with it.
Since the kidnapping of the three innocent boys on June 12th, this nation has seen a cohesiveness not witnessed for decades. There have been solidarity rallies and endless gestures displaying unity between all different sects which I only dreamt would one day exist. Ultra-Orthodox Chassidim have cancelled summer vacations “because how could we vacation while our sons and brothers are defending our homeland!” There now exists a 24 hour hotline for people not serving in the army to call and receive the full Hebrew name of a soldier to dedicate all prayer and learning to that soldier’s safety.
I have witnessed friends who usually lean towards the far left of the political spectrum call for unity and support for our troops who are carrying out an invaluable mission. I have seen and heard countless videos and stories of endless gifts, food and sponsorship arrive in the south with the hopes of making a soldier feel supported.
I attended the funeral of an American lone soldier who was the farthest thing from “lone” in his death with an estimated 20,000 other attendees. I watched his family cry and along with many others there, shed a tear for someone who I never knew, but as did everyone else there that night, I felt he was a relative of the closest degree.
As emotionally draining as these almost two months have been, there are great things that can come out of them.
Tonight, Tisha B’av, is a night of mourning. If we haven’t mourned enough already for all those we have recently lost, tonight is the annual reminder of why we are in our current situation and find ourselves struggling in almost every generation. However, I feel that we finally may be heading down a path of change.
As a Jew who believes in the Torah and our tradition, I firmly believe in the coming of Mashiach (Messiah) and the building of the eternal 3rd Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple). On Tisha B’av we mourn the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash along with multiple other tragedies throughout our tumultuous history. Many believe that the reason for the Second Temple being destroyed and the catalyst for us entering into a continuous pattern of turmoil is the lack of unity.
Nobody living in Israel can deny the palpable sense of change and unity in the air here. While it is extremely saddening that the events leading up to this moment of togetherness have been covered in blood and loss, we are responsible to ensure that all of that was not for naught. We are responsible to make sure that this time the unity is not fleeting and instead everlasting with the potential of bringing about the hopefully deserved Mashiach.