I am a single father with 2 wonderful sons and a lovely teenage daughter. They have been through a lot of ups and downs but they are happy kids – our favorite game as a family is Settlers of Catan – where you build roads, houses and cities and work the land, growing and harvesting sheep, grains, bricks, ore and wood.
My kids and I are proud of our active role in the Third Commonwealth of the Jewish People that we know simply as … Israel. This Sukkot will mark 26 years since I joined this great national experiment. Living my dream to raise a family here … and now becoming a real Israeli – having a son in a war.
In Jewish Numerology – Gematria, 20 (Kaf) means היה (root of G-d’s name and that he will be (אהיהto breathe, live; to be, to exist, live; to be for; to come into existence; to become something; come to pass, occur; ruin, calamity. 6 (Vav) is אביהו – father. I have 2 sons, double 26 to 52 = אבא חיל Aba Chayal – A Soldier’s Father.
My oldest son just finished his army service. Now my second son is in his second year of regular army service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). I worry about him staying safe, even as I know he is highly motivated doing his duty protecting us all back home. A buzz at the door, even a delivery of dog food, puts all of us parents on edge.
My son has been away for several weeks and we don’t hear from him for days at end. Last Thursday we merited a brief night with him – army slang calls it an “after”. We all laid out a table and gave him a hero’s welcome. The next morning he returned to his duty – with Resolve.
In those brief hours we had kept up a great spirit and encouraged each other, and longed and hoped for our next meeting … and a Shabbat game of Settlers of Catan.
When will that happen? Will there be a break, real peace, a cease-fire or a “please fire”? As a civilian do I want the army to “finish the job” with the hope my kids and others won’t have to return for another round? Or will I fear loss as a result of continuing this round? Dare I speak for my kids or other parents and their soldiers?
When I was a kid – way-way back many centuries ago – I had all the answers. Now …? I really don’t know anything – do I?
The final meal for the fast is meant to be taken alone. We then lament (meaning of Eicha – Lamentations) that we were abandoned … left alone, by the Divine … and each other. At the beginning of this war I likewise felt … alone.
According to tradition, in a few hours, midnight on Tisha B’Av (12:40 am) the heavens will open to anyone making a wish.
Resolve in Hebrew is נחישות which numbers to 774. Add up those numbers 7+7+4, you have Chai חי Life!
When the entire Jewish world can ring out “Hear O Israel – Shma Yisrael” every night, simultaneously at 7:00 pm Israel time, I don’t feel alone any more. Friends are asking how they can help. Tisha B’Av is over our historic pulling apart. This time we are in this together. I feel an “us”.
I know what I want … to have my son’s resolve that comes with his youth and optimism. To farm and build as a people – and play Settlers as a family. And live for a better future!
What was burnt by fire shall be built by flame! We are winners – resolute!
By Frank Ephraim King