(Written last Monday, July 28)

Today, three of our children, Avinoam, Boaz, Ateret and I went to visit the Peles family Shiva home in Tel Aviv. Seren Roi Peles was killed on Friday night by a direct hit from a rocket on the building he and other soldiers from the Orev Nachal brigade were in. Roi was a “mem mem” – platoon commander, barely a month out of officers training course. His commanding officers was Shaya the “mem pey”, and our son Yonadav the “samech mem pay”. We hadn’t heard from Yonadav for over a week but we knew he had lost one of the officers serving under him. We also knew that he is still “inside” and wouldn’t be able to go to the levaya that took place last night – nor be able to visit shiva. That is why we decided to go. We went to represent Yonadav – even though he had no idea we were doing so.

We arrived in the Peles home to find the parents, Dor and Chagit Peles walking around their large canopied garden talking to and hugging their many visitors. We overheard Chagit say to one of the guests who had also lost a son, say: “don’t say it wasn’t worth it – that it was all waste! It was all for an amazing worthwhile purpose and it was a zchut to raise such an amazing child such as Roi”.

We introduced ourselves and it was clear that they were touched by our gesture. Chagit would point out to others who had come to visit: “look, this the family of Yonadav, Roi’s samech”. They openly spoke about the actual event of how he was killed. I mentioned that the rumors were that he had somehow taken the blast to protect his soldiers. Chagit said that he simply took a direct hit which softened the blow for the others, thus inadvertently saving them. These are loving, brave, modest and honest parents who even in the midst of their personal loss and grief, were displaying care for the other soldiers still inside, and optimism that this is all for the worthwhile cause of protecting am Yisrael from their enemies. They were thirsty for any stories, snippets, or anecdotes about their son from any of the visitors, especially from the soldiers from his platoon who had come to visit. We also talked to Roi’s two younger identical twin sisters, Lee and Shani. So heart-breaking… After forty five minutes or so, we left the Peles home. We went to strengthen them in their time of despair and we came out strengthened by their courage and fortitude.
Yehi zichro baruch

To end on a nice post-script: just before 7 o’clock this evening, I received a phone call on my cell from a number my phone didn’t recognize. I answered, wondering who it might be. “Daddy?” said the voice on the other side. It was Yonadav, using a cell-phone belonging to a miluimnik who was allowed to have his cell phone on him. We hadn’t spoken to him for well over a week. What a relief to hear his voice. He told us that they are working well and hard, and trying to deal with the losses they have suffered. He sounded up-beat, positive and thankful. He was so touched by our visit to the Peles family. He said it was so the right thing to do and he was thankful to us for representing him at the shiva. I guess it was the least we could do. May Hashem give continued strength to all IDF soldiers. Amen

(Written now) Second nice post-script: On Wednesday night I once again received a phone call on my cell from a number my phone didn’t recognize. “Daddy?” said the voice on the other side. It was Yonadav, using a cell-phone belonging to another miluimnik. He was out doing stuff for the platoon before they all came out for a deserved 72 hour respite from their heroic work in Gaza. I asked if I could come to visit him after he had completed his chores and had some quality time with his wonderful wife Tahel. And so it was that I arrived somewhere near Gaza in their makeshift camp just before midnight. I cant go into details of our 2 hour conversation. All I can say is that that high levels of professionalism of our troops is awe-inspiring, that the levels of discipline is high and life-saving, and that it is clear that we need to constantly thank Hashem for the ongoing miracles He bestows upon us all the time, including protection from the missiles and keeping our troops safe from harm.