Naftali Moses

Induction day

On a father's trepidation, gratitude and pride as he sends his son off to the army

My son got on the bus today,
after lingering as long as he could.

Shouldering a knapsack filled with the detritus of civilian life
underwear mostly I think—

He rose at the call of his name, moving from the noisy hall, packed with young men and their families, through the double doors
Leaving us behind.

My son got on the bus today,
His girlfriend crying as he went.

My hands had briefly touched upon his head —May God bless you and keep you—as on a Friday night.

The easy gait of youth moved him along the few steps beyond us—May God shine his countenance upon you and grant you favor—past the pretty corporal who crossed his name off her list.

Smiling, ready perhaps, for the forging of his still not calloused hands and heart
into something tougher than he could ever know he had within.

My son got on the bus today,
Carrying all that his family and teachers and friends had imparted over his eighteen years.

Unaware of history’s weight upon his shoulders—King David’s troops marching beside his great aunt and uncle whose last steps led to the flames of Birkenau—he turned for one last hug. May God lift his countenance to you and grant you peace.

Only then did I notice the rubber wrist-band he wore, inscribed with his murdered brother’s name. A burden and a reason wrapped upon his arm.

About the Author
Naftali Moses, born in NYC, has lived in Israel for over 30 years. He holds a PhD in medical history from Bar-Ilan University, and teaches and writes on the nexus of medicine and Judaism. The author of "Really Dead?" and "Mourning Under Glass", he has also translated several books on Jewish thought into English, published on philosophy in the Mishna, and aggadah.