Tzav Rishon

Since our arrival to the kibbutz, we have had a few highlights: Gadna (a 5-day taste of life in the army, which I did two years ago), several hikes to the incredible scenery of our backyard called the Jordanian border, activities with our Masha’kiyot (soldiers who have the job to help and lead our Garin), and Tzav Rishon. In this blog post I will elaborate on the dreaded process, known as Tzav Rishon, that every future Israeli soldier has to go through.

Tzav Rishon (most closely translated as “First Call” in English) is a process that most Israeli teenagers have to do during their junior year of high school. It is a very stressful day full of long lines, lack of organization (after all, eighteen year olds are in charge of many things that happen within the army), and evaluation after evaluation. Garin Tzabar makes this process a lot less stressful. The army reserved the Lishkat HaGiyus in Tveriya (the military building where Tzav Rishon is conducted) just for Garin Tzabar. This meant a lot less waiting and more attention than if one was to enlist without the Garin.

The day started off with a station where future soldiers are asked of their basic background information and a Hebrew test. Following this relatively straight forward process, I was directed to the doctor for a physical evaluation. After hours of waiting, I was seen by the doctor for less than 5 minutes and received a 97 profile, the highest physical profile possible.  This means one is physically healthy to serve in any combat role in the IDF. After this was a long test consisting of shapes and patterns that examine one’s thinking process. The final step of the day was a personal interview given to those who scored high enough on the Hebrew exam. The personal interview went on for about ninety minutes and included a variety of questions that examine social behavior and personality. The exam and the personal interview are the main components used to make the “kaba”. The profile and kaba have a large role in impacting the line of work one will do in the IDF.

After completing this long and stressful day where you spend more time waiting than actually being processed, I realized a few different things. While going through the medical profile component of Tzav Rishon, one realizes that the purpose of this organization known as the IDF is simply to defend the homefront. For the most part, if a boy receives a profile of 97, is psychologically sound, and with a high enough of kaba, he/she will enlist in a kravi/combat role. It becomes clear that this is a military and not an organization made up of enlistees looking to further their personal objectives. Only in a setting like the military can you find rich and poor side by side in the same unit. Only in a setting like the IDF can you find an Ashkenazi from a kibbutz and a Sephardi from Sderot in the same tank. The objective of defense is a simple one. There are no “safety schools” and “top twenty universities” , every enlistee is part of one family known as the Israel Defense Forces.

About the Author
Ben Rathauser is the Founder of The Overcomers Project, which is devoted to helping teenagers and young adults overcome their personal hardships this summer in Israel. To learn more about this unique program, reach out via email to, or call 561-710-9950.