Arie E. Pelta

Yom Hazikaron 2024 – Our father in heaven

Arie Pelta on Northern border, October 2023 (personal photo of the author)

Yom HaZikaron תשפ”ד

For several years, when I was a student at Yeshiva University I gave the Yom HaZikaron speech along with my Rebbe Rav Meir Goldvicht. This one is very unique.

I am speaking to you as a soldier and a combat surgeon who fought on the Lebanon border of Israel starting on the morning of Shabbos Shmini Azeres October 7th. I am speaking to you as a father of an IDF soldier Yehuda who also fought in the same war and is Baruch HaShem home with us now, safe and healthy. I am speaking as a husband, as a father, and as a member of our Ganei HaEylah community.

In Gemarrah Berachos, daf samech amud beis, we learn the following lesson:

          ברכות דף ס עמוד ב

מאי חייב לברך על הרעה כשם שמברך על הטובה?

What does it mean that “A person is obligated to bless Hashem for the bad just as He blesses Hashem for the good?”

אמר רבא: לא נצרכה אלא לקבולינהו בשמחה.

Rava said: This statement is needed only to teach us to accept misfortunes with joy. Just as we receive positive developments with happiness, so too should we receive negative developments with happiness.

We thank G-d for the good and we thank G-d for the seemingly bad.

Firstly, I want to thank this community and Rav Gottleib of Ganei HaEylah for all of your Tefilos during the war. Without exaggeration, this is one of the reasons why I am able to stand here today giving this speech.

I thank you on my behalf, on behalf of my son, on behalf of my family and my soldiers in Gadsar Alexandroni 6609.

This Yom HaziKaron this year we are in the middle of the חרבות הברזל war.

This year’s celebration is clearly very different than all other years. It’s very personal. We are currently in the middle of an existential war of our very existence which has not existed since the 1948 war. I am not speaking about the war in Gaza, am speaking about the war on our Northern Front against Hezbollah. As we speak they have an estimated 200,000 missiles and rockets pointed at us ready to fire at any moment, G-d forbid!

Since October 7th I have personally experienced being under rockets and missile fire (drones) around 10-20 times a day.

I remember to say thank you to Hashem for all the miracles; for most of these missiles have not caused any mortal harm – this is a real miracle.

Traditionally, Yom HaZikaron refers to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. For many of us, our new year began 6:30 in the morning of Shabbos Shmini Azeres – October 7th. I remember awakening to alarms going off,  of non-stop barrages of missiles from Gaza. Eventually, we all heard the rockets and explosions here in RBS A, and we ran with our families to the Mamad secure rooms.

Reports and videos started coming in on my phone and my son’s Yehuda’s phone from fellow soldiers and contacts. It was obvious to us that we were at war! Unfortunately, this was not obvious to our leaders and generals in charge of our security. We did not get orders to mobilize. Nonetheless, thousands of us mobilized to save our people and our country – on our own volition, without a צו 8. It was clear to all of us low ranking soldiers, that we were at war.

However, we remembered not to stand by idly by while our fellow Jews were being murdered אל תעמוד על דם רעך – so we mobilized. I kissed all my children and wife goodbye – told them to Daven for us. I was not expecting to come home…. Looking back, I was not prepared – what do you say to your family at moment like this?

At 11 am I drove my son to war – I dropped him off by his group of fellow Kfir and Nezach Yehuda soldiers in Yerushalayim. I then drove for a long 2.5 hours to the North of Israel; to our Yamach in Ein Zeitim North of Tzefat. I was one of the first soldiers there. Every hour, hundreds and hundreds of combat soldiers showed up, on their own. Our Magadim made the decision, against the generals, to mobilize for war as soon as possible to prevent a slaughter of the Jews in the North; as was concurrently happening in Sederot, Beeri and other towns near Gaza.

For Am Yisrael it was Shabbis Shimini Azeres – a very holy day. For me it was a semi-Yom Kippur. No eating, no drinking, no davening. I worked non-stop, in the heat, to organize all of our gear and prepare to mobilize for our invasion of Lebanon, in order to stop the anticipated Hezbollah invasion of the north.

Not known to most people, however, Hezbollah was already fully mobilized with 20,000 troops on our north border for months. We were supposed to invade Lebanon last year prior to Pesach, in order to push back the Hezbollah threat. We planned for this scenario more than one year ago. That order to invade Levanon never materialized – but now the threat was imminent.

In addition, there was a real threat that our Ein Zeitim base would be destroyed by Hezbollah rockets; and then we would have no weapons or equipment to fight with. We were fighting against time in the north, while many were actually dying in the south.

I remember the Shabbis day  זכור את  יום השבת לקדשו

I remember what Amalek/Hamas did to us on October 7th

.זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלק

I remember that G-d gave us this land of Eretz Yisrael as an inheritance a נחלה לרשתה .

Finally around 8 pm Saturday night Oct 7th we officially received the Tzav 8 to mobilize. This meant that we were all suddenly issued weapons, bullets grenades missiles and told to run and disperse in the Ein Zeitim forest in order to mitigate the possible mortal damage from the Hezbollah missiles that were going to fall on us.

Baruch Hashem! Miraculously our base was not attacked. At this time our cannons תותחנים   started firing incessantly shells over our heads to keep Hezbollah away. The ground was shaking, my ears were pounding. We were told to pack ammunition and food for 24 hours. It was dark outside and we worked by the light of our headlights – waiting for orders.

I was assigned to the Palchan of our Gadsar as their doctor in the Charak medical team. Their Mem peh from Beit Shemesh organized us standing in a “Chet” shape and gave a short speech, in the dark forest in between the outgoing cannon bursts.

Shamaya Asulin, the mem peh, told us that we have a huge zechus now to be able to fight to protect our country. He told us to look around and many of us will not be alive in the following weeks. But we are not scared, we are proud and we have Hashem with us – taking us from Zos Haberacha to Bereishis.

Baruch Hashem no soldiers in the Palchan were killed or injured. Unfortunately, Shamaya’s brother Shimon Asulin z”l age 24 was later on killed in Gaza. His father is the Rosh HaYeshiva of Shaalei Torah here in RBS A. Shimon wrote down a message to us in case he would be killed in battle – as unfortunately happened.

His last written words to us were the following:

תארגנו ערכת קריוקי טובה לחברה

אל תתאבלו הרבה

תהיו שמחים!

אני מבסוט שם למעלה.

אבוא לבקר אתכם מדי פעם

עד הניצחון


I did not know Shimon Asulin, however, I served on the battlefield of the Lebanon border with his brother. In this way we are all part of the same family.

That fateful night of October 7th we boarded buses full of military gear and drove in the darkness to the border. We were the first ones there. We were assigned to protect the border by the town of Zarit. We were there with guns pointed North waiting for the imminent invasion that we prevented from occurring. In this manner, the stories coming from the south of Israel did not occur in the north of Israel, Baruch HaShem!

I believe with complete faith אני מאמים באמונה שלמה that G-d is our leader מנהיג. G-d is the only one יחיד. Hashem is the only one to pray to or to rely on for our lives and safety לבדו ראוי להתפלל. I believe that we are witnessing with our own eyes the prophesies of our prophets about the era of  Ikva D’Mishicha – they told us נבואות של אמת.  I believe that all that G-d does is for the good גומל טוב, even though we do not understand it.

I believe that we are living in the era of the Moshiach בביאת המשיח. I believe that one day we will see with our own eyes all of the Kedoshim who have died and will be revived here תחיית המתים, in the land of the living ארץ החיים, Eretz Yisrael.

I would like to share with you two specific incidents that occurred during this war. On Sunday October 15th, the day after Parshas Bereishis – we were guarding the border from Rosh HaNikra, Shlomie, Mutzav Dvoranit and Chanita. On this specific day we were under constant missile fire in the town of Shlomie. Our Tagad suddenly got the call over the radio that two of our tanks on the border located in Chanita were directly hit and destroyed. The soldiers were all trapped inside.

We drove our Hummerbulance from Shlomie to Chanita at top speed. There were explosions, rocket fire, bombs and  shells; the ground was shaking like an earthquake. Live gunfire was being shot in all directions. The sky was on fire from explosions. It was not clear If Hezbollah had also invaded the Kibbutz or not. It was complete chaos. In this scenario of confusion, I ran with my chovesh with our Magad Avni to the border where there were two destroyed Merkeva tanks.

I remember screaming, as I was running into the smoke of battle, I could barely hear myself because of the sounds of the shells and gun fire – I yelled over and over again

“ה’ הוא האלוקים, אין עוד מלבדו ”

Over and over again.

I set up my team in the car-port of a local house and the injured started coming in from the tanks; then all at once I was surrounded by eight young Jewish soldiers, men/boys. All covered with black soot. Some had detached arms and legs, others had shrapnel injuries, others less were less injured. We call this a Mega Aran!

Everyone was screaming at once for medical help and instructions. I went from soldier to soldier providing the proper care and they were quickly triaged and systematically evacuated by ambulances. At this time we went into defense mode as it became dark outside. We were told Hezbollah had successfully invaded the kibbutz. After an hour or so of patrols the area was secured – there was no invasion. Baruch Hashem! I remember that no soldiers died that day. All survived.

Thanks to all of your Tefilos, we experienced miracles on a daily basis. Bombs and coronet rockets fell daily no one else got injured in our sector.

Three months later our Mazal ran out on December 16th the 4th of Teves, Shabbos Parshas Miketz. I was in Tel Chai just North of Kiryat Shmoneh. Right after Shachris, at 11am, I sat down to a hot bowl of IDF chamin. Suddenly, our radio came on with the terrible news that a suicide drone just exploded on our soldiers a five minute drive away from us – near Mizpeh Adi (Margaliot). We ran to our Hummerbulance in full combat gear and drove into the battle zone where several tank teams and our Palsar were encamped.

Unfortunately, a miluim tank soldier was killed on impact – Yechezkel Azaria z”l age 52 from Petach Tikva.

A severely injured soldier from my Gadsar named Netanel Plezenshtein suddenly became my patient. He was brought to me unconscious, covered in blood with a severe skull injury. We cut off his wool black and white striped tzizis to evaluate all of his injuries. We were on the side of the road under threat of further drone attacks. I intubated him and then we drove like mad to a field south of Kiryat Shmoneh where we delivered Netanel to the 669 helicopter. Baruch Hashem he is alive. He a is 30 years old father of two young children; with a tzedekes wife named Rachel. Unfortunately, he is currently in a vegetative state צמח  with no significant brain function. He still needs our Tefilios. Please Hashem, please give a Refuah Sheleyma  to:

נתנאל אברהם בן תחיה

To this day I ask myself – did I really help him or hurt him? Either way, his father called me today – to thank me for being a Sheliach of Hashem for his Refuah.

But I do know that there is A ONE  and only G-d, who is all good.

שמע ישראל ה’ אלוקינו, ה’ אחד ! .

We thank Hashem for the good and for what we perceive is bad. “Ra” can be turned into our friend ריע, as the Ramchal teaches us in Daas Tevunos.

I would like to conclude with words and concepts from the last Mishnah in Sota, Perek Tes (ט). It clearly states that during the birth pangs of Moshiach בעקבות משיחה  the North of Israel will be destroyed והגליל יחרב.

Currently many of the communities and farms in the North of Israel are destroyed; it’s a war zone. The Mishnah states that the Jews living on the borders of the North and South Israel will travel from city to city. Currently, around 80,000 Jews from the North are refugees in our own country.

The Mishnah states that truth in the world will be absent והאמת תהא נעדרת– we are falsely accused of genocide and being occupiers of our own country.

The Mishnah continues – We will be living in the generation of the dog פני הדור הכלב we will be looking for leaders of our country and army and will feel severely lacking. Who can we rely on? The USA, the Army ?

ועל מי יש לנו להשען?

על אבינו שבשמים!.

We rely on Hashem, our father in Heaven.

There is an expression that מנהג ישראל תורה היא. Using this approach, we can learn something simple and important from the popular songs that the Jews here in Eretz Yisrael are singing today, during the war:

  • עם ישראל חי, אם לא ישכח להיות מאוחדים…הקדוש ברוך הוא שומר עלינו
  • אנחנו לא מפחדים, עם ישראל פה חזקים …ה’ אתנו – ה’ אחד!
  • יחד ננצח

I personally think that its time, during this war for our survival here in Eretz Yisrael, that we change our mindset in our tefilos in Bircas Shema and Bircas Hamazon. We need to stand tall and proud; fight for all of the Land of Eretz Yisrael and walk this Land with confidence and say, we are here in Eretz Yisrael walking upright IN our Land (instead of the current verison of being upright TO our Land לארצינו)

קוממיות בארצנו

I would like to end now –  with the words a of song made popular by MBD:

אנחנו מאמינים בני מאמינים

ואין לנו על מי להישען

אלא אלא אבינו שבשמים

ישראל ישראל, עם ישראל, בארץ ישראל

בטח בה

עזרם ומגינם הוא


על מי יש לנו להשען? על אבינו שבשמים!

About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA, made Aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. He received his Rabbinical ordination in 1997. He is also an active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Dr. Pelta is currently a full time Senior Surgeon practicing in Laniado Hospital (Netanya); specializing in the surgical care of all colorectal diseases.
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