PESACH AS A LONE SOLDIER
I’m a soldier, AKA I.D. # 775639xx. While that’s my identity on base, this letter is to convey my appreciation of and gratitude to the people who remind me of my true identity. My story is not unique to me; it involves many of my comrades as well. Most of all it is about those who care for us. Moreover, the events that I write about are not in the past but ongoing, each week.
One spring morning in the month of Nissan the desert sun scorched our backs. We’d been walking for about two days if memory serves me right. Some soldiers behind me were talking about getting back home to their families for Pesach. My mind was elsewhere completely: It was 7 AM on the Thursday before Pesach, just a few short hours before people start the final search for chometz and we still had 9 Kilometers left to trek. Yom Tov would catch me unprepared in less than 24 hours, what could I do?
Later, around 5 pm, I found myself on a bus, I was headed “home” with nothing more than a small bag and a smile on my face; I had, yet again, been invited to “the meal”. These meals are always special, offering delicious and nourishing food, nigunim, great meaningful conversation and the chance to kick it with the boys. These are things I will never take for granted; it’s something I wait and live for every week. Most importantly it’s like being with family; it’s where I feel at home; a place where I can share whatever I want, whether it’s words of Torah and motivation or just talk about life in the army.
This week’s meal was special; it was the Pesach Seder. Where else can I join for a Yom Tov and know that my Yom Tov needs will be provided for? Anyone who has participated in or made a Seder knows that preparation is no easy task. Nevertheless, that Friday night the Seder felt real as we commemorated our exodus from Egypt and the start of a long journey through time until our ultimate return to the Promised Land with Moshiach. That night a group of lone soldiers in the IDF sat together in the holy city of Jerusalem, and by the grace of G-D, ate the afikoman. We spoke of our exodus, feasted like kings and celebrated as free men enjoying food prepared according to the highest kashrus standards; all without worrying about its preparation!
I want to thank Mordy Botnick and the Saul family and everyone that helped and continues to help from the bottom of my heart for everything they do for us all the time.