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      A Soldier’s Mother
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      One mother’s journey through the Israeli army with her sons

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      Paula R. Stern is CEO and founder of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company offering documentation services and training seminars. She made aliyah in 1993 when her oldest son was 6 years old. In March 2007, her son Elie entered the Artillery Division of the Israeli army and Paula began writing about her experiences as A Soldier’s Mother. The blog continues as Elie begins Reserve Duty and her son Shmulik is now a soldier. She recently opened a publishing house, helping other authors fulfill their dream to publish.

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      Tishrei 14, 5773, 9/30/2012

      A Promise and a Reminder


      Sukkot is a holiday that talks to me in ways that few other holidays do.

      I love Shabbat - it is, each week, an island of peace that comes in grace and slowly sneaks away with the promise it will return.

      Rosh Hashana is nice, but it is the base of a mountain of self-reflection that is Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur comes as a day of judgment and atonement - serious, spiritually uplifting, intense it is; fun it is not.

      Passover is so much work, before, during and after, that it is hard to enjoy much of it. Someday, I might find a way to enjoy it, but most years it is mostly torture for me.
      Hanukah might be fun and have some deeper meanings to it, but it has been commercialized and internationalized and simply doesn't touch me the way Sukkot does.

      I could go on, but I don't want to belittle the other holidays, I just want to explain why I love this one. You see, it is yet another promise from God to me - well, to my people. It says to trust Him, that He will take care of us.

      We put our lives in His hands every day without really acknowledging it. When we drive down the highway, when we walk under a building, when we watch our children go off to school, perhaps even when we get on a bus. From the moment we awaken, refreshed and returned to life, until the moment we lay our heads on our pillows, at any moment, our lives could change forever, take directions we never thought of.

      So we rise in the morning and thank God for returning our soul to us from sleep, simply for being awake another day to live in this world and see the miracles He creates. And then we do what we do, only to sleep and do it again the next day. Sukkot is about taking that forgotten trust to a higher level.

      Sukkot says - stop, take yourself out of the comfort of your homes, your air conditioned rooms and return to the basics. Imagine if the roof over your head was not cement and stone, but mere branches of trees. Imagine if instead of your plush sofa and comfortable bed, you sat on simple chairs and slept on a slip of a mattress beneath the stars.

      Would you still thank God for everything He has done for you? Imagine if while you are sitting out there in that hut you've built, the one with the simple roof of branches - imagine if it were to start to rain, would you still be grateful? It's easy to say yes from those air conditioned rooms and so we move out there for 7 days and show ourselves what God already knows. Oh yes, we will be grateful because the cement roof is an illusion; the plush homes a diversion.

      Sukkot is a promise and a reminder. We promise to trust in God; He reminds us He has always been there to protect us and always will be. I love Sukkot. It is simple and basic as life really is. It is we humans that confuse the issues; we who fill our lives with meaningless possessions when the greatest gift of all is simply life and the ability to enjoy.

      Chag samayah - happy Sukkot - may it come in peace and remind all of us that the only security we can ever know, comes from Above.