A soldier's father and the Land of Israel

Along with the mourning for the Temples, there is the taking of the reins into our own hands, here in Israel. A soldier's father speaks.

Tzvi Fishman

OpEds Tzvi Fishman
Tzvi Fishman

There have been many high points in my life. At an early age, I published my first novel with a big New York publisher. Soon afterward, I wrote the screenplay for a successful Hollywood movie. Then G-d granted me the great blessing of sensing the emptiness of the American Dream.

Thank you Hashem for leading me to discover the Torah of Eretz Yisrael and to feel the emptiness of Jewish life in the Diaspora. Watching over Me, Hashem brought me to a Zionist yeshiva in Jerusalem, and connected me to wonderful Rabbis and idealistic friends who helped me make Aliyah. Thank You for helping me to learn Hebrew and for giving me a brain transplant, replacing my American head with a true Jewish-Israeli model, the kind they used to make in the old days of the Bible. Hashem gave me a wonderful wife and children, and grandchildren.

He bestowed upon me the privilege of writing several books on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, and helped me make a feature-length movie based on stories of Rebbe Nachman. But one of the highest points of my life is now, when one of my boys became an officer in Tzahal, the IDF. Today, he takes command of 40 new enlistees in a Givati combat unit. What a proud father I am!

This past Shabbat, we hosted a Jewish boy, my son’s age, from America who is here on a ten-day visit. What a difference!  Joey, the America, is like a 12 year-old compared to my son, who is, at age 20, already a man. Joey lives to have fun. Everything to him is “cool” and “awesome.” He has never faced danger, and if he did, he wouldn’t know what to do. If he had to hold a rifle, he’d probably faint. To him, guns belong to movies, not life. He lives for himself with no responsibility at all. College years are a big party. After that he’ll embark on some career to make money, and he will live for himself and his family, pursuing the good life in America. Israel and its challenges are for the Israelis – he’s an American Jew.

In comparison, for the past two years, my son has dedicated himself to the Jewish People, with almost no personal life of his own. He’s crawled miles through desert sand, spent frozen nights guarding on the Hermon, and learned to get by in the harshest conditions without complaining. He will continue on that path for the next two years at least. While his American counterpart is getting stoned at campus parties, my boy, and every other young soldier in Israel, is putting his life on the line for Am Yisrael. Chances are Joey will soon forget about his two week visit to Israel. He might even marry out. To tell you the truth, I don’t think my son has ever been out on a date. Right now, he’s married to the army and to the 40 soldiers under his command. All in all, the difference between an Israeli youth in the army and an American kid is as vast as night and day. They are like two different species of Jew.

So thank you Hashem for all of the wonderful things you have done for me. Please look after my son, and all of our soldiers, and please bless all of the Jews in America with the same blessing with which you have blessed me, to realize that there is a much higher level of existence – true Jewish life in the Land of Israel.