Former Chief Military Rabbi, Brigadier General Rabbi Avichai Ronski, who served as a company commander in Sayeret Shaked during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, recounted his experiences of Simchat Torah 41 years ago.
Tuesday night, the Rabbi led a Torah study in honor of Hoshana Rabbah, in Lod. As part of the night of learning, Rabbi Ronski spoke directly about his difficult and emotional experiences in the war which lasted well into the holiday of Sukkot.
"41 years ago, I was fighting. There was no Simchat Torah, no Sukkot, no Yom Kippur. Everything was a clatter of swords. We fought against the commandos of the Egyptian army. Although we did not celebrate the holiday as it is is celebrated in synagogues, yeshivas or homes, we kept a great Torah mitzvah, by defending and keeping the Jewish people in their land."
Rabbi Ronski compared the public perception of then and now, saying "I think there was a spirit within us, and I was not a religious person then, but it derived from a very strong place of Zionism - the spirit of Zionism. Despite the huge number of casualties, almost 3000, and despite losses in the area and the losses that people experienced, the spirit of the fighters allowed me personally, and for us as a nation and an army, to find our strength to defeat the enemy. "
"I hope the spirit that dwelled inside us during the Yom Kippur War is one that still exists today," he continued. "It was the spirit of national values and Zionism, and I hope that if another all-inclusive war should come upon us, we will know how to stand up to our enemies as we did then."