Imagine a gorgeous desert sunset, a scorching hot wind turning into a cool desert breeze, and the conflicting scents of a giant cholent on a tin-covered fire and rifle grease; such is Friday afternoon with a battalion of crack religious infantrymen, the Nachal Haredi.
This past Shabbat with the Nachal Haredi infantry battalion on the Jordan border was a milestone for me, probably the most unforgettable Shabbat I ever spent. In addition to visiting the many of the units in the area before Shabbat, I had the privilege of seeing the Nachal Haredi in action, both on military duty and on spiritual duty. They excelled in both areas.
A Chassidic sect that prides itself in praying can come learn how to pray from the dedicated young men with whom I spent Shabbat. The "Kabbalat Shabbat" service was in Carlebach-style song from the beginning until the end, with fervent dancing in the middle. The soldiers savored each word of prayer as if they were counting hundred-dollar bills. I can't emphasize how moving and inspirational it was.
The original agenda dictated that I'd say three Torah lessons that Shabbat. I ended up saying eight; the soldiers wanted to hear more and more Torah. Their spiritual thirst was simply phenominal.
On Saturday night, the "Magad" (battalion commander) Lieutenant Colonel Itzik and I went for a stroll around the base perimeter. He told me that his biggest fear is not the Hizbulla, Syria, or the Hamas, but soldiers without emuna. That's why he's so intent on building a physically, professionally, and spiritually strongs Nachal Haredi battalion; his boys have the tefillin and the brass knuckles.
Thanks to the Miller family of Colorado, the Daltons of Alabama, the Lehrfelds of Georgia, Mercey Mendez in Florida, and the Wilsons in Frisco, Texas, Emuna Outreach was able to distribute over $1800 worth of Emuna Outreach books and CDs. Lieutenant Colonel Itzik specifically sends his gratitude, for your help in strengthening the morale and emuna of these wonderful IDF soldiers is a direct contribution to Israel's security.
Here are a few photos that tell the story (taken before and after Shabbat):
Photo 1: Lazer with Nachal Haredi soldiers at a border checkpoint
Photo 2: Explaining the power of Perek Shira and Tikkun Klali to a soldier that received a copy of Yalkut Siach B'Sadeh
Photo 3: Old soldiers never die
Photo 4: Opening the hatch of an Armored Personnel Carrier
Photo 5: Soldiers of many nations run to the bars when off duty; a Nachal Haredi sergeant runs to his Gemara. Soldiers like this are Israel's best defence:
Photo 6: This is not a photo-shop prank! A chassid woth a shtreimel and white socks is really climbing out of that tank turret. Any idea who that might be??
Photo 7: Here's a closer look of photo 6:
May Hashem bless and protect our wonderful soldiers, amen.