Looking at things (ir)rationally

December 3, 2009 - 2:40 PM by

Signing in at the induction site

Signing in at the induction site

We sent Sarit off to the army yesterday – our second daughter to join the ranks of the IDF. Since we knew what to expect, we weren’t surprised this time by the lack of pomp, and the feeling that there was nobody on the other end of the receiving line to accept our daughter and reassure her parents that she was in good hands, aside from a bunch of soldiers not much older than her.

Sending a kid off to the army is alot like coming to live here in the first place – a big leap of faith. It’s not really a rational decision – although for many, alot of thought has surely gone into it. But most of us assume that things will work out in this country, and there is some reason why we should be living here.

With the army as well, there’s the rational and irrational. Of course we need soldiers to protect our country – moreso here than just about anywhere else. Rationally there’s not much of a choice -unless you’re haredi, or Arab, or … well, let’s not get into that can of worms.

Heading to the bus with a lollipop.

Heading to the bus with a lollipop.

In fact, one could argue that sending your child to the army is the ultimate objective in making aliya – we conceive little Israeli babies in order to increase the Jewish population of Israel and stock the fighting forces.

Obviously, like alot of people we knew who made aliya with us way back when, there was a naive hope we possessed that by the time we had kids and they turned 18, there would be no need for military conscription, and there would exist only a voluntary army like in the US. That dream seems as far off today as it did 25 years ago.

The point of no return for tomorrow's soldier.

The point of no return for tomorrow's soldier.

Bidding farewell to Sarit yesterday, amid the other families hugging their child-turned-soldier for the last time (the next time we hug them, they’re not going to be the same people – even if it’s only two days later for Shabbat), I was touched by the irony of it.

We spend 18 years of our child’s life protecting them from harm, nurturing their soul, giving them a sense of security. Then one day, you simply hand them over to a body where there’s going to be bullets, tanks, explosions – things that you’ve been avoiding like the plague until now.

It’s hardly a rational thing to do for a parent, isn’t it? But unfortunately in the reality of Israel, for anyone who cares about the country, doing anything else would be irrational.

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