Looking at things (ir)rationally
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.
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.
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.