This piece was written by Daniel Gordis and released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 1.0 License.
Thank you Daniel. You’ve eloquently summed up most of my conflicted feelings from this past week since the return home of Eldad (z”l) and Udi (z”l).
18 July 2008
For some strange reason, I remember the scene with clarity. I was in the kitchen, early on a Friday afternoon about a month ago, cooking Shabbat dinner. Micha, our youngest, now 15, was hanging out in the living room. The radio was on in the background, and on the hour, the news came on. It was over in minutes, and then the music returned.I hadn’t really paid attention to the news, but Micha apparently had. “Do you think we’re ever going to get Gilad Shalit back?” he asked. Without even looking at him, I said, without even thinking, “Of course we are. Definitely.”
“You don’t know that,” a different voice piped in. Now, I looked up. Avi, his older brother, was unexpectedly home. “We may get him back, and we may not. How can you possibly say that we definitely will?” But the conversation was over. Micha, overjoyed to see Avi, had quickly followed his brother upstairs, and I was left alone in the kitchen. So I never got to answer Avi.
But had he pressed, and had Micha not been around, I would have said to him, “Why did I say that? Because when he hears the news each and every day, the only thing that your brother thinks about is the fact that you’re about to get drafted. And he’s beyond worried he’s panicked. Because he worships the ground you walk on. And he needs to believe, to know. He needs to believe that you’re going to be OK. And he wants to know that though he lives in a country that asks its kids to do everything, to commit everything, that country also knows that it owes them everything in return. And getting them home – no matter what has happened to them – is part of that.”