Dear Future Chayalim,
Congratulations and welcome to the IDF. Your experience thus far has probably been pretty confusing. Navigating the process to draft is very difficult with all the bureaucracy the army puts you through. It’ll be frustrating as will many parts of your service in the IDF. In basic training, you’ll have commanders (maybe younger, smaller, and not as smart as you) telling you to do pointless things. Stand here, do this, do that, pick up this and bring it there, etc. Basic training is just a couple of months of annoying chores, getting your head adjusted to being in the IDF. Advanced training becomes a little bit more difficult. You’ll have more relaxed times to do things, such as use the little soldiers room and eat, but the physical challenges will increase. You’ll learn about the shetach and you’ll walk all night without a break. You’ll develop camaraderie. Basic training is made to break you mentally, but it’s just a game, push through. Advanced training will push you to your limits physically, but you can do it, especially with that coveted kumtah not too far away.
And then you’ll get to kav (where your unit will be stationed to protect this beautiful land), and you won’t sleep normally for days, maybe weeks at a time, but the feeling of finally finishing training and that first mission you do will keep you going. You finally did it. You finished 6-8 months of grueling training and finally you have accomplished your dream: protecting Am Yisroel, in Eretz Yisroel. The first patrol you do will be so exciting, all the training will have been worth it. And just think for a second. Because you are patrolling in the West Bank, Jews can once again live in the ancient kingdoms of Yehuda and Shomron without fear. Because you are patrolling the southern border, yishuvim can sleep peacefully at night knowing no terrorist will touch them on your watch. Because you are patrolling the northern border, there won’t be an infiltration attempt. Just by standing in uniform and a vest, you are protecting the surrounding communities.
There will be nights where you become frustrated. Maybe too many night shifts in a row, maybe you had a friends wedding you didn’t get out for, or any other reason. But you always need to think to yourself - why are you there? Why? Why did you come and leave everything behind? Just to prance around with a gun? No, you came with a mission. You came with a mission to protect those living in Eretz Yisroel, the eternal home of the Jewish People. You came with a mission to add your list to the name of people who were willing to put their lives in harms way to protect fellow Jews who you don’t even know just so we can have peace. You came with the burning flame of “Never Again” in your heart and needed to act upon it. You came to serve and protect, and that is what you are going to do. When the Jews were entering the Land of Israel, the two and a half tribes who had a portion over the Jordan River asked Moshe if they could stay there while the rest of the Jews fought for the Land of Israel. Moshe responded “האחיכם יבואו למלחמה, ואתם תשבו פה?” “Your brothers will go to war and you will sit here [on the side]?” You came to fight and protect, not to sit on the side, and not watch your brothers fight a war on their own. If you remember this, your service in the IDF will truly be amazing.
Marc Cohen attended Yeshivat Torat Shraga and served in the Kfir-Netzach Unit in the IDF.