The Neshamah Geological Survey

A trip up to Northern Israel to help its residents and soldiers

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Fallen Soldier's Prayer for Peace

(Hat tip to the One Family Fund. May they be put out of business soon!)

Benaya Rein Hy"d fell toward the end of the war on Saturday night (yahrtzeit: 19 Av). He and four others were part of a unit that went in battle to rescue wounded soldiers and soldiers in distress. 24 hours a day, often without sleep or pause, he went into battles, braving heavy fire.

Sunday, the very day after he was killed, his sister went into labor and had a son. Shiv'ah ended, the family went to the cemetery, and from there to the beris of the new grandson, a new Benaya. An emotional roller-coaster. Finally, it was time to go through Benaya's belongings, and among the things he often took into war they found the following tefillah:

May if be the Will before You, Hashem our G-d and the G-d of our fathers,
That You erase war and bloodshed from the world,
And spread out great and awe-inspiring peace in the world ,
And "No longer will one nation life against another a sword, and they will not again learn war",
Just they will "recognize and know, all who live on the earth" "the truth for truthfulness"
That we didn't come to this world
for fighting and dispute chas veshalom,
and not for hatred and jealousy
and accusations and bloodshed chas veshalom,
we only came to this world in order to recognize
and know You, may You be blessed.
(I put in quotes those phrases that I recognized were quotes. I also refrained from translating the idiom "chas veshalom", as I can only think of the longer "[may Hashem grant] pity and peace", which would distract from the flow of ideas more than an idiom does.)

I would love to see shuls say this Yehi Ratzon this Yom Kippur, perhaps immediately after the Yizkor said for those who fell defending Israel or as victims of terror. Or to be included with your shul's prayers for the State of Israel and its soldiers, if they say any. Please send a copy to your rav with this suggestion.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Threat of War

As Rosh Hashana came to an end I opened my email from my friend Dovid in Tzfas and he informed me that he and his wife will not be coming to Crown Heights for Succos and Simchas Torah. The reason is that Israel is preparing for war with Syria. This is imminent and he is not an alarmist. Let's keep and eye on this situation as it begins to unfold in the days to come.

Monday, September 18, 2006

This is a picture of a shule that is over 1800 years old. It was used during the times of the Rashbi and most recently by the Israeli Army as a staging area prior to entering Lebanon.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Neshamah Geological Survey

The Neshamah Geological Survey Preparing to return to Israel. As unbelievable as this may sound the army is asking that we help them by providing clothing, equipment, food, water, and money in order to remain at full strength. I have received several emails and as soon as I have the permission of the soldiers involved I will publish them and you will be able to see for yourselves what we are talking about. While the morale remains high it is easy to understand the worry of an imminent outbreak of action without the necessary requisite above mentioned items. I will never forget the warmth and hospitality of those troops in the Lebanon bunker. Please also keep these brave young men and women in your prayers on Rosh Hashona, as well.

Preparing for the next trip

"Ask me about land for peace"
The following picture is Aishey standing on the side of a mountain that was destroyed by Katusha rocket fire. It was an eerie feeling that we all agreed was akin to standing on a desolate planet. It was very treacherous terrain and we all took some form of a fall negotiating the steep slope.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Shalom u'Lihitra'ot

Rambam Hospital, Haifa
(Click on any thumbnail in this blog
to see enlargement)

As we prepare to leave we can't help but feel how satisfying yet inadequate our journey has been.

From the first day when we landed and began our run towards trying to make a small difference in the indifferently we did not stop nor sleep.

We were zoche to see and experience so very many diverse Jewish experiences as a diverse traveling companionship camaraderie.

I cannot say enough about Micha and his super son Aishey, without whom none of this trip could have happened. It was due to a true tolerance and Ahavas Yisroel that made for a trip that served the needs of so many who need so much.

Thanks to our wives Chana and Siggy for allowing us the time to travel into harms way and give whatever they were able to organize.

The people of Israel continue to need ever more increasingly so much more that we are already discussing the next trip.

The United States has canceled the most recent 2 Billion dollar commitment to Israel and the need has never been greater.

Please help us in whatever format you can. Childrens clothing, army clothing and supplies, money for food and shelter.

More businesses have closed during the past few days and the number of checks in the north bouncing have created a national crisis. This is all happening because of the war.

We leave Isreal with a sense of separation that is profound in light of the ever increasing need and a sadness that is motivating our imminent return.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Final Day of Trip

Today we got off to an early start. We were in Tzfas and met an old friend, Dovid Rothschild, who is very familiar with the terrain and the army positions.
Just prior to our meeting the air raid siren went off and we all ran to the Miklot in the Hecht family's home. It was a heart wrenching experience to hear the cries of the children and see the fear on their faces.
We did hear explosions in the distance but these it turned out were not the anticipated incoming missiles but rather the army detonating several large explosive devices in and around the area.
We remained in the sealed room for about 5 minutes as we tried to calm the frayed nerves and reassure everyone that it would all be okay. It was truly a heartbreaking experience.
From there we headed out to our destination of the day, Lebanon.
After about an hour of traveling and pausing to view the landscape and topography of the war grounds we finally arrived at the base in Lebanon.
We were allowed into the compound which is highly fortified and complete with many underground bunkers and sniper positions.
While there we put on Tefillin with the soldiers, signed them up for letters in a Sefer Torah, and toured the entire compound.
One young man confided to me that he and his wife have been considering becoming more "Dahtee" but he had no idea as to how to begin the process. He confided that they were considering that maybe they could begin with a Friday night Kiddush or keeping Shabbos. I pulled out my Tefillin and said let's start right now with the mitzvah of Tefillin. I assisted him in putting on the Tefillin, saying the Shemah, and we agreed that we would send the picture of this first mitzvah to his wife in order to notify her that he is now ready to begin. Please notice the pictures on the wall of the bunker where we put on Tefillin.
We went up to the top of the sniper tower and were able to look through some very high powered binoculars and we could see the enemy peering back at us.
The men of the unit could not have been more accommodating. They could not believe that we actually came up there to visit them. We thanked them for serving and they said oh no it is us who must thank you. We assured them that we were the ones who needed to do the thanking. They asked us how that is possible.
We explained to them that they are not only fighting for the borders of Israel but for all Jews everywhere. That this is a war that goes far beyond the borders of one country. They were very moved by our explaination and our visit. We were also overcome emotionally.
Aishy really enjoyed handling all the weapons and as we were leaving he commented to his father all I had to do was fire that machine gun and I could have started an international incident.
I guess that will have to wait for another visit which we will talk about in the days to come.

These are pictures from a bunker inside Lebanon. The pinacle of the rise in the above photo is the first village inside Southern Lebanon.

Tomorrow we will meet with the director of the boys and girls camps in the shtacheem.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Day 7 Begins

Today we are off to Lebanon.
I cannot impress upon everyone how difficult the situation is here in the northern part of Israel. Many of the small businesses have had to close because of the war and the people were not only appreciative of what we brought them but they repeatedly implored us to tell them when we will be back, "we really need you."
It is heart wrenching to witness the need and yet simultaneously there is a stoic-ness of these Isaelis that allows them to continue with their daily lives knowing that there is another attack just around the corner. They are boosted knowing that there are still people out there in the land of plenty (the good old USA) who care enough about them to take time out of their busy lives to visit and help. Please join us.

And again thank you to everyone who has helped out materially and spiritually to make this such a successful trip.

Golani Training Center Visit

(Click on any thumbnail in this blog to see full sized picture)

From the hospital we left for Hadera where we met up with the Golani Unit who took us to a training center where we presented the soldiers with the special tee shirts that they had requested as well as all of the flashlights that we brought with and finally the remaining canisters of home baked cookies.
They were so overcome with emotion that they presented us with personalized dog tags, Golani tee shirts, stickers, and specialized watch covers that block out reflection on the dial whilst in combat. There are 1500 trainees on the base and after thanking us profusely they requested that we obtain for them another 1500 flashlights as well as a list of other items that they will email us in the next day or two.

Return to the North

Today we spent the day performing the mitzvah bikur cholim at the Rambam Hospital. While we were in the hospital we were told that the Prime Minister Olmert was also visiting soldiers and from the looks of the police and military presence it was most certainly true.
We met a young man named Yechiel ben Zohara (please remember him in your Tehilim) who is quite a remarkable young man. He is 36 years old and the proud father of a little girl who will be one year old next week. He started a community in the Golan by living and working there for an entire year alone and now he has almost 50 families who have built and moved in to new housing.
Yechiel is one of 11 children and he was so appreciative of our visit that he insisted that we sit down and spend some time with him and his best friend. He was shot 10 days ago in the back and the bullet traveled internally and exited below his rib cage on the right side.
We thanked him for all he did for the Jewish People and for being a real hero. He was so modest that he insisted that we were the heros for coming to Israel to visit him.
Well actually there is such a person.
We took the bus to Haifa and on the bus was a young man whom we ran into in Yechiel's room. His name is Malkiel Lerner and he is called "Brother of the Wounded." Malkiel works a full time job in Jerusalem cleaning the streets and as soon as he gets off work he takes the bus to Haifa and the Rambam Hospital to visit the wounded soldiers. Mr. Lerner does this every day except Shabbos and often goes twice a day once before work and then again after.
When we got up to leave Yechiel began to cry from the raw emotion of our encounter. I must admit it was quite a powerful and very special encounter.