Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Tags: Living Israel, Soldiers and Defense, Jewish Unity, Activism

By Nahum Binder

Wrote this just under 10 years ago about my brother Bentzi, who was called up again yesterday and felt it was appropriate to share again.

In the pouring rain, I watched my brother being awarded his purple beret.

This beret is not just a hat, but a symbol of infantry combat units and evidence of his completion of three long, hard months of basic training.

During the ceremony, they announced those chosen as outstanding soldiers. My brother's name was not called. Instead his officer, the company commander, awarded him his own beret, in recognition of his hard work and efforts -- a gesture made by officers to honor the most exceptional soldiers under their command.

At a time when many will go to great lengths to avoid responsibility, when many place their own interests before those of the group, my brother is a hero.

Just yesterday someone referred to a young man who had risked his life to stop a terrorist act as a "hero" and encouraged people to approach and commend him. He IS a hero, but we also need to remember that there are many others who put their lives on the line for our people every day, ensuring that we are able to sleep soundly at night, leave -- and return to -- our homes safely, and enjoy normal activities in the outside world.

At the end of the ceremony, my brother's friend, who had won the outstanding soldier award, approached him and said that my brother deserved the distinction much more then he did. My brother simply smiled and walked away. He might have sensed some truth in this (or maybe he's just too modest), but he refused to rob his friend of the honor and pride he had earned.

The conclusion of the ceremony marked the beginning of a free week for the soldiers, giving them some R&R before starting another three hard months of work: three months of more training, more difficult then before, more challenging then what they have done up to now. When I asked my brother how he will spend his time during this brief vacation, he answered, as if it's obvious, that he'll be studying in yeshiva for a few days. (!) The boy (sorry, he's 18 and owns an M-16 -- he's a man)…this man is given a week off to rest his body and soul after pushing it to the limit for three months and he is going to study some Torah!

What is the ideal Jew? I'm not sure, but this sounds pretty good to me: One who will give three years of his life (and much more time in reserves in years to come) for his country, for Israel.

He'll guard it, protect it, give his life if necessary, stand in the pouring rain and get soaked to the bone, and when he's not doing that, he'll go and learn a little Torah.

How many of us have ideals that we will go to that extent to protect? Do we even think about them, or are we too busy getting by another day, making enough money, studying for that test, eating that sandwich or reading that book?

So here's what I think: If you are attached to something so much, then I want to know about it and I want to hear about it, but most of all I want to SEE how important it is to you. You can talk until tomorrow, but action IS louder then words -- much louder.

My brother will be on the line in Gaza, Hebron, Ramallah, or some other place. That gives me the greatest sense of security and petrifies me at the same time. If there is one person out there I know I can trust to do the job and to do it right, it's my brother. I grew up with him, I lived with him, I shared a bunk-bed with him, I know him. And that's why I'm also scared. He can hold the biggest gun in the world and he'll still be my little brother.

But when I saw him sopping wet, proudly receiving his purple beret as all his friends chanted his name - I was proud. So proud, because he is doing the most obvious thing that so many of us just don't do. The right thing. A simplified concept? Maybe. But the right thing nevertheless.

To me, loving Israel means sharing its burden and being here not only when it is comfortable. I have friends that scrape through college, saving every dollar so next winter break they can come to Israel. To travel and visit sights? Not really. To spend money and support the economy? Sometimes. But really they do it just to BE here, because they know just as we know that "home is where the heart is"… and only here do you feel completely at home.

So what's my point? My point is that now is the time to come, now is the time to plan that trip, now is the time to start saving that money. Now is the time.

While you are waiting for that golden moment to arrive, think of my brother, the young soldier, in the rain, guarding an army base in some faraway place, trying to stay awake even though he hasn't had a good night's sleep in weeks. He is out there doing his bit and not thinking twice about it.

Are we doing ours?

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Tags: Living Israel, Soldiers and Defense, Jewish Unity, Activism