It's complicated being a Jew in the Diaspora -- to care deeply and yet not be on the front lines. To care deeply yet continue to go about our daily existence -- tending to our families, doing chores and errands, worrying about my broken refrigerator (so trivial in light of the big picture) and even sometimes going out with friends.
It's complicated for me. It's complicated for my community. It's complicated for all Jews who care. And it's particularly complicated for my son who finished his IDF tour of duty in July and is now living back home in Los Angeles. His thoughts have been pouring out.
"Soldiers dying, wounded. Many people are praying for these brave Jews who are prepared to give up their lives for the land of Israel and the Jewish people. What many people don't know are the names of these soldiers. I do. They are my friends. I served alongside them for a year and a half. Just as they fought bravely back them, so too now. When this war broke out, many people here commented that I must be glad that I finished when I did. This is not true. I would give so much to be back with my friends, fighting with them, doing what I can to protect them while they do what they can to protect me. I love them and it's killing me to sit here at home and watch them do MY job. I dread calling and getting the daily update on which of our buddies has been injured. The list never ends.
"What am I doing, living my comfortable life in California, while my friends' lives are on the line?"
"I am proud of them and ashamed of myself. What am I doing, living my comfortable life in California, working in real estate and hanging out with friends while they are getting shot, while their lives are on the line? But what should I do? Should I go back? The question whirls around my head. I haven't been called back. I'm not in shape any more. I'm not sure what role there is for me. I have lots of answers (rationalizations?), but the truth is I'm scared -- I don't want to leave my family and my life here and I also know that nothing would ever be the same. I did my time and that time is over. And somehow I need to make peace with that. I can't go running back every time there is a war. Or can I? It's complicated..."
The answers are not easy, the solutions are not obvious. So we, your brothers and sisters outside the land of Israel, do what we can. We send money, we send packages, we lobby the government and we try to impact the media. We pray. And we try to find a meaningful way to live our lives. We try to make a difference.
There are many ways to work for the Jewish people. There are many ways to fight for the Jewish people. We each have to find our unique task. We can't all be on the frontlines with guns (I for one am way too old, among other disqualifications!) But we can all put ourselves on the line for our nation. We can all live lives that matter.
And if we do, if we are really committed to helping our people -- in whatever form that takes -- surely the Almighty will hear our cries. He will know we care, and, please God, He will answer our prayers.