An Army of CompassionMay 30, 2019 - 12:00 am
This Devotional's Hebrew Word
The officers shall say to the army: “Has anyone built a new house and not dedicated it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may dedicate it. Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her.” — Deuteronomy 20:5–7
This month, Israel honoured its fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in securing and protecting God’s Holy Land, and celebrated its 71st anniversary as the modern Jewish State. Join us as we explore through the timeless teachings of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein how God has watched over His land and His people since biblical times.
It’s hard to focus on our job when we are worrying about a sick family member or have other pressing personal concerns, isn’t it? While we try not to bring our personal affairs into the workplace, it’s not always easy to keep those separated. So when an employer comes alongside us and takes the time to help us at a personal level, it can mean all the difference.
We see this type of care and compassion played out on a daily basis in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). As you probably know, all Israelis are required to serve in the army — young men from ages 18 to 22, and young women from 18 to 21. While every soldier enlisted in the IDF knows the importance of serving in the army, they often do so at the expense of their family and their personal needs.
Those in charge of training and working with the soldiers know the realities and hardships of enlistment. For some soldiers, it means forfeiting the income that would help support their families. For newly arrived immigrants (oleh), it often means being on their own for the first time in a new country without any social support or family network.
Fortunately, compassion toward soldiers is a longstanding and biblical tradition for Israel. In Deuteronomy 20, the army officers were instructed to show compassion toward those who had genuine needs at home. There was very good reason for this. If one among them became fearful (of leaving behind a new bride, for instance) or discouraged, it would affect the others, so therefore the rule was: “Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too” (Deuteronomy 20:8).
By taking care of the needs of soldiers, including the needs of their families, the soldiers are able to be undistracted in their service. But there’s only so much that the army can do and provide.
As it says in the Bible, “indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121: 4). Let us pray that God continues to protect His people and His land through the service of these young soldiers.