Giving is receiving
My daughter calls our home the “Samuels Lone Soldier Center”. We constantly have young people from abroad serving in the Israeli Defence Force sleeping at us or eating at our home. Thursday to Sunday when many of them have time off is an extra busy time. As I am writing this (3am), four young ladies just arrived to crash at our place. During dinner tonight we heard about the terrorist attacks in the heart of Tel Aviv. These soldiers serve in combat units. They left comfortable lives abroad. They have chosen to serve despite the danger they face.
I will have two children enlisting and proudly serving in the IDF in the next few months. They live in Israel, and they are proud to do their service and give back to their country. In Israel, for religious girls who chose not to serve in the military, there are many alternative programs including non-military national service that post high school students can choose as a way of giving back.
Why do these young people serve often in dangerous units and voluntarily choose to even extend their service? The answer is simple- they want to make a difference. By serving they contribute to a framework that defends and serves the Jewish people. It also gives these young people a sense of purpose and meaning.
The week’s Torah portion Parashas Ki Sisa opens with the words “When you take a census of the Children of Israel ... v'nasnu – every man shall give Hashem an atonement for his soul .... This shall they give – everyone who passes through the census, a half-shekel ....". We learn that not only is it possible for us to make a difference, but it is imperative to do so. The word v'nasnu – "and they shall give '' – is a Hebrew palindrome, a word or phrase that reads the same backward and forward, reminding us that that which we give always comes back and enriches us.
So many young people are lost and unmotivated. They reason is often simply a lack of purpose. In Israel when I meet young people who choose not to give back to their country, I feel sorry for them as they miss out on an a powerful life opportunity. When we give, our souls expand and our world becomes larger and more meaningful, bringing blessing to ourselves and to our people.
“You may find that making a difference for others makes the biggest difference in you”