Three months ago the light of Hanukka served as a beacon for the start of my military service, promising beauty amid the shadows as basic training got under way. Now Purim has arrived and with the holiday of masks and miracles, my first chapter in the army comes to a close. This week I start the first round of training with my unit, leaving the safe confines of the Nachal Brigade and basic training in my wake.
Traveling from the assertive legacy of Hanukka to the inscrutable holiday of Purim, from eight days that boldly recall the Maccabees armed defense of the Jewish people to a topsy-turvy holiday where political guile spares an exiled Jewish community from genocide, has not been easy for me. Through the wind and rain of Israel's winter, basic training alternatively found me staring at the Kotel with pride in my eyes and a smile on my lips and toiling under tremendous load in the pre-dawn hours of a desert rainstorm. The hardest challenges were losing touch with the friends and lifestyle years of academic life have allowed me to nurture. Finding a new community within my unit remains an ongoing challenge. And yet, Hannukka lies in the past, and Purim is insisting I take on the example of Esther and Mordechai for the difficult path that lies ahead.
Time, as always, is so short and so past jewels I wish to share, of Krav Maga and kitchen duty, Thailand and the Sinai, nerve gas and army dental care...all will have to wait for the few and far between free weekends I will have off in the next round of training. Meantime, perhaps check out Yoram Hazony's The Dawn for an insightful take on the Purim legacy, wish me well, make the most of your lives and as always, be in touch via email and whatever else can reach me wherever I will be.
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