Lessons of Unity From Arzei Habira

Hymie Gluck lives in Brooklyn and commutes daily to Passaic. He is very close with Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Rav of Agudath Israel of Madison, and often will relate to me Torah thoughts in his name.

Yesterday’s comments demand dissemination.

Harav Reisman, who is in Israel at present, related the following to his flock via email:

Word reached the Arzei Habira neighborhood in Yerushalayim that many of the soldiers who man the Iron Dome defense system have been relegated to consuming army rations during these trying days of war, and are craving for something else.

Perhaps because they are attached to their post and can never leave — as who knows when the enemy will choose to fire — they are especially dismayed by not having eaten a home-cooked meal in more than two weeks.

Word reached the Arzei Habira neighborhood where Harav Reisman is staying. Suddenly and without prompting, a group of holy women spread the word that Jewish boys were in need of home-cooked, real Jewish food.

Harav Reisman’s shul, Agudath Israel of Madison, generously paid for the actual uncooked food, and the wonderful women of Arzei Habira did the cooking.

In addition, my own daughter-in-law informs me, in other neighborhoods, they also prepared meals, using their own food. Holy women from many neighborhoods all over Israel, the majority of them kollel wives who have sacrificed the comforts of America in order to facilitate and assist their husbands’ Torah learning, sprang into action.

Ignoring the fact that all of them live on tight kollel budgets — which often means happily giving up eating chicken or meat daily for the sake of a spiritual life of Torah — they took their chickens, which perhaps were being saved for Shabbos, and began to cook for Jewish boys.

They spared no effort and no food and no expense to supply the culinary needs of the Jewish boys at the front.

Many of the women prepared a precious piece of meat, which was being saved for a special occasion, or they used that night’s chicken, which would have been dinner for the family, and substituted tuna fish for their family’s dinner.

There was no talk of whether army service should be mandatory or not.

There was no question of whether these boys were religious or not; there was only one concern: A Jewish boy was hungry, and a Yiddishe mamma responds to the call of hunger.

In a matter of minutes, hot, fresh, home-cooked meals, complete with fresh bread and cakes, were carefully cooked and baked and wrapped with the love which only a Jewish mother can give, and were ready to be  delivered.

Soon, yeshivah bachurim offered their services and personally drove the fresh food to the south of the country, into the waiting hands of the hungry soldiers.

No one cared if these boys were chareidi or dati or chiloni; there was only one concern: These Jewish boys, who are serving the klal, were hungry.

As in the times of Mitzrayim, it was the righteous women of the generation who showed us the way and who once again taught us that a Jewish child needs his Jewish mother, and whatever lifestyle he has chosen, he is always our son.

The nashim tzidkanios (righteous women) of Eretz Yisrael have once again showed us the path of redemption.

They sacrificed their meager rations — which they are already compromising on to support their husband’s learning — for the sake of soldiers of the IDF.

I can just visualize the conversation which took place that evening in homes throughout Eretz Yisrael.

The father returns home with a smile after a tiring and productive day in yeshivah. He sits down at the table,  surrounded by his children and his wife, and all are surprised as she puts out a plate of tuna and some cut vegetables for dinner.

The husband, although surprised, remains quiet and does nothing which could embarrass his wife.

However, one of the little children asks, “Mommy, how come there is no chicken tonight for dinner?”

The mother responds, “Sheifelah, there is chicken for dinner tonight. It is being eaten by the soldiers who are down south who together — and in tandem with Tatty’s Torah — protect us from our enemies. Tonight, the soldiers are eating our chicken and we eat tuna.”

The husband, who had no idea that his wife has done this wonderful mitzvah, is full of pride and admiration for his eishes chayil.

He looks at his children and proudly proclaims, “Kinderlach, you should know that the tuna we are eating tonight is like the finest meat from the finest korban. For by us eating the tuna, we have allowed Jewish soldiers to enjoy a home-cooked meal from our Mommy, which reminds them that although we do our part in the ‘war effort’ through Torah and mitzvos, we have not forgotten those who do their part on the front lines.”

“Tonight we are one people.

“You must know, my children, that your mother’s chicken — which was prepared with love and sent to our sons on the front lines — is considered in Hashem’s eyes like the ketores (the sweet-smelling incense) of the Beis Hamikdash.

“Kinderlach, I am enjoying this tuna more than any steak in the world, for I know it was brought about by the chessed and kindness and caring of your mother for others.”

Mi K’amcha Yisrael — Hashem, who is like Your people?”

Ron Yitzchok Eisenman is the Rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Israel, Passaic, NJ