Friday afternoon, 5 PM: When much of Israel is taking a nap before Shabbat, 19 year-old David from B'nai Brak has his eyes and ears glued to the Jordan-Valley border crossing and surrounding area that he and his squad are responsible for. Thanks to Hashem and the young men of the Nachal Haredi, the rest of Israel can sleep soundly.
The ambulance with the red crescent and the Palestinian license plate looks suspicious. Two Nachal Haredi soldiers motion for the driver to pull over to side of the road and to get out of the vehicle. They order the driver to open the back door. Who knows what or who is inside and what or who will jump out. There's no such thing as routine and no such thing as relaxing a muscle. Last year, a Nachal Haredi sergeant was shot in the neck and killed on such duty by a Jihad Islami assassin. In the IDF, you grow up fast. If you add emuna, Torah, and prayer to your military training, you grow up fast and strong.
This past Shabbat, I met wonderful young men, strong in body and strong in soul. Before the army, many of them were still young and vacillating, unfocused on any goal whether yeshiva or profession. In the Nachal Haredi, they become full-fledged high caliber infantrymen while benefitting from the supervision of a dedicated staff of advisory rabbis that spend loads of time with them in every stage of their training and subsequent tours of duty.
In the 3rd year of service, a Nachal Haredi soldier gets his choice of studying for matriculation, learning a trade, or studying in a yeshiva. In addition, the Nachal Haredi has a special "Machal" unit that's comprised of young men from abroad. This past Shabbat, I met a dozen such young men. Many of them told me that they left their homes in Florida and New Jersey as babies - the Nachal Haredi changed all that.
If a young man isn't sure of what he wants in life, and he's not seriously learning Torah, then in my humble opinion, the Nachal Haredi is the best place in the world - a place to grow up fast and grow up strong.
What's in that trunk? One Nachal Haredi soldier examines the trunk of a Palestinian car while his sergeant (right)covers for him. No time to relax a muscle...