Normally my newly-drafted son David would not be home from basic training for Shabbas (Saturday). [I know that this sounds weird to Americans, where newly-drafted soldiers disappear to far-away bases, not to be seen for long periods. Israel is so small that it is hard to defend. But the upside is that soldiers make it home a lot more easily.] But since his father is in mourning, our son asked that they make an exception, so that he could perform the mitzvah (good deed) of consolation. His commanding officer (a lady!!) said that she’d look into it. Shortly after, she told him that not only could he have the weekend off, army regulations specify that he would get most of the week off as well.
So after only two days in the army, our son arrived on our doorstep Thursday evening, proudly wearing his uniform. He told us about his two days, mentioning in passing that for any minor infraction, the punishment was to do seven push-ups.
“Seven push-ups!” snorted his younger brother, ”That’s no big deal!” And he dropped to the floor and commenced doing seven. As he finished, and got up, his soldier brother barked “Hey, you put the wrong foot in front now! Another seven!!” At that his younger brother began to understand that basic training can be a grueling process.
On Friday afternoon, David was helping me in the kitchen. It reminded me of the Mr. Clean commercials from my childhood: He was like a white whirlwind of action. He commented: “You know, I already see a difference in myself. I don’t feel like being lazy.” And it was true.