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Two Prayers - One Request
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From the moment I heard at Camp Moshava-well over thirty years ago- the inclusion of two blessings/prayers in the Birkat HaMazon, I have been addicted to their importance and to potency of their messages.
The first one, הרחמן הוא יברך את מדינת ישראל ראשית צמיחת גאולתנו, still best represents my belief of the purpose-and goal-of the State of Israel. ….namely that the State of Israel is not a mere or coincidental historical event, but the beginning of the process of redemption promised thousands of years ago by our Prophets.
The second one is הרחמן הוא יברך את חיילי צבא ההגנה לישראל העומדים על משמר ארצנו – A beautiful 'one-liner' which beseeches G-d to protect over the IDF Soldiers who protect over all of us. Yet, so many people do not find the place in their heart to offer a Tefilla, specifically for those endangering their lives for us.
I find this very strange, beyond painful, terribly sad and, quite frankly, wrong.
Yet, during times of war, many of these people will say Tehillim. Now let me ask you, without underestimating how devastating war can be, do these people not realize how the IDF soldiers are literally day-to-day, minute-to minute, second-to-second both actively and passively at risk. Why do these people need the headlines of 'war' to appreciate the fact that Israel's enemies work 24/7 in all directions and from all directions to kill Israelis. If one believes in Tehillim and prayer, s/he should have the common sense to know that Israel and Her Soldiers need prayers 24/7 as well.
While of course this is, in essence, the same discussion as whether one recites the 2 Shabbat Tefilot- Tefilla LShlom HaMedina and Mi SheBerach for Chayalei Zahal, it is NOT the point of my piece here.
Personally, I always felt the potency of these prayers DAVKA in the Birkat HaMazon, perhaps specifically because of their brevity.
But there exists another reason. During Birkat HaMazon, most often on Shabbat when we have guests, I will point to the Chayal at the table when reciting it. THIS is truly a powerful moment. And many of them, if not most, thank us ('us' - as all Allswangs have adopted the custom) for our Tefilla.
Can it get any simpler, yet meaningful? IMHO – this is Kavanna personified!
And now it is our turn, our son Binny will be starting his army service right after Purim. And while greater and more prolific writers have captured the moments of IDF parents-especially an Oleh parent- we have a special request.
We want more people to bless the soldiers (and the State) every time we eat, and 'bench'.
Not because our son is going into the army-that only explains why I am asking DAVKA now, but because all soldiers deserve our daily prayers, multiple times a day. Like I have done since my Moshava days in the '70s and onward.
Shabbat prayers are just that- once a week.
Our acknowledging, and praying for, IDF soldiers during Birkat HaMazon, is truly a simple, yet powerful way, to thank The One Above who sustains us not just with food, but Who also keeps our IDF brethren safe, despite all the dangers they face.
I can still hear the Moshava Chadar Ochel full of hundreds of kids reciting these blessings, BSimcha UVahava.
We-Jews of all stripes- should learn from them.