July 5, 2008
“The Shabbat Angels…”
The sun goes up, the sun goes down. What day is it? How should I know? It’s Groundhog Day. Time has no meaning.
I call home. The kids are asleep. Whoops! I forgot about the time difference. Damn it, wife, don’t you know that you are supposed to be waiting by the phone every spare second of your day for a call from me?
“Are peeking through my window…”
A soldier comes to me with a pay problem. I ask him if he printed out his leave and earnings statement. He didn’t because there is only one printer in the company and it is guarded by senior leadership like the Conch in “Lord of the Flies.” The problems never end: “Hey platoon sergeant? Platoon sar’nt? Where’s the platoon sergeant at?”
“Soon we’ll light the candles…”
I look at my watch. It isn’t Groundhog Day after all; it’s Friday and almost 1830. If I were home I would be pulling on my dress pants and getting the kids ready to go to services. Instead, I’m pulling my body armor over my head and putting some last-minute information out to my squad leaders about the mission. I have no candles, but I can light two cigars. I have no wine, but I have purple Gatorade.
“And then we’ll go to Temple…”
If I don’t eat now, I won’t have to time to eat later. I trudge through the sand to the dining facility and clear my rifle of any rounds in a bright red barrel. The line for dinner snakes past a table of free bibles, holy cards, and Christian guides to combat stress. It’s nice to know they care.
I get to the front of the line. The main line dinner is pork patty or chicken parmesan so I ask for a hamburger from the short order cook. It’s my fifth one this week. I’m sick of hamburgers and protein bars. I want melahem fried in olive oil and my wife’s chicken and stuffing. My Shabbat dinner is done in three minutes. I dash back to my tent.
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.
That will have to do for now, G-d. I hope you understand, I have to make my hard time. Get it on, people. Let’s go! Squad leaders top off on ammo and water and make sure everybody has their tourniquet within reach.
Oh, and I have one more thing to put out.