How exciting! My oldest daughter received her first draft notice for the army!
The morning after receiving it, I went to a rav here to ask him about it. When I told him what we received, he started telling me what I need to do so she can get an exemption. I stopped him in the middle and said, "I'm not asking about that; I'm asking about the fight that we're in. She wants to join the regular army and I want her to join the air force." He looked at me for a moment, smiled, and replied, "For sure the air force! That's not a question."
Thankfully, we live in a sexist society where men and women are treated differently. For a religious woman, she needs to get a letter from a religious court that states that she's religious, and she'll receive a life-long exemption. Boys on the other hand, must report to the army, I believe, twice a year, to confirm their status as yeshiva students in order to push off the draft, until they are too old and useless. Where are the feminists now?
I have yet to receive an exemption or draft notice. However, I'm thinking about volunteering. The idea of sleeping more than I am now, a vacation from my children, the ability to shoot and blow things up, get regular exercise, eat regularly, and not have to pay a shekel? I don't know, it sounds pretty darn tempting.
This week's parsha contains one of my favourite topics: Pesach Sheini. It's something that happens to be special regarding offerings, and stands out with many lessons to be learned.
When Moshe commanded the nation to bring their Pesach Offering, there were some who were unable to because they were ritually impure at the time. So, officially, they had an exemption from the mitzvah. However, we see that they were not satisfied with this and asked, "Why should we lose out from the mitzvah?" In turn, Moshe turned to Hashem for guidance in this case, and Hashem informed him that there is something called Pesach Sheini, a "second Pesach," for those who were impure or out of the country on Pesach. A second chance, if you will.
My Rosh Yeshivah, as I've mentioned here before, would use this to learn about the potential of a person. Rav Shimshon Pincus took a similar, yet different approach.
Many times, a person will say to himself, "I would love to learn on this level, do mitzvos on that level, daven with concentration, etc., however, I'm older now, it's harder, I have too many things in life, let's be real, I can't reach such levels."
Pesach Sheini teaches us the opposite. "Why should we lose out?"
Does a person who grew up non-religious and became religious later in life, believe that Hashem put him in that situation to simply grow a little and then give up? Does Hashem think so little of such a person?
Or a person who grew up religious, yet for whatever reason (and there are many), didn't not grow in a way that he could have. Does Hashem think so little of such a person that he cannot pick himself up?
Pesach Sheini, says Rav Pincus, teaches us that "it's never too late." Life is not like some video game that if you rescue the princess at the end you win, and if you don't, you lose. Life is about constant growth. And if a person did not do that earlier, he has no less of an obligation to do it later.
In fact, if anything, we can see it's deeper than simply an obligation. They complained, "Why should we lose out?" It's not about obligation, it's about losing out. A person who refuses to grow, loses out himself, whether in this world, the next, or both. Forget obligations to Hashem! What about our obligations to ourselves?
With this, may we never fall into the trap of giving up on ourselves, no matter what stage in life we are at.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!