"All mankind will pass before You like a flock of sheep. Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of all the living; and You shall apportion the destinies of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict.The Yom Kippur in 1973, or 5734 according to the Jewish Calendar, was a Yom Kippur that brought us closer than ever to that crucial question.
On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by upheaval, who by plague, who by strangling, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted. But Repentance, Prayer, and Charity avert the severe Decree!"
On Yom Kippur, 1973 (5734,) three years after our aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, we were a young family with two little girls living in Bayit V'Gan, Jerusalem. We were already Israeli citizens, having speeded up the citizenship process in order to vote in the upcoming elections. In those days there were very few private cars, so even on an ordinary Shabbat it was rare to hear any vehicle, even on nearby main street Herzl Blvd. Therefore some people in our shul, located at the Mt. Herzl end of Bayit V'Gan, were surprised to hear vehicles as we walked home after Musaf.
A couple of hours later, just before Mincha (the afternoon prayer,) the traditional solemn Yom Kippur
silence was marred by sirens. Our neighbors ordered us into the building's shelter, which hadn't been used since the 1967 Six Days War. It had become more a storage room than safe place for a building full of people, from very elderly to infants.
By the time we heard those frightening shofar-like sirens, Israel had already been attacked on two fronts, in the North by Syria and in the South by Egypt. Our enemies' plan was to meet in Tel Aviv after destroying the country by surprise. Many of our soldiers were killed in the first hours of that attack, since they weren't prepared at all.
Israel's "wise men" had been insisting that the 1967 Six Days War had made us invincible. The memory of our great victory was the deterrent to keep the Arabs from starting a war against us again. Nobody would dare mess with the IDF! Please don't forget that their spiritual/philosophical/ideological heirs are the leaders of Appease aka Peace sic Now.
To make matters even more dangerous for Israel, the post-1967 friendship with the United States meant that Israel kept consulting with the Americans every stage of the war. I have no doubt that it almost lost us the war and the independence of the country. The Nixon-Kissinger aim was to make Israel more a protectorate of the United States. For some of you the time-line may be vague, like ancient history, but you should now that the modern State of Israel was only nineteen years old in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War was just six years later, making it twenty-five years old. Israel is now sixty-three years old. It has existed more than triple the time from Independence to 1967. That famous "green line" was in effect as a temporary cease-fire line for barely eighteen years, from 1949. That's bupkes in world history or the History of the Jewish People, which is thousands of years long.
Post 1967, 5727 in the Jewish Calendar, Israel wasn't emotionally prepared for such a war. It had been easier to believe the myth that we were invincible and the Arabs were terrified of us. That's why many/most Israelis consider it the worst war we ever fought, similar to a defeat. I disagree on that. I consider the victory, and don't forget that if we had been G-d forbid defeated we would have been massacred and destroyed, Israel's greatest victory. Rising up from such an attack, a surprise attack, showed more military might than even in 1967 when we prepared.
As we enter this Yom Kippur, and I mourn the friends killed in 1973, I pray that our country's leaders gain wisdom to enable the State of Israel to thrive, rather than live in fear of another attack.
Thanks to West Bank Mama for inspiring me to blog about it.