The Chief Rabbi of the IDF, Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz, shares his words of wisdom for Yom Kippur with IDF soldiers and the entire Jewish people.
Sometimes we feel like sprinters, running the demanding race of life. From high school to the army, from army to university, from university to work. In our free time, our culture offers to fill up our free time with internet and social networks, and doesn’t allow us to have a single real moment with ourselves.
Being in the army is also demanding and thrilling. Drills, training, shooting practice, guard duty, lessons – day after day, mission after mission. In such a situation, a person doesn’t have a single moment available to sit by himself and think: What are the values that I’m living for? What is my purpose in life? What is my role as part of a people that survived in exile for so many generations and returned to its ancestors’ land to fulfill its mission?
Chief Rabbi of the IDF Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz
Yom Kippur is a time to look deeper. We are given a special time to stop, to sit and to think about the previous year and the year ahead: Did I make progress? Did I live by the values that are meaningful to me? What good decisions will I make in the year that has just begun?
If someone asked us to choose one main thing we regret on Yom Kippur, we would define it like this: the regret is that I didn’t actualize myself in a real way. That I didn’t use all of mental power and didn’t do enough good for the people around me.
This is a time to make good decisions for the new year, so we can make progress, because this is a person’s character – to keep moving forward. Therefore, when you’ve done something wrong to another person, the right thing to do is to ask for forgiveness. Yom Kippur is a great opportunity to make peace between friends, and to fully apologize to people we know that we hurt. For badmouthing people, for gossip, for not listening, for not respecting our parents, or for not being thoughtful with our friends.
By taking this approach, we increase friendship and fraternity, in the military specifically, and among the Jewish people in general. As you know, this is a central pillar in building up our forces.
To our soldiers and commanders:
We have the merit of being the emissaries of the Jewish People. We didn’t exactly choose it, but this is what we do: hard work, across the State of Israel, with an unbreakable will to defend ourselves from anyone who wants to harm us. We are the representatives of the previous generation, that in the remaining vestiges of its strength, after the horrors of Auschwitz and Birkenau, put the baton in our hands and said: continue, build, develop – without fear.
You, dear soldiers, see the fruits of this relay race. The State of Israel is strong and flourishing – we are a moral society with an army that is prepared, ready and on guard. This is all due to the devotion and the love of Israel that every single soldier gives to his friends and to his people. That is the way to make your Yom Kippur successful: with trust, fraternity, and friendship.
May you be sealed in the book of life for a happy and peaceful year.
Brig. Gen. Rabbi Rafi Peretz, Chief Rabbi of the IDF