“If you are reading this, it means I have ended my career.” These were the words written by First Sergeant Daniel Pomerantz, one of eight Golani soldiers killed when the a missile hit their armored personnel carrier in Gaza, in a final note he left for his family before going into Gaza.
This was a young boy! Daniel was just 20 years old, virtually still a child with his entire life ahead of him, but he committed to dedicating three years of his life to serve for his country before settling down.
As I read his words, I tried to imagine what could have possibly gone through this young man’s mind as he wrote this letter to his parents and prepared to enter one of the most dangerous places in the world – Gaza, a place crawling with Hamas monsters who are ruthless and simply want to kill as many Jews as possible. What could he write? Who could even put pen to paper in that situation?
Perhaps he would write, “I wish I didn’t have to serve in the army.” Or maybe, “I wish I was born in a different country,” or even, “I wish I weren’t Jewish.”
But no. He begins, “I never imagined that I would have to write something like this. That probably says it all already. What can I write? What can I add to these words?”
And then he astounds me. Facing the very real prospect of losing his life, he writes, “You should know I am happy. I am happy with the choices I’ve made. I’m happy to be serving in the Golani unit.”
Instead of second guessing his situation, he is proud and happy to be playing an instrumental role in securing his country’s safety, even at risk to his own life.
The tragic irony is that Daniel’s mother, Varda Pomerantz, is the former head of the IDF casualty branch, where part of her job entailed informing families of the death of their loved ones. At her son’s funeral she said that she always had a terrible feeling that one day she would be the one being informed, and then in their last phone call he mentioned that he left her a note in case something happens…
We are currently observing the annual 9 day mourning period leading up to the 9th of Av, the day we mark the destruction of our two Holy Temples. For close to 2000 years we have been subjected to a terrible, bitter exile. We’ve had to endure all manner of persecution and ruthless enemies in their attempts to destroy us. The Spanish inquisition, the Crusades, Stalin, Hitler, Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Hamas, Hezbolla, Iran and more. But despite the immense pain and tragedy we’ve faced, as a nation we’ve survived.
Daniel’s message is our message and it’s our job to internalize it. “I want you to know I am happy,” he wrote. This, then, is our job. To be happy despite the fact that we are at war, to remain positive in the face of biased media reporting and to spread joy even though we are misunderstood, mischaracterized and criticized. For Daniel’s sake, for the sake of all the other murdered and wounded soldiers, we must stay upbeat and hopeful. Happy.
We are happy to be Jews. Happy to be the chosen nation. Happy to have our dear Father in Heaven. Happy to be his children.
We hope and pray every day for the coming of Moshiach, where we will be able to finally experience the ultimate form of happiness and joy!
Let’s keep Daniel’s legacy alive by holding onto that happiness, appreciating the good in our lives, making good choices and living without regret.
Am Yisrael Chai!