Last But Not Least Apr/May 1974
Joel of Jerusalem
On The Way Home
At last we were free to go home. You can imagine the joy of the soldiers in our bus as we were heading home after not seeing our families for several months. In the foxholes it was bitterly cold at night, often wet and freezing. Some of them not used to the regions of war came down with colds or pneumonia. But now they were happy, chatting and singing. One of them was a journalist in civilian life.
As he was looking for interesting and provocative subjects for his orthodox newspaper “Hatsofe” (The Observer), he decided to pick me for his subject.
He sat down next to me and asked, “Joel, what do you think, will there be an end to this war?” “I am no prophet,” I told him, “but it is not likely that this war will end soon. It may drag on for years with severe fighting from time to time.” Then I said to this journalist, “I hear that your newspaper is still preoccupied with the question, ‘Who Is A Jew?’ “.
“Of course we are, otherwise every Tom, Dick and Harry would claim to be a Jew, even such as you!”
“So, on the battlefield when I am needed to find enemy mines and boobytraps and to defuse them, to risk my life and to risk being crippled or killed, I am considered a good Jew. Then nobody asks questions as to my faith. They are all grateful that I saved their skins, at the risk of my own. They give me citations for valor and promotions. But once the battle is over I am no longer ‘a good Jew,’ but an impudent meshumed who should be eliminated. I ask you, is this fair?”
Then I asked this journalist, “What have you done for your country?” The man had no answer to give, because he very rarely was called up for military service, and when he was, he usually worked in the kitchen, behind the lines.
Then I said, “You call me and others like me ‘a peril to the nation’. Yet I have served Israel faithfully risking my life on many occasions. I never made a secret that I believe and love my Messiah and Redeemer Jesus. He has been with me all these years and protected me. Now I am returning to my family safe and sound through His mercy. And then people like you will call me ‘a traitor’ and all kinds of names. I will be the last to be hired for a job and the first to be laid off. But I am happy to believe in the Messiah, who gave His life for me, that I may have forgiveness of sins right now and everlasting life with Him in eternity.” After my testimony there was a lively discussion in the bus in which the driver also participated.
Finally the journalist said, “I told you that he has ‘a Dibbuk’!” (‘A Dibbuk’ is the spirit of a dead person who enters somebody and compels them to do whatever he wants him to do or say). “No,” I said, “this is not a Dibbuk talking through me, but I speak the sober truth, which our own prophets foretold thousands of years ago. They were not possessed by a Dibbuk.”
Then said the journalist, “Now I have a good story!” He took out his notebook and wrote down the gist of our conversation.
“Be careful,” I told him, “that you do not poison your readers.”