Hi, all. By now you may have heard that I’m back for a brief period (heading back in for another, much quicker stint in a couple of days). Really, really relieved to be typing in this chat right now.

I don’t really know what to say after the last 24 days on the front lines, other than thank you. The miracles that we have witnessed in hind sight that enabled all of us to come home safely is nothing short of G-d’s hand at work, and I credit all of you for your prayers and thoughts that have influenced the direction of where their RPGs hit us across several ambushes, and redirect their bullets flying over our heads and next to our ears as we try to regroup and neutralize the threat before us.

I say with absolute certainty, not as a preacher, but if you didn’t believe in G-d before, I don’t know what else to tell you, because not a single person on my team can explain how we all came out alive virtually unscathed, considering the circumstances we underwent. I’m not talking close calls; I’m talking death guiding us blindfolded on a tightrope between two mountains. G-d is good. So, thank you all for your prayers – they really work and we still need them.

It’s important to note that the job isn’t finished. There is still work to do, we still have a very big little bit coming up and, as we speak, soldiers are encountering what we encountered constantly. Many are giving their lives so that we can live peacefully. The heroic sacrifice can’t be understated. I know it sounds like just a number of soldiers killed, but each of these people is me. Is you. Is us. Family, friends, eagerly awaiting to see their loved ones again and they never will.

As a firsthand account, we witnessed what we all already knew: Hamas uses children, schools, hospitals as launch points for terror. We found tunnels in a school. We found RPGs and ammo in a hospital that we took over. We even saw terrorists using three of the hostages as human shields as a lure to bait us into a shootout. The inhumanity is outrageous.

These people have waited a decade or more for this moment and are certainly ready to die for their cause. But I tell you with great certainty: Our people have waited millennia to have peace against far greater odds, and peace will be had by any means necessary. Like we say every Pesach (Passover) at the Seder during V’Hi SheAmdah (“And this [the Torah] is what kept our fathers and what keeps us surviving. Not only one arose and tried to destroy us; rather, in every generation someone rises and tries to destroy us, but G-d saves us from their hands.”). It’s just that simple.

I urge all of you to please appreciate your lives, your loved ones, your ability to turn on a light at nighttime, your ability to go to a bathroom, to shower, to switch your socks, to not hear a boom every 30 seconds, to not jolt at the thought of another ambush, to not smell the horrible smell of burning bodies, of not being shot at, to never ever have to hear the scream of an RPG approaching and then exploding feet front you and have the second of panic not knowing which way will be safer (to the right or to the left) as the bullets start flying while you dive to the ground. To not shoot at someone shooting at you. To never see this type of devastation. Most of all, enjoy tranquility, because we are fighting so that you can all live and enjoy life. Celebrate that life. Go out. Have fun. Have a drink. Eat well. Hug someone. Kiss someone. Be successful. Hate sparingly and love endlessly. Live. Give. Pray. Dream. Be proud. Love. Everything we are doing is in vain if our lives pause.

I don’t want you all to get the wrong idea. As close as we all are to death, we couldn’t be further. Our spirits are high. The fighting Jew has sustained so many difficulties and the fighting Jew cannot be broken. We are not scared. We are warriors. We are not deterred by some terrorists living under the ground, we are lions who will hunt them down and will find our prey in order to survive. We want our honor back and honor will be restored. And through all the terrorists that we have killed, with the help of G-d, we stand to answer the call to protect Jews and all of humanity. I don’t think there could be a more special or worthy cause than this one, and I am humbled to be answering this call in such fashion. I hope that my grandfather Eli, who stormed the beaches of Normandy to restore humanity from the Nazis, is looking down and smiling at what his only grandson is accomplishing in his attempt to stand in his giant shadow and the shadow of all of the fighting Jews in history.

Do not stop praying. We need to continue. We will continue. Not because we want to, but because we have to. I love you all and appreciate you all in my life. Genuinely. You have all made me who I am today, and your strength enables me to do what I am doing.

As always, stay strong. Stay united. Perhaps if my chapter here will be over soon, I pray to G-d that I never forget this feeling of pride in being a fighting Jew, to be a part of the history of our people that actually can fight. I do this for all of you. All of your families. All of our ancestors. I do this most of all for peace, because we all deserve that fundamental human right.

Sending my love and genuine, continued appreciation to all of you and your families/friends who are praying on our behalf.

Am Yisrael Chai!
Simcha “Sam”
Your Paratrooper