In the book, Pinnacle of Creation, adapted from the talks of Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz ZT”L (Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim), I found something amazing that I would never have thought about had I not made aliyah, or seen pictures of hesder yeshiva students in the IDF.
In parashat Balak, a Midrash Yalkut Shimoni is used to explain the pasuk, “Who can count the dust of Yaakov…?” (Bamidbar 23:10). It states that Bilaam’s prophetic reference to the “dust of Yaakov” alludes to
- the young men of Israel,
- students dressed in their Shabbat finery,
- who congregate around their teacher,
- sitting in the dust of his feet,
- to hear the words of Torah from his lips.
Further on in the drasha, it states, “…they were proud of the dust stains, they wore them like medals and ribbons, their insignia of devotion and love for Torah.”
After I read this, I couldn’t help but think about a picture my son’s friend posted on Facebook.
In my conversations with a local hesder student / tank driver, I feel convinced that this Yalkut Shimoni is speaking about these young men who live a religious, Torah-life by learning Torah and by serving in the IDF.
Their dust is real dust and their devotion is seen in “ribbons” and “medals”.