Friday, June 12, 2009

OII #13- Yet Another Traffic Jam

Somehow, whenever I'm sitting in traffic, something interesting seems to happen to me.
I was with Mr. NMF and NBD was in my arms, slowly falling asleep (since it was late at night), when our taxi driver turned on the radio.

I asked him if he would mind turning it off, since NBD was trying to sleep, and he obliged. But, he remarked that he was going to fall asleep himself since it was basically bumper to bumper traffic. He told us that he would tell us his story instead. Whenever anyone has a story- I'm up for listening, but this one totally blew my mind.

It seems that David, who was our taxi driver, was the first soldier in 1967 to reach the Kotel during the 6 Days War. That statement alone was shocking enough, and I wasn't sure whether or not to believe it. But he corroborated his statement by telling me the story, and telling me I could look it up on the Internet if I wanted to.

He was part of the paratrooper unit who, as entering into the Old City, was returning sniper fire. He and his friends fought valiantly, and finally reached Lions' Gate, where the entrance was. He then finally reached the Kotel, but of his unit, 24 men died fighting. The Arabs had erected a wall between the Kotel and their houses, in order to prevent the Jewish people from ever seeing the Kotel. After all, from 1948, when the State of Israel was established, till 1967, no one had seen the Kotel except for older men who had seen it in much earlier times.

He wasn't sure what he was seeing- after all, he wasn't sure if it even was the Kotel or not.
But he remembered something. When he was a young boy growing up, he went to an irreligious school. On the page of the textbook he used was a section about Torah. And there were three pictures- the Kotel, the Maarat HaMachpela (Cave of the Patriarchs), and Kever Rachel.
David saw the picture of the Kotel in his eye, and he knew it had to be it.

He inched forward, and noticed that the sniper had stopped shooting. He wedged himself between the wall and the Kotel, and (in his own words)- felt the Shechina (Divine Presence) there. He was so shocked, so overcome with emotion, that his friend, who came after him, thought he was dead; that the sniper had gotten him. His friend checked him for blood- and only then did David come out of his reverie.

Yitzchak Rabin came, as well as Moshe Dayan, and the first civilian there was Rabbi Shlomo Goren, who, since he was a civilian, the snipers didn't shoot him. David and his soldier friends all went to cover the Rabbi, who took out a walkie-talkie and said those famous words, "Har HaBayis b'Yadeinu, HaKotel b'Yadeinu!" (The Temple Mount is in our hands, the Kotel is in our hands.) Rabbi Goren then blew the shofar.

David finished his story, which he said all in broken English, by the way, with interspersed Hebrew for greater translation, and Mr. NMF and I were in shock. Such an amazing story, and from such a unique person.

Just then, the traffic started to move- and David laughed and said that there was far too much traffic here. I responded, "Well, that's why there was traffic. So you could tell us your story." He laughed, and answered, "Yes, that's true. But I was just a soldier- I was just doing my job."

Only in Israel, would a taxi driver be one of the phenomenal heroes of our time.


Anonymous said...

Thanks NMF#7 - that's a terrific story to read in advance of Shabbat.

Anonymous said...

Very nice story. One minor correction- Rabbi Goren was not a civilian. He was the chief Rabbi of the IDF at that time, See

Mikeinmidwood said...

Only in israel will taxi drivers offer you their stories.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Wow. That's pretty phycho man. Too bad I was never in his taxi..

nmf #7 said...

Anon- You're quite welcome.

Anon #2- Really. Well, I didn't know that. David said that the reason why the snipers didn't shoot Rabbi Goren was simply because he was dressed (and acted) like a civilian at that time.

MIM- Totally true. OII indeed.

Shlomo HaTzair- I actually forgot which taxi company, otherwise I would tell you which one so you could meet him.