Today, your growth has reached a new crescendo. With faith and courage, conviction and determination, you are making "Aliyah" to join our holy brothers and sisters in the Israel Defense Forces to sacrifice yourself with such awe-inspiring “messirut Nefesh” to protect and defend our nation and our world... How will Mommy and I cope with the intense emotions stirred by the sight of our beloved son launching himself into the faraway battlefields of life and of wars -- we have yet to discover.

Rabbi Allouche

As our family shared with our son our very best wishes on his new journey to the IDF with the amazing Garin Tzabar Dati organization, I humbly share with you this letter that can hopefully bring a slice of solace and direction, to all parents who are also seeing their children “spread their wings.”

Our dearest son, Yisrael Mordechai Chaim,

It’s so hard to see you go!

As I hugged you one last time before you vanished in the security lane of the Newark Airport yesterday, on your way to Israel to make Aliyah and join the IDF, so many precious memories suddenly flashed through my mind.

There, through the flowing tears, I could see, and re-experience, with every fiber of my being, the day your angelic soul descended to this lowly world. Your body was so small, yet your personality was so big. Your skin was covered with vernix, yet your face radiated such Divine light. Your mouth let out a piercing cry, yet all we could hear was the sweet melody of your new existence.

We knew then, what you have confirmed to us over the years — that G-d had entrusted us to raise you, a giant of mankind, charged with a mission to bring goodness, happiness, and healing to our broken world, in your own unique way.

As we’ve watched you grow and blossom, our hearts have increasingly swelled with joy and pride at the young mensch and chassid that has emerged before our very eyes – in spite of, or maybe, because of, life’s many twists and turns.

Today, your growth has reached a new crescendo. With faith and courage, conviction and determination, you are making “Aliyah” to join our holy brothers and sisters in the Israel Defense Forces to sacrifice yourself with such awe-inspiring “messirut Nefesh” to protect and defend our nation and our world.

How will Mommy and I cope with the intense emotions stirred by the sight of our beloved son launching himself into the faraway battlefields of life and of wars — we have yet to discover. But we fully accept, with profound gratitude and trepidation, that this is the path that your Creator has paved for your soul’s unique purpose on Earth, at the beginning of times. And we are certain that you will shine and excel in it, from strength to strength. always.

Still and all, I can not help but wonder: Did Mommy and I do a “good-enough” job to lead you to this day and to equip you with all the tools that your new life-mission will now require? The answer, we’ll never fully know. But, Yisrael, our beloved son, below is another daring attempt to empower you with five ideas as you embark on this admirable journey:

1. LOOK HEAVENWARD:

When our Rebbe, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, was just three-years-old, his mother found him competing with his friends to see who could climb all the way to the peak of a tree. When the Rebbe climbed up the tree, he quickly reached the top and won the competition. So his mother asked him, “How did you achieve that feat?”

The Rebbe’s response spoke volumes: “When my friends were climbing, they looked down, so they became afraid of falling. But I never looked down, so I was never afraid!”Similarly, in life, when we look up, we are never afraid. We may face many daunting challenges, but if our eyes learn to gaze heavenward, and our hearts learn to speak to our Father in Heaven, we may just discover that Hashem is continuously carrying us in His loving embrace, and helping us navigate our personal “boat”, called “life,” in the best of directions, even when, from time to time, we may lose control.

2. WORK HARD:

Your great-grandfather, Pinchas Sassi Victor Allouche of blessed memory, used to repeat a one-liner which has now been engraved in the consciousness of our family: “Every living thing must grow, higher and higher (or, in french: ‘Toujours plus haut!’). We must achieve today, much more than we did yesterday, and much less than we will do tomorrow.”

I have no doubt that you too, Yisrael, will follow his calling. At times, you will certainly be tested. The life of a soldier is filled with travails. But it is those who work relentlessly hard to achieve more and more, that eventually succeed, beyond measure.

3. BELIEVE IN YOUR WINGS:

A few years ago, I asked our family’s beloved Rabbi, “Rav Adin,” Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz of blessed memory, what his primary message was for mankind. With his unparalleled wisdom, he replied: “I want people to know that they also have wings to fly, not just feet to walk. I want them to know that even if they traveled to the four corners of the world, they can, and should, still travel to the heavens and bring a piece of it back to their place on earth.”

In our Torah, all of our heroes flew to the heavens and brought a piece of it back on earth. Abraham taught humanity about G-d and monotheism. Moses followed G-d’s call and led our nation into the land of Israel. And Mordechai, whom you are also named after, galvanized our nation in prayer and in action and brought redemption and salvation to our people. This is what made them the greatest of the greats. And that is what will make you, Yisrael Mordechai Chaim, the greatest of the greats too.

4. MASTER YOURSELF AND YOU WILL MASTER THE WORLD:

When I was your age, Rav Adin called me aside and asked me: “Do you know what my greatest obstacle is?” Before I was able to utter a word, he replied: “It is me, Adin,” he said. “And the same goes for you. The greatest obstacle to you, Pini, is Pini. Once you will learn to master yourself, you will then be able to master the world.”

It is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. And it makes sense: Each of us, as you know, possesses a G-dly soul and an animal soul. It’s simple: the G-dly soul wants us to do good. The animal soul wants us to act impulsively, like animals. Both the G-dly soul and the animal soul talk to us throughout the day. But almost always, you will know and feel deep within you, which voice you ought to listen to. And, if you’re unsure which voice you should listen to, please consult with me, Mommy, or a teacher of yours that you trust.

As Rav Adin taught, if you can follow your G-dly soul and control the animal one, you too will see that you will then be able to master the world.

5. DON’T PURSUE HAPPINESS. CREATE IT.

Viktor Frankl once wrote: “Don’t aim at happiness…You have to just let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that, in the long-run, happiness will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.”

Here’s a little secret: As a Rabbi, my main goal in life is to make people happy by ensuring that they stay true to themselves and their Divine calling. Sadly, too often, I see people become that which they are not. And it pains me. Some choose professions that they deeply dislike. Some become overly materialistic, although their inner spirit is shouting for attention. And some turn into a pathetic version of their neighbor instead of staying true to their deepest selves. So they become sad.

Yisrael, Mommy and I, know that you are truly special and unique. G-d created only one Yisrael in the entire world. And He wants you to be YOU – the YOU that possesses a shining Jewish soul that yearns to follow Hashem’s Torah and fulfill His Mitzvot, and the YOU that is blessed with so many special talents and skills – from the brilliance of your intellect to the vastness of your compassionate heart; from your many amazing talents and skills to your incessant desire to run to do a Mitzvah, no matter its degree of difficulty. If you can continue to actualize your YOU each and every day, your life will surely be filled with blessings, and happiness will then come to you, and never leave you.

6. OK, ONE FINAL IDEA:

Ok, here’s one final idea. Perhaps, this idea is the most important of all: Know that Abba and Mommy are always here for you, with endless and unconditional love. If you ever need an ear to listen to you, a pair of arms to embrace you, a heart to feel you, a soul to shine upon you, Abba and Mommy are always, always here for you, and with you.

One of my favorite songs growing up was an Israeli song composed by Arik Einstein, titled “Ouf Gozal / Fly Away Young Bird.” It is a riveting song about an older bird, singing to his young chicks, soon after they departed from his nest:

My little birds have left the nest

Spread their wings and flew away

And I, an old bird, remain in the nest

Really hoping that everything will be alright.

I always knew the day would come

When we’d have to part

But now it came to me so suddenly

So what is the wonder that my throat chokes with tears.

Fly, little bird, cut through the sky

Fly to wherever you want

Just don’t forget that there’s an eagle in the sky

Be cautious…

Our dearest, dearest son, Yisrael Mordechai Chaim, we say to you too: fly, cut through the sky. Soar to the highest of heavens. And continue to shine bright and far, bringing the Rebbe, Rav Adin, Sidi Bahe, your parents, and all of your surroundings, abundant Nachas and pride, always.

ישימך אלוקים כאפרים וכמנשה, יברכך ה’ וישמרך, יאר ה’ פניו אליך ויחונך, ישא ה’ פניו אליך וישם לך שלום

With endless love,Abba & Mommy