My sister had asked me to write something about what I had experienced when I heard that my friend, Noam Levy, was killed in action. Tonight and tomorrow is his yartzheit. She had to read it in front of her school, and this is what I wrote:
Noam Adin Rechter Levy z"l
by Tonny Schwarzmer
Thursday May 7, 2009, 6:30 AM. I was getting ready for the day of learning ahead of me. I was in Aish Hatorah Hesder. I had done my army service already, and had returned to yeshiva. I had been in Duchifat, 94 (our unit number), in Kfir Brigade, and was stationed in Ramallah.
I had davened, showered, gotten dressed and eaten. I was about ready to go when my phone rings. It was my friend Avinoam from yeshiva, who was in the draft after me in Duchifat.
"Did you hear?", he asks me.
"Someone from our unit was killed. He was even from your draft."
My heart pounded. Did he say a friend of mine was killed? I don't think I heard him right. Can't be.
"What did you say??"
"Someone from your draft was killed."
"Who? Do you know who it was??"
I right away made some calls. I started with my commander, Lior, who was now the staff seargent for the August 2008 draft.
"Lior someone told me one of ours was killed? Is that true? Who was it??"
"Yeah, it's true. It was Noam Levy."
So it was true, I couldn't believe it. A friend of mine from the army had been killed. The first thought I had in my head was, "God, please let this terrorist pay for what he did to my friend."
I spoke to Lior for a few minutes asking him what happened, what's going on now. It turns out I knew quite a few people on the mission, the Deputy C.O. Amit, two squad leaders Sergeants Yoni and Mordechai, and of course Noam. In the end this is what happened:
They had went on a routine mission. Obviously, anytime we go into an Arab village, it could potentially turn into a mess, but they never did when I went, so this mission was thought of as a lesser level mission.
While Yoni and Mordechai were leading their squads to other parts of the village, Amit, Noam, and the rest Amit's patrol were driving around the village, making sure everything was quiet. The Arabs had started rioting however, and throwing rocks. Amit tried arresting the leader of the riot, but there was no way the Arab was going to let the dirty Israeli Soldier just take him. He started fighting with him and before they knew it, they were wrestling on the ground. Somehow, Amit's gun discharged by itself. I don't think he really paid attention to where it went at first, but it had shot Noam, and he never had a chance.
Irony of ironies I think, Noam was the head medic of the platoon. He was a great guy. He made aliyah with his family from Canada when was about 10 years old. In training, he would help out whenever he could, in whatever he could. When I found out he was Canadian (after about 4 or 5 months with him), I couldn't believe it, he was so Israeli. He would help me out with my Hebrew though, whenever I had needed it. He always would help us with getting a minyan if we ever had trouble. Just an overall amazing friend.
His family is unbelievable. While the army had forcibly discharged Amit for what had happened, the Levy's had embraced him. They could have just blamed him, "you killed our son!" and all that, but they didn't. They realized it wasn't his fault and there was no way in the world he would've let it happen if he could have stopped it. They pleaded with the army to let Amit back in, but the army wouldn't budge. You'd think that if the family of the dead soldier forgave him, the army could too. "No," was the answer.
On the first Yom Hazikaron after, Noam's father told me the conversation he had with General Gabi Ashkenazi, the head of the army at the time. He said to him, "I know there are many initials and special army names, Mem"Peh, SamechMem"peh, etc. But I only know of one -- Kuf"Ayin, Kodkod Olam -- The Master of the World," he said, pointing a finger up to the Heavens. [ed. note: Funny thing, the head of the army in army lingo is called Kodkod Olam.] General Ashkenazi just looked at him, dumbfounded.
In the end, it wasn't some arab terrorist like I had thought (or hoped, I guess). It was his friend, his officer. Because of that we don't say "Hashem yikom damav -- Hashem shall avenge his blood," we just say, "Alav hashalom -- upon him shall be peace," or, "Yehei zichro baruch -- May his memory be blessed." Ours isn't to look for a reason as to why this happened, just to accept it ("HaTzur tamim po'alo ki kol dirachav mishpat..." Dvarim 32). I heard a story about one of the soldiers who was killed by friendly fire in the 2nd Lebanon War. The soldier's family sent a letter to the tank soldiers that had killed their son by mistake, and said to them, "at least he was killed by you, tzaddikim, and not by the evil hands of our enemies." Ours is to trust in Hashem that "Gam zu l'tovah -- also this is for good." Noam had accomplished his mission in this world, whatever it may have been, and we have to accomplish ours. By doing that we can all become better people, and bring Mashiach very soon.