“Hey Soldier! Why the Uniform? Couldn’t You Wear Shabbat Clothing?”

A uniformed soldier came into Rabbi Zilbershtein’s Synagogue in Ramat Elhanan in Bnei Brak on Shabbat and conversed with the Rabbi for a few moments. After their short conversation the Rabbi instructed the synagogue sextant to honor him and call this soldier up to the Torah.

Everyone was surprised at this honor bestowed on someone who didn’t even live there. And couldn’t the soldier who was off duty any way come into synagogue with Shabbat clothing and not his uniform? Indeed Rabbi Zilbershtein asked him why he came to synagogue on Shabbat in his uniform instead of his Shabbat clothing. The soldier said: “I started becoming religious a few years ago and I keep Shabbat, but my mother doesn’t yet keep Shabbat.”

“Since she loves and reveres the army so much, whenever I come home my uniform goes straight in the machine for washing and ironing. So I decided I would wear them today so she wouldn’t do this laundry on Shabbat and desecrate it.” Rabbi Zilbershtein finished telling the people what the soldier said.

“I was overcome by this” said Rabbi Zilbershtein. I told him:’ “There’s no greater honor for Shabbat than this. That’s why I told the synagogue sextant to call this soldier up to the Torah and accord him honor so everyone should ask about it and would learn how to honor the Shabbat and prevent others from stumbling on it. Sacrificing to help someone else keep Shabbat is the greatest honor for the Shabbat.” 

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