Last night, the siren sounded at 8 pm for Yom HaZikaron.
I didn’t expect the tears.
As the siren sounded, my children got up from the couch where they had been watching a cartoon and all stood at attention. Even as he stood, though, my five year old started to cry.
It might be easy to assume he cried out of fear: the siren is very loud and disturbing. My older son, like I do, associates the noise with rockets falling, even though we have never been close enough to hear a rocket fall. It would have been easy to say my younger son was crying because he was scared.
But when we asked him, my five year old told us he was crying for “all the lost ‘sabas,’ he said. Saba, the Hebrew word for grandfather.
He cried, even though he did not lose his Saba in a war.
He cried for all the sabas…and the men who would never become sabas.
For a moment, I worried the worries of an immigrant Israeli mother: What have I done? How did I bring my children to this country? How can I expose them to such pain? What does a five year old need to know of war and loss?
In the next moment though, I held him. And as he cried in my arms, I knew his tears were not the result of stories told to him at Gan. I also knew with certainty that even if we did not live in a country familiar with war and loss, and even if my child was not given at Gan the words to express what he felt in that moment, I knew that this sensitive child of mine would cry real tears in response to another’s pain.
I knew, as a mother knows, that his tears flowed directly from the Source. The siren simply opened the door.