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The unfocused reservist who read the entire Tanach in 100 days

ברק פוקס
ברק פוקס, מימין עם כוס קפה, לומד תנ"ך בעזה

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])

For three months, Nahal reservists lived in a girl’s high school on kibbutz Haftez Haim in central Israel. Rabbi Zevik Harel, the school’s rabbi, wrote me as follows:

“At the ceremony held when the reservists were leaving, I shook everyone’s hand, including that of Barak Fuchs, a resident of Tzur Hadassah, whose regular job is that of a programmer for Israel Aerospace Industries. I had seen him during breaks sitting in the study hall always learning Tanach (Bible) so I affectionately asked him: Which book were you studying? And then he answered me: Today I was privileged to finish the entire Tanach!

To my astonishment, he told me that when he was called up for reserve duty, he searched for something that would be spiritually fulfilling. He decided that on breaks from his military duties, he would study Tanach with the commentary of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

He explained it to me as follows: ‘I told myself that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to read the entire Tanach and, truthfully, this really connected me to every generation, from ancient times until today. Our company was going in and out of Gaza non-stop to guard the supply chain, and during breaks I would sit and learn. We did not know when we would be released from army service, but the guys joked that when I would finish the Tanach — only then would we be released. And just now I reached the book of Divrei Hayamim (Chronicles), we began to see the end of our service approaching, and only today when I finished the whole Tanach are we going home.’

I did not want to share this story without the permission of Barak Fuchs. He agreed and took the opportunity to thank kibbutz Hafetz Haim and the girls’ school from the bottom of his heart for his experience these past few months. And then he added:

‘I have attention deficit disorder, find it difficult to focus, and am not someone who has a daily study program. But I want to say to all my brothers and sisters who suffer from this condition: There are ways that you can learn. I personally learn with earphones at unusual times of the day.

We need to understand that we have an obstacle to learning. However, that should not be an excuse but rather something that we need to acknowledge. It’s only a question of the ways we find to overcome this challenge.’”

Thank you, Barak, and as we say upon completing each of the five books of the Torah: Chazak Chazak venitchazek.

(Photographed is Barak Fuchs to the right with a cup of coffee while learning Tanach in Gaza)


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