My wife and I got into the taxi expecting a trip across the holy city, but instead we got a trip through a seminal moment of Jewish history
n February 11, 2017, my wife and I entered what looked like an ordinary taxi in Ramat Eshkol and headed back toward the center of Yerushalayim. As we passed the walls of the Old City, our driver, David Mizrachi, started pointing out landmarks and telling us what life was like before Yerushalayim was liberated from Jordanian control. He showed us exactly where the Jordanian border had been and described how, as a child, he and his friends had to be careful to avoid the mines when they played outside.
David asked us if we’d ever seen the iconic picture of Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren holding a Torah, blowing a shofar, flanked by IDF soldiers, moments after the Kotel was liberated from the Jordanians. Of course we had, and he said, “The young soldier standing near Rav Goren at the edge of the picture — that’s me.”
David told us that when the war began, the mission was simply to defend the Israeli people. There was no goal or command to retake the occupied parts of Yerushalayim. Nevertheless, when the opportunity and order presented itself, he and his fellow soldiers didn’t hesitate. As we drove, David pointed to places where he had fought, pointed out the bullet holes in the walls, and talked about what it was like to fight for the destiny of the Jewish people. David was among the first soldiers to arrive at the Kotel. He said that in the euphoria and joy of that moment, he was positive Mashiach was about to arrive.
We were enthralled by his story and awestruck to be in the presence of someone who risked his life to defend the Jewish people and who was instrumental in liberating our holiest site. We weren’t the only ones, either — David told us that shortly after the sweeping Israeli victory in 1967, he traveled to New York and visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe. When he asked for a brachah, the Rebbe replied that it was David who should offer the brachah to him, as David was among those who brought Har HaBayis under Jewish sovereignty and control.
My wife and I got into the taxi expecting a trip across the holy city, but instead we got a trip through a seminal moment of Jewish history. That taxi ride was a reminder that throughout the width and breadth of Israel are ordinary people who have led extraordinary lives. Never underestimate your “simple” taxi driver; he may have fought the battle to secure your destination.
Rabbi Efrem Goldberg is the rabbi of Boca Raton Synagogue in Boca Raton, Florida.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 830)
Oops! We could not locate your form.