28 Kislev 5782 / Thursday, December 02, 2021 | Torah Reading: Mikeitz
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The Fifth Jump    

The Fifth Jump

A Sabbath-observant soldier in the United States Army was sent to paratroop school. He only needed one more jump to graduate, but the last jump was scheduled for Saturday...


Editor's note: In every generation, the Jewish People have unsung heroes who are willing to do or sacrifice anything in order to observe Hashem's commandments and to sanctify His Holy Name. Our esteemed friend Rabbi Fishel Todd shlit'a, head of the Pirchei Shoshanim and Shema Yisrael networks, sent us this story that he received from Captain David Ruderman, a United States Army Chaplain in Fort Benning, Georgia, one of the unsung heroes whose unit sent him to Airborne "Jump School" for paratrooper training:
My unit sent me to Airborne School. So for two weeks we trained and then during week number-three we actually jump from aircraft while in flight. 5 jumps are required for graduation. On Monday, 2 jumps are done. On Tuesday, the next 2, and Wednesday is the final jump. However, my class fell far behind due to the storm, snow, and ice on the planes. By Friday morning, most of us had only 2 jumps completed, some had only 1. The cadre planned to get us through jump 4 on Friday. Saturday would be the final jump followed by graduation.
They knew that I was shomer Shabbos (Sabbath-observant) and that I would not come on Saturday. The cadre were extremely respectful and professional and offered me a few options. I would be able to make up the final jump with a different company but would have to wait a couple weeks for that opportunity. If I waited too long I risked having to repeat the 2nd training week. However they were planning to rush me through jump 5 on Friday if possible. I hoped that would work out but explained that I had to leave by 1700 (5 PM) in order to be home by Shabbat.
I completed my 4th jump by 1645. The next jump was preparing to depart and I was told to join it right away. I would complete my 5th jump and all graduation requirements. But what could I do, there wasn't enough time. There was no way I could jump again and still be home before sundown.
I explained that I had to go in order to properly welcome the Sabbath. As I turned and walked out, I could feel hundreds of eyes upon me. I saw many open jawed faces. They didn't think that I was actually prepared to walk away after the weeks of training and days of sitting in a parachute waiting to jump. I was disappointed to postpone graduation and hoped I would not have to repeat training. At the same time I was proud to be demonstrating a commitment to my faith and knew that it was a kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of Hashem's Name.
Motzaei Shabbat, after Shabbat was over on Saturday night, I called in to hear how graduation went and to learn if any of my friends from the course were still in town. What I heard made me smile in awe. They did not jump on Saturday. Apparently the cloud ceiling was too low to allow for a safe jump. So the entire course was shomer Shabbat that day, sitting in their chutes in wait. The final jump and graduation was scheduled for Sunday morning and thank G-d, I was able to join in. That went off without any problems and I was able to graduate with my class.
I now understand and appreciate what King David said in Psalm 148:8 - "Fire and hail, snow and vapor, storm-wind, all fulfilling his word." It's really true, as my 5th jump bears witness!

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