20 Cheshvan 5782 / Tuesday, October 26, 2021 | Torah Reading: Chayei Sarah
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The Humble Hero    

The Humble Hero

1st Sergeant Michael Levin ob"m was Hashem's messenger to arouse young American Jewry to the importance of being committed to our holy homeland; he paid the ultimate price...


I had barely any direction in life, yet I was just starting to tap into keeping Torah. At the tender age of 22 like many others, I didn’t know where my life was going but found myself in Israel at a local Jerusalem café. Volunteering at the time in the Old City’s tourism office, I helped visitors navigate their way throughout Israel. One day while sipping my morning coffee, a copy of the Jerusalem Post sat in front of me with a picture of a young man who forever changed my life. His name was First Sergeant Michael Levin.


As I gazed into the picture of the young lad, I couldn’t help but be memorized by his smile. Who was this kid I thought? What I came to learn about Michael is that he was no ordinary Jew from America. He was a messenger that Hashem sent to this world for young American Jewry. He singlehandedly woke up a generation to the importance of being committed to Israel in both thought and deed.




Before we go on, let’s preface by looking at role models for teens today. We don’t have to look far to realize that popular society does not glamorize those who make the world a better place. Rather criminals and promiscuous women are all the rage. No wonder the world is in such needed help. But that day when I read that infamous article about Michael my life changed forever, I had found my hero. Michael Levin was an American who left his comfortable home in Philadelphia to volunteer within the IDF’s infamous 890 paratrooper unit. During his service he participated in countless anti-terrorist missions. In 2006 Levin received a special vacation from the army to visit his family.


During his visit the Second Lebanon War started and immediately Levin put everything on hold. As quickly as he could he returned to Israel, cutting his own vacation short to join his comrades in arms. When he arrived to Israel he was told not to come to the front lines and rather serve guarding in Hebron. Michael did not take no for an answer and demanded to be sent north to rejoin his unit in combat.


A week later, Michael and his unit entered the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab where they came under heavy enemy fire. Michael was killed while fighting in that battle.


For me personally Michael paved a way for me in my own life. Here was a kid who was driven and felt passion for his people. Michael’s influence was so great on me that I decided to walk down the same path, leaving the comforts of America and volunteer as a soldier myself. Michael gave me the confidence and the vision that not only could it be done, it must be done.


Michael’s burial site is on Mount Herzl and is visited by thousands of young Taglit-Birthright visitors each year. The impact and inspiration that he has planted within the hearts of this generation of Jews is unmatched. More and more American Jews are taking his path every year by getting stronger in their connection to Judaism, moving to Israel and volunteering in the IDF. Chances are that if you ask a Lone Soldier today in the IDF what made him want to enlist, 99% of the time Michael’s name will be mentioned. His path gave me and thousands of other young people the audacity to step outside of the box and stand up for who we are. Being a Jew means taking action.


Michael’s impact will continue to burn into the hearts of Jews forever. His entire being was about doing what was right and not what was comfortable. He could have stayed home, he could have avoided the war entirely, he could have just been a nice guy. But no, he went further than what was demanded. Michael's humble heroism has set the bar high for all of us and it’s our responsibility to take upon ourselves our own mission in life with the same level of fervor.



On the 7th of Av, we commemorated Michael’s 10th anniversary since his heroic sacrifice. This legendary Jew will eternally be a part of our lives. It just so happens that Michael’s date of death is my anniversary in making Aliyah (a coincidence I found out years later). I named my son Michael Avraham in dedication and honor of my personal hero who exemplified what is demanded from us all in this generation. It’s not about whether you go to the army or not, it’s about loving G-d, his people, and the Holy Land of Israel like Michael did. May we merit undertaking what Hashem wants from us with as much love for life as our humble hero had.


For more information, see lonesoldiercenter.com.

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