Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach told us this story in his own words.
“I would like to share with you a story about a holy soldier in Israel.
In 1966, a ‘sweet little Yiddele’ (a simple Jew) from Tel Aviv came to visit me and said:
“Please, could you get through to my son, he is a high officer in the army. He just hates, really hates Yiddishkeit. But now he has a new kind of craziness. In my house, in my dining room there is a big picture of my grandfather, a Yid (a Jew) with a long beard and a shtreimel. My son said that unless I take down that picture he refuses to come to my house. He said it is nauseating to him to think he is the grandson of such an idiot! What should I do with him?”
I was trying to get through to this officer. He was a very cute person, sweet like sugar. But I don’t know… He had some kind of block against religion. What could I do?
In 1967, after the 6-day war, one day the door opens. The yid from Tel Aviv walks in, with his son, the officer who was now wearing a little beard, side curls and tsitsit. He looked like a new person. I said: “What happened to you?” And this is what he said:
“I mentioned to you I am a tankist. During the 6- day war I was driving a tank in Sinai. Suddenly I see an Egyptian tank is on my tail followed by others, and I have to get as close to the other Israeli tanks as possible because I cannot fight Egyptian tanks all by myself. The closest to the other Israeli tanks is a straight line. I am driving as fast as I can. Suddenly in the middle of the road, I see a Jew, wearing a tallis and teffilin, praying! And you know what I think about religious people, they are crazy! I knew they are crazy, but that crazy, in the middle of a war? And here in the desert, standing there, PRAYING?!!
My first reaction was: “I should really run him over. But how can you run over another Jew? So I made a detour. The Egyptian tank didn’t make the detour and then drove right over the place where the Jew had been standing. It was blown up by a mine.
When I came back to my father’s house, I looked up at the picture of my grandfather. I recognized the face, it was him, my holy grandfather…who had come down from Heaven to protect me!
What an honor to have such a grandfather! “
From the book: Masters and Miracles – By Liliane Ritchie