I'll never know, because 40 years ago Chaim Rosenblum HY"D was killed on the bank of the Suez Canal.
I wish I had a picture of him, but It doesn't matter. I remember him as if we had just seen each other this morning. He was a fresh faced kid just a year out of yeshiva high school. We had just finished basic training. Since we were in the N. A. CH. AL (Fighting Pioneering Youth) brigade, we were sent to a new settlement in the lower Jordan Valley. Our job was to patrol the border with Jordan and prevent Al Fatah terrorists from infiltrating. We did a pretty good job along with reserve forces in our sector killing 13 in the first two months, mostly in night ambushes. But this was spring '70 and the real action was in the "war of attrition" with the Egyptians. This was a static war, the two armies dug in on either side of the Suez Canal. Over 30 soldiers were killed there since the beginning of the year. From June our unit had to send a certain number of men to the Canal to reinforce the reservists who were stationed there. Who would go was determined by lot. When the name of one of the guys who wasn't in training with us came up, he said that he had a personal problem, that his only sister was getting married the next week and his leave had already been approved. Everyone knew that this didn't matter, all leaves were cancelled for those who were picked to go to the Canal. Then Chaim stood up and said that he would go in his place. Our commanding officer looked at him and asked if he was sure that he wanted to do this. Chaim said that sure, if he could help this guy, why not? Some of us tried to talk him out of it. Why should he put himself in such danger for someone he hardly knew? It wasn't as if we weren't doing our part where we were. I should explain that Chaim was no gung-ho macho type always looking for action, Just the opposite. He was quiet and spent most of his free time learning Torah. In the end his request was approved and Chaim left the settlement for the Canal.
Our guys were assigned to a lookout built on a bluff above the canal. Their job was to spot the muzzle flashes of the Egyptian artillery and report back so that air strikes could be called in. They were told that if the shells fell within the perimeter of their position they should get down into a fortified dugout called the "rabbit hole" One night soon after he arrived Chaim was in the lookout, manning the telescope when the barrage began. The shells started falling closer but Chaim couldn't see where they were coming from. When the the shells started coming closer the others in the position yelled at Chaim that he should get into the dugout but he said that now he could see the flashes, he had to call them in ! Two minutes later the ground shook as a shell exploded 20 meters from the lookout. When Chaim didn't come into the dugout the others went to the lookout to see what happened to him. They found him unconscious on the floor.a shard of shrapnel had hit him behind the ear and penetrated his brain. He died before he could be evacuated to a hospital.
I have asked myself many times, why him? Although it might sound like a cliché, he was the best of us. I can only say that his death in defense of Israel makes me look at myself and think: have I, in my life, lived for the things he and all the others died for? We all have a lot to live up to.
So along with the people of Israel who remember all the thousands who have fallen, I will remember Chaim.