This happened this year (2015) just before Yom-Kippur. We got one load of Schach greens (for Sukkah cover) from a tree-cutter, but it wasn’t quite enough. Then we got a call back from a very fine tree service that has helped us for Sukkot in the past. He had a job cutting down two small evergreen trees at a Jewish home in the area, and instead of chipping it up, he saved the boughs for us to use as Schach. Perfect!
He pulled up with his truck a day before Yom-Kippur. He dumped a wonderful load of luscious thick green branches. Then he called me over to the cab and said, “Rabbi, I have a special request. I need you to pray for my son.” His son is a marine, he lives with his wife and child on base, and is now being deployed overseas.
So at our Yom-Kippur service, we mentioned his name and included him in our prayers, just before we read the Book of Jonah on the afternoon of Yom-Kippur. May his mission be successful, may he and his fellows be kept safe, and may he return home happily to his family. May his wife and child fare well in his temporary absence.
What’s the Jonah connection? Plenty.
a) Jonah ran away from his mission. A main takeaway of the Jonah story is that we can not shirk our duty. And this marine, son of the tree-cutter, knows this message well. He lives to serve. Unlike Jonah’s initial reaction, he responds to the call. Semper Fi – ever loyal, always faithful.
b) Marines serve all over nowadays, but originally they were a branch of the Navy and served at sea. Another Jonah storyline connection.
c) It’s important to remember that Jonah’s mission was to Nineveh, a non-Jewish city far from Israel. Today’s Marines fight battles that are often not our own, and not always in direct self-interest.