Preparing for Miluim follows a familiar pattern; packing appropriate gear, buying extra stuff to make things as comfortable as possible, making arrangements for cover at work and dealing with the separation from my loved ones.
For me, as an employee with a sympathetic boss, the work aspect of Miluim is not a big problem. I clear my tray, redirect my emails and it then becomes someone else's problem. It's very different for students and for the self employed for whom a period away from their work can be disastrous. So I'm pretty well set from the work side of things.
Although the army provides equipment to reserve soldiers, most of us have our own little stock of 'spare' stuff, 'borrowed' at home. Thus I will turn up for Miluim with uniforms that I know fit me, an army coat and hopeful a padded overall (Hermonit) borrowed from a friend who also has various 'spares'. Sometimes if you're given a particularly good bit of kit, you want to hang on to it for the next time you might need it - other times it's just stealing for the sake of it. Ever so often the army runs an amnesty during which spare stuff can be handed in with no questions asked - the first time that this was done, people brought back explosives, weapons and even vehicles!
The spares are supplemented with privately bought gear. The most important thing, when doing Miluim at this time of year is to stay warm and dry. Thus Friday morning found me buying myself a new pair of waterproof gloves and a fleece scarf to complement the warm hat that I brought last time round. They're safely packed away with t-shirts, sweatshirts, and longjohns. A new set of underwear for every day is essential as it keeps you feeling human - a shower and a shave complete the job but aren't always possible. Everything safely packed up, uniform ready for me to put on tomorrow - sorted!
The emotional preparation has been far harder this time than ever before with my better half constantly reminding me that she really doesn't want me to go. The Torah says that newlyweds shouldn't go off to the army in the first year of their marriage but the Manpower branch of the IDF disagrees.
For me it will be relatively easy - I'll be busy for most of the time and will be able to see what is going on. She has all sorts of horrible images going through her head as to what it is that I'll be doing and nothing that I tell her will persuade her that she shouldn't be worried. During my compulsory army service I made it a policy to tell my Mother what she needed to know - she was sensible enough not to dig too deep. One good friend told his mother that he was going to be "in the South" for most of this service - he was - The South of Lebanon. Economy of truth is a smart option sometimes and is one that I'll exercise to an extent - not that I expect to be doing anything too dangerous but you never know.
My wife has family and friends close by - thanks to all who expressed a willingness to join her for eating lots of ice cream! I'm just a little worried that she may calm herself through retail therapy!
As of tomorrow, all my blogging will be via an intermediary - we'll start off on a period of training - the interesting stuff should kick in around Thursday. Come back and comment!