Post 14: Tzav Rishon (First Notice)

Last Thursday I became the property of the Defense Forces of the State of Israel. I am henceforth subject to travel restrictions and must be accessible to the army by phone or by email at all times until the date of my drafting, which should be sometime in early October.  Tzav Rishon, or the “First Notice,” occurs for most Israeli’s right around their 17th Birthday. The First Notice instructs you to arrive at one of Israel’s draft centers for a day of intelligence tests, medical examinations and psychological evaluation. The results of these tests play an instrumental role in determining where the soon to be soldier will serve in the military. The five parts of my day were: the initial background interview, the Hebrew test, the intelligence test, my physical, and waiting, the latter of which consumed nearly 6 hours of my day and allowed me to start and finish a 280 page book.

The initial interview basically allows the army to confirm your information (i.e. date of birth, any family you  might have in the country, your National Identity number, how many siblings you have, family members birthdays and passport numbers, ect.). Following the interview the same soldier administers a Hebrew test, the results of which will determine whether or not one needs to spend the first three months of his/her Army service in Army Ulpan (or an intensive language course), which I want to do almost as badly as I want to run barefoot on hot coals. While my Hebrew was good, it wasn’t great. However, my soldier was cute and I think the chemistry that was clearly there will serve as a deterrent to her sending me to that horrid place they call army Ulpan. Well…that and I begged her not to send me there and she seemed to respond positively.

In the end I believe I got the best of both worlds. My Hebrew was seemingly good enough that I will not have to take Ulpan (the language crash course) but not quite good enough that I had to take my intelligence test in Hebrew which would have been a severe set back.  The test was composed of two parts, both of which contained mostly questions in which they showed me 5 – 8 different shapes and asked me to choose the next one in the pattern. Your score on the test and the interview with the psychologist (if you are under 22)  determine your Kabah score. The Kabah determines what kinds of units you will be invited to tryout for in the army, assuming your physical profile is where it needs to be. While it is the army’s policy not to share your Kabah score with you, you can determine how high your score was or wasn’t based on what units you are invited to try out for.

The final part of the day consisted of a physical exam. I was first ordered to pee into a cup so the army could test me for drugs. After this was completed, they tested my vision, following which I was brought into a room in which a Russian doctor asked me all about my medical history, psychological history, ect. Finally, the large Russian doctor ordered me to strip down so we could “see chwat is going on down there.” This was rather uncomfortable but alas a necessary evil. I really don’t think he needed to squeeze that hard…but I digress.

There are a number of scores you can receive on your physical.  A score of 97 means that you are physically eligible to tryout for all combat units in the army. 97 is the highest score you can achieve on the physical, the running joke being that since every Jew is circumcised nobody has a full package, thus the three point deduction.  The next grade is an 82. If you receive an 82 it means that you are ineligible for pilots school but can still try out for most combat units, except the special forces units. A profile of 72 means that you are not eligible  for the infantry and commando units, but you can still be a combat soldier in the Armored Corps, Artillery Corp, or a Combat Engineer. A 64 means that you are physically ineligible for combat duty and will serve in a non-combat unit.

The physical exam is quite extensive, and the doctor found a few minor problems that I didn’t even know I had. I made my intentions to join the special forces quite clear to him (which would require a 97) and while I will never know if that played a factor in the end result, when he tallied up all the points that go into calculating your profile, he jotted down something in Hebrew, lifted his head, and said in a thick Russian accent, “Chwell, I am happy to tell you Mr. Feldman that you chav received a 97.” If there was not a table in between us I might have kissed him. Fortunately there was.

For years I have dreaded my physical. While I can work out to get in shape physically and work hard to learn Hebrew, there is nothing one can do about one’s physical profile score – it is completely in the doctor’s hands (though you can appeal it if you believe you’ve been evaluated unfairly). Receiving that 97 was a real breath of fresh air after the tremendous amount of worrying that had preceded it.

At this point I’m in pretty good shape. I have the physical profile that I need, I believe I did well on the intelligence test, and it would appear that I placed out of Army Ulpan. The next big milestone will be in October, Yom Sayerot, or the one-day tryout for the five best units in the army: Shaldag, Shesh Shesh Tesha, Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13, and Hovlim.


addendum: I need to work on my flirting. They want to send me to Army Ulpan. Fail.


11 Responses to “Post 14: Tzav Rishon (First Notice)”

  1. Deb Feldman Says:

    We have known you were a ’97’ since we first babysat and diapered you soon after you were born. No surprise there. Good luck with everything! Thanks for the update. Aunt Deb and Uncle David

  2. Josh Says:

    Nice work man! Here’s to hoping you get in the top 5 units!

  3. Jesse Says:

    Why am I not surprised!!!! Only a 97 what’s a matter mit you, with that number you could not even date my daughter or be a doctor.
    Remember keep your eyes open and your head down.


  4. Aunt Rho & Uncle Vic Says:

    Corey Dear, Still so proud of the MAN you have evolved into. They truly made a mistake in numbers, should have been 197…but we will all settle. Keep up the good work and stay safe. We love you, The Aunt & Uncle

  5. Steve Oster Says:

    Dear Cory,
    Yesterday was the Brit Milah of our first grandson Samuel Lavi Shasha. Sarah and Ro’i are proud parents to say the least; little Sammy is beautiful (B’H). With this blessing in mind, I couldn’t sleep and went to my computer and discovered your blog which your wonderful Mom forwarded to me. I couldn’t stop reading!
    Now then, I sure everyone has and will continue to give you advice about all kinds of “self-protection” from bullets to babes. While you may decide not to take all the advice you hear; please listen to all the advice that’s offered. Occasionally, diamonds are found buried in mud.
    Remember, the Oster family loves you and believes in you. So, please keep in touch. We are all here for you and maybe a part of our own neshumas are with you as you continue your exciting and meaningful journey Eretz Yisroel! As I write this note, I am reminded of a phrase which you personify, “Kol Yisrael Arevim zeh L’Zeh.”
    Love from us all, Steve Oster (Sander Hillel ben Aron)

  6. Wendy Sandler Says:

    No surprise…we always knew you were a 100! Never doubted you had the “goods” to do whatever it was that you wanted to do. Love the story about that Russian doctor- I am smiling just thinking about it. Stay safe and keep these wonderful updates coming. Just know that we are with you every step of the way. Love and Hugs…Sandler Family

  7. Franne Weinberg Says:

    Hi Corey- I have so enjoyed reading all of your postings. We are all so incredibly proud of what you are embarking upon. Glad to see your Tzav Rishon went the way you wanted it to. Do you think CEL prepared you for any of this???? Looking forward to more updates. Stay safe. We are sending you all our best wishes….Franne & the other Weinbergs

  8. Sari Friedman Says:

    Excellent post! Please consider joining, and then also posting on our closed Facebook page, “Friends and Family of Lone Soldiers in the IDF.” We’d LOVE to include you and your interesting thoughts. Todah! Sari Friedman, admin. More about me at

  9. barak albert Says:

    what minor problems did you have. I’m very interested in this article. i have a very very very slight heart murmur. but what were your problems?

  10. roth4283 Says:

    I have tsav rishon tomorrow!! So nervous. so excited. was nice to read this. i am also hoping for a 97 so that i could do yom sayarot. did you ever make it into those top 5 units?

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