Post 20: Fallacy Debunking

There are two things people love to say in Israel that are as frustrating to hear as they are untrue. I would like to take a minute to discuss each of these here, particularly as they relate to the army.

“Aheeyeh Besder” (it will be okay)

Shut. Up. Whenever someone says this, it is probably because you have currently run into some sort of obstacle. It is interesting to note that the way this is pronounced, “aheya beseder” is the “I” form of the future tense, which is to say that the literal translation is that it will be okay for the person telling you that it will be okay, not necessarily for you. Which is exactly the way I see it. If you want something in this country you have to take it. It is not given to you. Waiting around for the company to fix your telephone bill because “aheeyeh beseder” will not fix your bill. Nor will anything related to the army fix itself. You have to write letters, make phone calls, and make personal appeals. If you want something, go get it. Period.

“Hacole B’Rosh” (it’s all in your head)

People, particularly those who never actually served in the combat units you are aspiring to be accepted into, love to tell you “hacole be rosh,” meaning it’s all in your head. During the course of my training, I had numerous people tell me “Why are you training?! It’s all in your head my friend.” Please excuse my profanity, but this is as close to bullshit as you can come without placing a bucket under the anus of a bull.  The Garin Tzabar program places great emphasis on managing your transition to Israel as well as building a strong  base of friends, which is very important for those of us who have left everything behind to live in and serve Israel.  There is, however, very little emphasis on training, which is something to keep in mind if you do this program. You need to make your physical fitness your own priority if you want to reach the top units in the army- because it is not in your head. When you have been running up sand dunes for an hour and your legs literally stop working because you haven’t been practicing running up inclines, it is not “all in your head.” If you are not one of the first four people to finish the sprint up and down the hill during the tryout in order to be on the stretcher for the next run, your name is not written down. You can give 110% on that sprint but if you haven’t been working on your sprints you won’t come in first in the tryout because the difference between winning something and just finishing it is not in your head; It’s in your lungs and in your legs, which are ultimately a function of your training. As Archilochus, the Greek soldier and poet wrote, “We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.”

I agree that to develop the physical conditioning you need to be accepted into the best units in the IDF you need strong motivation, but that motivation must be used to push one’s self during training. Many of the Israelis that tryout for units like the Navy Seals and Matkal have known their whole lives that they wanted those units. They do programs like Kosher Kravi (translated: Fighting Shape) that meet up to three times a week for over a year. There, they train on the sand dunes for the tryouts known as “Gibbushim.” During the 5 and 6 day tryouts everyone reaches their breaking point; that’s a given. Only mental toughness and a commitment to what your fighting for will keep you going, but if you want to stand out and give yourself the best chance to succeed, you need to come to those tryouts in great shape.  You also need to come there with a mental toughness that comes from having pushed yourself beyond your breaking point, and that comes with training.

Ultimately, I am convinced that while refusing to quit is a question of the heart, defeating your competition is a question of the body. While you can show up to the tryouts in decent shape and impress instructors by your grit and motivation (the school of thought here being that you can’t teach motivation but you can teach physical fitness so it shouldn’t matter what shape you’re in for the tryouts), this is not, in my mind at least, the right way to go about it. Of my friends who have been accepted into great units, the thread that connects nearly all of them is that they came into the tryouts in peak physical condition and were stand-outs among their peers. There is a physical test that precedes your acceptance into Maktal, the navy seals, 669, shaldag, and Hovlim.  A high percentage of the guys I trained with in the sessions run by Tsevet Lohanim (a group of ex lone-soldiers that run sessions free of charge to train soon-to-be lone soldiers) passed that test and have been accepted into those units pending their phsycological evaluations.  I strongly recommend that anyone with aspirations of joining a special unit contact Tsevet Lohamim upon arrival in Israel.  They’ve been a tremendous help to me and to my friends not just physically but mentally as well.


One Response to “Post 20: Fallacy Debunking”

  1. Ari Says:

    Hey, great blog – I am doing yom sayarot in January, and while my hebrew is pretty solid (solid enough that I passed out of michvei allon), I am by no means fluent – I’ve heard different things about the level of hebrew required to do well in some of gibush matkals mental tests (such as reading articles and speaking about them etc.) How much of a problem was your lack of fluency at gibush matkal? Any other info you could give me would be awesome.

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