This is a thinly fictionalised account of a young man’s experience in war. It was the Arab-Israeli war of 1973–the Yom Kippur war–and our narrator is suddenly called from the innocent life of a Yeshiva student to be a tank driver in the Golan Heights. The experience will change him forever. Friends from the neighbourhood who go with him will never come back from this war. And he will come back changed, older and wiser.
The story of war, fear, horror and fatigue is strangely intertwined with memories of childhood, snatches of Hebrew poetry, and the endless dialectic of Torah study. Conversations about religious texts and ancient commentaries lead to new insights about war, defeat, victory, survival and the meaning of life.
There is more to each experience than meets the eye. Everything that happens has to mean, yet there is no lecturing or preaching. The young kids in those tanks are fighting a war, trying to survive and yet, striving for holiness, too.
The book is beautifully written, simple and powerful. I recommend it highly. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
A couple of years ago I read it in Hebrew, and the impression it has left is only increasing with time, as images unexpectantly resurface.
You open the book, and first the archaic language forces reorientation – the style, described as reminiscent of Agnon, is even more captivating than Agnon, but just as graceful; it is the same medieval language that Mendele Mocher Sfarim wrote in (Mascot Binyamin ha-Shlishi, for instance), among others who were absorbed into the world of Hebrew from their contact with Biblical, Mishnaic, and Halachic literature, with a hint of the Hebrew poetry of Spains Golden Age.
Such a rich style that you infrequently run into it at all today, let alone in a book relating war experiences in the 1970s written in the late 1990s!
Just on that level, this book is a rare treasure, and I hope that even a spread of that ambiance will come through in the translation.. because, in fact, I have been actively waiting for this translation in order to share the book with others; Through his use of language soaked in the richness of ancient texts, as well as his own inability to shake the images from those texts, we enter a field of battle like no other.
Every situation he finds himself in evokes an image, which both enriches his experience, the experience of reading his descriptions and augments the wealth and value of the texts themselves.
Providing inspiration and expression under these extreme experiences are what the texts are meant for. If you go to synagogue and open the prayerbook after reading this book, it wons be the same as when you did so before.
Even kiddush over wine is not the same as when you did so before. … Both people who define themselves as religious, as well as those who are just addicted to the power of the written word (I’m more the latter), should find something of value in this book. And if not, then learn Hebrew and read it again.
A terrific account of one man’s loss and recovery of his soul. Haim Sabato provides an inside, in-depth look at the life of an Israeli tanker on the front lines while describing his inner thoughts and feelings.
A must-read for philosophers and military buffs alike Adjusting Sights is a timeless classic. In the book, friends are lost, comradeship is gained, bravery is swept aside, and one man’s quest for peace begins.
Follow Sabato through the 73 Arab- Israeli war from his perspective. Feel every shot from the main gun, hear every clang of spent shells, and reflect on the prayers and thoughts of a lonely soldier.
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