Stop Being the Japanese Soldier

Stop Being the Japanese Soldier

Long after World War II had ended, there were Japanese soldiers hiding in island jungles across the Pacific who never heard that the war had ended. In fact, the last Japanese soldier to surrender did so in 1974. Hiroo Onoda (in the photograph above) had been hiding out in a jungle for 29 years when his commanding officer flew to the Philippines especially in order to relieve him from duty.

In this year’s Rosh Hashana Drasha, Rabbi Nivin warned us that many people emulate these Japanese soldiers in their lives.

Like the young girl whose classmates laughed at her foreign accent. She coped with her anxiety by never speaking in class. 40 years later, the accent is gone, but she still is terrified to open her mouth in public.

Like the young boy with an angry father. He coped with his fear by doing everything perfectly, in order to avoid his father’s rage. 20 years later, he rarely sees his father, but he is still a perfectionist.

The war is over, but we are still hanging out in a Philippine jungle waiting for the enemy.

This Rosh HaShana, you can get out of that jungle. Start living as the true you.


  1. This is so profound and touching. I needed to hear this today. I might even print it out and hang it up on my mirror! Shana Tova to you and your family <3

  2. Thank you. I have been already been reflecting on this topic this Elul…but this story made me able to grasp the idea better. Sometimes I think of spiritual things too abstractly and this story gives me a concrete picture to apply. We must focus on what is true now and not hold on to the past…weather it was good or bad. Some people can’t move on because their past was so wonderful compared to their present ( like the elderly person who can only think about their youth) or bad ( like your scenarios above).
    May HaShem grant is relief and freedom this season.

    • I happy it’s helpful to someone, I found it powerful but wasn’t sure if anyone else would connect

  3. Yes sometimes you don’t know the power you have! You think of something and somewhere out there there’s someone that really really needs to hear that.
    I could not relate at all and was like “huh?!”

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