Meir in the Middle

Now Playing: Shvizut

Army service for regular Givati infantry breaks down as follows:

Tironut (basic training): 4 months

Imun Mitkadem (advanced training): 4 months

Plugat Maslul (supervised being stationed): 4 months

Plugah Vatika (being stationed): until the completion of your service, with training sessions in between.

And no matter what stage you’re in you will encounter, feel, or experience something called “shvizut.” Shvizut stands for Shavur Zayin and it happens when the army grind has finally gotten to you; a negative out-of-army experience is occupying your mind; someone else is miserable and they want everyone to join their miserable party.

See? Look what I do for you readers.

See? Look what I do for you guys

According to this credibly-sourced and informative graph, the likelihood of shvizut increases as you progress in status, only to decrease slightly towards the end of your service. To further illustrate these findings, I’m going to utilize the four movies I have on my ipod… and have seen so many times that I actually don’t know what to do with them anymore.

*Phrases in apostrophes are lines or references from the movies. 


Shvizut Level: 2

Movie: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

At the start of basic training you, an innocent and ambitious Charlie Bucket, feel like you just won a golden ticket to this exclusive chocolate factory called kravi. You and the other lucky winners get introduced to Willy Wonka, your Mem Pey, and start experiencing all these new and exciting things like shooting automatic weapons and running aimlessly around buildings. You become a kind of celebrity as the whole country hears and reads about you and wants to take your picture. You have Grandpa Joe, your commander, who’s there to educate you and keep you in-line, but was once just like you and secretly appreciates the jokes and mischief you make. There’s Agustus Galoop, the heavy kid in your kita who would rather drown in a river of shoko at the shekem than have to pass the bar-or or traverse the obstacle course, again; Veruca Salt, the attention seeking, I’ll-do-anything-to-go-to-makim-mukdam! suck-up who says annoying tzahov things like, “but commander Guy! How can we have breakfast in the shetach if we didn’t shine our shoes or shave yet this morning??” IT’S A GOOD THING YOUR DADDY WILL NEVER GET YOU AN OOMPA LOOMPA NOW, VERONICA; And Arthur Slugworth, the samui, the soldier the military police secretly inserts into your battalion, whose job it is to tempt you into trouble and report to Mem Pey Wonka about it.

Dam straight I thought of this one

Dam straight I made this one

Shavuz rationale: Ok, fine, you might be a little bummed because you have to show up at Machane Natan every Sunday morning (I get nightmares just hearing that name) and are no longer in charge of your day-to-day decisions, but bak’tana, achi. Morale is otherwise high in tironut: you go home almost every weekend, (save it, Tzanchanim and Golani, you get to sleep indoors) sleep six hours a night, and have pretty much everything taken care of for you. It’s like summer camp turned into highly disciplined all-year camp- except ‘yad achim’ is ‘mi shechalam’ and you’ll actually see your laundry again. But as much fun as you have and as little you have to worry, you soon start learning that ‘the snozzberries don’t always taste like snozzberries.’

Imun Mitkadem

Shvizut Level: 4.5

Movie: The Lion King

Advanced training is being nearly trampled by a herd of wildebeest and learning how get up and start fending for yourself. Mufasa, that awesome, fearless officer who raised you in tironut is no longer with you. You still have Zazu, your commander, watching over you (he’s just ‘Zazu’ now instead of ‘Commander Zazu’) and Rafiki, your samal, or drill sargent, making sure you’re adequately prepared for the journey ahead but constantly bopping you on the head with a coconut stick (aka misdar tziud’s where you have seven minutes to get on gear, oil the stretchers, check the water, make notes that they’ve both been checked and tape the notes on, perfectly lay out the automatic weapon bullets, clean the barrel of everyone’s gun, and carry the people the samal designates as ‘injured’- because we failed to do it last time in seven minutes PROBABLY BECAUSE IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE, MIFAKED HASAMAL- to an arbitrary place 100 meters away, which all but guarantees we’re still not going to be able to do it in seven minutes) in order to do so. You, a-still-at-that-awkward-almost-done-but-still-not-finished-going-through-puberty-stage Simba, have seen your patchy green bakum fur mature into a royal purple mane (that needs to be shaved down or else your beret will truly look like a dead cat). If only you had a Timon or Pumba to eat the infestation of flies third-wheeling your meals and bedtime.

If your lawnmower doesn't work out.

If your lawnmower goes on strike.

Shavuz rationale: Imun mitkadem is when you begin to get a taste of what the future army will be like: physically demanding and mentally exhausting. You start experiencing ‘layla lavan’s,’ when you work the entire night and continue into the next without any breaks or sleep. You start going home less and drilling in the field more. Your hyenas are masaot- backbreaking treks through the desert continuously threatening to injure and break your motivation, while Scar, shavua milchama, stands as the ultimate survival test of everything you’ve learned in the classes, drills, and weeks spent practicing. Sure, you sing ‘hakuna matata’ with your buddies from basic after you get through it, but maybe you’re starting to worry… because if this is just the beginning then ‘for the rest of your days’ the going’s gonna get rough. 

Plugat Maslul

Shvizut Level: 3.5

Movie: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Real place (read: not a hole in the desert), real upgrade (read: not a tent), and you, a freshly battalion-pinned Ferris Bueller, feel so freed from the old rules that once governed you (e.g. not being allowed to eat on shmira, keeping your cell phone in an unaccessible bullet box) that you just want to get up on a  parade float picnic table that you recently re-painted, and belt it out like John Lennon. They trust you now, kinda, and you’re charged with ensuring the safety of real people, dealing with the emotions of those who oppose you from both sides. You’re obvi always watchful for Mr. Rooney, the Rasar (the battalion’s disciplinary officer), who wants nothing more than to catch you breaking the rules and give you a detention, or put you to work under his ‘close personal supervision’ cleaning up the base and/or painting rocks and/or other fascinating activities which make you question if you should leave to become ‘Abe Frohman- the sausage king of Chicago,’ because if you keep at this your brain may stop functioning altogether. Although it’s a grind- more guard shifts, more kitchen duty, less sleep- plugat maslul is better than Imun Mitkadem. Your commanders sit on top of you less and since it’s just guys from your draft class with you there’s no seniority or hazing. Hey, there’s even a gas station next door where you can get snacks whenever you want and a local pizza place that delivers right to your guard post! SAY WUUUUUTTTTT!?!

Yea make it bulgarit and olives- I’m guarding from 10-2

Shavuz rationale: You finished training but soon realize that kravi is usually just another day in Ben Stein’s economics class. (‘Bueller… Bueller’ = Misdar degel… Misdar degel) Sure, exciting stuff happens, sometimes, but it’s generally the same mind-numbing stuff day-in and day-out: Shmira. Kitchen duty. Literally rinse and repeat. Your once enthusiastic army buddies start to go all Cameron on you and start Cameroning about the increase from 2 hour to 4 hour guard shifts and the mosquitoes infesting the sleeping area by the checkpoint that you’re supposed to guard for two days but inevitably will for five. But probably six. You used to go home a lot but, now, just because you’re the youngest, your yetziot are an irrational 17-4 (17 days on base four days at home) while the rest of the battalion does 11-3. But still- you’re doing important work and have help if and when you need it. Plus, you finally feel somewhat independent and that’s reason enough to be less bummed.

Vatika: Most Tzair

Shvizut level: 8.5

Movie: Heavy Weights

You’re Gerald “Jerry” Gardener and you’re pretty pumped upon hearing where you’re going to be sent this summer. You’re officially combat-ready and even have a uniform pin to prove it. Instead of getting out once a month you now get off every other weekend. Toranut mitbach takes three hours instead of 9. You start seeing real action and feel proud when the citizens you bust your butt protecting come and thank you for it. 

Shavuz rationale: Why why why… check out that increase to 8.5! Lama? Because Tony Perkis aka the “Magad,” or Battalion Officer, thinks he can just put you in his program of sleep deprivation, ‘cancel lunch due to lack of hustle,’ and still expect you to stay your happy motivated self. Days on end without cellphone service? For sure. ’20 mile hikes at 0600 hours’? You bet. ‘Better pack light, boys.’

Uncle Tony believes in you... and that you're going to thoroughly enjoy the targad tomorrow

Uncle Tony believes in you… and that you’re going to enjoy the targad tomorrow

Ya, back in plugat maslul you felt like the ‘The Captain’ but here you’re no longer in charge of the flight. You haven’t gone through enough to have gained the respect of the older guys- let’s call them Camp MVP- and they let you know it by not even talking to you for the first two weeks. There are lot of ‘Lars’s’ running around now- guys who are looking to put you to work and in your place- so it’s important to stick to the buddy ‘bahhhhhdayyyyyyy’ system because most of your close friends from training were sent ‘far away’ to Lars’s home to be commanders and it’s going to be a long time before you see them again. All those fun things you saw in the ‘Camp Vatika Promotional Video’- missions, real action- aren’t as easily accessible as they seem because they’re usually given to the older guys while you struggle for warmth in a guard post or pillbox from 2-5 AM only to do it again 3 hours later- after cleaning and arranging everything and anything for everyone and anyone in between your shifts. All those ‘negativity spreaders’ from your draft class finally get their wish and drop to become jobniks while you watch your sadak- the number of combat soldiers readily available in your platoon- drop significantly and quickly. The vatika is when guys really start to break. No sleeping, no chilling- just work, all the time. True, you’ve proven yourself enough to get here. But for the next four months you’re the youngest in the plugah- which means being the least respected and taking the most garbage literally and figuratively.

Vatika: Not the Most Tzair/ Most Vatik

Shvizut Levels: 7/6

Shvizut Rationale: I’m not there yet so I can only assume based on my limited knowledge of what I’ve seen and heard thus far. The longer you are active in the battalion, the more important you become. When you’re not youngest, new machlakot arriving means more dirty work for them; you get promoted to intern instead of being an intern’s intern. It’s still just as difficult work-wise, tho. You still do toranut everything. You still do shmira. If they need volunteers to stay for the weekend they’re looking at you. But there’s a satisfaction in not being the new guy and the hard work that you’ve been putting in does not go overlooked.

Being the oldest means carrying the title of “Vatik.” And with all the difficult experiences you’ve had and hours of sleep you’ve lost, you’ve earned it. No more shmira. No more toranut. Lots of walking around in flip flops, shorts and t-shirts, sleeping, playing video games, and executing very important missions/operations and anything else that requires skills honed for 2 and a half years, of course. Yea, it’s more chill than it used to be (most of the time) but let’s be honest: You’ve been here for a long time. You’ve had enough 70 kilometer intensive war simulation drills (more on that next blog post) You’re tired of misdar this and misdar that. You’ve done your time and will continue to until you’re 40, in the reserves. You just want to experience normal again.


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One thought on “Now Playing: Shvizut

  1. Pingback: Why You’re Really Drafting to the IDF | Meir in the Middle

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