By now I have had several days to struggle to find the words to respond to this week's news. The enormity of the tragedy risks overshadowing last week, and Dahlia does not deserve to be overshadowed.
The five precious lives destroyed on Tuesday in Jerusalem left 25 children without a father.
It left Eitan ben Sarah fighting for his life after being chopped in the head with an axe. The names of the other wounded survivors are Shmuel Yerucham ben Bayla, Chaim Yechiel ben Malka and Yitzchak ben Chaya.
(To help the families of the victims, click here.)
First and foremost, I just want to make it clear, this was not an act of terror. Terror is a badge of honor for the terrorist. Murder, on the other hand, is a badge of shame.
Every society since the beginning of history has outlawed murder — the intentional killing of an innocent person.
There have been different definitions of "intentional", "innocent" and "person". For example, Nazi Germany classified certain races as "sub-human", enabling them to be killed without resorting to murder.
But the broad concept is universal: "murder" is immoral, even evil.
Mass-murderer Ramzi Yousef said in court: ""Yes, I am a terrorist, and proud of it."
Al-Qaida trainer Shehada Jawhar said, "Yes, [I'm] a terrorist. What's the problem with that? If I want to terrorize the enemies of Allah, what's the problem with that?"
Murderer Ibrahim al-Aqari's community declared a day of mourning to celebrate his crime.
When you and I call it "terror" we are actually subtley encouraging them.
This week's first question for your table: Should we call these perpetrators "terrorists" or "murderers"?
Regarding the one gentile man pictured above, someone asked me this week's second question for your table:
Do you think those religious Jews from Har Nof will attend the Druze police officer's funeral?
???? The man who gave his life to save others ????
I predicted that many would, without a doubt.
What do you think? Click here to find out.
The sister of police officer Zidan Saif said, "Zidan was full of joy at life, always laughing and creating a good atmosphere.”
A cousin of Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg (born in Liverpool) said, "He was a peacemaker. If there was an argument he always tried to sort things out. He was just a nice guy."
Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky (grew up in Detroit) was described as "known to never refuse anyone seeking assistance in any form, always seeking ways to assist others."
The sister or Rabbi Kalman Levine (grew up in Kansas City) said, "“He would do whatever he could to fulfill all the kindnesses of us as humans. His essence was that he was a man of great wisdom and prayer.”
By accounts of all who knew him, Rav Moshe Twersky was a bona fide holy man.
He was so pure, so humble, so unwilling to take credit for himself.
So single-mindedly dedicated to the principle of love your neighbor and all of the details of thought and practice that flow from that.
Someone described him as "the gentlest, most affable, most loving and tolerant person you would ever meet. It’s just such a terrible contrast between such sublime gentleness and such horrible brutality.”
You know why he was one of the first to be slaughtered Tuesday? Because he always stood at the back of the shul, even though by merit he should have been in the front.
He knew, he held in his mind - all of the Torah. All of it! The written Torah, the oral Torah, the hidden (Kabbala) Torah, all of the Torah.
He received his Torah from his famous grandfather, HaRav Yoseph B. Soloveitchik.
Rav Soloveitchik was quoted as saying that of his thousands of students, he had only four close disciples.
And then he had Rav Moshe Twersky, in a class of his own.
That his grandson's single-minded dedication to Torah was a throwback not one or two generations, but several centuries.
Harvard was a cakewalk.
Yet at his Jerusalem yeshiva, this supernal genius was no ivory-tower sage. He had personal relationships with his students. For instance, he never went to lunch, using the time instead to engage with a student.
Every one of his students felt that their rebbe was an angel in their midst. That's how they felt.
The third question for your table is simply, How can a person not react to such a loss? What can we do? What should we do?
I'm not going to give you a difinitive answer, but would like to share with you some thoughts I heard from others.
- Some are moved by the manner in which these men were murdered - in the midst of prayer - to try to pray better.
- Some are moved by the holiness of these men to try to be more holy, at least on Friday night.
- The widows issued a statement asking each one of us worldwide to dedicate this Shabbat to love your neighbor - to avoiding arguments, lashon hara, insults etc.
And may this serve as to elevate the neshamos of our husbands, who were slaughtered al kiddush Hashem.
May God look down from on high and see our pitiful state, wipe away our tears and put an end to our pain.
PS - Loving your neighbor surely includes telling your favorite teacher or school about the Amazing Nature for Teachers program - AmazingNature4Teachers.com. Or using our searchable index to find a meaningful Hannuka present for your favorite teachers - BestJewishKidsBooks.com includes a huge section for adults.
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