The purpose of this blog is to turn Friday night dinner into Shabbat.... Please print and share.
Two days ago, on Wednesday morning, Rabbi Reuven Biermacher went to Jerusalem's Old City.
At 10 am the 45-year-old immigrant from Argentina taught a group of Panamanian 16-year-olds something from the Talmud.
They were on summer vacation and their counselor came by to ask the rabbi to give them a break.
The students demurred, “No! We don’t want a break. This is the best class of the day!”
At 11 am he gave his regular Talmud class, followed by a short talk to a group of South American students.
What all three classes had in common was a beloved, wise rabbi, "full of joy and life", who cared for each of his students.
At 12:45 he left the yeshiva and headed towards Jaffa Gate, which is the main route taken by Jewish residents and tourists, and anyone else who wants to use it. The footpath outside Jaffa Gate looks like any sidewalk in any large city.
It was an unseasonably warm, sunny December day in Jerusalem.
And there, returning home to his wife and seven children, Rabbi Biermacher encountered evil.
Two young men lunged at him with knives.
Ofer Ben-Ari, 46, happened to be driving by and witnessed the attack. With only his bare hands as weapons, he ran out of his car to save the rabbi's life.
Police arrived moments later and Ben-Ari was hit by a stray bullet.
Both victims were rushed to Shaare Zedek Medical Center where they died within an hour of each other.
Biermacher's 16-year-old daughter described him as "a man of gold who never harmed anyone." One of his colleagues said in a eulogy, "He was walking example of what we all aspire to be....He was always there for everyone.... We have to take responsibility to live up to his example and make a serious change in our lives..... To look at what happened as a message to me, to think that I deserved this more than he did, and I am lucky to be here. God has chosen the best among us deliberately.... Instead of thinking, 'Am I safe or am I not safe?' we should think, "What matters is that I'm doing my job."
Ben-Ari owned a recording studio in Jerusalem and opened it free of charge to distressed youth. He also provided temporary housing for the homeless in a property he owned. He is survived by his wife and two children and here is a brief report of his funeral.
These two tragedies leave one speechless.
But I am not sharing them with you to make you sad, rather to foster a discussion at your dinner table. Perhaps these two questions are appropriate:
We know that everyone has to die. But is it better to die quickly and suddenly as they did (in this case as heroes), but without a chance for anyone to say goodbye? Or to suffer a period of illness first?
We all know (but don't like to think about it too much) that anyone and everyone's fortune could change in a moment. So what?
PS - Funds are being established to help the two widows and nine orphans. For more info, post a comment or send an email.
Like this post? How about voting with your finger: Like it, tweet it, or just forward it.