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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Remembering the martyrs

As you might recall, a week ago tonight, I attended a memorial at Maimonides school in Brookline, Mass. for Rabbi Moshe Twersky HY"D (May God Avenge his blood), one of four holy men who were murdered during their morning prayers at Kehillat Bnei Torah in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem last Tuesday morning. The shiva (seven-day mourning period) for these four men ended on Monday morning, and this evening, Tuesday, I was part of an overflow crowd that spent more than three hours (plus extra time just to get into the synagogue) one floor up from where the terror attack took place, listening to eulogies for those four and praying for five other men who are still hospitalized, many of them still in serious condition.

I won't give you a lot of details of what was said, but I will tell you that I started crying when Rav Yitzchak Mordechai Rubin shlita (May he live for long days and years), the shul's rabbi, brought the story from the Talmud (Gittin 57) of Hannah and her seven sons who were martyred for refusing the Roman emperor's command to bow to an idol, and how she told the last son to go find our forefather Abraham in Heaven and tell him that while he, Abraham, had only offered to make one altar with a son for God (Akeidath Yitzchak, the binding of Isaac), she, Hannah, had made seven altars. Rav Rubin then instructed the four martyrs to go to Abraham and tell him that the synagogue had made four altars for God....

I have an update from Rebbetzin Tzipora Heller, which I would like to share with you (Hat Tip: Mrs. Carl).
The men who died in Kehillas Bnei Torah died as they lived; they were dedicated to living with emunah, faith in God, and beginning their days with dedication. They were killed for not being Muslim. When my daughter Miri received the call from the hospital social worker telling her to get to Hadassah hospital as soon as possible and not to come alone, it was one of the worst moments that anyone could experience. All four people in the car spent the 20-minute ride saying all of the variations of "I can't believe that this can be happening. It sounds terrible" that you can possibly imagine. When we were allowed into the recovery room to see Shmuli after his initial surgery, there were no tears; we were too shell-shocked. It takes only seconds to assume a new sort of normal.
When I asked the nurse about the trickle of blood that I saw flowing out of Shmuli's ear, she told me that they were able to control the majority of the flow, and that this isn't really significant. When they do the second surgery they'll take care of it. The answer sounded reasonable and left me feeling relieved. I had accepted that blood coming out of a man's head was normal, and that a second surgery was something to look forward to. I don't know what Miri was thinking, but the one thing that I know never crossed her mind or mine was regret.
Neither of us wished that he would have stayed home from the synagogue that Tuesday morning any more than Sunday or Monday. Neither of us wished that my grandson Mordechai would be the kind of kid who doesn't like to go to shul with his dad. We both know that the villain of the story isn't the coincidences of time and place that led them to be in Kehillas Bnei Torah Tuesday morning. The villain is the man with the cleaver and the man with the gun.
They are the stars of the tragedy but you can't let yourself be blind to the fact that they are supported by a cast of thousands. The countless kids who are taught hatred from their earliest youth for anyone who isn't them. The kadi in the mosque who spews out Itbach al Yahud (kill the Jews) in his Friday sermon after duly praising Allah the Compassionate. There are bit players in the ongoing drama. They have made the media the message, and the subtle and not so subtle anti-Semitism disguised pathological hatred for Israel all deserve billing.
Neither Miri nor I thought about them at the moment. We were both aware of something much bigger, more real than the ongoing soap opera called Them against Us. It's called faith in God, Who can turn things around in a moment, and whose Will isn't known to us but His ongoing kindness is. It was the only thing that mattered in the recovery room.
Read the whole thing.

As  I was leaving the synagogue this evening, I noticed a handwritten sign on the wall. It asked in Hebrew and English that anyone who has a freezer from R. Aryeh Kopinsky HY"D's Gmach should call a certain number.

May God Have mercy on the families of all the victims, and give them the strength to continue.

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