Choose Light – Update from Nov 18th Terrorist Attack
So many of you have showed concern and written, and even more of you have davened. I have no words to tell you how much this means not only to me, but to every one of us. Thank G-d, Shmuli is much better. He is aware, able to communicate and reminded a friend that he is only giving him his seat on the morning bus to Mir temporarily. That doesn’t mean that the story is over. If we closed the book here it would be a cruel denial of our having lived through a pogrom that left Har Nof with four new widows, and 24 new orphans.
The four men who were killed were buried, and their death caused many of us to rethink our ideas about what death is really about. Is dying a brutal death at the hands of people you never met and certainly don’t threaten in any way a senseless desecration of life? Is dying for no reason other than the fact that you are a Jew a meaningless tragedy? Death is never sweet for those who are left behind, but there is some comfort in knowing that the death of these four men was a reflection of the way that they chose to live.
Their death’s had meaning.
The men who died in Kehillas Benei Torah died as they lived; they were dedicated to living with emunah and beginning their days with dedication. They were killed for not being Muslim. When Miri received the call from the hospital social worker telling her to get to Hadassah as soon as possible and not to come alone was one of the worst moments that anyone could have. All four people in the car spent the twenty 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 what 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 Tuesday any more than Sunday or Monday. Neither of us wished that 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 co-incidences 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 Al-lah 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 G-d, who can turn things around in a moment, and whose will isn’t known to us, but His chessed is. It was the only thing that mattered in the recovery room.
Emunah means knowing that everything has one source, knowing that there is purpose and meaning. It means that you will one day account for your life to the One who gave it to you. It means that you are living on one page of an endless book, and the only thing that really matters is what kind of person you choose to become.
You can choose light. You can choose learning. You can choose acts of kindness. You can choose closeness to the wounded by continuing to daven for Shmuel Yerucham ben Baila, Chaim Yechiel ben Malka and Eitan ben Sara. The rabbanim have strongly recommended lighting Shabbos candles earlier. Maharal tells us that the light of these candles is the same light that Torah sheds. You can transcend your limitations and your attachment to materialism by giving charity. A fund has been started for the widows and orphans left behind. Donations can be sent to Kuppat HaIr, 20159, which is earmarked for the victims of Har Nof’s tragedy. Various funds have been started, but the Rabbanim of the neighborhood have recommended this one because they are able to provide you with an American tax-deductible receipt to those who wish them. Choose to be part of their lives at this time. After all, you are part of the family.
Post this to your friends who want to look beyond the surface.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO
1 Continue your prayers for Shmuel ben Baila, Chaim Yechiel ben Malka, and Eitan ben Sara.
2 Show your sense of connection to our people by 6518235 by taking upon yourselves to make this shabbos one in which you speak only positively of the Jewish people. Let go of judgmental conclusions about things that may have happened and see only the inherent good that is always there if you look for it.
3 Women should try to light candles earlier to bring in the light and peace of shabbos especially on these days in which darkness (in every sense) comes in so soon..
4 Girls who don’t light candles can say tehillim or do the regular tefillot especially if they are not always accustomed to praying
5 Men can add 15 minutes to their normal learning schedule (and if this is not a part of their lives, let them try for it at least for a few weeks!)
6 GIVE TZEDAKAH!!! HELP THE BEREAVED FAMILIES WHO WILL NEVER BE THE SAME NOW – You can send donations to Kupat HaIr for case 2159 (earmarked for Har Nof).
Every day in Eretz Yisrael is a gift and a miracle -A Personal Report of November 18th Terrorist Attack in Har Nof
Yesterday at about 7am my daughter Miri called. “Mordechai just came home from shul. He said that Arabs came in and are shooting, and that a man with an axe is hitting everyone. Some of the people threw chairs at them, but it didn’t help”. The twelve year old had hit the floor along with everyone else when the bullets began to fly. He was fully aware of what was going on, and what it meant. He somehow found the courage to let go of his father’s hand, crawl towards the exit and break into a run. Some of you know Miri and her family. She has had some of you over for Shabbos and holidays, and others sleeping in one of her kid’s bedrooms when the crowd at my house gets too big to accommodate sanely. Mordechai is blonde, freckled, and a soft spoken somewhat introverted and studious boy, much like his father, Shmuli. He is not Huck Finn, and the courage he found at those moments were a gift straight from G-d. By the time he finished telling Miri what happened, sirens from Hatzalah ambulances, police cars, and Magen David could be heard telling her that there were casualties. “Where’s Shmuli” was the thought that entered her mind again and again as the seconds which felt like hours began to tick. She called me and said, “Say Tehillim. There is shooting in Bnei Torah”. I began to say the ancient prayers, stopped myself and called Rabbi Weidan, and told him what was happening. I then began the Tehillim again, knocked on my neighbor’s door and told her to do the same. Chani called and told me to look at the news to see what was really happening. Nothing was reported as yet. Of course not. It was only 7:10.
I realized that the whether or not the attack was over, that no one as yet knew whether the murderers escaped. I called again, asking that everything be done to see that no one leaves the campus, and then called Miri. Thank G-d she had the sense to stay indoors and not run to the besieged synagogue. When Mordechai came home, the shooting was still happening. By 7:20 we both realized that if she didn’t hear from Shmuli, something was very wrong. The police and other services had no information as yet to give to the public, but a family friend who had seen the terror with his own eyes, said that Shmuli had been taken to Haddassah Ein Karem.
When Mordechai let go of his hand, he instinctively ran after the child placing himself in the sight of the terrorists. One of them attacked him with his axe, hitting him on the left side of his head, his back and his arm. Somehow he made it to the door. Josh White, a student of Machon Shlomo was riding down Agassi on his bike. He noticed what he described later as “a lot of confusion” in front of Bnei Torah asked someone what was going on, and surprisingly (for Har Nof) the man answered him in Hebrew! In the midst of what to him was gibberish, he picked up the word Aravim (Arabs) and immediately grasped what was happening. He approached the shul and saw Shmuli who was still aware. The Machon student took of his shirt and stopped the bleeding, a move which may have saved Shmuli’s life. The shooting was still happening inside. It was about 7:15! The emergency crew drew back, but because Shmuli was already outside, they evacuated him thus making him the first of the wounded to be taken to Hadassah, another factor in his survival. Before collapsing, he asked where Mordechai was, and when he was told that the boy ran away from the carnage, he said, “Baruch Hashem”. Inside, the terrorists were continuing their “work”. When they entered they turned to their left, and immediately cut down Rabbi Twerski and Rav Kalman Levine who were standing in the corner. Reb Kalman was the husband of Chaya, formally Markowitz who was a student and later a madrichah at Neve. Her husband was not a regular attendee of Bnei Torah. He would generally daven in the earliest possible minyan so he could get in a couple of hours of learning before beginning his day. Yesterday he had a question about something he had learned and had gone after davening to Bnei Torah to put the question to its erudite rav, Rabbi Rubin. The question will now only be resolved in the Heavenly Acadamy. Rev Avraham Goldberg, the third man to be killed is Breina Goldberg’s husband. Many of you know Breina as the warm caring efficient secretary cum mother figure at the front desk in the afternoon. I don’t as yet know how her husband, or Reb Kupinski the fourth victim met their deaths. The only thing that I know, is that it was brutal and swift. The first policemen to enter were traffic cops who knew what they were facing, and also knew that they were not wearing protective gear. They entered anyway and together with the forces that came afterwards ended the bloodbath. By 7:30 the murderers were apprehended.
Miri, my daughter Guli, and her husband were in Hadassah. Miri’s other kids were watched by relatives and friends for the day. Mordechai was urged to speak about what he saw again and again in order to diminish the damage of the trauma he had undergone. The rest of the family flowed in, saying Tehillim and waiting for updates. The hospital social worker, Aviva, who is blessed with the rare gift of being empathic without being overbearing, and the women of Ezer Mitzion (a volunteer organization) kept us well supplied with food, calming conversation and practical advice. We were allowed to see Shmuli who was put under anesthesia. We don’t know if he heard us or not, but we were talking to him stressing that Mordechai was fine. In the hours before the surgery was done, we found ourselves with Risa Rotman. Her husband, Chaim Yechiel ben Malka, was also attacked, and the extent of his wounds are very serious. Some of you may know Risa (who if I am not mistaken also is an OBG) and those of you whose husbands learned in Ohr Sameach or who recall Reb Meir Shuster who he helped unstintingly for years, may know him as Howie. The policeman who entered first, passed away. May Hashem avenge his blood.
Every day in Eretz Yisrael is a gift and a miracle. I have no pretensions of knowing Hashem’s will, but I do know that everything He does is purposeful, and that His compassion that is often hidden from the human eye. Anyone who values human life and reality and the eternal nature of the soul is appalled by the idea of people entering a synagogue and killing people who they never met randomly.
Except for CNN. They reported the entire event as an attack on a mosque.
Except for BBC. They reported that the Israeli police killed two Palestinians (they meant the murderers). The victims of Israeli brutality presumably were going on a stroll through scenic Har Nof when attacked by the racist troops….
Please post the truth to whomever you can reach.
Please please continue saying Tehillim for Shmuel Yerucham ben Baila and the other victims. Daven that Hashem give strength to the five new widows and 24 new orphans. Most of all thank Hashem that we are not Them, and treasure Hashem’s Torah and His Land.