Reflections on The Tragedy
Print This Page

It is with a very heavy heart and overwhelming pain and sorrow that I pen this short relfection about the tragic fate of the 3 kidnapped boys in Israel- Yaakov Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Michael Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach, zichronam l’vracha, who were viciously torn from their families and brutally murdered.

There have been many emails sent, blogs posted, facebook messages liked and oceans of tears shed, so there was little for me to add. Yet, having cried over this for a little over a day, I find it hard to remain silent.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, the politicians are busy meeting and planning, and the army continues to search for the terrorists and has expanded its current operation. Calls for revenge and destruction of Hamas abound both in Israel and abroad.

But, what is our response? What should your response be? While more often than not, we are unable to offer answers to explain tragedy, as Jews we continue to have faith: faith in our people, faith in God, faith in peace, and faith in a future that knows not tears of pain, only tears of joy. That is what our credo (and song) of Ami Ma’amin is all about.

With this in mind, allow me to humbly suggest one way that we as Jews might move forward from this horrible tragedy. Achdut/Unity.

We will soon enter the period of time that commemorates the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash/Temple in Jerusalem. Our sages teach us that the last temple was destroyed because of Sinat Chinam/ Baseless Hatred amongst Jews. Furthermore our tradition teaches that in every generation that the Temple is not rebuilt, it is because the root reason for its destruction so many years ago, is still a problem we face in our generation. If we pause and think about that, it is shocking. It is shocking that in fact, the one constant that we continue to face as a people is a history of being divided from each other, critical of each other, and fighting with each other.

This is a problem that existed 2,000 years ago, and it is a problem we struggle with today.

It is at times like these, times of tragedy, when we realize that our efforts should be spent on creating achdut, and that perhaps, that will be our key to the redemptive period of Jewish history.

In fact, this thought was most powerfully relayed by Mrs Fraenkel, the mother of Naftali, one of the 3 murdered boys:

“I have never seen such ‘achdus’ as displayed by all Jews of all stripes as I have witnessed this last week. You know, if Hamas- whose mission is to destroy us- would have realized how much unity and how much harmony they have generated among us, they would have never kidnapped the boys in the first place.”

Taking all of this into account, it is clear that our response as a people must be to become “as one people with one heart”. As Rashi, a famous biblical commentator, explains in Sefer Shemot, such was the status of the Jewish people when we received the Torah. And I think that is the reality required for our people to move forward today as well.

I urge you, to take the sense of unity that was created through crisis, and carry it on in your everyday lives – the way you relate to other Jews that are different than you, or speak about them or to them. We might disagree with them – but we can never discount them. We are only a people when we come together as one.

On that note, I would like to make sure that everyone is aware of a community-wide memorial service being held on Monday July 7th – Click here for more details…

May Hashem give strength and comfort to the families whose grief will never cease, and to a people who are in pain but who continue to pray, dream, and hope for peace. May our heartfelt tefillot and our achdut serve as a merit for the neshamot of Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah, Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim and Eyal ben Iris Teshura. And may they hasten the coming of a time when Hashem sees fit to realize the words of the prophet Isaiah (25:8): Bila hamavet lanetzach, “Eliminate death forever”…umacha Hashem Elokim dima meyal kol panim, “and wipe the tears from every face.”

Rabbi Rafi