July 4, 2014

You Will Bring Comfort

In the last few weeks, Am Israel has been hoping, praying and mourning. 
There have been countless articles and blogs about the senseless deaths of Gil-Ad, Naftali and Eyal z'l, three young boys on their way home from school, Torah books in their backpacks; in their hearts, a natural yearning to be back home in their parents' secure, loving arms; and in their minds, every boy's dream to live long, meaningful, enriched lives. 
These three boys were laid to rest on July 1st amidst crowds of thousands who drove from across the country and endured long bus rides and walked to cry, to pray, to pay their last respects crammed together under an intense July sun.
Last Shabbat, as we walked to shul, many houses posted large signs with photos and the words Bring Back Our Boys. Sheets were draped outside windows calling out  the same words. Just a week ago, we paused during our prayers to recite tehillim for these boys. It was over two weeks since they were missing and our communal prayers were still intense.
Now, three days after the funerals, the signs are still up, a quiet whisper of Bring Back Our Boys. The words seem deflated, sad, yet show that we remain resilient, strong, a reminder to never forget.
After the tragic news of their murder, my neighbor wrote across her sign: 'Baruch Dayan Emet,' the words one utters upon hearing of a death. They mean that G-d is the ultimate judge about who lives and dies and expresses that although humans can try, we have no control over life and death.   

My neighbour's sign is still on her gate. It reminds me of how senseless and fragile life is and how we must seize the precious moments, relish each fragment of joy and appreciate those who are close to us. While life here is heavy and tragic at times, the sky stoically stays azure blue and moments of life stand firmly beside those of death.
The following words, a translation of a FaceBook posting in Hebrew, expresses this moment, encapsulating the sorrow and joy of living in Israel.
“And I said to you: In your blood you shall live”
Tuesday morning, July 1st
In the Shaar household, they are preparing for a funeral that will start in another few hours.
Just yesterday we could still hear emanating from here voices of prayer and hope.
And now – just silence.
Silence that feels as though it was created just for this moment – as though words are too small to fill it.
The thousands of people who had been coming for the past weeks to wrap the family with support, will soon be accompanying one child – wrapped in a tallit.
And they will strain to hear Elijah the Prophet greeting him at Heaven’s gates.
Only the sound of crying splits the painful silence;
The longing for the pure soul that was snatched unawares
And will soon find its place, as close as possible to the Heavenly Throne.
Not far from there, in the same Yishuv
In the home of a different family, cries are heard.
A different sort of cry.
The cry of a child, wrapped in his mother’s embrace.
Who came into this world just one week ago
And soon will meet Elijah the Prophet.
And perhaps he too is crying from longing, that he was taken unawares
From the closest possible place beside the Heavenly Throne.
5:30 in the afternoon.
A funeral and a Brit.
Blood touching blood.
The holy, pure hands of the Mohel -
Who only a few years ago separated from his son,
Killed in Yeshivat Mercaz Harav while studying Torah –
Are now supporting a baby.
And maybe he too is longing?
The cry of a baby, wrapped in the cry of a congregation.
Agony and ecstasy combining to form an elixir
Whose taste we already know.
And as the sun sets and evening falls – we pray
That You will collect all of the tears, all of the longing –
The voice heard from one end of the world to the other –
And You will bring them as close as You possibly can to the Heavenly Throne
And You will wrap them with Your endless compassion.
And You will bring comfort
And You will be revealed.

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