The following event has sent chills up my spine.
I was going to express my grief, anger, anguish, fury and all of those other emotions that go together when a catastrophe such as what happened in the world-renowned Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav Kook last Thursday night. However, several hours ago, my wife Penina phoned me with a message that knocked the wind out of me.
“Rashi, I just got an email from the Yeshiva University Alumni Association”, she said over her cell phone with a soft and somewhat pained voice. “Yes, and”? I asked. “Well, I’ll read to you what the message says”. She continued, “we offer our heartfelt condolences to Rabbi and Mrs Aharon Batt upon the tragic loss of their grandson who was murdered at the Yeshiva Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem”.
Then, it dawned upon me – Kochav HaShachar!
My wife has relatives who have relatives (cousins of cousins of hers) who have been living at the beautiful community of Kochav HaShachar in the Shomron for many years. She has known them for over twenty years since her year of study at the Michlelet Orot L’Yisrael Bnot Tzion program. A very young couple who were just engaged when Penina met them, who together raised 13 children and now even boast some grandchildren. Since we came on aliya nearly ten years ago, we’ve seen them at my wife’s relatives’ celebrations, family get-togethers, etc. We don’t really know them that well. Yet, they were always attending family functions with all of their kids in tow. Warm, familiar faces that were a pleasent site at these gatherings who always greeted us with the same warm familiarity.
One such gathering was just last Tuesday, as my wife’s first cousin and her husband hosted close friends and family to celebrate their oldest son becoming a Bar Mitzvah. It was a great party. My cousin in law, a reknowned Rabbi was ever-so proud, dancing his heart out with pride in front of his son. It reminded me of the joy I felt dancing for my older boys when they became Bar Mitzvah. We had a great time and loved being with my wife’s family, most of whom are either olim vatikim themselves or are first and second generation Israelis.
This was just two days before that catastrophe took place which has since changed the face of Israel, which has torn the hearts out of some of the finest people I’ve ever met.
Of course, my first response, out of the sheer shock of this realization was, “we just saw them last week”! After gathering myself and realizing the worst, I then blurted out loud, “What difference does that make”?
After confirming this horror with a cousin who endured the tragic loss of this fine young boy, I phoned my wife back with the true confirmation.
In the face of this overwhelming nightmare and shock, its even more frustrating to realize that you really don’t know what to do. The greater evil is that we’ve come to realize that the tragedy hits too close to home.
There aren’t many more words for me to say on this matter. The fact of the matter is, the enemy is now able to penetrate into the heart of Israel and though the IDF and security forces have been doing an incredible job on protecting her citizens, nothing is yet fool-proof. We also live in a very small country and the concept of six degrees of seperation is very real.
Sometimes, its frightening.