Shivah ended as Israel endured its most intense November rainstorm in a generation. The water level of the Kinneret rose commensurate to the nation’s spirits sinking, just as the seven days of consolation following the horror in Har Nof came to an end. Though the shivah may have ended, the rains did not abate. Were these gishmei brachah welcoming the newest arrivals to the Heavenly academy: four tzaddikim, all talmidei chachamim — Harav Moshe Twersky, Rabbi Kalman Levine, Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky and Rabbi Avraham Goldberg; and a righteous gentile, Yerushalayim police officer Zidan Seif, a Druze?
It is a miracle that shivah did not include the entire kehillah. That they survived in some sad way testifies to the inscrutable nature of Hashem’s rachamim, though this will be small comfort to four widows and two dozen orphans. If not for chasdei Hashem and the heroism of Officer Seif — who, in the line of duty serving his country, Israel, gave his life saving Israel’s greatest natural resource, Jews; and the heroism of a number of the mispallelim — most notably Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, who reportedly screamed to the others “Run!” while he fought off the terrorists — how many more Yidden might have perished? Rabbi Kupinsky fought with the weapons available in a shul, the accoutrements of learning Torah, the things most familiar to him from his life dedicated to limud Torah: shtenders, chairs, sefarim. It would be fitting if his epitaph read: Eitz Chaim Hi Lamachazikim Bah. Rabbi Kupinsky literally clutched Torah to the end, using it so others could live, and though he lost his life saving the lives of other Jews, the memory of his bravery and sacrifice is immortal.
Four righteous Jews, Hy”d, were taken from a chareidi shul in Har Nof; four righteous Jews, Hy”d — Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Dalia Lemkus — were taken from beside the Alon Shvut community. A street in Har Nof is awash in the tears of four bereft spouses and 24 orphans. Eyal, Gilad, Naftali and Dalia never walked to the chuppah to feel, in the moment of their greatest joy, the excruciating juxtaposition of lamenting Yerushalayim and recognizing there can exist no perfect joy or truth when we lack the only physical site of absolute truth the world has ever known, the Beis Hamikdash. How many children and children of children will never be brought to the world because these four were taken? Though the question is rhetorical, the pain is real, the loss incalculable.
Today, the Jews of Europe are under attack. There could be a daily column in newspapers dedicated to stories of anti-Semitism from the continent. Last week a Jew from the Neturei Karta was violently attacked by Muslims in his native Belgium. As mentioned in last week’s column, a toddler in New Zealand was struck on the head because he was wearing a kippah. College and university Jewish students across the United States are targets of abuse and harassment, occurrences which are growing in intensity.
There is clearly no place to be “anonymous” as a Jew. The history of World War II teaches us that assimilation fails as well. The unity of Jews, whether in life or death, creates a power. If the murder of four chareidi Jews in Har Nof and four national religious Jews in Alon Shvut does not prove there is only one definition of a Jew, what will? The fabric of the kippah is of no consequence to “Esav” and “Yishmael.” Those who are “sonei Yaakov” see one Torah uniting all Jews in their eyes and therefore condemning all Jews in their eyes. If we, klal Yisrael, could only see with this clarity!
November 29 was the anniversary of the United Nations partitioning Palestine into a homeland for the Jews and for the Arabs. Israel accepted it; the Arabs did not. And the struggle between the sons of Abraham continues.
Whatever the myriad shortcomings of the government of Israel may be (yes, I am poignantly aware of them), nonetheless, Eretz Yisrael is intended as a sanctuary for Jews. The non-Jewish world is not nearly as particular as to which kind of Jew will be the victim; they are absolutely non-racist in their racism. Where else can chareidi or secular students be treated as equals? Maybe we should learn from Esav/Yishmael — identify the pintele Yid and honor it. The wise man learns from all.
Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst, and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at msolomon@Hamodia.com.