When it comes to comforting mourners, we often hear people say, “We came to offer strength, but left strengthened instead.” Nowhere is this more true than in the case of the widows of the Har Nof Kedoshim and Mrs. Risa Rothman, whose husband was critically wounded in the attack and is, as of this writing, still in a medically induced coma. May Chaim Yechiel ben Malka have a refuah sheleimah among the sick of Klal Yisrael.
These women, in their faith, deeds and words, have been a source of inspiration to men and women around the world.
Incredibly, not one of these women of valor spoke at length about her own agony, her personal loss. Instead, the tears were shed for Klal Yisrael, which has suffered so much and is in such desperate need of the Geulah. Their message was that we must learn from the tragedy in order to prevent even worse tragedies, chalilah.
Rebbetzin Bashi Twersky, the widow of Hagaon Harav Moshe Twersky, Hy”d, tearfully pleaded for unity, for according the proper respect to those who may disagree with us, who may follow different Rabbanim.
“Beloved daughters, I implore you from a broken and tearful heart and from the depths of my soul: Let us accept upon ourselves to live with love and fraternity with all Jews who tremble before G-d…. Maybe then these sacrifices will not be for nothing, and if we act with love to each other, G-d will reply to us with love.”
Mrs. Chayah Levine, the widow of Rav Kalman, Hy”d, and the mother of nine, was mechazek the women in a different direction.
“I want to ask that we strengthen the observance of the three mitzvos that women are commanded to fulfill. The first is Shabbos candle lighting. No one knows better than me how busy we women are during the week and especially on Fridays. Sometimes, before sunset we’re wiped out and have no strength to think about the significance of the brachah. Therefore I ask of you, from now own, to light candles 10 minutes ahead of time, and take those minutes to think about Hakadosh Baruch Hu and say the brachah with kavanah, and with serenity and calm.”
Mrs. Bryna Goldberg, the widow of Rabbi Avraham Shmuel, Hy”d, raised the importance of maintaining clean streets in a religious neighborhood in Eretz Yisrael. “When I see children throwing candy wrappers on sidewalks, I ask, ‘Why does none of us care about how our neighborhood looks?’ Come, let us take care of our neighborhood and turn it into a cleaner, prettier place. The external beauty will gradually penetrate inwards.”
The last widow to speak, Mrs. Yakoba Kupinsky, the wife of Rabbi Aryeh, Hy”d, and the mother of five, said that at the shivah countless people spoke of her husband’s mitzvos, his extraordinary commitment to chessed.
“Each mitzvah might seem small on its own, but together they add up to a high mountain of mitzvos. So too must we put things together and unite. We have a wonderful nation and our strength is in our unity.”
Unable to control her tears, she continued: “It isn’t just me suffering. The whole nation suffers. Must we endure more and more tragedies for us to unite? Only if we unite will Moshiach come. We all need Moshiach, and quickly.”
A reporter for Yediot Aharonot was at a huge gathering held last week to mark the end of the shivah, and the report she filed reflected respect and awe at what she witnessed at Neve Yerushalayim, as each of the widows got up to speak.
Finally, in her interview this week with Hamodia, Mrs. Risa Rothman, whose husband was critically wounded, issued a similar call for unity so that Am Yisrael may be spared worse tragedies.
“Each of the widows said we have to have shalom. It’s not like we had a meeting together and said that when our husbands are going to be murdered or mutilated we’re going to come out with such a proclamation. This was instinctive.
“If such a horrendous event can happen, what else could be? We need a call to all of Klal Yisrael for achdus, for the Geulah to come. I can’t imagine what will be otherwise.”
In the merit of the tears that have been shed over the past two weeks, which we know Hashem carefully gathers up and stores, and in the merit of the enormous chessed generated in Eretz Yisrael and around the world by the Har Nof tragedies, may Hashem say “enough” to the pain, enough to travails that leave in their wake widows and orphans.
And may we heed the message of these women of valor and unite so that the Geulah will come speedily in our days.