“Hatzur tamim pa’alo… — The deeds of the Mighty Rock are perfect, for all His ways are just.” So says Harav Yaron Lavi with hands upraised, tragically sitting shivah for two of his sons and humbly accepting the Heavenly judgment. Rav Lavi is one of the greatest of the mekarvim (those who engage in outreach and kiruv) of youth in the city of Elad. He has a huge resume of outreach and restoring youth to their Father in Heaven. At the end of last week, by Heavenly decree, he buried his two sons Nissim and Meir, z”l, after a terrible road accident.
The stream of people coming to offer condolences doesn’t stop, but the bereaved father seems to find comfort mainly in the dozens of youngsters who come up to him, one after the other. They burst out in bitter tears and say, “I lost a friend, a brother, a Rav, a mentor.” Many of them owe their spiritual and physical lives to one or both of the two brothers.
In words filled with pain and sorrow, but steeped in faith and awe of G-d, the father mentions their amazing accomplishments. “For whom should I cry first, the older son or the younger one? Meir and Nissim, two souls that came down to this world just to do kindnesses one to another and for the youths, to save them. So many boys returned to Judaism because of Meir and Nissim! So many youths discovered the light only because of them! Their whole lives were dedicated to saving stray souls. Apparently, they finished their job in this world.”
Over the past quarter-century, Rav Lavi built Torah institutions for youth in Hod HaSharon. When he moved with his family to Elad and saw youths aimlessly roaming the streets, he gathered them around him, and opened a midrashiyah for them in his own living room. From morning to evening, they sat there and learned Torah.
“My two sons, Meir and Nissim, were partners with me from the beginning,” Rav Lavi recounts. “They didn’t need luxuries or other things that children need — such as a room, a spacious home, privacy; they gave up everything to save the youth. They saw it as a kind of mission. Meir and Nissim were involved with us in all our activities with the youth, every step of the way. They went from place to place to gather them, brought them to the beis medrash, and taught them Torah, wisdom and mussar. They simply taught them what it means to be a Jew — and all with friendship and warmth.”
In the days before they died, Meir and Nissim seem to have felt that they were close to leaving this world. “Just a few days ago,” their father recalls amid his tears, “they started learning the laws of Chanukah in the Mishnah Berurah, with the goal of learning the entire subject very thoroughly. One of their future plans was to make a really big Chanukah party. They asked the boys to each tell a story of miracles that happened to him in his life — and in this way they all found themselves eagerly waiting for Chanukah to come.
“On the last Shabbat of his life, Nissim pulled out a Chumash and began to read the Akeidah, the Binding of Yitzchak — even though it was more than a week before it was to be read aloud in shul. He read it happily and with real feeling. On Wednesday morning, the last day of their lives, they both went to the beis medrash, and for four hours they were in a taanis dibur [refraining from idle talk], studying with the boys. They then davened Minchah together and immediately left in the direction of Yerushalayim on their motorbike.
“About 10 minutes after they left,” Rav Lavi continues with pain, “one of the students came in and yelled that there had been an accident with a motorbike. My heart told me that it was my two sons. I called them both, but neither of them answered. It had never happened before that they didn’t answer my calls. ‘Hashem gave and Hashem took; may Hashem’s Name be blessed.’”
The father sees what happened as a warning sign: “The boys didn’t leave this world for no reason…
“Who can know what it is like to lose two sons in one moment, to bring to an akeidah two sons at once? As Rivkah Imeinu asked, ‘Why should I lose both of you in one day?!’”