I learned more than a decade ago, that there are days that fill you with strength, and there are days that break you. It’s over, you think to yourself. I just can’t go on. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t take it. Even the anger is not enough to sustain you; even the disgust at how blind others are is not enough to get you moving.
Ten more children have lost their father. When Sarah Techiya Litman’s father was murdered days before her wedding, she rallied not just for herself and her mother and siblings, but for all of Israel. Please come to my wedding, she begged Israel…and we did. So many thousands came that they had to shut off the wedding hall, letting in groups of people at a time as others left. The hall was filled, the outer grounds were filled. At one point, overwhelmed by the number of people waiting to share this evening with them, the bride and groom went outside to meet the people who had come to shower an orphan with love.
On Friday, Rabbi Miki Mark was murdered, his wife critically injured, and two of his children hurt in a terror attack not far from where they live. He leaves behind 10 children. Today, his children asked people to come to his funeral, to become better people, more loving. Rabbi Miki Mark was 48 years old…
Yesterday, Elie Wiesel died. He was 87. Both leave behind devastation and mourning. The death of Rabbi Mark leaves behind such sadness, a huge gap in a family, a community, a nation. The loss of Elie Wiesel leaves us with a void. Who will speak for the survivors now? How many are left? Are we ready to take on the challenge that Wiesel and others warned us was coming. Now it is on us to carry the torch of remembrance; to stand against a world that thrives on forgetting and dismissing the lessons of the past.
When someone who is well known passes away, people rush to post pictures of themselves with the person. It is a way of showing that they mourn, that they were touched by the person we have lost and they want to remind themselves and others of what once was.
This picture is now being posted on Facebook. It is a picture with three main people – all gone. Ariel Sharon, who led this nation to victory and was the essence of power. He was the lion that turned into the lamb; a man who built and then destroyed what he had helped to create. He was a man who forgot the future in the present that overwhelmed him.
Elie Wiesel kept the past with him and used it as a torch to light his way into the future. He led generations with a simple message. Tolerance, acceptance, peace, respect. Be human and be humane. Don’t surrender to tyranny. Fight for life – your own, and the right of others as well.
And finally, Rabbi Michoel Mark, who lived the life these other men fought for – to be a father of Jewish children, to live where he wanted to live in this land. It is both tragic and ironic that Rabbi Mark was murdered on Friday and Elie Wiesel died on Saturday. If Jewish law is to be followed, both will be buried today.
In Israel, we are in mourning for children who have lost a father, for a community that has lost a leader. For the pain of a wife, fighting for her life. Unconscious, sedated, and unaware that her life is forever changed. For their broken children who have called on Israel to come to the funeral and for the hundreds who have.
A picture, frozen in time, of three men who led the world in different ways. Elie Wiesel, as a survivor who chose to live in the United States, but loved Israel and came here often; of Ariel Sharon, who fought for this land as a lion of Judea, and then lost his way and surrendered to feed the monster that has been fighting and attacking our innocents for generations; of Rav Miki Mark, who chose the path of faith to fight for this land, to build a yeshiva where young men came and learned and dedicated themselves to the future.
Thursday, they murdered a 13 year old child in her bed; Friday, they murdered a father of ten. Today, we bury Rav Mark in tears and in pain.
Tomorrow, we will stand up, in mourning and in pain, in anger and faith, we will stand up and do what we have to do. We will be strong…tomorrow. We will not let terror win…tomorrow. Today, for a brief time, we will surrender to our pain, to the pain of a mother who suddenly buries her oldest child, to a summer lost before it began, to the agony of ten orphans who bury their father today and pray that their mother will not leave them as well.
Today, we cry from the depths of our souls.
Tomorrow, we will show them that we are not beaten, that we will not surrender. Ariel Sharon’s way was proven wrong. From the places he gave them, they shot a rocket that hit a kindergarten in Sderot that thankfully was empty. This is the legacy of Ariel Sharon. Elie Wiesel’s path is to remember what they have done to us in the past and do all we can to stop them. And so, generations after the Holocaust, we are still dedicated to remembering, to living with what the Nazis did so that it will never happen again.
And with broken hearts, we dedicate ourselves to the memory of Rav Miki Mark – the path is long but for an eternal people, we do not fear the future. We will stand. We will fight. We will not be defeated. From the earth that was given to us, we will build.
Today, we cry…but we live. Today, tomorrow, and into the future. Moments before this picture was taken, Elie Wiesel affixed a mezuzah to the doorpost of the yeshiva in Otneil. Today, it stands, tall and proud and filled with people. Tomorrow…we will rededicate ourselves to build.
May God bless the memory of Elie Wiesel and of Rav Michoel Mark and bless their memories and may God avenge the blood of all those who were murdered in the sanctity of God’s name.