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October 21, 2016 / 19 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘days’

To Renew Our Days

Friday, October 7th, 2016

The moment had come. Moses was about to die. He had seen his sister Miriam and brother Aaron pre-decease him. He had prayed to God – not to live forever, not even to live longer, but simply, “Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan” (Deut. 3:25). Let me complete the journey. Let me reach the destination. But God said No: “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter” (Deut. 3:26). God, who had acceded to almost every other prayer Moses prayed, refused him this.

What then did Moses do on these last days of his life? He issued two instructions, the last of the 613 commands, that were to have significant consequences for the future of Judaism and the Jewish people. The first is known as Hakhel, the command that the king summon the people to gather during Sukkot following the seventh, Shemittah year:


“At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Festival of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place He will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. Assemble the people – men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns – so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”


There is no specific reference to this command in the later books of Tanach, but there are accounts of very similar gatherings: covenant renewal ceremonies, in which the king or his equivalent assembled the nation, reading from the Torah or reminding the people of their history, and calling on them to reaffirm the terms of their destiny as a people in covenant with God.

That, in fact, is what Moses had been doing for the last month of his life. The book of Deuteronomy as a whole is a restatement of the covenant, almost forty years and one generation after the original covenant at Mount Sinai. There is another example in the last chapter of the book of Joshua (Josh. 24). Joshua had fulfilled his mandate as Moses’ successor, bringing the people across the Jordan, leading them in their battles and settling the land.

Another occurred many centuries later in the reign of King Josiah. His grandfather, Menasseh, who reigned for 55 years, was one of the worst of Judah’s kings, introducing various forms of idolatry, including child sacrifice. Josiah sought to return the nation to its faith, ordering among other things the cleansing and repair of the Temple. It was in the course of this restoration that a copy of the Torah was discovered, sealed in a hiding place, to prevent it being destroyed during the many decades in which idolatry flourished and the Torah was almost forgotten. The king, deeply affected by this discovery, convened a Hakhel-type national assembly:


“Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets – all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord – to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.” (2 Kings 23:1-3)


The most famous Hakhel-type ceremony was the national gathering convened by Ezra and Nehemiah after the second wave of returnees from Babylon (Neh. 8-10). Standing on a platform by one of the gates to the Temple, Ezra read the Torah to the assembly, having positioned Levites throughout the crowd so that they could explain to the people what was being said. The ceremony that began on Rosh Hashanah, culminated after Sukkot when the people collectively “bound themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the Lord our Lord” (Neh. 10:29).

The other command – the last Moses gave the people – was contained in the words: “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites,” understood by rabbinic tradition to be the command to write, or at least take part in writing, a Sefer Torah. Why specifically these two commands, at this time?

Something profound was being transacted here. Recall that God had seemed brusque in His dismissal of Moses’ request to be allowed to cross the Jordan. “That is enough … Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.” Is this the Torah and this its reward? Is this how God repaid the greatest of the prophets? Surely not.

In these last two commands God was teaching Moses, and through him Jews throughout the ages, what immortality is – on earth, not just in heaven. We are mortal because we are physical, and no physical organism lives forever. We grow up, we grow old, we grow frail, we die. But we are not only physical. We are also spiritual. In these last two commands, we are taught what it is to be part of a spirit that has not died in four thousand years and will not die so long as there is a sun, moon and stars (see Jeremiah 31).

God showed Moses, and through him us, how to become part of a civilization that never grows old. It stays young because it repeatedly renews itself. The last two commands of the Torah are about renewal, first collective, then individual.

Hakhel, the covenant renewal ceremony every seven years, ensured that the nation would regularly rededicate itself to its mission. I have often argued that there is one place in the world where this covenant renewal ceremony still takes place: the United States of America.

The concept of covenant played a decisive role in European politics in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, especially in Calvin’s Geneva and in Scotland, Holland and England. Its longest-lasting impact, though, was on America, where it was taken by the early Puritan settlers and remains part of its political culture even today. Almost every Presidential Inaugural Address – every four years since 1789 – has been, explicitly or implicitly, a covenant renewal ceremony, a contemporary form of Hakhel.  In 1987, speaking at the bicentennial celebration of the American Constitution, President Ronald Reagan described the constitution as a kind of “covenant we’ve made not only with ourselves but with all of mankind … It’s a human covenant; yes, and beyond that, a covenant with the Supreme Being to whom our founding fathers did constantly appeal for assistance.” America’s duty, he said, is “to constantly renew their covenant with humanity…to complete the work begun 200 years ago, that grand noble work that is America’s particular calling – the triumph of human freedom, the triumph of human freedom under God.”

If Hakhel is national renewal, the command that we should each take part in the writing of a new Sefer Torah is personal renewal. It was Moses’ way of saying to all future generations: It is not enough for you to say, I received the Torah from my parents (or grandparents or great-grandparents). You have to take it and make it new in every generation.

One of the most striking features of Jewish life is that from Israel to Palo Alto, Jews are among the world’s most enthusiastic users of information technology and have contributed disproportionately to its development (Google, Facebook, Waze). But we still write the Torah exactly as it was done thousands of years ago – by hand, with a quill, on a parchment scroll. This is not a paradox; it is a profound truth. People who carry their past with them, can build the future without fear.

Renewal is one of the hardest of human undertakings. Some years ago I sat with the man who was about to become Prime Minister of Britain. In the course of our conversation he said, “What I most pray for is that when we get there (he meant, 10 Downing Street), I never forget why I wanted to get there.” I suspect he had in mind the famous words of Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister between 1957 and 1963, who, when asked what he most feared in politics, replied, “Events, dear boy, events.”

Things happen. We are blown by passing winds, caught up in problems not of our making, and we drift. When that happens, whether to individuals, institutions or nations, we grow old. We forget who we are and why. Eventually we are overtaken by people (or organizations or cultures) that are younger, hungrier or more driven than us.

The only way to stay young, hungry and driven is through periodic renewal, reminding ourselves of where we came from, where we are going, and why. To what ideals are we committed? What journey are we called on to continue? Of what story are we a part?

How precisely timed, therefore, and how beautiful, that at the very moment when the greatest of prophets faced his own mortality, that God should give him, and us, the secret of immortality – not just in heaven but down here on earth. For when we keep to the terms of the covenant, and making it new again in our lives, we live on in those who come after us, whether through our children or our disciples or those we have helped or influenced. We “renew our days as of old.” Moses died, but what he taught and what he sought lives on.


{Adapted from “Covenant & Conversation,” a collection of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s parshiyot hashavua essays, published by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem, in conjunction with the Orthodox Union}

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

A Practical Approach to the Ten Days of Repentance

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

With Rosh Hashana behind us and Yom Kippur fast approaching, the time period in which we currently find ourselves continues to help keep us focused on the important matters at hand. The ten days from Rosh Hashana, Day One through and including Yom Kippur are known as the עשרת ימי תשובה or the Ten Days of Repentance. In spite of the moniker, the idea of repenting and trying to better ourselves, our relationship with G-d and with our fellow human beings, is actually something we must work on 365 days a year.

However, given the gravity of this particular 10 day period, things are more concentrated and hyper-focused, than any other time of the year. While there are dozens of things one can read to help one focus on self-improvement, I wish to present a few practical suggestions that can be put into practice immediately. Some are things to do and others are things to NOT do, at this or any other time.

  1. Do Not Plan to Be Perfect! If you strive for perfection–if you plan that the day after Yom Kippur you will be the Perfect Jew and not sin, then you are setting yourself up for a big fail. Instead…..
  2. Set Attainable Goals:  Take specific areas in which you may need improvement and make a PLAN. If you need to work on Lashon Hara, for example, think about people with whom you may want to lessen your contact, since your conversations stray to Lashon Hara. Or perhaps, if you are not good at making Brachot, decide that anything you have to eat before noon, you will make a Bracha on those items, then branch out from there. This list could be a mile long with examples, so these few will suffice.
  3. Be familiar with the Machzor: Instead of taking the special Yom Kippur prayer book off the shelf as you dash out of the house for Kol Nidre, take some time to sit down and look over the main prayers. Perhaps, read some of the liturgy and find areas in which you will focus during the Tefilla. Go on line and find the dozens of resources to help you understand the prayers you are saying. Make them relevant. Counting pages or daydreaming about what you will eat when the fast ends does not contribute much to the power of the day.
  4. Pray for OTHERS: While this is one of those ideas that some of you do all of the time, it is not so clear to many. While you are praying to G-d for health, parnassa, peace for yourself and your family, do take into account your circle of friends. There are always people that you know who need better income, housing, shalom bayit, a shiduch/spouse, etc. Do not leave it to memory! Take a few minutes before Yom Kippur and jot down names. Pray just as hard for them, as you do for yourself.
  5. Commit to Learning More: One can NEVER learn too much Torah or have too much knowledge. Perhaps your time is spent on work, leisure, sports, movies, etc which SEEMS to leave you little time for Torah. There are very few people on planet Earth who can say (with a straight face) that they have NO time to learn Torah. Imagine how much you can accomplish over the course of YEARS by committing now to learn just a few minutes more a day than you do already. Hashem seeks a connection with us. We make that connection through His Torah!
  6. Fall in Love…with G-d: What is it that we have to be grateful to Hashem for? There is merely a one-word answer to that question: EVERYTHING! There is nothing we have; nothing we accomplish; nothing we achieve or that we own or do that we can not attribute to G-d. G-d is the source of EVERYTHING in our lives. How can you NOT love the Supreme Being, Who out of His love for you, gives you what you need!?
  7. Teshuva, Tefilla and Tzedaka: As we say in the prayers of the Yamim Noraim (the Days of Awe), these three things can affect any bad “decrees” in Heaven. Repenting, Prayer and Giving Charity have that power. But why? Are we “bribing” G-d so He will changer His mind? Maybe if we give ten more shekel to charity, then we will be saved from any malady? While this topic/question can be a post unto itself, the short version is as follows: If, in Hashem’s world, He has determined that Person A is deserving of a certain “test” in his life, then that is what will happen. But, what happens when Person A engages in prayer; sincerely makes efforts to change who he is; gives charity to enrich others–then Person A is no longer the “same” person! His actions and prayers change who he is…he is now Person B! The original decree on Person A is now nullified by dint of the fact Person A no longer “exists” in the same sphere any longer! This idea is so helpful as we make sincere efforts to make changes in our lives.
  8. Finally, Never Give Up! There is a very simple reason for this: G-d NEVER gives up on you! When you wake up in the morning, you say a brief prayer called Modeh Ani. In it, you acknowledge that Hashem has given you back your neshama/your soul and thank Hashem for that. Then, in the last couple of words you say: “רבה אמונתך” which means “your faith is so great.” Hmmmm….whose faith is so great? We are saying that HASHEM’S faith in US is so great that he returns our soul to us to serve Him, yet another day.

We are humans. We have failings. We make mistakes. It is how Hashem created us. But, we have also been given a wonderful gift: Teshuva/repentance. Use any of these ideas; come up with your own or do more reading. But do not just “get by” by sitting in the synagogue with making no effort on your part. Trying to improve yourself is very hard work. But, in life, those things that are more important always require more work, effort and time. Use your time wisely. Make this time period count. Be PRESENT and in the moment. Be aware of what you need to change. And, at the same time, think of those things you are doing well –and give yourself chizuk and allow yourself to continue to do them well..

I wish you all a G’mar Chatima Tova. May 5777 be the best year of your life, so far!

Rav Zev Shandalov

Two Days Rosh Hashanah, Eruvin, And Eggs

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Why is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, so different from other Jewish holidays? On the face of it, it does not seem to follow any pattern. It is celebrated for two days, not only in the Diaspora but also in Israel. Yet the Sages refer to the two days of Rosh Hashanah as one long day – yoma arichta.

On Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot we keep Yom Tov for two days because during the time of the Second Temple there was doubt whether the month preceding Yom Tov was a chodesh chaser of 29 days or a chodesh maleh of 30 days. But on Rosh Hashanah the doubt was exacerbated for the following reason: In the case of other festivals, such as Pesach, the emissaries the bet din dispatched to advise outlying districts of a chodesh chaser had 14 days to reach their destination. In the case of Rosh Hashanah, however, the emissaries had no time at all. In fact, as soon as the witnesses had testified on the 30th day of Elul that they had sighted the new moon, that very day was declared Rosh Hashanah. And on Rosh Hashanah the emissaries could not travel more than the techum Shabbat distance of two-thirds of a mile beyond Jerusalem. As a result, even people living inside Israel but outside of Jerusalem remained in doubt.

Even inside Jerusalem, confusion reigned. Nobody knew whether the witnesses who would testify to the sighting of the new moon would arrive on the day of the 30th, in which case Rosh Hashanah would be on the 30th day, or whether they would not arrive, in which case Rosh Hashanah would be on the 31st day. On the night immediately following the 29th day of Elul and on 30th day of Elul itself, people hedged their bets. They ceased work, went to the synagogue, recited the Rosh Hashanah prayers and blew the shofar, all in a tentative state of mind. Perhaps, they fretted, the witnesses will not come today, the 30th, and tomorrow, the 31st, will be Rosh Hashanah by default and a day’s work would have been wasted. But then again, perhaps the witnesses would come. So how could they risk working?

The Levites in the Temple fretted, too. If the witnesses would not arrive by Minchah time on the afternoon of the 30th, the Levites had to proceed to offer up the tamid, the afternoon sacrifice. But they did not know which Psalm to sing when doing so. Should they sing the special Rosh Hashanah Psalm, or the weekday Psalm? One year they chose the weekday Psalm only to see the witnesses arrive after Minchah and prove them wrong.

In this situation, the rabbis decided to dispel the doubt. They decreed that if witnesses would arrive after the afternoon sacrifice on the 30th day of Elul, their testimony would be ignored and the 31st day of Elul would be declared Rosh Hashanah. Furthermore, in order to provide certainty for the Levites and in order to prevent people from working on the 30th of Elul after Minchah time, the rabbis merged the 30th day of Elul with the 31st day, declaring them both one long day.

From this decree on, the two days of Rosh Hashanah – unlike the two days of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot – were no longer celebrated out of doubt but out of certainty. This distinction between the status of the two days of Rosh Hashanah and the two days of other festivals has practical ramifications. For example, on Rosh Hashanah, one may not extend the techum Shabbat 4,000 amot in two directions, as one may on the two days of Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Because the two days of Rosh Hashanah are merged into one yoma arichta, only one eruv techumim could be placed for both days to walk 4,000 amot in only one chosen direction. Similarly, the argument that an egg laid on the first day of Pesach, Shavuot, or Sukkot could be eaten on the second day of these festivals would not apply. An egg laid on the first day of Rosh Hashanah could not be eaten on the second.

Following the destruction of the Second Temple, the dilemma of the Levites was no longer a concern. Accordingly, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai decreed that the testimony of witnesses arriving after Minchah on the 30th of Elul would once again be accepted, thereby rendering Rosh Hashanah one day. If witnesses did not arrive by nightfall of the 30th, Rosh Hashanah would be two days. Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai’s decree did not, however, apply to the Diaspora, where it could not be known on the 30th day, whether the witnesses had arrived or not. Accordingly, in the Diaspora Rosh Hashanah remained two days, by decree. The Babylonian rabbis who came to Israel applied the same decree to the land of Israel, even after the time of Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai.

Although nowadays we now which day is genuinely Rosh Hashanah, we continue to celebrate two days – everywhere – out of respect for the tradition of our ancestors.


Raphael Grunfeld’s new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim, Nezikin, Kodashim, Taharot and Zera’im,” will be published shortly.

Raphael Grunfeld

Netanya Mayor Remanded for Another 3 Days

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg Ikar on Sunday was remanded to another three days in jail. Feierberg is suspected of receiving bribes and benefits estimated in millions of dollars. Earlier on Sunday the same court extended the remand of the Mayor’ son Tzafrir Feirberg, contractor Avraham T’Shuva, attorney Abraham Gogig and architect Gabi Tetro.

David Israel

The Three Weeks And The Nine Days

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

One does not have to be superstitious to recognize facts. It is a historical fact that the period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Tenth of Av was plagued by recurring tragedies.

The door to our troubles first opened on that Seventeenth day of Tammuz when Moses walked in on the worshippers of the golden calf and shattered the tablets of the law. On the same date, both in the era of the First Temple and Second Temple, the daily sacrifice, known as the Tamid, which expunged the sins of the Jews and granted them divine amnesty, was brought to a halt.

On the Seventeenth of Tammuz, the walls of the Second Temple were breached by the enemy that ultimately razed the Temple to the ground on Tisha B’Av. Again, on the same date, Apustomus (circa 150 BCE), one of the Syrian leaders with whom the Hellenists collaborated in the persecution of religious Jews in Israel, publicly torched a Sefer Torah. And on the seventeenth of Tammuz, Menasheh, king of Judah, erected an idol in the Temple. For these reasons, this period is called “Between the Straits” (“bein hametzarim”), based on the verse in Lamentations that “all [Israel’s] persecutors overtook her between the straits.”

Thus, based on the laws of personal mourning, the Three Weeks, from the Seventeenth of Tammuz to the Tenth of Av, are observed as a period of national mourning. In the case of a personal tragedy, such as the death of a relative, the mourning commences after the event, with the observance of the most severe restrictions of the shiva, followed by the less severe restrictions of the shloshim, followed by the least severe restrictions of the eleven months.

In the case of Tisha B’Av, the reverse is true. The mourning commences before the event, with the observance of the least severe restrictions (akin to the eleven months) during the First Period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and Rosh Chodesh Av. Stricter restrictions of mourning follow during the Second Period between Rosh Chodesh Av and Tisha B’Av. The strictest restrictions of mourning are observed on Tisha B’Av itself.

Accordingly, commencing with the First Period, between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and Rosh Chodesh Av, the following are some of the activities that should be avoided: Weddings; playing musical instruments for pleasure; and reciting the blessing (“Shehecheyanu”) in connection with the wearing of new garments or the tasting of new fruit. Some practice the custom of refraining from shaving or cutting hair even during the First Period.

The following activities may be indulged in during the First Period: Engagements, with or without a festive meal, until Rosh Chodesh Av; pidyon haben (ceremony of redemption of a firstborn), even after Rosh Chodesh Av; and attending a brit with a festive (milk or meat) meal up to noon on Erev Tisha B’Av. According to Rav Moshe Feinstein, the First Period commences on the morning of the Seventeenth of Tammuz rather than the night following the Sixteenth of Tammuz.

Commencing with the Second Period, between Rosh Chodesh Av and Tisha B’Av, the following are some of the additional activities that should be avoided: Consumption of meat and poultry; drinking wine; laundering or wearing freshly laundered clothing; swimming; painting or other forms of home decorating; planting flowers and plants; as well as any risky activity (such as lawsuits, scheduled surgery, and travel, to the extent it can be postponed without adverse effect).

On Shabbat during the nine days, one may don freshly laundered clothes, eat meat and drink wine, including Havdalah wine. Similarly, the usual Shabbat songs should be sung both in the synagogue and at home. A commonly employed and permissible device regarding the prohibition of wearing fresh clothes during the nine days is to don them for a moment or two before the nine days.

Tradition has it that the Temple was destroyed due to petty hatred. Accordingly, it is particularly important during the bein hametzarim, as always, to set the record straight with kindness and consideration.

Raphael Grunfeld

Jews! Three Days to Get Out!

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

An article appeared recently in the newspaper, Israel HaYom, describing how a pro-Palestinian BDS group targeted Jewish students on a college campus in America, by posting signs in their dormitories telling Jews to vacate the premises, saying that was how the Israeli army treated the Palestinians. These signs have been taped to the door of dormitory rooms of Jewish students, giving the occupants three days to vacate, and warning that their belongings will be thrown into the street if they don’t abide by the order. This is the work of a BDS group called SJP – “Students for Palestinian Justice”. The signs appeared on many campuses across the United States, including the University of Florida and Berkley College.

Outrageous? Terrible? Scandalous? Not at all. I for one am glad. At least someone in the United States is telling young Jews that they don’t belong in America. Their rabbis don’t tell them. Their parents don’t tell them. The Hillel organization doesn’t tell them. The leaders of Jewish Federations and MAJOR JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS don’t tell them. At least the Jew haters are letting them know. Kol Hakod!

I’m glad. Though I am not convinced the Jews will get the message. A Jewish student from Berkley had this to say: “The connection which the SJP makes between our being Jews and their protest over the Palestinian plight in Israel smacks of anti-Semetism. A distinction must be made between their criticism of the situation in Israel and my being Jewish. I have nothing to do with what goes on in Israel. There is no justice in targeting me on my college campus just because I am Jewish.”

Notice what he says: “I have nothing to do with what goes on in Israel.” Notice how he cuts himself off from Israel. In his eyes, he is an American, not an Israeli. This in itself is the crisis of American Jewry and the reason for the ever-increasing assimilation. In truth, he is the true refugee from

“Palestine” whom the Romans expelled from the one and only Jewish Homeland – Israel. Because of our long exile and wanderings in foreign lands, this Jewish college student in America has forgotten his true identity. His parents, and rabbis, and teachers, and Jewish leaders, don’t tell him this truth because they too have forgotten. Rabbi Kook decries this tragedy of Jewish education in the Diaspora which fails to teach that the Land of Israel is an indivisible part of being Jewish, stating, “This orientation toward Eretz Yisrael is not worthy of bearing fruit. The concept of Judaism in the Diaspora will only find real strength through the depth of its connection to Eretz Yisrael.”

So if none of the Jewish educators and leaders are teaching young Jews the truth, it is a good thing that the boys from BDS are letting them know. More power to them!

Tzvi Fishman

A Soldier’s Mother: Days that Break Us

Monday, July 4th, 2016

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.


Paula Stern

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/a-soldiers-mother-days-that-break-us/2016/07/04/

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