Anger. Bewilderment. Pain. Confusion. Agony. Grief. These are all the words that best described my reaction to the horrific news coming out of Israel yesterday, that our three holy brothers, Gil-ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah, and Naftali Frenkel z'l HYD were murdered in cold blood for no other reason than the fact that they are Jews. For the last two and a half weeks, from the time they had been kidnapped until yesterday morning, I went to sleep with my phone next to my bed, so I could check the news first thing in the morning, to see if they had been found. Last night, I went to sleep with my phone next to my bed, so that I could check the news this morning to see the details of their funerals.
When I first heard the news yesterday, I was in the middle of a jovial, fun-filled family road trip. And then, as I was filling up gas somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania, my mood drastically changed. How do I get back in the car, and pretend I am fine, just like I was before I got out of the car to fill up the gas? How do I explain to my precious, angelic children, ages one, three, and five, that the reason that I am suddenly so sullen, removed, and absent is because three of our brothers were murdered because they are Jews? How do I explain to them that while I am physically in Pennsylvania, my heart and soul are in bereavement alongside my 6+ million Jewish brothers and sisters in our Homeland? How do I tell them that my sudden miserable mood and demeanor is a result of a bleeding heart; a tearful soul? How can I tell them that all they wanted to do was go home to their loving Mommy's and Totty's for Shabbos, when instead they went home to their Totty in Himmel (Father in Heaven) for eternity?
Honestly, I don't have any words, or explanations.
But what I do know, is that these last two and a half weeks I have seen more achdus, (Jewish unity), than any time in my life. Jews of all backgrounds, shapes, and sizes have been bonded together in prayer and action on behalf of these three holy boys. We have merged as one massive family in a way that I have never in my life witnessed. These Kedoshim (martyrs) have united the Jewish people.
Two days ago we began the month of Tammuz-- a month that begins a three week mourning period for the Jewish people (the 17th of Tammuz) when we start grieving for the destroyed Temples. About two thousand years ago, our Holy Second Temple sat in ruins, as the Jews entered a bitter and painful exile which plagues us until today. Our Rabbis explain that Temple was destroyed because Jews had a baseless hatred for one another. Jews were divided, and could not get along. They harbored resentment for one another.
Now, as a result of the indescribable pain we as a nation and People are feeling, we are united. Those petty differences are gone. Our job, and obligation, is to make sure that this is not a flukey, temporary situation. This must become the permanent state of the Jewish people. What I pledge to do, to honor these Holy boys, who died al kiddush Hashem, is to love three more Jews, without any other reason than the fact that they are my three Jewish brothers and sisters. I am picking one Jew to my political/religious left, one to my political/religious right, and one who shares my beliefs and opinions because it does not matter what any other Jew believes or thinks-- all that matters is that they are my beloved family members. If the Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, it stands to reason it can be rebuilt for 'baseless' love.
G-d willing we can remain united as a people. Right now, we are crying and mourning together. In G-d's incredible mercy we should soon be laughing and dancing together, shedding tears of joy as we celebrate the rebuilding of our Holy Temple, B'mheyra B'yomeinu.
May the Holy memories of Yaakov Naftali, Gil-ad Michael, and Eyal be for a blessing.