11 May 2016 Do Not Be Silent
In this week’s parsha, Parshas Kedoshim, we are commanded not to stand idly by while our fellow’s blood is being shed: לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל-דַּם רֵעֶךָ (Lev.19:16). דַּם means blood – do not stand by while your brother’s blood is being shed!, the Torah commands. And דם also means silence, as in וַיִּדֹּם אַהֲרֹן – and Aharon became silent (Lev.10:3).
Perhaps, then, the Torah’s command has a double meaning: Do not stand idly by while your brothers blood is being shed and do not be silent while your brothers blood is being shed! Do not stand by while your brother falls, cries, is in pain, is taken down… Remember, recall, pray, cry, storm the Heavens… do not be silent in such a time.
Iyar 5776 and yet another Yom Ha’Zikaron is upon us.
February 18, 2016 – St.-Sgt. Tuvia Yanai Weissman HY”D, a combat sergeant in the IDF’s Nahal Brigade, was shopping in the supermarket with his wife and infant daughter. He heard screams from a different aisle as two 14-year-old terrorists attacked shoppers with knives, and even though he was unarmed, he ran to help and was mortally wounded.
Yanai and Yael married only two years ago. After her husband was killed, Yael said: “If you had not raced to help, you would not be the Yanai that I know, the one I fell in love with.” She added, “We were waiting for your release from the army. We had so many plans. To fly, to trek, to work, to study and most important of all, to be together.”
Rabbi Shmuel Natanzon of the Yedidya academy where Weissman studied eulogized him, saying, “We had many debates until the small hours of the night because you were a man of truth. You had doubts as to whether to go to a command role or continue in combat, I knew that you could be a role model and symbol.”
St.-Sgt. Tuvia Yanai Weissman, 21 years old, was buried in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery. He is survived by his wife Yael, daughter Netta, aged 4 months, his parents and three siblings.
לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל-דַּם רֵעֶךָ – Do you know their names? the Torah demands of us. Have you davened for the bereaved, for the widows, for the orphans, for the parents who have buried their sons and daughters? the Torah inquires. Have you cried with the child who has lost his older brother, his role model, his best friend? Have you done a chesed in their memory and for their merit? the Torah asks. Have you told your children of their bravery, their courage, their deaths for the Sanctification of the Divine Name? Do you know that they died because they were Jewish – for we would all do well to remember that the enemy only knows a Jew, and does not distinguish between charedi and dati, between left and right, between religious and secular, between a black hat and a kipa s’rugah… Do you remember!?
Do not be silent while their blood is being shed!
February 3, 2016 – Hadar Cohen HY”D, the second of three children, was recruited into the Border Police only two months before she was killed. Still undergoing training, she had been posted to the Old City just last week, her first operational deployment.
Hadar was part of a three-member squad patrolling the area outside Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. They identified two suspects and asked them for identification, at which point one drew out a knife and began stabbing the one of the policewomen. Acting heroically, Hadar managed to shoot the assailant, saving the life of her friend. A third terrorist opened fire with an automatic weapon, critically wounding Hadar. She was rushed to Hadassah Medical Center, where she later died of her wounds.
“She really was a girl that everyone loved. She was a good and gorgeous girl, she achieved everything she wanted,” said her aunt, Zehavit Cohen.
Border Police Cpl. Hadar Cohen, 19 years old, was buried at the Yehud Military Cemetery. She is survived by her parents, Ofer and Sigalit, a brother and a sister.
וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ – and you shall love, care for, cry over, empathize with, daven for your fellow – for another Jew in pain and distress – as you would for yourself (Lev.19:18).
Col. Yaffa Mor, 48, is the head of the IDF Casualties Administration. She was appointed head of the IDF Casualties and City Officers Administration three and a half years ago. Since then, 220 families have lost a relative in the IDF and thus become “bereaved families.”
“220 messages, 220 knocks on the door,” Mor elaborated, “220 families whose lives were turned upside down, who need to learn how to live with loss, with longing, with incomprehensible pain. I estimate that I’ve had hundreds of thousands of meetings with bereaved families,” she shared. “I remember perfectly the first time I entered each home. I remember perfectly where I sat the first time, where every member of the family sat, what we talked about. It’s a part of me. The faces, the names.
“When you go to visit a widow who gave birth after her husband was killed, and she lets you hold the baby. Or when a bereaved father dies, and you’re updated on that, and you can’t bring yourself to delete his number from your phone. You become a part of the family. You go into the son’s room; they want you to know him. They show you his uniform, ironed and handsome in the wardrobe, ready, as if he’s just about to leave for the army, even though he was killed 30 years ago. And they hand you his clothes to smell. (And) I smell them. There’s a scent, even after all those years.”
זָכוֹר, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-עָשָׂה לְךָ עֲמָלֵק – Remember what Amalek did to you then; Remember what Amalek does to you now (Deut.25:17).
And as you remember on יום הזכרון, do not be silent over your brother’s blood.
הַזֹּרְעִים בְּדִמְעָה— בְּרִנָּה יִקְצֹרוּ – They that sow in tears will certainly reap in joy (Ps.126:5).
May we merit it immediately and in our days, when Hashem will wipe away tears from upon every face, and banish death forever from upon the earth – And we will say on that great day, Behold, this is our G-d that we hoped to Him and He saved us! This is our G-d that we hoped to Him, let us rejoice and be glad in HIs salvation (Yeshayahu 25:8-9).
בברכת בשורות טובות,
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