וַיַּרְא אֱלֹקים אֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה, וְהִנֵּה-טוֹב מְאֹד; וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי
Since the beginning of time, the end of the week has been a time of reflection; of looking back, taking in what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve missed, and making resolutions moving forward. Just as Hashem spent these final hours of the first Friday looking back at the light, the land, the vegetation, and the beings that He had created, we should also take the time now, to look back on the past week.
Eight days ago, a wave of terrorism began as Muslim extremists from the Bet Furik village shot and murdered Rav Eitam and Na’ama Henkin (Hy”d) in their car. While this drive-by attack mercifully left their children who were sitting in the back of the car unmaimed, it left a gaping hole in both of their families and caused tremendous pain to all of Am Yisrael. This pain deepened on Saturday Night, when we heard of the stabbing and lethal shooting of Rav Nechemia Lavie (Hy”d) and Aharon Benita (Hy”d), as well as the serious injuries of Benita’s wife and children, in Jerusalem’s Old City, as these holy Jews were on their way to complete a Sukkot pilgrimage to the Kotel. Since then, there has scarcely been a day without news of a stabbing or shooting or other terrorist attack. While the Israeli Defense Forces and Shin Bet have stopped many of the planned attacks, even more have unfortunately been successful, and every single Jew around the world should be feeling the pain of loss for each and every one of these pigu’im.
While I was not in Israel for most of these incidents, I was in the center of town in Jerusalem yesterday, having lunch with a friend, when one of Thursday’s five attacks took place. The scene was incredible as the crowded Yafo St. thoroughfare, full of Israelis trying to go about their day-to-day life despite the difficult situation, was suddenly transformed the minute that we heard police sirens blaring. All of the sudden, the shoppers and pedestrians stopped, and nearly all of them began running towards the sound, knowing that something terrible had just happened and hoping they could help in some way. Even those who couldn’t or didn’t run towards the scene stopped what they were doing and began seeking out information on what had happened. Watching normal day-to-day life suddenly transform into this tragic, yet beautiful, picture of unity really brought home the message that each and every resident of Israel understands the seriousness of the tragic recent events, and they want to be part of making a difference.
So, as we end a week which included both the happiness of finishing the Torah, and the sadness of many painful losses, I leave it as an open-ended question, food for thought for my readers who still live in the Diaspora, at a time of week which G-d created for contemplation; how can you make a difference to Am Yisrael at this difficult time? How can you try to heal the pain of a wounded nation from far away?