The other night I said Slichot at the Kotel. The Western Wall plaza was filled to capacity. Jews from all walks of life and from all corners of the country had come to daven to the creator of the world in anticipation of the new year. As I finished saying Slichot I hurriedly left the old city in order to catch the last bus for the night. As it happened, the bus had already passed and no others would come until 6:30am. As such, shortly after 3am I made my way back to the Kotel and witnessed the Jewish people at its best.
The sounds of prayers and song were even stronger than when I had originally left (just before 1 o’ clock). Older men, Yeshiva students and others crammed around the wall as the sounds of their prayers serenaded the heavens.
Many students including a large group from Yeshivat Bnei Akiva of Givat Shmuel stayed throughout most of the night. They joined together in dance and prayer. At one point they sang a song imploring Hakadosh Baruch Hu:
“May this hour be an hour mercy and may this time be a time of good will before you”.
Indeed, with the nation of Israel joined in prayers of unity (as has been a recurring theme of this difficult summer) the moments that they sang those very words, were indeed a time of mercy.
I took the 6:30 bus out of Jerusalem and finally fell asleep at about 7:30. When I woke up a few hours later I heard the news. Those responsible for the kidnapping of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were neutralized shortly after 3am by IDF forces.
It was a time of mercy indeed.
After the IDF annihilated the terrorists who carried out the attack that will forever stay with us all, no celebrations were held (unlike in other countries (such as the US the night Bin Laden y”s was killed).
There were no parties and there was no distribution of candies.
There were no public gatherings and there certainly were no fireworks.
The radio broadcasts throughout the day, however, did express how justice had been served.
I often pass by the bus stop from which GIlad, Eyal and Naftali were kidnapped. I drove past it again a few hours after hearing the news. I contemplated: “Has justice really been served?”.
The Torah commands, “Justice, justice, you shall chase after…”.
But what is justice?
Rachel Frankael (mother of Naftali) explained she was happy to hear the news that the terrorist had been killed. She was not happy because they had suffered (though I hope they did) and she certainly was not happy because some 20 year old in the IDF became a killer (albeit heroically). She said she was happy because she would not need to watch her son’s killers sit in a courtroom with a smirk on their faces as a useless trial wasted the nation’s money, time and faith in humanity.
The nation was happy today, not out of glee and glorification of death, but out of recognition that what happened today was justice.
Justice means ending the potential for evil to continue.
Justice means preventing a nerve wrecking and useless trial.
Justice means preemptively stopping terrorists from being released in another prisoner exchange by making sure they never make it to prison to begin with.
Justice means preventing the next round of fireworks coinciding with a Jewish child’s funeral.
When IDF soldiers shot at the terrorists the other night they did not just kill two terrorists. They killed evil and limited its potential. They served justice.
The IDF soldiers who took part in the mission did not just carry out justice. They fulfilled the prayers of the hundreds of boys singing throughout the mission(unbeknownst to either the IDF or the boys).
The boys prayed to Hashem to declare this time a time of mercy.
Mercy was shown to the families, to the nation and, in fact, to the entire world.
Mercy was shown by justice being served.
The days of awe bring the nation closer through forgiveness and mercy.
Forgiveness and Mercy among those who ask for it;
And Justice for our enemies, who do not.