On Friday, I decided to venture out from my quiet yishuv cocoon. I drove a half hour away, to Jerusalem. My goal was to pick up our Shabbat guests, and then to take them to the Mahaneh Yehuda, an outdoor shopping area(shuk) in Jerusalem.
For me, this was quite an adventure. I honestly do not leave my local environs often anymore. I guess I have been afraid to drive too far, and be caught on the road when a siren goes off. I have many friends and family members that swear it is “not a big deal.” The basic drill is to pull over, hunch down for ten minutes, and wait. Once the coast is clear, one can return to the car, and continue travelling.
I realized that my fear is legitimate, but untimely. For, my guests had no other means to come to us for Shabbat. So, I bit the bullet, and steadied myself with a shot of coffee and I got on the road.
As I drove the familiar highway to Jerusalem, I felt an inner sense of calm. I listened to the radio for the familiar Code Red announcements. Thank G-d, there were none in the area I had traveled to, nor to the destination I planned.
I picked up my guests, and we were off to find parking near the Center of Jerusalem in order to do our shuk shopping at Mahaneh Yehuda. We began walking, and it seemed eerily strange. Usually on a Friday at 12:00, Jerusalem is bustling with people, throngs of people in the coffee shops, shopping the local Jaffa Road, or walking towards the shuk. Yet, there were very few people. Elbow room was entirely available, and then some.
I tried to push this out of my mind, as we got closer to the shuk. Sure enough, the market was hopping. Lots of people were there buying groceries for Shabbat. Some tourists were there too, but not many. I asked several shopkeepers how business is, and they shrugged and said “Ëh, not so great, but what can we do?” I thanked them for giving me my purchases, and I gave them a blessing for a better future before I went on my way.
After we bought our fruits, vegetables and challot (Sabbath bread), we returned back towards the center of town. My guests wanted to buy pizza for lunch. My daughter and I opted to sit outside, with a couple of drinks, while our guests bought lunch. As we sat, we talked, and observed the quiet scene.
Suddenly, my daughter looked up from her cellphone. “Mom, a soldier has been kidnapped!” My world seemed to have stopped. “What?”I gasped. “No, no, no!” I immediately called a friend at home, and she confirmed it to be true, as well. My daughter and I were speechless. This happened on the day of a 72 hour cease fire agreement between the IDF and Hamas. How could this be? How? Why? Not again!!!
We motioned to our guests that it was time to go, and as we walked to our car, I told another group of Americans near us that they should be aware that a soldier was kidnapped, and that they should pray for him. I told our guests that we would say Tehilim (Psalms)for the young man in the car, on the way home.
As my daughter said the Tehilim (Psalms), we repeated the words after her. My daughter’s beautiful Hebrew accent made the pain that much deeper for me. I began to cry. I tried to hold myself together, but I could not do so. Another kidnapping is too much to bear for our nation. It is too soon, too raw, too close to our most recent kidnapping tragedy of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. The tears began to flow, and I found myself wound up in emotion as I left the Holy City of Jerusalem.
As I kept driving, all I could do was feel bereft of all energy, and all emotion. And then, I kept thinking of the lyrics to Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb:
Now I’ve got that feeling once again
I can’t explain, you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb
We did not know the kidnapped man’s name at the time, but now we do. Hadar Goldin, was working with the IDF. He had helped unearth a Hamas tunnel that was 2km long. As he and his troops were doing their job of unearthing the tunnel, there was an ambush, and he was captured. He was one of the brave warriors fighting the battle against the evil forces of terror.
We returned home, and continued to pray for Hadar. We found out his name shortly thereafter, as well as his mother’s name. For it is traditional to pray for one who is in need, but saying their given Jewish name, followed by the name of their mother. In this case it is Hadar ben(the son of) Hedva Leah.
We entered Shabbat somewhat dulled, and subdued. How could we muster up the strength to go on? How could we be happy to bring the Shabbat warmth into our home when we were pained with the grief of knowing that Hamas has stolen one of our precious jewels?
I kept telling myself that I had to wake up from the numbness I felt. I had to pray, act, move, and do something. I could not be comfortably numb. I needed to continue to live, and prove to the terrorist evil that Jews will go on, we will keep the Sabbath, we will pray, we will fight, and we will continue to do our job of keeping this little land called Israel safe from harms way. We are all in this together, and we are definitely NOT going to be numbed by the terrorist agenda. We will fight until the end, and we will NEVER reward the terrorists with the pleasure of showing them our numbness.