This week, two people had the attention of thousands.
One chose light. The other darkness.
One inspired. One disparaged.
One spread hope. The other spread hate.
Rachel Frankel, mother of Naftali Frankel z’l, spent nearly every public moment of the 18 days that her son’s fate was uncertain strengthening and encouraging her family, her nation and the Jewish world at large. She spoke to children who were praying for the safe return of her son and she told them to hope for the best, but “no matter what happens, don’t let it break you, don’t lose faith.”
She spoke of how “God is not our employee,” and thus we cannot make demands and expect Him to comply. A woman who likely slept in her son’s bed, just to feel close to him, who smelled his scent and choked on fear for him, in her worst moments, in her darkest times she spoke positively, with hope and encouragement.
She gave strength to those of us who doubted and feared and she, along with Bat-Galim Shaer and Iris Yifrah stood strong and proud, believing in a God that ran the world and in whom they trusted with complete faith.
The one request they had was that we come together in prayer and kindness, that we think positively and behave toward one another with grace. They inspired thousands and they shook the heavens with the prayers of people who hadn’t given God a thought in years.
And then on Wednesday, a day after Rachel buried her son, someone did the exact opposite.
A prominent religious leader, a man who has control over the thoughts and beliefs of thousands of followers used his words to hurt and harm and divide people.* And not just any people, but the parents of the boys themselves.
Claiming that we “have to examine the circumstances …with eyes that are open to true daas Torah…” he stated that the parents were to blame for the deaths of their sons for living in Israel.
Daas Torah? No, I don’t think so. Daas Torah, literally ‘Torah Knowledge,’ isn’t playing God and placing blame. It isn’t causing strife to a grieving nation. It isn’t calling other Jews enemies. (all prohibited by Torah Law).
It is ‘V’ahavta L’reacha K’mocha’- loving your fellow as yourself – as called for by Ministers, Rabbanim and the mothers themselves.
It is giving to others – as so many did for the IDF in these weeks.
It is praying for others- as thousands came together to do.
It is sharing your sister’s pain as your own and standing by your brother in his grief.
These mother’s took their grief and transformed it into love and faith. Into unity and wholeness. Into hope and strength.
When you look for Daas Torah. You can find it right here, right now.
It is said that in the merit of righteous women, we will be saved.
After what I have seen these weeks, I have no doubt.
*I have chosen not to name or quote the man for fear of causing further division, precisely the opposite of the parents’ request.