About nine months ago I was just hours away from going to Yeshiva. Having been stuck at what I thought was a dead-end job making barely any money, I figured it was time that I should go to Yeshiva. My friend got me in contact with a rabbi from a Yeshiva I was interested in attending. After speaking with the rabbi a few times over a couple weeks, I still was not sure I was fully dedicated to leaving my job and hometown to go learn in Yeshiva. After one of those phone calls though I realized it would be the best thing to do. So one morning, on my way to work I called the rabbi and said, “I am coming.” He was obviously happy and connected me with someone there who takes care of housing, payment and living at the Yeshiva. I realized I had just made a big decision, but was standing by it, despite contention from my parents and others. When I got to work, I was thinking about how I was going to tell my boss that I was leaving in the most friendly way possible so I could leave in a positive manner. A few hours after I got to work, my boss came in and asked to speak with me. He told me that he wanted to increase my hours to full time and leave the opportunity for an increase in pay for the future.
I was taken aback when I heard this. Just a few hours earlier I had committed to going to Yeshiva and now I was going to have to reject either the Yeshiva or my boss. I had a day to get back to my boss. In the end I took the easy road and ended up notifying the Yeshiva I was not going to come, while notifying my boss I was accepting his offer. It turns out I was not fully dedicated to learning in Yeshiva.
Almost nine months later, I heard about the three Israelis who were kidnapped. Other than obviously worrying about their well-being, I immediately thought about how they were kidnapped on their way home from school, a Yeshiva. That reminded me of the decision I made nine months earlier. These boys’ lives were at risk, and I wasn’t even able to pass up a better job offer to spend time learning in Yeshiva.
When I heard the tragic news about the three boys this week, I was as disheartened as many others were. Even though I never met them, it still felt like I lost close family members. After thinking about what I could do to honor the lives of these three young men, I realized there is only one thing I really could do; go back to Yeshiva. While these three cannot be replaced, they have inspired me to go to Yeshiva and hopefully others will do the same in their honor. Even though we cannot bring our boys back, we can continue learning Torah in their memory. And this time, not even a job offer from Facebook or Google is going to change my mind. The best revenge is not aiming to make our enemies weaker, but rather strengthening the Jewish people by continuing to learn and follow Torah, and being proud of who we are.
I will think about these three wonderful Jews during my time in Yeshiva, and I will continue to pray that nothing like this ever happens again.